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Shutterbugs Capture the West

Twelve BC students traveled to Utah with the short term class, Photography and Writing: Tools for Conservation, taught by Dr. Libby Jones and Dr. Alan Mills.

Photos by Elizabeth Overbee

Each student literally took hundreds of pictures of their vast surrounding. "Spending time in Utah's natural environments gave us lots of opportunities for taking photos and writing about what we were seeing and feeling. We learned about the natural and social histories of this land as well as about techniques of photography and writing that could convey our experiences to others," said Dr. Jones.

For ten days members of the class took pictures of and wrote about Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks and Dead Horse Know State Park. They spent the first and last weeks of short term on campus working on photography techniques and exploring nature writing and reviewing and printing photos, making revisions and preparing a writing portfolio.

Once in Utah, the class spent most of their time taking pictures, writing, hiking up mountains, and meditating alone in the desert. Every day, students were ready to take advantage of the morning light and shoot photos before 7 a.m. After shooting until about noon each day, they reassembled later in the afternoon to shoot the sunset. Often students continued shooting well into the night.

Rob Fox, a sophomore English major from Vienna, Virginia went on the trip, "to experience the excitement of 'Big Sky' country," he said. "I enjoyed a picture I took of a juniper tree. I think it was a nice vehicle in the metaphor for life and death." His favorite memory from the trip took him to a place he had never been. He was "staring at a potbelly stove on a cold evening in Moab. The smell of burning juniper in the heater warmed my body and smelled like something mystical. I felt for a short time like I was in some Native American tale."

Elizabeth Overbee, a senior English major from Beattyville, Kentucky took about 750 photos. Her favorite is on display at Hutchins Library. "It is a close up shot of what I think were dried seed pods of some kind. I like it because of the detail in the shot, and also because it is of something so small. Here I was in this park with all these huge rocks and canyons and arches, and my best shot is of a tiny little seed pod. Just seems kinda ironic," she said. "I learned a lot about myself and my own personal strength," she said about what she learned on the trip. "I was able to do things that I would never have thought possible for myself."

Megan Connors, a junior Agriculture and Natural Resources major, took about 700 photos and continued her outdoor adventures with this trip. She set off on this trip after hiking the Appalachian Trail last semester. "I wrote about hiking," she said. "The pieces were mostly inspired by my thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail."

Dr. Jones gained a, "heightened appreciation for the land, especially the high desert--its beauty and austerity, its moods and endurance; greater awareness of the value of silence and solitude, dialogue and camaraderie; technical and conceptual knowledge about photography; delight in the ways that words and images can inform one another," she said. "I'm grateful to all who made out journey possible: preservers of the wilderness, supporters of our study, and fellow/sister travelers. A practical note," she added, "I also learned that it is possible to take photographs with completely-numb fingers. (It is not, however, possible to write!)"

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