By Alyssa Carignan, Staff Writer

Students from last years trip to England and Spain as they pose for a picture in West Kennet Long Barrow, England on their way to Stonehenge

Students from last years trip to England and Spain as they pose for a picture in West Kennet Long Barrow, England on their way to Stonehenge (Photo by Megan Braley)

    One of the many May-term classes at UMF offers students a chance to travel overseas to England and Spain and practice photography rather than learning solely through listening to lectures.

   Last May, there was a total of five May-term trips, including the digital photography class to England and Spain. The photography trip strengthens students’ abilities with digital photography and teaches the different lighting effects, genres of photography, and different ways to capture the perfect picture.

   Ralph Granger, professor of the England and Spain photography course said, “The course includes many different genres of photography, designed for all different levels of photography.”

   There is no skill set or previous requirements, just a general, serious interest in photography. Granger cautioned, “It is important to remember that this is a digital photography course. This is not a party trip; students who come on this trip should be genuinely interested in photography.”

   Not only does this class teach students the art of photography, but it gives students a sense of independence as they travel from the United States overseas to a country they have probably never been for roughly two and a half weeks. Granger said “most of the kids that come have never been on an airplane. Their first ride is from Boston to London.”

   Granger is especially excited for the trip to Stonehenge this coming year because the group has been allowed an extra half hour the day before the full moon so that they can capture the full moon as it rises right above the stone structure.

   “Most people who go to visit Stonehenge have to stand behind a barrier and look from behind the rope, but we get to go in and walk among the stones. They unlock the gates just for us and we get to go in and have the run of the place,” Granger said of his previous seven trips for this class.

   This year the trip falls at the same time as the Medieval Festival at Warwick Castle where students will photograph jousting tournaments; the Corpus Christi festival where they will photograph children and their first communions, parades and bands; and the Fishermen’s Festival in Tossa de Mar, which is “the equivalent of our chicken BBQ’s but with fish,” Granger said with a laugh.

   Many students who participate in this class are mediocre photographers. There is no requirement for how much one should know about a camera, making the course less intimidating for anyone who wants to participate. For three days before the flight out, and various times during the spring semester, students attend full-day classes at UMF on photography and how to use their cameras.

   In a Facebook interview, UMF junior Megan Braley, a student in last year’s digital photography class, said: “They [the classes] were super helpful! I learned a lot about shutter speed and settings for different lighting situations, as well as a lot of other things.”

  As a final comment, Granger said, “I do this because I think it is important for students to experience other cultures. We all have a lot more in common than we do different. Everyone wants their kids to grow up healthy and they don’t want war. Everyone wants food on their table a roof on their head and laughter, and regardless of where people come from in the world, most want the same thing; it’s good for people to know that to get a perspective on the world. That’s why I do this.”

   The class will be listed in the fall registry as LIA135: Digital Photography, for any students interested in registering. There are 16 spots available.

   For more information, visit for pictures and information from previous trips.