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Friday, August 19, 2011

Bird in Flight

A pro basketball dunk usually has both a powerful facial expression and acrobatic action, all in one shot.

Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird slams one down at the front end of a fast break during the season opener against Cleveland (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).

The Photo:
Larry Bird isn’t normally associated with slam-dunks because his strength was shooting and passing. However, early in his career, he would finish off some Celtic rushes down court with a slam-dunk, albeit not too frequently. This game was the season opener, and Bird was excited to start a year in which the Celtics would contend for (and later win) the championship, so the first time he got a breakaway down court, he dunked to charge up the Boston crowd and his teammates. On this shot, I sat perpendicular to the basket with a longer lens to catch his drive to the hoop and facial expression. Strangely enough, during the years I covered the Celtics, I shot several photos of Bird dunking, and he had his eyes closed like this in every one.

3 Tips:
1) Sitting perpendicular to the basket gives you a great angle to photograph players driving to the hoop.
2) Use an 85MM or 105MM lens and focus on the rim area.
3) Look for shots with players in the air showing intense facial expressions.

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