CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University, along with other universities across the nation, was not immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While classes quickly had to move online this past spring and into summer, educators made plans to safely reopen in the fall.
Students and educators alike had to adapt to this new way of learning online, where normally most classes would be taught in person. According to a press release from Southern Utah University, one student, T. Callister, went above and beyond in his photography class, showing the resilience of students at SUU during times of crisis.
Rheana Gardner-Reeves, associate professor of photography, taught Art 1050: Intro to Photography over the summer. Usually, the class focuses on portraiture, but mid-pandemic Gardner-Reeves felt like it would be unsafe for her to encourage her students to interact closely with people while the nation was taking extra precautions, so she decided to transition the course to focus more on landscape photography, with an emphasis on taking a new approach to the subject matter.
Even with the challenges of adjusting to learning online and the changes to the class curriculum, Callister fully embraced his professor’s assignment. Inspired by the work of Abelardo Morell, the pioneer of camera obscura landscape photography, he decided to build a tent camera obscura.
Gardner-Reeves defined a camera obscura as “an empty room or box without light but for a small pinhole in one side.”
“The light that comes through that pinhole projects a scene from outside on the opposite wall,” Gardner-Reeves said in the press release. “Because of the nature of optics, this scene is always upside down, but nevertheless, it provides an accurate picture of whatever the camera obscura sees.”
Callister then positioned his digital camera inside his hand-made tent camera obscura, and using a long exposure, he captured various images both on and off campus.
Callister said the biggest challenge of his project was making the portable “tent camera,” since there are no instructions on how to do so.
“I drew up my own plans to create one using cardboard, duct tape, a mirror, black trash bags, and a camera/mirror mount that I 3D printed,” he said. “It was amazing to see the images come to life when I got it all together. I actually went through three versions of the ‘tent camera’ before settling on a design that worked best.”
His final project images were shots of Fish Lake, Utah; Thunderbird Gardens in Cedar City; and SUU’s campus.
“In times of isolation and uncertainty,” Gardner-Reeves said, “creativity flourishes in very beautiful ways.”
Written by EMILY CACHO, Southern Utah University.
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