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The American Cowboy – Part II

My day with Doug started early, earlier than I normally do anything. Doug and Jan asked me to show up at the ranch by 6:45 which meant I need to be up at 5, load the camera gear, and grab a cup of coffee at the General Store. No kidding, I had breakfast at the General Store before a cattle drive. The plan was to ride into the hills and move a large herd of cattle to a staging area where they would be pushed to their winter pasture the next day. Before I go into the details about driving cattle and lane-ing bunch quitters, I thought it would be interesting to share with you how a typical day starts for Doug.

While we prepared for the day, I tried to stay out of the way, make a few images, and observe what was going on. At first I was taken back by how different the start of Doug’s day is from most people I know. However, what I really thought was interesting is how excited Doug is about getting his day started. The guy is happy to go to work. I mean really happy! Who wouldn’t be? It starts with a quick call to coordinate, as Doug says, a pile of Cowboys, followed by the horse selection and preparation. Once the team is assembled, it’s off to the trailhead where we would begin our ride into the high country. I will have much more on that later in the series. Tomorrow we will take a closer look at the team.

The complete series

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

The American Cowboy

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  1. Very nice!

  2. I love the black and white on these. Beautiful, rich tones. Nicely done!

  3. Incredible images, Justin. Love the work you’re doing with these.

  4. Fantastic images. I like that you’ve decided to go with B&W…so powerful.

  5. Really digging the B/W conversion on these. The contrast just amplifies the emotion from these shots. Great work bud.

  6. These are wonderful images! I’m really enjoying the film like quality to these shots and the artistic direction your images are moving.

  7. Love these. The bw just makes these scream.

  8. Justin, this is awesome. What a treat it must have been to take part in this ride! Even though I’m sure it was extremely hard work, the opportunity to experience real cowboys and a cattle drive first hand sounds totally cool to me! You’ve represented the cowboys very well in the images, especially the rustic, worn feel to the images. Fantastic job!

  9. Great tones. I like the use of B&W here. Terrific.

  10. Justin, these are fantastic. I love the detail shots but my favorite by far is the second one with the cowboy and tack lit through the open doorway. No, wait. It’s the one with Doug seen over the saddle. No, wait again. It’s the first one with Doug saddling up his mount – love the motion blur there. Forget it, they’re all wonderful. The black and white processing is amazing.

  11. Thanks so much for all your comments and support for this series. I have been working hard at telling this story and I appreciate the kind words. It is such a great family, and I hope to do them justice.

  12. John Ginn says:

    These are wonderfully done. Such beautiful rich tones. As a friend of mine would say: these are crispy. Which is the highest form of praise.

  13. True Grit/grain. I’m a huge B/W fan and your photos reassure me why. They speak of the tough life on the open range way more than if done in color. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Hi Justin,
    Just saw your run on “The American Cowboy”. It looks as if you’re headed somewhere. Good work..good for you. I’m an international freelance operating out of central Kentucky. Seeing your interest in cowboy B&W, I’d be remiss not to direct you to “the mountain”.
    My mentor and fellow “hired gun”, Jay Dusard of Douglas, AZ did a book called “The North American Cowboy, a Portrait”. It is the standard that all others are judged by. The book is sometimes available in libraries. Even though it is out of print, sometimes you can score an inexpensive copy even though it sells for over a thousand dollars. It’s worth the hunt..go for it. It was done with a view camera which is still considered the gold (or black and white) standard even though digital is catching up. We’ll get there…someday! Work like yours proves that! Again, nice work. Keep shooting! “Take lots of pichers”.
    Kind regards,
    John Gentry
    “Camera for Hire”

    • I really appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to tell me about this book. Sounds like something I would love. I will keep my eye out for it.

      Thanks for the kind words, and I will keep making the ‘pichers’!


  15. Hi Justin, found you through a share on G+ from Cathy Moore. Really enjoyed this work. Good stuff. Something I would love to have the chance to do.

    Keep on keepin’ on ?

    All my best Heidi

  16. Justin,

    Great work. Amazing work ethic these fellas have huh!? Something wonderful about getting up early blessed to face a day of work doing something you love!
    I enjoyed the series! The 4th and 8th images stood out for me…and the opener as well. Looking forward to seeing more.
    Mr.Gentry is right….Jay Dusard’s work in the field is unsurpassed, and truly worth some time to enjoy. He is the first name that comes to mind when I see this type of work. I’m glad to be amongst such great talented company. Keep up the wonderful work.

    Jason Joseph

  17. Whew. Really nice images here. Looking forward to the rest. ~ Mark

    • Thanks so much! The links to the rest of the series are post above the images if you would like to check them out.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  18. Beautiful images Justin and enjoying the story! Thanks for sharing such a cool experience with the rest of us!

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