Sunday, September 29, 2013

Taking Good Elk Bull Fight Pictures -- 7 Examples and Notes

I love to take bull fight pictures. The following pictures are samples from the many I have photographed with some ideas for you to think about when you photograph your first bull fight or even just vigorous sparring.

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.

Bull Elk Fight
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.)

Bull Elk Fight
Just Before the Elk Reset -- Must Be Anticipated 
 This picture is a moment before the elk disengaged. The power and twisting of the elk is interesting visually. If I were a sculptor, this would be what I would go for. There is a lot of movement in this still photo. This happens many times in most fights, but it is very fast and you need to anticipate it. (This was in the Smith Creek field.)

Bull Elk Fight
The Moment of Truth, Look at the Eye Contact
 This is one of those "moments of truth" photos. Here the winning bull on the right has pinned down his opponent. They have great eye contact, and the bottom bull seems to be aware he is losing. This is one of my favorites because of the eyes.  Eyes matter a lot in fight photos.  (This was in the Ponca field.)

Bull Elk Fight
Twisting Bodies Make Interesting Photos
This picture shows a pleasing twist of the bodies as the two bull wrestle. Again this is only a moment and it has to be anticipated.  (This was in the Ponca field.)

Bull Elk Fight
Straight Ahead and OK, But Pretty Standard Pose
This picture is the Boxley Beast vs. Godzilla fight that my wife videoed so well.  This is a decent photo of two magnificent bulls, but it is not as visually interesting as all the photos above. (This was in the Smith Creek field.)

Bull Elk Fight
Loser Flees After Defeat
Ultimately there is a winner and a loser. Here you see the herd bull after a 25 minute fight finally drive off the challenger.  This was perhaps the best fight I have ever seen and this picture might be the best bull fight picture at the moment of truth.  Note the satellite bull n the background stealing the harem.  This is a rare shot. (This was in the 43/21 field.)

Bull Elk Fight
Before They Fight They Square Off
When a bull fight is setting up the two bulls often separate, paw the ground and tilt their antlers from side to side as though they were connected by magnets. This was taken just moments before they charged and began fighting in earnest.  (This was in the 21/43 field.)

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking time to comment on my blog. I do moderate all comments, so they will not show up immediately, and in some cases not at all. I draw the line at personal attacks (of me or anyone else), and irrelevant posts. Spammers, don't waste my time.

I may quote your comments without attribution. By commenting, you agree to being quoted in all cases, and for all purposes.