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May 032014

Photo copyright Trent Heimerdinger

The inspiration to capture this image came a long time ago. I decided that I had to get a photo of a friend of mine doing his first double gainer. A gainer is when you do a back flip facing forward. For the longest time my friends and I could only do single flips, until this day when Austin, a friend of mine, mustered the guts to try a double. This was taken at a place where we had been before, Fossil Creek, Arizona, so we were comfortable with the jump. This is the highest cliff jump the creek had to offer, around 30-35 feet, so I decided the double flip had to be done here. The water was a refreshing 73 degrees and the air was about ten degrees warmer and there was a small breeze so the conditions were almost perfect. After a few warm up jumps and flips it was time to get down to business and go for the double. I hiked all around the cliff looking for the best spot to take the picture. After a short search I found a spot where nothing was in the way of the shot but I was nearly hanging off the edge of the cliff. I got settled in as it was time to break the friendly record of just one flip. Austin did a few test run ups to make sure his footing was secure and he was comfortable. Once his mind was right he only had one thought, “Go”. It felt like there was nothing but silence as he left the rock because I was nervous, but in reality the people watching below were very loud as they were a bit shocked by what he did. Once he left the frame of my camera I instantly leaned over to see how he landed and what do you know, he was as straight as a pencil hitting the water with his arms tucked in to his sides. Once his head came up from underwater there was a big sigh of relief and an even bigger sense of pride because we did what we came to do. I was inspired to capture it long ago but became satisfied April 19th, 2014. When Austin hiked back up the cliff to check the camera we were both very excited. I gave him a “thank God you’re alive” hug and instantly showed him the pictures I took. I took a look and knew right away they weren’t the strongest images I’ve taken but they were the most satisfying to look at because we knew what it took to get them, which was persistence and a lot of guts. I didn’t try to achieve any certain look with the photo because I just wanted to make sure I captured it. It wasn’t about being artsy at the time, it was about just taking pictures of what he did and having the proof to show for it. All I was trying say with this photo is that it happened. There is no message behind it, just truth. I captured it using my Nikon D3200 with a 17-55mm auto focus lens. I had the shutter speed at 1/500 seconds, ISO at 400, f-stop at f/10 and zoomed in to 48mm, on burst shutter mode. I brought the photo into Adobe Lightroom to make some minor touch ups. I lightened the background because there were a lot of shadows, toned down the highlights and whites, brought up the clarity just a bit, then put a light black vignette around the border to make Austin stand out a little bit more.

About the Photographer:
My name is Trent Heimerdinger and I am a senior at NAU, majoring in electronic media and film production, and getting my minor in photography. I have enjoyed taking photos and video for as long as I can remember. As a young kid I would take one of my dad’s cameras and shoot all day when I could, and I guess the hobby has stuck with me all these years. I now see why this is my major/minor, simply because I enjoy doing it. My favorite kind of photos to take are the ones that capture those once in a life time, or extreme moments. I have done a fair amount of trying to capture moments like that, and when i get just one good photo that can tell the world what happened without words, I’m happy. My process for taking pictures like that is to just simply be there, and take pictures to prove that it happened. I don’t think my work differs too much from others out there; I might take my camera places that most people wouldn’t, but that about it. My goal as a photo/videographer is to just show those moments of somebody doing something they will always remember. I am inspired by people’s reactions when they see themselves in that crazy moment.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at