Cavell Johnson’s winning dunk

My first true sports photography occurred when I was the Albany Patroons’ team photographer.  And from time to time, I would create stitch shots of various dunks – for me, a “stitch shot” meant that I could superimpose three or more images in a row of a player going to the hoop and slamming the ball home.

John Strickland to the hoop
John Strickland of the Albany Patroons goes for two. Nikon D70 camera, lens unknown. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I’ve moved to different leagues and different cameras over the years, and last weekend I had an opportunity to photograph the National Basketball League of Canada’s skills competition, which included the slam dunk contest.

The slam dunk contest works like this.  Each man has ninety seconds to complete a dunk.  Then the dunk is judged by a celebrity panel.  Among the dunkers were Cavell Johnson, a minor league veteran for the Brampton (Ontario) A’s.  Last year, as a member of the Saint John (N.B.) Mill Rats, Cavell Johnson tried, in front of the home crowd, to dunk over the hood of a brand new car a la Blake Griffin.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the dunk off, and lost in the competition.

This year, he was not taking any chances.  He made several dunks to get to the finals, where he would face one of the high flyers of the NBL, Stefan Bonneau of the Windsor Express.

Johnson was ready.  He set up a ball rack in front of the hoop.

Then, channeling his best Edwin Moses…

He hurdled the ball rack and slammed the rock home.

He did this twice, and won the 2014 Slam Dunk championship.  Bonneau could have slammed the ball from the heavens, and it wouldn’t have been enough.

And do you want to see his massive dunk?

I got you covered.

Of course, it took a while to get this put together – my laptop doesn’t have digital image editing software on it, so I had to drive home and put some pictures together on my computer.  A little stitch here, a little stitch there…

And I got this.

Cavell Johnson wins dunk contest
Cavell Johnson wins dunk contest. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, four pictures combined. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Man, that feels good.

Photos like these bring me back to the days when I used to shoot the Albany Patroons games at the Armory.

I guess that’s why I need vacations like this.  It brings back the fun of photography, as well as the creativity to construct a new image out of the parts of old ones.

You know what?  I’m going to put this picture in the “I’m thinking about it for competition season” pile. I can’t enter it in the Big E, simply because that competition restricts entries to single images, not stitch jobs.

I’ll save this image, instead, for the Big E.

Stefan Bonneau takes flight
Stefan Bonneau takes flight. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.