How We Got The Picture: Leaning into the turn

  • Bert, a Black-Capped Capuchin monkey leans into the coming turn as he rides Luna, a German shepherd in the Banana Derby at the McHenry County Fair Tuesday in Woodstock in July of 2019.

    Bert, a Black-Capped Capuchin monkey leans into the coming turn as he rides Luna, a German shepherd in the Banana Derby at the McHenry County Fair Tuesday in Woodstock in July of 2019. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • John StarksDaily Herald photojournalistOctober 2019

    John StarksDaily Herald photojournalistOctober 2019

 
 
Updated 7/4/2020 2:40 PM

I was told about the Banana Derby before I went to the McHenry County Fair last July. I knew I wanted to make a photograph of a monkey riding a dog, and I hoped it wouldn't be a sad situation. Sometimes performing animals make me sad.

All the dogs in this traveling show were rescued from kill shelters and the monkeys were rescued from similar situations, so I felt good about being there. But the best part was seeing how excited the animals were to perform for the crowd. They seemed to be happy and have a genuine sense of why they were running in circles.

 

This monkey wanted to go fast. His mouth was open and his eyes were wide as he leaned into each turn while the young dog raced around the track. When the handler stopped the race, Bert, the monkey jumped up and down on the dog's back and grabbed at the handler's pants to get his attention. He wanted to race.

On his second or third lap of the first race, Bert noticed me. The next time around he watched me taking his photo and as the dog carried him past, he turned his head and kept his eyes on me. But the best photo was this one. I like how he is so serious about racing.

I was using a Nikon D750 camera and 70-200 mm lens set at F2.8 to reduce background noise.

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