Remember that you will not see a lot of bull fights, you will see a lot of sparring and good sparring photos are worthwhile -- the same tips below apply. The photos below are from 2007 to 2012 -- 6 years. I usually see 2 or 3 fights a year in dozens of visits to Boxley Valley. I see sparring all the time extending as late as January, well after the rut.
The first tip in effective bull fight photography is that the you must anticipate the photo you want to get or you will never get it. Your reflexes lag at least 1/2 second behind your decision to shoot a photo. You need to understand what movements precede the picture you want.
Spend some time looking at elk fight videos and you will understand the sequence of movements during a bull fight. In a real fight, bulls drive each other back, there is a lot of twisting, there are resets when they disengage and re-engage. All these key moments are better pictures than just straight ahead lock ups.
|Note the Leg Drive and Body Strain|
The picture above shows a bull driving on the left, and the bull on the right attempting to hold his ground. The neck twisting is pretty standard and I think more visually interesting than straight ahead in line shots. (This was in the Ponca field.)
|Just Before the Elk Reset -- Must Be Anticipated|
|The Moment of Truth, Look at the Eye Contact|
|Twisting Bodies Make Interesting Photos|
|Straight Ahead and OK, But Pretty Standard Pose|
|Loser Flees After Defeat|
|Before They Fight They Square Off|
These photos should get your thought process going. Spend some time with visualization. Make sure your camera is setup for high speed action. I will shoot a high ISO (2000 or more) and try to be at least at F8 and 1/1000 of a second. I don't use a tripod for fights because I miss too much. Remember you will be very excited when you photograph an elk fight. Do your preps, think about the issues, and pre-visualize to get the best results. You won't have time to figure out details at the last minute.