Natalie Thompson and Dr. Jane Gardner Hinckley, Humanities
Humanities professors face the difficulty of finding the visual resources necessary for specialized courses. Professors may not be able to find slides of specific monuments in university slide libraries or even reproductions of the monuments in texts. Yet in order to teach about these monuments effectively, the professor needs these images.
Dr. Jane Gardner Hinckley instructs such specialized courses in the Humanities. As a student in the London Summer 2000 Study Abroad Program and in her class, I took slides of monuments from the Norman, Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular Gothic periods, the Gothic Revival in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the counter Neo-Classical movement.
Gathering these slide images presented two different areas of research. First, I had to locate the different sites and the travel information. Second, I had to research photography skills specific for architectural slides.
In February, I arranged for travel between June 12 and August 19, giving me one week before and one after the BYU London Program. In the months before I left for London, I researched the monuments’ locations and gathered information on the British Rail System to determine how many of the sites would be attainable through public transport, which would be my only means of transportation. Much of the information I gained at this time turned out to be futile once I reached England because of inaccuracy or inconvenience.
Although Dr. Hinckley needed images of over three hundred monuments, we both knew that time and resources would restrict the number of destinations. Therefore, I planned my travel according to geographical location so I could reach the maximum number of sites. The more well-known sites appeared most accessible as a result of high-speed trains. Other sites close in proximity on a scaled map also looked accessible but turned out to be quite a distance in terms of public transportation.
Outside of the Study Abroad Program, I chose to travel to Canterbury, Ramsgate, Sheffield Park, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Brighton, Wales, and Exeter. As a group, we also traveled to Paris, Amiens, Bath, York, Winchester, and Wells.
Once I reached a destination, I used the local tourist information centers to find out specific locations of the sites, but sometimes even these centers could not help, or the town did not have one; thus, a strong element of chance entered my research. For instance, in Ramsgate, I needed to photograph the Grange and St. Augustine’s Church. I could not find information on either before I reached the town, and unfortunately the train station happened to be on the perimeters of the town, with no tourist booth available. Stopping in to ask a few store clerks, I roamed the town for around an hour, but as I continued to look, I realized that none of the store owners had any idea where either place was located. Just as I planned to turn back towards the station, I turned right and looked up at St. Augustine’s Church. I took the slides, then headed in the direction I thought would be closest to the station, and also found the Grange. This chance discovery occurred a few times throughout the travel, and it became my favorite aspect of the research project.
The only other obstacle in completing this element of the research was the availability of monuments to the public. Although I was scared about this aspect before I traveled, it worked out well in most cases. For the most part, I was able to photograph the elements I needed in order to complete my project, even if the building had limited access.
The second aspect I needed to research was the medium of slide film and photography technique for architectural slides. Before I left, I studied from different sources on slide and architectural photography techniques as well as which accessories would be most helpful to me for my camera.
I owned a 35-80 mm lens before I started the project, but I decided to also take an 80-210mm lens for close-up shots on different structures. Similarly, I decided not to buy a wide-angle lens because I figured that I would always have enough space to back up and take the entire image. I also opted out on any filters, figuring that the best representation would be the one most closely related to a natural rendering.
If I could have changed any aspect of my preparation, I would have taken a wide-angle lens. Many of the British streets were the width of one car, and had buildings close together on all sides. Thus, for many of the larger cathedrals in London and even some of the larger outlying cities, I had to focus in on particular aspects, or search out an obscure distant view and then close back onto the image with the telephoto lens. A wide-angle lens would have been easier.
Before I left, I also researched the different kinds of film and decided upon the Fuji Provia 100 speed film. Compared to other slide films, it has a cool color hue, and for architecture, I decided that a warm hue would render the image poorly. I knew that many of the structures were built of stone or marble and suspected that the cool hues would represent the monuments well. The Fuji film also came in 36 exposure which allowed for tighter packing and decreased the time required to change rolls.
While I was in Britain, I decided to keep a complete log of the monuments, numbering them according to roll and writing down further information I discovered on location. Since the number of slides exceeded three hundred, the notebook now helps for identification.
On the whole, my project turned out successfully. Since returning from Britain, I have developed the slides and now need to set up a time to assess them with Dr. Hinckley. The research beforehand as well as the knowledge I gained while on the trip helped me to complete the project successfully as well as expand the visual resources in Dr. Hinckley=s courses.