Date of visit: Friday April 21st, 2016
Attractions/Places of Interest:
Proudly holding the title of the largest indoor rodeo in the entire United States, Cowtown Coliseum is one of those places that deserve a spot among the top 5 things to do in Texas. No Texas experience is complete without attending a proper rodeo.
Located right in the middle of the Stockyards area of Fort Worth, Cowtown Coliseum can’t be missed and is easy to get to with ample parking scattered through surrounding streets.
Rodeo shows are two hours long. They start with a beautiful and patriotic performance to the song of the Star Spangled Banner. Following this are shows and contests featuring bull riding, steer wrestling, and timed horse running around obstacles. As the riders and animals take breaks you are entertained by rodeo clowns and other performers.
This entire experience costs only $24 with optional box seats available for $35. You can purchase tickets online ahead of time and pick them up at the window when you arrive which I recommend doing since there was a bit of a line when we arrived. Quite honestly, there was ample seating available during the 8pm Friday night show when I attended and there was no reason to get the box seats. You are also free to roam around the fence area during the show for a closer position to the action.
During the more intense events like bull riding and steer wrestling I recommend getting out of your seat to get closer for some better angles if you’re planning on shooting the show. Read below as to what gear I recommend and a guideline for what settings to use.
Photo and Travel Gear:
Without a doubt you will need a good and fast piece of telephoto glass like the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 in order to get great action shots. The 2.8 aperture is very important for getting fast shutter speeds and a fast autofocus speed in an arena that although lit by strong ceiling lights is generally pretty dark.
A focal length like the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 and Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 will also be great for telling the rest of the story of the coliseum. Take a walk upstairs for the best angle where the audience and arena is visible. Personally I would be fine with taking the super-wide angle lens like the 14-24 or a Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 and the 70-200 I mentioned above. If you don’t own a super wide angle lens then you will be fine with a 24-70 or similar focal range. Since you will most likely walk around Stockyards Town before or after the show, you should still take the 24-70 as it is the ultimate walk around lens in my opinion.
As far as settings go I was mostly shooting at ISO 6400, F/2.8-3.5, and trying my best to get minimal shutter speeds of 1/320-1/500 or faster in order to freeze the action while still getting a proper exposure. Don’t be scared to bump the ISO that high – a noisy image is better than an unuseable blurry image. Keep in mind if your lens has a stabilization feature like my 70-200 VRII it will help with camera shake but it will not make moving subjects any sharper if your shutter speed is too slow.
For a full list of photo and travel gear I use on all of my adventures check out my recommendations list.