Into the Great Blue Hole

June 01, 2018

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Photographer: Tom Sanders
Summary Author: Tom Sanders 

Shown above is one of the photos I snapped during a parachute jump into the amazing Great Blue Hole in the western Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Belize. I've been filming skydiving since 1978 and have been fortunate enough to have been involved in most of the major skydives in our sport, including the skydives in the James Bond movies, skydiving into the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and even skydiving with President George H.W. Bush, and this jump made my top ten for sure -- it could even be Number 1. The bottom photo shows my wife (Denise Sanders) descending to her landing inside the Blue Hole.

The Great Blue Hole is a huge submarine sinkhole, some 1,040 ft (320 m) across and 410 ft (125 m) deep. It formed when sea levels were much lower, during periods of Quaternary glaciation. The hole is a world-class destination for recreational scuba divers since its extremely clear waters are teeming with marine life and are home to thousands of colorful tropical fish and eye-catching coral formations. This phenomenal World Heritage site is but a small portion of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System.

Skydivers often jump from planes at 14,000 feet (4,270 m). But skydiving into water (nearly 43 miles or 70 km from the mainland) with big professional camera equipment is one of the most dangerous jumps in our sport. I'm a competent surfer so being in the water is no big deal for me, but the real challenges were bringing high-end professional cameras for my still pictures, being able to trigger them remotely as we do while skydiving and getting the shots and not ruining the images when we landed in the sea. I had water housings for my still cameras with special ports to allow remote camera switches to reach the cameras. It all paid off! Top photo taken on February 16, 2018, from about 6,000 ft (1,830 m); bottom photo on February 18, 2018. Thanks to Rich Grimm who organized the 2018 skydiving event at the Blue Hole. 

Photo Details: Top - Camera: SONY ILCE-7RM2; Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6.12 (Macintosh); Exposure Time: 0.0020s (1/500); Aperture: ƒ/8.0; ISO equivalent: 160; Focal Length (35mm): 25; Lens: ZEISS Batis 2/25. Bottom - same except: Camera: Canon EOS 5D; Aperture: ƒ/13.0; ISO equivalent: 320; Focal Length: 20.0mm; Lens: EF20mm f/2.8 USM.