PHOTOS: Reno Rodeo’s 100th Year Captured on 100-Year-Old Equipment

With the Reno Rodeo highlighting its 100th year I, as a photojournalist, wanted to capture the celebration of a century of rodeos. Inspired by the historic images of the Reno Rodeo, I set about trying to find a way of seeing our modern Rodeo through the lens of history.

Photoshop, of course, has the capability of making modern images appear old, but I found this unauthentic and laborious. Modern lenses are incredible works of engineering allowing for stunning sharpness in images, which is fantastic, but visually distant from my historic ideals.

I then turned to my small collection of early 1900s cameras. What if I could find film for them and shoot with them? After much research I found this to be impossible or ludicrously expensive. No, what was needed was some combination of modern digital cameras and early 1900s equipment.

After a great deal of experimentation, I came to a working solution: A 1931 Kodak Rainbow Hawkeye vest pocket lens on a modern Canon DSLR. All of these images were captured using this lens. They had minor editing to color match historic images from the 1930s.

PHOTO GALLERY: Day 1 at The Reno Rodeo
Ty O'Neil
About Ty O'Neil 254 Articles
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at ThisisReno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad


  1. These are fantastic photos and a great idea for milestone celebrations like this. How did you convert the lens for the modern Canon?

    • I purchased a few body caps and drilled holes though the center of the caps so light from the lens could enter the camera. I then experimented oh how to mount the lens to the cap. I ended up consulting a friend who does a lot of crafts and they concocted a combination of glue and black electrical tape that held much better than my previous attempts.

      All I had to do then was set the camera to manual and spend a few days practicing before the rodeo. The images in the article are a collection of about 4 days of rodeo shooting with the vest pocket lens.

      The lens was roughly 80mm fixed zoom with an aperture of f5.6 just by my own estimation

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