Getting the Shot: Photographer Keith Ladzinski on Shooting BASE Jumping in Utah


Photographer Keith Ladzinski talks about shooting the Extreme Photo of the Week, which was part of the Steph Davis project. Download free desktop wallpaper of the image, too.

Ancient Art (seen here), at Fisher Towers outside of Moab, Utah, is an exposed spire formation unlike anything else. To summit the tower you have to climb three moderate pitches of crumbly technical sandstone and then walk across the top of the thin ridge dubbed "the sidewalk," which is roughly 18 inches wide in places, and 300 feet of shear exposure on both sides. From there it's onto the remaining technical and seemingly fragile tower, all required to gain the summit.

The top is small enough for only one to stand on, if you dare, and physically rocks a little from the top piece of loose sandstone, it's truly an experience. The mental game of battling vertigo and staying focused is the real challenge here, and the "what if" of falling is all you can think about.

For Steph Davis and Mario Richard, falling was exactly what they had in mind. They're seen here making the first ever "Two-Way Exit" where they jumped one after another off of the short and intimidating summit. Mario Richards was the first to ever jump the summit some two years prior.

Shooting this photo was a wild experience. The crisp January air only heightened the excitement of the scene. Watching your friends BASE jump you know they're already laying it on the line. Steph and Mario know their limits and take any precaution possible when jumping. There are no quick re-dos in the shoot and the moment happens very quickly. Being ready and prepared is critical, you don't want to miss the shot. While shooting this I had rigged my tripod off the side of the lower summit with a head extension allowing for a still camera (Nikon D3) with a cable release to freeze the action and a video camera on a fluid head to grab video. Follow filming and shooting is tough. I felt like a junk show, but somehow managed to pull it off.

Steph Davis Tower Project from Keith Ladzinski on Vimeo

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Fisher Towers in Utah is a well known destination to hikers and rock climbers. It's common to show up the canyon and see it speckled with outdoor enthusiasts. The best time to avoid the crowds is when it's cold and perhaps a little miserable, like this particular day. There's nothing like being here alone, when the only sound is the wind or laughter and conversation of the people you've arrived with.

See the Extreme Photo of the Week >>

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