This is the game of buzkashi. It is played in several countries of Central Asia and involves two teams of horsemen. Often the teams can be very large but in this case it was just two on each side. It was a holiday and the guys were playing for their own amusement.
I was going to write about the rules of the game but the main feature is that there really aren't any. The white fluffy thing that the guys are fighting over is a sheep's carcass with the head and legs removed. The idea is to use any means possible to tussle and grab the carcass away from your opponents, ride to their end of the field and throw the sheep into a circular "goal" marked on the ground. If you manage to drag your opponent off their horse at the same time, so much the better.
I wasn't sure whether or not to post this because the quality of the image isn't great. It needed a lot of sharpening which resulted in a grainy effect (although I don't think this is unpleasant). I used smart blur for the background to remove noise and to blur the trees which were a little distracting. There's probably more contrast in the image than necessary but the dark area this created to the bottom left is preferable to the noisy brown mush I had before. The result may not be the best possible but it's a significant improvement on the original. If anyone has any better ideas of what I could have done to tidy up the image, I'd be glad to know.
Anyway, this is the type of picture I promise on my intro page. Maybe not the best quality but I hope of interest because of the subject matter. It's not every day you see crazed horsemen fighting over a dead sheep :-)
Critiques | Translate
Tavo (587) 2004-10-31 11:47
You didn’t leave anything to critiquers Jonathan, everything was said in your note, too self-critically, I think. The picture is attractive, dynamic in composition, light and colors, simpy wild, exactly as the depicted game. This crazy harmony overweighs any imperfections and dynamics makes them insignificant, or even functional - they belong there.
Very good picture.
waskahegan (0) 2004-10-31 12:04
I think the quality of the image is second to the cultural communication, which this very picture demonstrates. Excellent work
RGatward (20060) 2004-10-31 13:03
Very dynamic shot, good expression caught on the faces. looks like a tricky capture. The slightly niosy hig contrast treatment also contributes to this shot IMO.
pridel (233) 2004-10-31 17:31
I like much your photograph, it is very dynamic. the choice of the strong contrast and the sharp light accentuates the energy of the scene. The tight composition is a "must" a true battle with horses ones.
avis2avis (4264) 2004-11-01 1:54
Seems like you have already done all possible postpro on this one. But as you mention in your note, the subject element is so strong here, that I dont really mind the lossy quality of the image. The message needs to be delivered and it does get delivered here quite strongly. The spirit of the game of Buzkashi shows. A very good TE shot Jonathan. We need to see more such images here.
MiguelP (14470) 2004-12-07 3:44
Hi Jonathan... You made yesterday a critic to one of my pictures so I wanted to know with whom I was having the pleasure to talk to throught TE. I have enjoy the pictures of you I´ve seen, but I stop in this one because belong to a part of the world I´d like to visit, them because I like this composition so full of live, it makes me fell inside the shot. Thanks and keep traveling: It´s the best sport in the world.