4 times when a Hail Mary might be the right move
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4 times when a Hail Mary might be the right move

A bee hops between blackberry flowers on a sunny day in North Tacoma. By holding the stem of the flower in one hand and camera (with a full-frame fisheye) in the other, I could adjust the composition quickly and blast frames whenever the bee appeared close. My slow noggin just couldn’t keep up. July 2014. Photo and caption by Peter Haley.

More often than not, the 'decisive moment' doesn't happen exactly where you want it. Sometimes the best angle is one that's impossible to achieve with the camera to your eye – players huddling on a field, a crowd on a dance floor. For such occasions, there's what's known as a Hail Mary.

The Hail Mary takes its name from a long shot pass in American football, a low-percentage shot when there are no other options. It's a last ditch effort, but you don't have much to lose by trying. In photography, the Hail Mary is most often thought of as holding your DSLR far above your head and pointing it down toward your subject, but the term can apply to any shot you take with the camera away from your body, pressing the shutter button and hoping for the best.

Sure, cameras with tilting LCDs can give you an advantage nailing the shot, but especially when time is of the essence, sometimes the best you can do is point your lens in the right direction and pray.

Photojournalist Peter Haley has found himself in more than one situation that called for a shot from a tricky angle. Whether it's for an unexpected angle of a familiar subject, or an effort to keep your distance, here are a few occasions that call for a long shot.