A recent assignment by Oklahoma Today Magazine sent me to northwest Oklahoma to the Howard Ranch, just north of Woodward. My job was to photograph ranch guests enjoying the cowboy lifestyle. Unfortunately it was the middle of the summer and HOT, so Justin Howard, the ranch owner, didn’t have any guests at the ranch. Instead he called a few friends and decided to round-up cattle and brand a few calves.
I arrived late one evening and just spent the last hours of light getting to know the lay of this huge ranch. When Justin told me we would be saddling horses at 4:30 am and riding the range at 5, I was overjoyed. I knew we would get some early morning pictures with great light instead of the flat midday light I often end up working with.
The next morning before daylight as Justin and his friends were saddling up, he asked “do you want to ride or just follow along in a truck?” Heck, I wanted to RIDE! None of this pansy riding in the truck stuff. I grew up on horseback so riding is easy for me. I grabbed a couple of cameras, slung them over my neck, and hopped aboard. Because it was looking like it might rain on us (it did) I grabbed a raincoat to protect not me, but my expensive cameras. My Nikon’s are as tough as they come but it is better to protect them when possible, especially from a heavy downpour.
I had a great time riding ahead to grab photographs. These guys were not waiting on me. They would gallop their horses through the sagebrush and cactus filled prairies, cutting through brush strewn washes and mesquite trees, looking for cattle that would hide in the brush. I did my best to keep up with them but two heavy DSLR cameras bouncing around my body and against the saddle slowed me down a bit. In fact I ended up damaging a lens and have to send it back to Nikon for repairs.
I ended up with these awesome pictures (and many more) of cowboys rounding up cattle at daybreak on the Oklahoma prairie. Later we ended up branding cattle. Watch for those pictures soon.