BASE jumping consists of leaping from tall buildings and other high structures whilst equipped in much the same way as a skydiver. It is apparently possible to make a safe landing from as low as 300 feet above the ground. The free-fall section of a jump can last from as little as one second or up to about 13 seconds, depending upon the height of the launch pad. The BASE acronym stands for "building, antenna, span and earth".
Skydiving equipment has been specially adapted to allow BASE-jumpers to exit safely from buildings and other structures, and prepare almost immediately for a safe landing perhaps in a city street. Parachutes open necessarily hard and fast and the time available for capturing a worthwhile image is extremely short. If a photographer is jumping with the subjects, he has a very short time available to complete numerous vital activities.
Jumpers equipped with skydiving helmets and photographic equipment have the chance to create spectacular images of city surroundings, cliff faces, other jumpers and so on. However, special training and equipment are required. The weight of the camera is a significant factor, because the jarring effect produced when a parachute opens can cause neck injuries. Clearly it is important for a BASE-jumper's parachute to open rapidly. A tube is normally connected to the mouth of the BASE-jumper to provide a pressure-based shutter release function. This frees the arms for the more important purpose of controlling the diver's descent. However, some jumpers use electronic releases which can be held in the left hand. The right hand is used for releasing the parachute.
For photographers, the proximity of the jumpers to high structures provides a number of possible static viewpoints. Photographs can be obtained from ground level, and also in elevated locations close to the jumping-off point.