Hi and welcome to the May 2018 edition of my Workshop at the Ranch – Instructional BLOG featuring Kentucky Derby Week.
NOTE: My book: “Thoroughbreds … the Horse Racing Experience” is available both in Hard Back and eBook for computers (no iPad edition at this time) is found via my website bookstore: https://daveblackphotography.com/daves-book-store/
The Hard Back edition is printed one book at a time “On Demand” thus making it terribly expensive, but click the Hard Cover link: https://daveblackphotography.com/daves-book-store/ to flip through several example pages and THEN click the link for the eBook edition at only $29.95 which is made for computer viewing.
NOTE: My instructional book “The Way I See It” … 50 One Page Workshops is available in iPad tablet (PDF) version for only $29.95. Click on the Hard Cover link to flip through the example pages and THEN buy the iPad tablet edition. This instructional book featuring 50 vignette lessons on Sports, Lighting, Speedlights, and Lightpainting. It has been very popular for several years both domestic and international.
AND … you might check out my Instagram: @daveblackphoto during early May as I will feature “Kentucky Derby Memoirs” … a collection of different images and backstories than WATR from my 10 years covering the Kentucky Derby.
OKAY … Let’s see what Kentucky Derby Week is all about …
Image #1 Derby Week “The Wonder Years” … Kentucky Derby Week 2003. The horse racing experience doesn’t begin in the start gate at Churchill Downs, but with playful times as a yearling romping around the sanctuary of the horse farm.
I have it on good authority that these future champions day dream about winning the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont… and an extra scoop of oats too; as they frolic around the blue grass farms of Kentucky.
Image #2 Derby Week “Kentucky Breeze” … Kentucky Derby Day 2000. The “Twin Spires” of Churchill Downs are iconic with the horse racing industry. As the sunrise breaks the Kentucky countryside horizon the field of Kentucky Derby contenders begin their early morning training session before the 126th “Run for the Roses.”
This was my second of 10 Kentucky Derby’s but my first to photograph entirely digital. The Nikon D1 digital DSLR camera was nothing short of AMAZING. Many of the working photographers wanted to see it, touch it, and look at the LCD screen.
Horses receive a bath and grooming immediately following the workout, which on cold mornings provides a cloud of steam to envelop horses and grooms alike.
Image #4 Derby Week “The Derby Look” … Kentucky Derby Day 1999. This was my first of 10 Kentucky Derby’s. Fans began pouring into the grandstands of Churchill Downs by 9:30 AM … The “Run for the Roses” is still 9 hours away, but this Southern Belle arrived at 8:00AM on Derby Day dressed to the 9’s with her stylish “Derby Hat.”
Image #5 Derby Week “By a Mile” … Kentucky Derby Day 2001. Photographing Derby Day begins early around 5:15 AM with the contenders training in the early morning twilight before sunrise and then concluding after the trophy is awarded to the Derby winner around 6:45 PM.
Many are surprised that there are 12 races on Derby Day … only one race is the Kentucky Derby. Thus, the entire day offers the most fantastic tapestry of photographs imaginable, including stylish fans, color, tradition, and thrilling action during the 11 additional Stakes Races that precede the actual “Run for the Roses.”
Image #6 Derby Week “Water Gate” … Kentucky Derby Day 2004. This was my 5th Kentucky Derby and is one of my favorite Derby memories. I had never seen so much rain at Churchill Downs or anywhere for that matter.
Efforts to keep all remote cameras dry and functional during the EPIC downpours where continual throughout the stormy day, but with Smarty Jones as the Derby favorite hopes remained high for a potential Triple Crown Champion in 2004.
As I recall, the race course was flooded from the start gate out of turn #4, past the Twin Spires, and into turn #1 up to about 30 minutes before post time.
I began photographing in the rain at 5:15AM … it was now 6:13PM and the rains diminished as the clouds began to part, and a “quiet calm“ fell over the racetrack as the field of 18 horses entered the start gate.
I was sitting directly on the track in a pool of mud under the outside rail about 40 yards down the stretch from the start gate waiting to trigger my “gate Remote camera” a Nikon D2x with 10.5mm Fisheye lens. The rain stopped, crowd was silent … the Bell RANG and “They’re OFF!”
Image #7 Derby Week “Big Brown Delivers” … Kentucky Derby Day 2008. This Derby was very special to me … my daughter, Haley (19 yrs. old at that time), joined me to photograph the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby.
We were both on the track for the Blood Horse magazine. Haley made outstanding images of Big Brown coming out of the start gate and rounding turn #4, while I captured several shots with start gate Remote cameras and then this homestretch image of Kent Desomeaux aboard Big Brown at the finish.
I have been shooting sports action all around the world for 37 years, and nothing, NOTHING has given me more pure pleasure than photographing horse racing and its crown jewel event, the Kentucky Derby.
I would have never been at any Derby without great friends Mike Corrado (Nikon USA) who in 1999 ask me to come teach a photo workshop at Churchill Downs, and Skip Dickstein (Horse Racing’s “Eclipse” Award winner) who then asked me if I could stay after the workshop to photograph “Derby Week” and the 1999 Kentucky Derby for the Blood Horse Magazine.
I stayed, and I loved it. Thanks @corradophotography and @skipd for opening the door to the opportunity of a lifetime.
“There’s always more to learn” … see you next month here on WATR and on my Instagram: @daveblackphoto.