Photographer Takes Profoto Lights to the Sky for Mid-Air Skydiving Shoot

Think studio lighting can sometimes be stressful? One adventure photographer tried it while freefalling at 125 mph for a skydiving photoshoot, complete with a Profoto flash.

After years of shooting outdoor adventure photography, Jesper Gronnemark conducted the impressive shoot as a means of pushing the boundaries. He wanted the photos to be the genuine article, shooting his subjects mid-skydive, and without losing studio quality lighting.

Gronnemark shot the images using a Sony a7R II, lighting them with a Profoto B1X flash. The initial plan had been for the shoot to take place once the parachutes had been deployed since they’d be falling at a slower pace and it’d be more practical to shoot. Alas, fate would have it that on their chosen day, intense winds meant it’d be too dangerous and it was ruled out.

When shooting, the flash was held by an assistant who was freefalling to the left of the subject, serving as a fill light while Gronnemark utilized the natural light surrounding them. Check out the below picture, taken from the behind-the-scenes video, to see the boys in action.

Video screenshot courtesy Kasper Sveistrup

The camera and flash team jumped first, getting comfortable and steady in their position before the subject jumped and caught up with them. The end result is a series of images showcasing a skydiver falling head first towards earth. Before they took to the skies, Gronnemark also took a series of portraits of the team beside the aircraft.

Peep the video shot by Kasper Sveistrup above. Check out more from Gronnemark on his websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

All images used with permission.

[via PetaPixel]

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20 Comments

Ariel Martini's picture

I always feel that artificial lightning + daylight makes the subject look photoshopped into the picture.

Not always. Artificial lighting, done right, can look natural. These shots were way overdone.

David Butterell's picture

Ground shots are ok. Freefall shots are just shot with natural light and I’ve seen far better with and without flash.

"BEFORE they took to the skies (...) took a series of portraits" -- good thinking.

It's difficult to get excited about techniques used to take mediocre shots. :-/

Dario Impini's picture

Agree. Results are not inspiring. Perhaps like so much media these days it was meant to be a publicity stunt more than actually produce results.

Spy Black's picture

Well, at least he went for it. It's his first time at it too, right? So it could've been better but could YOU have done better? He did it. Hopefully it will inspire him to do it more and get better at it. There's always that first time.

I've done a worse job on much easier tasks but I don't advertise it except to say, "Well, it didn't work out so well this time but I'll keep trying". There's nothing wrong with doing a bad job but it's nothing to brag about, either.

Spy Black's picture

Is he bragging? I duuno, if I had the opportunity to pull this off and didn't go as well as it could, I'd put it out there too. How often does anyone do this?

Good point. I don't know what his attitude was, being filtered through the author's article. I know if it were me, but it's not, I would be more outspoken about its failings. But really, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, the portraits are pretty bad, too. I don't think he was falling from the sky when he took those. ;-)

To be clear, I am absolutely not ragging on the photographer. There's no way I'm jumping out of a plane and, especially, trying to take photos. I guess the presentation of the article turned me off. It reads like a "how to take mid-air photos with flash" article.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Tristan shu has already done this, with a result that matched the effort imho.

michael buehrle's picture

was i the only one that expected amazing photos ? i don't see much difference in others taken without flash. sorry, cool idea yes but didn't work for me.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Everyone who expected amazingly lit photos.. well considering they shot at 1/1600 f/10 @ iso:640 there really isn't much juice left in the B1X, especially at that distance.

Spy Black's picture

I'm cutting this guy some slack. Everyone's an armchair quarterback here. How would YOU have pulled that off? Not for nuthin', but that's not exactly a walk in the park. Maybe some other dude pulled it off better, but he went ahead and did it too. Maybe not as good as he could have done, but there's a first for everything for each individual, right? Hopefully he learned from it and will get better because of it.

Jack Alexander's picture

I agree. Try to fathom how tough it would be to even hold the camera and be pressing the shutter button whilst travelling 125mph. It's a wonder he even got any usable shots at all.

Jozef Povazan's picture

Well I do not agree these are usable shots :) They had nice idea but planning and execution did not go like they probably hoped. Yes this had been done by Elinchrom guys couple months back with really nice shots Tristan did, and they executed the shoot very well. Here there is lack of it, nice try yet I would not offer this as a example of amazing work. Maybe next round, this was good practice round IMO. He is capable photographer if you look at his website from action shots from ground he is fine, but in the air you take it to another level and you can see he got surprised up there :)... But it is a try as Spy Black said so kudos to him, let's see the next round ... Happy shooting everyone.

Jack Alexander's picture

Tough crowd. Jozef I look forward to seeing the results of you jumping from a plane with a camera.

Jozef Povazan's picture

Jack, I have no intention to jump from a plane hooked up to a tandem paraglide and then shoot a free falling buddy with his lighting profoto assistant next to him :) That does not mean I do not fancy guys who do it, and when they do it well BRAVO :). I presented my honest opinion that these images are nothing spectacular / including those from the ground !!! / and many other readers above have even stronger opinions about them. By saying that I really salut to bunch of guys who planned something like this and honestly / not jealously / wish them next time they nail it !!! so our jaws drop down. I do not say things to be politically correct , and I appreciate a nice story of images. These were not the best and story was not the strongest but they had guts to try and next time they will do better. You published them to a photography news site, so do not get surprised crowd is TOUGH :). I do not make living from action photography, yet if I was and had a chance to recreate this scenario again, then heck I would !!! Since photographers who shoot this thematics live around sportsmen who do this all the time I believe Jesper will go for it again. It takes some time to nail stuff and he is pretty good with bikers, so free falling stunts will need its time and only time will tell how it will go. Marry Christmas and cheers to fearless photographers :) just my 50 cents to your poking :)

Paul Lindqvist's picture

I 'm not criticizing the effort at all, but you need to be clueless to not to understand the limitations of the gear they used in this situation.

But then again Profotos own promo videos show a similar overestimate of the output in similar conditions.

Your clipping path is perfect