Gone with the wind


Strong winds push graduate Rafal Kepa’s tassel into is face during graduation ceremonies at Manteca High School in Manteca (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/400th sec. @ f/4. ISO: 200).

Shooting outdoor graduations has its advantages, the main one being good light. You don’t have to worry about not having enough. Additionally many graduations are held in the evening where the late sun can give a pleasing warm glow to the pictures. The downside is that you and the graduates are at the mercy of the elements.


Graduates try to keep their caps from flying off in high winds at the graduation ceremonies at Manteca High School in Manteca (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 190mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200).

I shot this year’s Manteca High graduation at the school’s Guss Schmiedt Stadium. A stiff breeze welled up at the beginning of the ceremony but was manageable. As the night wore on, the wind increased and tassels flew in the faces of the graduates. Gowns flutter in the wind and most of the grads had to keep their mortarboard caps (the equivalent of a wing attached to a beanie) from flying off.


Valedictorian Gurwinder Kaur is buffeted by strong winds as she speaks at the graduation ceremonies at Manteca High School in Manteca (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/4.5. ISO: 200).

When Valedictorian Gurwinder Kaur gave her speech (a pretty good one in the form of a poem), about midway through the program, she had to struggle to keep her cap on her head, and the tassel and her flowing hair from her face. Although there were giggles from the audience and other graduates, she kept her composure and finished with dignity, although it was a little windblown.

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