Saturday, March 7, 2009

Men's Basketball: Maryland vs Duke

Nothing amps up the Maryland faithful like a match between the Terps and the Blue Devils.

On Wednesday evening the Terps entertained the Blue Devils at Comcast. Coming off a North Carolina victory on Saturday this game had a lot of hype heading into it. A win over the No. 2 ranked team in the country meant the Terps could take down a great team and a win over Duke would help Maryland re-establish itself in the hunt for an NCAA post-season ticket.

I had a lot going into this game tonight from a photographic standpoint. As a photographer your natural instinct draws you to the privileged spot of the baseline. However, experience begs to differ. Shooting from the stands gives you higher vantage points, better light, and better composition because your player is framed by spectators rather than vacant boring ceilings with sound dampeners and sharp lights.

I hesitated to gain elevation in my shooting perspectives the last 2 years although I did experiment with my 400mm from time to time. I visited the upper levels of Comcast and noticed that I could shoot at ISO 1250 at 1/500th second at f/2.8 without problems and have plenty of light on my subjects. However, the perspective isn't always great.

If I had to sum up what I learned this season it would be: shoot from the stands. And do it often. My shooting and dribble-penetration shots of Maryland while sitting in the stands are some of my favorites from the season because the faces are so visible! When you're on the baseline you get a ton of leg, torso, and chin shots but faces are hard to come by when a player goes for a dunk. Often times all you can get is a downward facing glance after the ball has been dunked. But, if you're at eye level with the basket you can get a lot more face. And as the old saying goes, if you can't see the eyes I'm not interested...

It was difficult to balance my enthusiasm for the Maryland vs Duke game with my knowledge that shooting from the stands in the first half was the right thing to do. However, I'm an engineer and I know that doing the right thing rather than the emotional thing leads everyone to better pastures. As a result I remained in the stands and varied my position several times in the first half of the ball game.

Towards the end of the half I retreated down to the baseline and captured some shots. It's difficult though going from shooting in the stands down to the baseline position because the perspective is so much lower. Shooting all the way across the court on the 300mm is so much easier than looking through the 70-200mm trying to grab a guard driving to the net.

In the end the Terps couldn't hold it together and 2 3-pointers by Duke sealed Maryland's fate. I give the team a lot of credit though for taking a great Blue Devil team to the final 3 minutes of play. After losing to Morgan State a lot of people questioned if the Terps could hang tough in tight competition. The answer is still up in the air, but the fact that they took the Blue Devils to within 3 points with 2 minutes to go is impressive.


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