Great pictures EML. But one thing I do not understand. The guy who had crushed D4 and 800mm was so close to the bulls, and could fit even two huge animals in the camera viewfinder, or he attempted a portrait "head and shoulders" of the animal and did not realize the actual distance? Should he have used a 1200mm?
Hi ajfotofilmagem, with my 200-400, I was set at 400 when they started the run, to get them full frame at this Point you needed a 600-800 (I tried 560 f/5.6 but it was taking too long to flip out the 1.4x so I stuck with 400 back to 200), waited until they filled the frame at the half way point then started to zoom back to 200, most of my Images were taken at 300-200 as this allowed most of the background to disappear among the flying mud ( a load of people & tents in the background), of course at that point the Bulls are 3 seconds from you.
The Chinese chap was with a small group behind us on a slight muddy rise that should have been safer & mostly was. Because the animals often took a while to get into the wooden harness,so unfortunately they released 2 & even 3 "runners" at the same time or quite close, that meant you pretty well had to do a runner immediately because with 6 Bulls coming down the patch at one time, your feet in a foot of the mud made escape a priority decision made sooner rather than later.
The Chinese chap just wrong footed himself, he ran Ok, but ran into a deeper muddy patch to one side where he was steamrollered by a Nikon hating Black Bull. He had a Nikon 200-400 & a D800 as a back up set up and was using the 800f/5.6 to get long shots of the riders from the start. The damage to his rig was mostly where the D4 Body parted company with the 800, the Tripod was fine, albeit a bit muddy, but the Body was missing the Lens Flange so a done deal, the 800 was slightly bent in the middle so you could possibly have saved it & shot around corners.
Within 10 minutes the guy was set back up & shooting, they make them tough in China.
The event is arranged once a year at the village level, there's not a lot of organisation that goes into the event, but the locals are very careful to try and reduce accidents, the nearest Hospital is at Padang a 2 hour drive away. This year apparently had the least amount of Photographers willing to set up at the end of the bull Run, and there was only the one semi casualty, last year they had to get a Malaysian Photographer to Hospital, and another Malaysian Photographer won the Sony World Photography award 2013 with an Image shot at this event in 2012 (Chen Wei Seng).