Skydiving, as one can imagine, is dangerous enough, but try to imagine the added element of trying to capture the perfect picture, 12,000 feet up in the air.
One photographer does exactly that, as a career.
"As a kid, I've always been pretty active, always enjoyed extreme sports, whether it was doing the skateboarding thing or riding bicycles," said Niklas Daniel. "In this case, this was just another thing I wanted to experiment with."
One can call Daniel a skydiving expert. To date, Daniel has made more than 10,000 jumps, and counting, and he is now known as one of the best behind the camera, at 12,000 feet.
Daniel's love for photography began at an early age, and after falling in love with skydiving, he blended his two passions.
"The moment is very fleeting," said Daniel. "So, if you have a shot in your head that you would like to create, it takes a lot of practice, a lot of training, also a little engineering to try and put that together."
Daniel also described the difference between photography works that take place on terra firma, and those that take place up in the air.
"If you're taking a photograph on the ground, depending on the subject, you maybe have the ability to take a test shot, take a look at the settings, and then be able to adjust until you get that right shot," said Daniel. "Skydiving is more of sport photography, where they're trying to get that perfect shot and it's not something that you can recreate necessarily."
Daniel said in order to be a good aerial photographer, you'd have to be a great skydiver.
"Not is it enough that I have to fly my own body or my parachute for example, but I have to be able to do that without having to think about it that much that I can now focus on the shot," said Daniel. "In addition to that, I have to be very aware of my closing speeds with other people, the distance I'm away from them and I also have to remain altitude aware. I can't look at my altimeter constantly, because that would ruin the shot."
Equipment is also important. Daniel's helmet works as his rig, and his tripod is his own body.
Over the years, Daniel has documented other people's jumps, along with the formation of skydiving teams. He has also produced training video. Daniel said some of his favorite pictures to take are during competition with his team.
"I really enjoy the pressure of having to get a specific shot, and then being able to present that to the judges," said Daniel. "That's been my expertise, but I also really enjoy the off-the-wall projects, so whether someone wants to light a parachute on fire or something kind of more in that direction. Something you don't see everyday."
Besides doing what he loves everyday, Daniel also gets to share his passion with others who might not get the chance to. He and his wife, Brianne, support "Operation Enduring Warrior" by donating their time to help wounded veterans enter the sport of skydiving.
Skydiving, one could say, is a sport that has taken Daniel to heights he never could have imagined.
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