Photo by Jonathan Strawn
ARTS Lab and IAIA students spent the week of 4 June at Chaco Culture National Historic Park. We camped under the stars, ate food cooked over a campfire, tried to avoid heat exhaustion during the day, and photographed till our cameras literally over-heated. Luckily the over-heating was temporary, and we were back to photographing right away. We were up every day at first light, and stayed out till well past sunset.
We experienced some of the usual field troubles, with equipment getting banged about more than we would like, and some mix-ups of who had which battery in what pocket of who’s backpack. For shooting, there were some problems on day 1 and 2 with settings on cameras not being correct, or simple things like remote cables not being connected. Overall, these problems usually noticed quickly by the students and we were usually able to reset the shot and get it. Having walkie-talkies was a great help.
One thing that we noticed right away was that splitting up too much was problematic. The students still needed assistance from time to time, and spreading too far around the park was not practical. Our other difficulties were mostly just field related, with some students needing help with equipment and keeping well hydrated. Thankfully we had no heat injuries, but keeping cool during the heat of the day at Chaco was not easy.
Chief of Law Enforcement Ranger Don Whyte was a tremendous help with organizing special use permits to allow photography outside of standard park hours, and Ranger Ramona Begay helped us coordinate our campground reservations. Without their help, the entire trip might have collapsed in the planning process. Allison Hagerman and Shirley Gallegos at the ARTS Lab were also instrumental in organizing the paperwork end of things, and Ethan Bach & the IAIA student services staff were essential in arranging and providing camping gear.
On the night of 6 June, we had the supreme privilege of spending the night at Pueblo Bonito, one of the largest Great Houses in the site. We were accompanied by Jim Von Haden, Chief of Natural Resources at Chaco Culture National Historic Park. In addition to the amazing opportunity to photograph the site under the stars & moon, Mr. Von Haden gave us what amounted to a personal tour of the site after-hours. While he was there to monitor our activities and protect the site, his knowledge and storytelling greatly enhanced what was already an amazing experience.
This program is funded through Department of Defense Grant 60458-RT-REP : Full Dome Development for Interactive Immersive Training Capabilities