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Through a Lens

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Dartmouth's campus, as seen by College photographer Joseph Mehling '69

guide

Dartmouth's buildings embody the College's story, and not only because their names are a roll call of the College's benefactors and its beloved. In Dartmouth College: The Campus Guide (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), author Scott Meacham '95 weaves Dartmouth's history into the book's eight guided walks, which are illustrated with the work of College photographer Joe Mehling '69. Whether walking the campus in your mind's eye or here in Hanover, the book's a fine companion.

The book is available for purchase ($24.95) online through Dartmouth Athletics' Big Green Store.

Dartmouth Life spoke with Mehling to hear his thoughts on shooting the campus.

mclaughlin
Mehling's favorite shot from Dartmouth College: The Campus Guide? This view of the McLaughlin Cluster dormitories: "It was one of those perfect moments when everything comes together-sun and clouds, light and shadow, the cyclist at the bottom of the frame-and the new architecture of the McLaughlin Cluster leads the eye up to Baker Tower, Dartmouth's central iconic building," he says.

Do you have favorite places on campus?

That photo [of the McLaughin cluster and Baker] is one of my favorite views of the campus, and it's shot from one of my favorite places: the Murdough Greenhouse on top of Gilman. When you visit in the winter, entering the greenhouse is like stepping off a plane in Miami.

I love Webster Hall, both for the beautiful Corinthian columns facing the Green and for the treasures housed in Rauner Special Collections Library.

Any favorite walks?

The Dartmouth cemetery is a good place to stroll and enjoy the carvings on the old headstones while picking up a little Dartmouth history: both Eleazar Wheelock and John Kemeny are buried here, along with many of the College's early professors and presidents.

In fact, any of the walks in the Campus Guide will reveal something rewarding, if you take the time to enjoy the stroll and notice the details: the stained glass windows in Rollins Chapel, the finial on top of Wilson Hall, or the view of Baker tower across Occom Pond.

You've been photographing the Dartmouth campus for 15 years now; what has that taught you?

I've learned that the time of day can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a photograph. Usually, early morning and late afternoon light adds shadow and contrast, which makes the photo more interesting. Whenever possible, it's worth going back to familiar locations at different times of day and even different seasons, to see what's the same and what looks different.

Shooting photographs has made me look more carefully at my environment, even when I don't have a camera with me; there's a real pleasure in paying close attention to our world.

Do have any advice for our readers?

Years ago I was given this advice, and have found it useful any number of times: When you've been searching for that one special view to photograph and aren't having any luck, just turn around—it's often waiting right behind you.

By KELLY SEAMAN

What's in a name?

It sounds like a riddle: when is a building's name not its name? When it's "Parkhurst," says architectural historian Scott Meacham '95, author of Dartmouth College: The Campus Guide: "Lewis Parkhurst, Class of 1878, and his wife Emma Wilder Parkhurst donated the building in memory of their son, and were extremely involved in even the small details of its design. At their request, the building actually says "ADMINISTRATION" over the door." But the name "Administration Building" only lasted for a few years, Meacham notes, as the Dartmouth community adopted the habit of calling it "Parkhurst."

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/8/08