The 'fastest two minutes in sports' seen in 35mm

  • 2 min to read

Being a photographer at the Kernel is a lot about dealing with challenges. A lot of people who join the staff are just getting into photography, diving into a world that's competitive and complex intrinsically, and gets a lot more complicated when you add in the journalistic aspect of things. Equipment is often limited, and so are opportunities. But being successful and producing a quality product, be that a photo story or a newspaper, requires one to overcome those challenges.

Recently I stepped into the realm of film photography, and I've found myself facing a number of other challenges. Shooting on film takes a lot of patience and a lot of guesswork; you don't get to immediately check if you exposed a photograph right, or if you focused on the right thing. You have to apply what you know about settings, hit the shutter, and say a little prayer. The worst part is that you don't get to see if your prayers were answered for a (very) long time afterwards. After being accustomed to the speed and ease of shooting on digital cameras, shooting on film is one of the greatest challenges I could think of giving myself as an artist and as a journalist.

With all of this in mind, I made the decision to grab a couple of rolls of film, some watch batteries, and my Nikon FE (a camera that is a number of years my senior), and shot the Kentucky Derby the first weekend after school let out. Never before had I taken such a risk on a project of such importance, and I was definitely nervous, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't extremely excited too. Recently, the film was developed and arrived back to me.

One of the greatest traditions in the Commonwealth was my absolute joy to cover, and I hope that it shows in what's presented here. I'm thankful to the Kernel for the opportunity, and I hope that the images give some sense of the grandeur of a spectacle like I had never witnessed before.

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A gentleman checks his odds in the Oaks Day program before a race begins. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Betting tickets lay across the ground during the final hours of Derby Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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One of the escorting horses and its rider pause for a moment before stepping out onto the track on Oaks Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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A group of escorting horses and their riders interact with fans in the Winners' Circle suites between races on Oaks Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Two horses compete for first place during a race on the turf track on Derby Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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An owner whose horses recently won is interviewed by members of the media following his team's victory on Derby Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Jockey Javier Castellano and Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia ride around the Winners' Circle following their Oaks victory. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Police officers guard the Winners' Cirlce on the infield following the running of the Kentucky Oaks. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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A man stands outside of Churchill Downs, converting who he can on the morning of the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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A jockey and trainer ride out together onto the track before their race on Derby Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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A worker for one of the vendors smiles for the camera on Derby Day between post times. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Between post times, Oaks-goers walk to the Paddock to enjoy the festivities while others check their odds in their programs. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Gentleman take time to place bets before post time on Derby Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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A man selling "the coldest Lillies around" pitches his product to Oaks-goers. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Oaks-goers mill about in the light and shadow near the entrance tunnel to the infield. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Two women pose for a portrait between post times. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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A group of sharp-dressed gentlemen check their odds in a program on Oaks Day between post times. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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A winning jockey shakes hands with the owner of the horse he rode to victory on Derby Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff

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Horses run in a pack during a race on the dirt track on Derby Day. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff