Jumping into skydiving photography at Skydive Adventures in Luverne Minnesota.
Luverne Minnesota sits at the very southwestern corner of the state. Slightly further southwest is the Luverne municipal airport, known as Quentin Aanenson Field to us but known to pilots as KLYV. Quentin Aanenson Field gets it's name from the WWII hero of the same name. An Army Air Force pilot that was born in Luverne, Aanenson would take part in D-Day and save the lives of many soldiers in a heroic feat which you can read about here.
In an unsuspecting hangar at Aanenson Field sits Skydive Adventures. There aren't any other nearby skydiving dropzones, the nearest being in Minneapolis. Having been around for 56 years, Skydiving Adventures has a long history at the airport. Skydiving is an exciting things to see. We had to check these guys out and watch people jump out of airplanes and try to photograph them.
Every skydiving trip involves a plane. The plane of choice for these guys is the Cessna 182J. Taking groups of 4 jumpers up at a time the plane will circle the field doing laps until it reaches either 5,000 for students, or 10,000 feet for normal skydiving
Shooting pictures of the skydivers was a real challenge. The first problem is obviously that I am on the ground and they are in the air above me at an extreme angle. My lens of choice was my Canon 55-250. The ability to have extreme zoom with image stabilization meant that'd I be able to compensate for the huge difference in distance of the jumpers. Experimenting showed me that the best time to photograph the jumpers was right as they were coming in and preparing to flare for their landings. Oh, we could see them way up in the sky, in fact at 5,000 feet you can clearly see the jumper climbing out on the wing strut.
But this does very little to convey anything about skydivng. So by waiting until the jumpers have deployed their chutes and were within their last few hundred feet to the ground proved to be much more fruitful.
I quickly realized that better than just catching the jumper against the blue sky might be to catch them with background as a context.
See for yourself but it sure looks like this photo is much more exciting.
That said the beautiful parachute wings and jumpers contrasted against the blue sky is just wonderful.
The colors really seem to stand out against the sky.
This wing even seems to be glowing neon thanks to the sun being behind it.
The photos turned out wonderful thanks to a fast shutter speed. I stayed in shutter priority the whole time at 1/500 and set my ISO to auto . We don't care about depth-of-field against the sky but with how quickly the amount of light is changing as the jumper gets lower or into a shadow, we need the camera to make snap decisions for us. The window to take these photos is only a few seconds. The learning experience doing this was great, it's a challenging subject that really forces you to think about composition before the action happens.
I'd like to thank Skydive Adventures for letting us come out and take these photos. It was a real treat to photograph and hopefully we can come back soon to take more photos like this.