This is a the third in a series of posts by Harry Lee Poe (and later
by James Ray Veneman) about their experience with creating and
publishing The Inklings of Oxford: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Their Friends. Enjoy.
After I wrote the text for The Inklings of Oxford, Jim Veneman and I went for a ten day photo shoot in Oxford. We stayed in my old college, Regent's Park, in St. Giles. Regent's Park shares a common wall with the Eagle and Child. Regent's Park also owns property included in the college where Tolkien and his wife first lived in Oxford.
For all the continuity of Oxford over centuries, the town is a vastly different place from what I knew when I was there in the 1970s. In those days only one place in town served pizza, and they made it with cheddar cheese. Fast food could be found at only a few spots, and the ubiquitous baguette and panini shops had not yet made their way across the English Channel from the Continent. Most important of all, I never tasted sticky toffee pudding in college or out, so our photo shoot turned into an occasion to pursue the best sticky toffee pudding in Oxford, which required us to have it for desert every night.
The photo shoot provided me with a great education about light. Jim explained how light affects a picture in different ways at different times of day and that every location has a best time of day depending on its orientation toward the sun. As a result, I had to have a schedule laid out for all hours of the day that allowed us to get the best shot of each location. This meant dashing about town, but it meant that we were able to get all of our shots in less than the time we had allotted. Because of the efficiency of the use of our time, we had extra time at the end of the trip to take those shots we would like to have had, but were not essential. We had the freedom to walk the footpath at the top of Shotover Hill and to stroll back to Oxford from Headington on Cuckoo Lane.
Normally, one fears having a shortage of sun in Oxford, even in the summer. Fortunately, we had a break in the weather. They had rain for days that stopped when we arrived, and we were able to have beautiful light. Then we realized we had another problem: too much sunshine. We needed some dark, dismal shots to capture the full atmosphere of Oxford. Fortunately, the heavens opened the day before we were to leave. We already had every shot we needed, so we went back to favorite spots and took them in the rain and drizzle. Then we fortified ourselves with sticky toffee pudding.
Harry Lee Poe, author of The Inklings of Oxford: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Their Friends,
holds the Charles Colson Chair of Faith and Culture at Union University
in Jackson, Tennessee. The author of many books and articles on how the
gospel intersects culture, Poe has written numerous articles on C. S.
Lewis and co-edited C. S. Lewis Remembered.