Flight-1, Brian Germain, and Greg Windmiller might be able to teach you how to land your canopy safely, but they don't teach what is arguably the most important skill for a canopy pilot to master. What could be more important than being a safe canopy pilot? Being a photogenic canopy pilot! Here are some tips for maximizing your exposure on SkydivingStills.com.

To start, remember your landing priorities from AFF? Yeah, forget those. Wing level? What fun is that? No obstacles? No spectacular crashes! Flare? Please. PLF? More like faceplant!  If you want decent pictures, you have new priorities...

Find the camera

CPI.<br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2015-04-18_skydive_cpi_0990</span>
Pay attention to the location of the camera while you fly the landing pattern. At CPI, you'll find it along the beer line in the mornings and often out in the field in the afternoons. Finding the camera should be your first priority, especially when turning base to final.

Find the Sun

Koko. 6/21/14

Try to land with the sun behind the photographer. When you are in between the photographer and the sun, the pictures will be backlit. This often makes the sky too bright and the colors muted.

Andrew.<br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2015-04-19_skydive_cpi_0039</span>
See how much better a well lit picture looks?
Hollie runs out her landing gracefully in front of the setting sun. 11/1/09

On the other hand, sometimes backlit pictures can be nice. Please help control the brightness of the sun by covering it with your canopy.

Choose an appropriate landing direction

The wind sock tells the rest of the story. 4/10/10
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a landing direction. Is there enough wind to make for a spectacular downwinder? Where will the sun be when you're on final? Will the camera be seeing your face or your back when you land? At CPI, the light is almost always better when landing to the South. North landings should be reserved for early mornings, late afternoons, and spectacular downwind landings.
Into the trees.

When landing to the North, you'll get the best light near the North treeline.


If your shadow is in front of you, you've probably chosen a less than ideal landing direction.


Landing in the opposite direction of other canopies can often make for spectactular pictures. The key is to maintain close proximity to the other canopies. Otherwise only one can be in focus at a time and the effect is less dramatic. 

Choose an appropriate distance from the camera

Morgann's 100th landing.
Don't be too far.
Can't decide what caption to use.  Something about him being so good he can do it with his eyes closed, something about Jay making a night jump, or something about him being too scared to watch his own landing.  Vote now! 9/30/07

Or too close. Remember, you are not trying to tackle the photographer.

Becky flares.

Try to be juuuuust right.

Anyone noticed that Bryce comes very close to violating Monique's copyrighted landing?<br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2015-04-18_skydive_cpi_0187</span>

If you want your whole canopy in the picture, land a bit farther away. And remember to leave room for your bridle!

Where'd the plane go?

Watch out Ralph!  Bogie, six o'clock! 4/30/11
The plane doesnt disappear after you jump out of it. It's usually landing at about the same time as you. Get between the plane and the photographer!
Oh, it was behind him!
Some quick trigonometry will allow you to determine the correct altitude for a crossover. You may need to hold brakes or front risers to adjust your height for the perfect framing.

Is the Moon out?

Jason flies by the moon.  Nice aim!
Always know where the Moon is. When the Moon is out during the day, plan your canopy flight around it. Always put yourself between the photographer and the Moon. Make as many passes as possible.
I'll give Monique a C for effort.
Don't be like "eh, close enough." No, it's not close enough. Be precise!

Make a great face

Tom makes flaring look painful.
Tom spots me. 11/7/09
Try to be like Tom.

Kick up the peas, dirt, grass, or snow

Philip slides through the peas.<br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2015-04-18_skydive_cpi_0448</span>
Standing up your landings is not important. Be spectacular.
Disturb the snow. It's ok.
C'mon, we just planted grass there!
Tandems know how it's done.
Dave makes sure not to disturb any snow.
No! This is not how we land in snow!

Land in groups

Canopy collision. Let's be careful to land straight down the field. This could have been bad if they were a few feet higher.
Landing close to each other is just common courtesy for the photographer. It's simply a matter of efficiency. Why get a picture of one person when you can get two or more people in a single picture?
Rob finally drops Chad. 3/18/12
CRW breakoffs are ideally done when the ground can be seen in the photo. Avoid breakoffs above treetop level.

Fall with style

Then this happened.<br><span style="font-size:14px">2015-05-02_skydive_cpi_0052</span>
"Let inertia take control and don't tense up." - Ancient Chinese proverb.
But... extra points for style! 9/10/11
Bonus points for a leg in the air.
That's like 100 extra style points.  Take notes! 11/1/09
Double bonus for both.
His face came to a sudden stop, his body did not. That's called a scorpion. 9/18/11
"The Scorpion" is always a crowd pleaser.
I just like the reactions from the peanut gallery. 9/30/07
Making people smile: Priceless.

Avoid your own canopy's shadow

Monique.<br><span style="font-size:14px">2015-05-02_skydive_cpi_0113</span>
In the middle of the day when the sun is straight above, your canopy's shadow will tend fall on your body. This ruins pictures.
Koko in a deep carve. 7/18/10
To avoid this problem, lean your canopy over as steeply as possible before landing. This will ensure the sun reaches your face.
Now that he has 25 jumps, he only needs to flare with one hand.<br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2015-05-25_skydive_cpi_0843</span>
Good effort.
Now THAT'S a carve! 9/5/11
Landing like this provides much better lighting for photos of your spectacular crash too!

Dress for success

Shooting webs at the porta potties. <br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2016-10-29_skydive_cpi_0892</span>
A normal jumpsuit won't attract the attention of a photographer. Spiderman will.
Even the tandem instructors got into the festivities. 10/30/10
Too busy working to join the festivities? I don't think so!
RipcorD's sexy new look. 9/3/07
Bright colors work too.

Eye Contact

Camera awareness and eye contact. This will be the next topic of my canopy course. <br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2017-09-04_skydive_cpi_0386</span>
Jeff. <br><span class="skyfilename" style="font-size:14px">2017-06-10_skydive_cpi_1219</span>
All smiles.
Camera awareness is one of the most important canopy skills you will learn. But knowing where the camera is isn't enough. You have to put that knowledge to use and look right at the camera. Looking where you're going doesn't cut it.

Thanks for reading the SkydivingStills.com Online Canopy Course. You are now ready to put your new knowledge to use. Keep in mind many of the tips covered in this course will make you a much less safe canopy pilot. But at least you'll get some awesome pictures! Good luck!

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