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Academics

Richters you should know: Elizabeth White and Isaac Winter

While everyone else on campus rejoices over the warm, sunny weather, Elizabeth White ’20 and Isaac Winter ’20 wish for at least a few clouds. The two are taking 360-degree photos of the Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel, and the glare of the sun is getting in the way.

Winter, an English major, and White, who is currently undecided, are working with Associate Professor of Religion Benjamin Zeller to create a virtual tour of Lake Forest College’s Chapel.

Q: Tell us about your research project.
Winter: We are making a virtual tour of the Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel on a website. First, we went digging through the College’s archives of The Stentor and pictures to figure out what story we want to tell. Then we started taking pictures of the interior and exterior, using a special 360-degree camera.

White: And, honestly, a lot of it was reshooting photos because sometimes the sun didn’t look right and we wouldn’t be able to edit them well enough, so we would have to go back and reshoot them in better light. All in all, it was a relatively easy process. The 360 camera is basically a camera with two lenses, one on each side, and they each take 180-degree photos that are stitched together. We put the camera on a tripod and use an app on our phones to take the photo.

Winter: So that we don’t show up in the photos, we have to go run and hide somewhere while the camera takes the photo.

White: For the outside photos, we just go and pretend we are walking by, but for the ones inside we just hid in doorways.

Winter: After we finish taking the pictures, we use Photoshop and a special program called Panotour that takes the 360-degree image and changes it to fit on the screen. Once we put the pictures into the software, you’re able to use your computer mouse to “spin” around the chapel and look at it from different vantage points around the room.

White: We also have informational blurbs you can click on to learn about parts of the room. For example, the lamps are Tiffany glass. Tiffany was the most important glass artist of the early 20th century.

Winter: We will also interweave the history with the physical space by overlaying historic photos of moments that happened inside the chapel, from when it was first built to when it was renovated in the 1970s.

Q: What has been the most difficult part of your project?

White: It was probably Photoshop. Honestly, we spent so many hours on Photoshop and didn’t even accomplish anything. We were just messing around like “this won’t work!”

Winter: Yeah, probably the hardest part was just figuring out Photoshop. There’s a big learning curve. It took us a couple of long days to figure out the mechanics of that. The internet was useful in that they have all those “how to” instructions, like how to get the glare out of windows. So it was just hard to figure out those first steps, but now we’re pros at it.  Maybe not pros, but more competent.

Q: What can you tell us about the history of the chapel?

Winter: It was built in 1899, and it was named after Lily Reid, who was Mrs. Simon Reid’s daughter. Lily passed away when she was young, and a couple of years later her mother decided that she would donate money to build both the chapel and the former library (now home to the Music Department), the Arthur S. Reid Library, in honor of her son who also passed away. They had a ceremony outside at the cornerstone, where they buried a time capsule that included the yearbooks from Lily and Arthur’s respective senior years and the eulogies from both their funerals and their father’s funeral, among other things. It’s still there today.

White: We also learned about the different renovations that have been done here. Because we used to be a religious-based college, they used to have actual services here as well as vespers. They would have these services weekly, but eventually, as times changed, students didn’t want to go to chapel anymore, so the school eased off of requiring chapel. Along with that, the chapel was renovated: the pews were taken out, and replaceable chairs were put in so that the room could be more multifunctional. In 1977 there was a renovation where they put in wall-to-wall carpeting. It was green and orange. The chairs were orange and metal.

Winter: It looked really bad.

White: It looked interesting, but I think it’s cool how the space transformed and changed with what the students wanted.

Q: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned?

Winter: The different types of lectures and sermons that have gone on in the space are so interesting. Jesse Jackson came in 1967 and gave a speech here. No matter what this space was officially used for, it was always used for getting different people’s perspectives and knowledge.

White: From the beginning, it was very clear to us that our school was open to a lot of different perspectives, as evidenced in the different speakers they had from the start. They had speakers from different religions and different points of view talking about their careers or their opinions and writings. Seeing that our college has always been open to that was really cool.

Q: How is it working with a professor?

White: The benefit of working with a professor so early is the experience of working in a more professional environment compared to the professor-student relationship during the school year.

Winter: Anytime you gain experience working alongside a professor, it’s valuable. Being involved in this project will offer me experience in how to not just follow what work the professor gives you, but to also voice my own opinions and ideas about our project. 
Zeller doesn’t point and say “I want you to research this, this, and this.” He says something more open ended: “figure out what kind of story you want to tell about the chapel.”

Q: How is this research benefitting you?
White: I really like the technology aspect of it. I’ve seen YouTubers put out 360 videos and thought “Wow! That’s so cool,” and then to find out it’s just this little camera that’s so easy to use. It’s still cool, but now it seems more accessible.
Winter: I don’t think I’d ever be in another situation where it’s just like “oh, do you want to use a 360 camera? Do you want to use this technology to do something?” Because these aren’t something you just see on the street everyday. That’s definitely been something that’s interested me. We get to use this technology; we get to learn a little bit more about the College.

–By Tracy Koenn and Sophie Mucciaccio