2013 Polar Bear Dip

To ring in 2013, I spent my New Year's Day in Herring Cove, photographing some pretty crazy people jumping into some unbelievably cold water.  This event has been going on for quite some time now, and as part of the Sackville Photo Club I was asked to come along and help out.  

It's really hard to imagine what this feels like...

I arrived right around 9:00AM to help set up, and since I was a few minutes early, I walked around a bit and got a pretty nice idea of what conditions the jumpers would be coping with.  

The event started indoors, where we had set up a photo booth.  Simple two light setup: an umbrella off-camera left and a softbox off camera right provided a nice, even fill. We were using optical triggering to allow multiple photographers to work the booth.  Arnie, our first photobooth 'victim' hopped into the scene.  This man is something else, still jumping at age 78 (I think he's been doing this for about 15 years now).  

After that, we had a steady stream of jumpers, organizers and families getting some photos in the booth.  Glenn, the SPC member who'd organized the field trip on our end had brought along some pool toys, a really clever idea to give some context to the photos.  Here's one of the Polar Dip organizers with a snorkel:

The only issue we had was when we got a large crowd.  There were so many people that they extended past  the backdrop!  

Shortly after 11AM the jumpers headed down to the wharf.  Some of the photographers were already down by the water and ready to go. We managed to get some really great coverage of the event since several photogs were on the wharf, some were across the inlet using telephoto lenses to capture a different angle.  

I managed to sneak in a few photos down by the water, but there were only about 30 or so jumpers left by the time I got there.   

See the look of mixed emotions?  The fear, determination and "oh, crap" was on everyone's midair face. 

The event was a huge success, and Feed Nova Scotia took in a good number of pledges.  I think some of the reaction shots of people just after their jump are some of my favourites.  They didn't really linger once they'd jumped, they got inside and warmed up with some soup and hot chocolate.

"I can't believe I just did that!!"

Cheers, and stay warm!

The herring cove polar bear dip site can be found at http://www.herringcovepolarbeardip.com/ .  There is also a facebook group which has more photos, from myself and many other awesome photographers!