Yeah, I don’t know.
I’m kidding, of course. I spent precisely 52 hours with my son’s school’s 6th graders, all in the name of good fun. To call it camping would be a bit of a stretch for those who have any allusions to the purity of the term. We were sleeping in tents, to be sure. And we built a fire, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.
The kids tromped through steams and woods, and walked along a path mowed into a meadow. But we didn’t make our own food, clean our own dishes, or work on outdoors skills, or go fishing, or whittle. All of which is fine, because this wasn’t a Boy Scout camping trip–it was for a bunch of 6th graders who were there to learn about ecology.
And many of the kids had never been camping before. When I resurrected the fire from an early death on the first evening, one of the kids looked at me and said something like “You’ve started a fire before, haven’t you.” Yes. Yes I have.
It all started with the typical request for volunteers from the 6th grade teachers. I figured, what the heck. I have tons of vacation time, and I’ve not been all that involved in my boy’s school life, and I happen to know a thing or two about camping. So I volunteered to spend the entire time with the classes. I essentially said “use my body to keep you alive” /robzombie. Well, not quite. I’ll do whatever is needed–cook, clean, grocery plan and shop, lead hikes, hose off muddy shoes, whatevs.
It turns out that the teachers had a lot of volunteer parents–more than enough to cover the teaching and chaperoning aspects of the trip–and asked if would I be interested in being a roving photographer. Wait. Let me get this straight. I get to spend three days with a bunch of kids having fun and my only responsibility is to take pictures? Fo Reals? Yeah, sign me up.
Pictures, I took em. Day 1, and 2&3. (Yes, that’s right: I posted 236 pictures to Facebook, less than a month after advising aspiring photogs to show less of their work. For pity’s sake, that’s about one and a half pictures per kid per day–sue me.)
Seriously, how do you see a kid capture a crayfish, and not take a picture and post it?
Or completely laughing their butts off at their own skit, and just how ridiculous it was. Captured. Posted.
Actually, one of the hazards in posting that many pictures was that the gems would get lost in the mongo sets. So that’s why I blog–to call attention to the best of the best.
Like the above shot of a boy working on his assignment in the woods. I just love how he’s completely enveloped in the woods, but its obvious he’s working, pencils and clipboard in hand, backpack engaged.
And this student, spending a bit of her free time playing chess. Cannot. Resist. Reflections. I love how her hand is visible, moving a piece. Perfect. This is the kind of moment that could be created, but its so much more fun to just stumble on it, notice the kid, the chess board, the sunglasses, and lo-and-behold, have a camera at the ready.
And speaking of creating a moment, here’s one I attempted to recreate. I love the exposed roots on the side of the creek, the reflection and the woods on the far side. I asked these two gentlemen to walk by so that I could capture something. It isn’t quite as compelling as I had hoped–maybe it would be helped by a filter, or action, or something. Maybe its because it wasn’t natural.
One of my crazier moments was to attempt to capture the inside of a portable planetarium. To say that it was dark inside is a bit of an exaggeration. One shot I tried to capture of kids looking at stars was f/1.8, 6400 ISO and 15 seconds, and thanks to pareidolia, I could just make out the shape of a kid. Barely. Above was less challenging–the planetarium projection was much brighter, and the zodiac symbols could be captured at f/1.8, 3200 ISO and 1/2 second.
Finally, one of the girls, playing in the creek during free time. She had a stick and would swing it around her, with the tip of it just in the water, then lift it out to pull the water up as high as she could. It was a self-directed hydrodynamics exercise, with no parents to squawk about the mud and water, and no siblings to steal the stick. How often do you get to do something like that in an urban/suburban setting?
Many of the images, plus some time lapses of the set up and tear down, got worked into this video. The music is by Pictus, used with permission.