Diligent followers of my blog will remember my saying that every year I take thousands of photos of extracurricular events at the junior high school I work at, and that I cannot share any of the photos with identifiable faces because of privacy concerns. I give the photos to the school, and occasionally they will use one or two for the school newsletter or on the school website. I don't receive any money for taking the photos and I sometimes put my equipment at risk (as I will describe shortly) so it may seem a foolish endeavor, but being the camera guy gets me out of other school duties, and it's great for working on technique. Junior high school kids are notoriously unpredictable and moody. They either surround me sporting peace signs and demand I take their photos, or they decide to make a game of not allowing themselves to be photographed. They can be giggling and hyper, or dark and brooding. I have learned a lot though photographing them, whether engaging them and getting them to perform for the camera, or trying to blend in among them to get more candid shots. It's a body of work that I'm proud of, and that I will never be able to share with you.
Our latest excursion was the school ski trip to the Meiho Ski Resort in Gifu Prefecture. We took twelve busloads of kids on a two and a half hour drive into the mountains, and then let them loose on the hills. The surprise this year was that it rained the entire day. Surprise! In the past we've had snow and sun, but rain was a first. With the temperature hovering a couple degrees above freezing, the rain never turned to snow, and it never let up. The kids became progressively wetter until, by the end of the day, they were all drenched. For the group photos at the end of the day, they looked like grinning, shivering cats pulled from swimming pools. As always, I spent the day walking the slopes and photographing the kids, this time holding an umbrella the whole time. Fortunately, the 6D is designed so that it can be operated one handed, with all the control dials accessible to the right hand, so I was able to hold the umbrella in my left. As the day went on, fog descended on the mountain top along with the rain, so that the humidity must have been close to 100%. The fog became so thick at one point that skiers would emerge from the fog like apparitions, and then disappear back into it seconds later. I love shooting in the fog because the drastic decrease in visibility gives such a sense of depth. It's hell on a camera though, and despite repeatedly pulling my towel from my pocket and wiping the rain and fog from my camera, which is supposed to be water resistant, it was finally too much and the controls starting acting strangely, not responding, or switching functions. In a panic, I took out the battery, dried the camera as best I could, and stuck it in my backpack for the ride home. Once home, I opened the battery compartment, took off the lens, put silica gel packs around the camera and let it slowly warm up in our living room for 24 hours before trying to turn it back on. When I did finally turn it back on, it was back to its old self, other than a slightly lethargic down button on the control dial. Whew! So, here are a few photos that give a sense of what the scene was like. As for the dripping, grinning faces, you'll just have to imagine them yourselves.