Topic ID #30115 - posted 11/4/2013 4:54 AM

"Fresco-Hunting" Photo Research Expedition to Medieval Balkan Churches 2014


Location: Bankya, Sofia, Bulgaria

Session Dates: Standard Project: 17 – 31 May, 2014; Extended Project: 17 May – 7 June, 2014
Application Deadline: April 10, 2014


Affiliation: Balkan Heritage Foundation; New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria and Conservation Of Sculptures, Monuments And Objects (CSMO)

Project Description:

“Fresco-Hunting” Photo Research Expedition to Medieval Balkan Churches provides a unique opportunity to students and volunteers to take part in an expedition for documentation of abandoned medieval churches/chapels and their frescoes in Western Bulgaria and to visit many other Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries, museums and archaeological sites in Sofia, Western Bulgaria and Eastern Serbia.

The number of monuments in the project focus has been permanently decreasing due to the lack of effort to preserve and protect them  from weather damage and vandalization.  During the last six years the “Fresco-Hunting” Photo Expedition upgraded the existing database of drawn and photographic records of eleven churches and chapels in Western Bulgaria. The objective is: the publication of a ‘Corpus of Medieval Frescoes from Western Bulgaria’ and development of further projects to support the sites in danger through conservation,restoration, development/improvement of the site's management and fund-raising.

In 2014 the expedition envisions to enhance the database created during the previous seasons by documenting architecture and frescoes (and their condition) of two to three medieval Christian Orthodox chapels and small churches in Western Bulgaria and collecting new data on their history, artifacts and environment. The target region is geographically and culturally very close to present-day Eastern Serbia, where a photo-excursion will take place. The students will be able to find paralels and make comparisons with ecclesiastic monuments across the border.

Project Venue: a hotel in Bankya, a small SPA town in the Sofia Metropolitan Area, Bulgaria. The fieldwork during the work days will involve travel to the church sites (app. 60-80 km away from Bankya) and the transport will be arranged by the Balkan Heritage Field School (BHFS).

The Field School Project has two versions: Standard (17-31 May, 2014) and Extended (17 May - 7 June, 2014).

The STANDARD PROJECT is suitable for students, young specialists and people with interests in european medieval studies, orthodox architecture and art, fresco restoration and conservation as well as photography.

The EXTENDED PROJECT is suitable also for those with interest in digital photography and documentation of artifacts and architecture and have some familiarity with the basic principles of photography, digital slr cameras and those who are comfortable with learning new computer programs.

The Standard Field School Project (17 - 31 May, 2014) is comprised of:

  • Fieldwork that entails the creation of both graphic (drawn) and photographic records of ecclesiastic edifices and frescos (two to three churches will be in the focus of study);
  • Educational course - specialized lectures in South East European Medieval History, Orthodox iconography, introduction to Documental Photography, Fresco Conservation and Restoration as well as Workshops for Graphic Documentation (drawn and photographic record) and Processing of Digital Images and Development of Digital Archives. Free optional courses in Illustration of architectural features and frescos (using graphic software) and Orthophotograhy are available to all participants;
  • Excursions/guided tours of Sofia and the Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Bulgaria and the following 14th-century sites in Serbia: Poganovo Monastery, Sveti Nikola church in Stanichene, Momchilov Grad Fortress in Pirot .

The Extended Field School Project (17 May - 7 June, 2014) is comprised of:

  • All elements of the Standard Project mentioned above during the first two project weeks;
  • Workshop on Advanced Digital Photographic Documentation of Artifacts and Architecture (RTI And Photogrammetry) during the third project week. This workshop will instruct students on the use of the latest techniques in Computational Photography to document a Medieval church in Western Bulgaria. The instruction will focus on the use of flexible, non-destructive and low-cost documentation techniques to capture 3D data using digital cameras. These techniques will include Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a powerful technique to expose minute surface details by dynamic relighting, and close-range photogrammetry, which uses overlapping images to create true 3D models or architectural features. Discussed as well will be image processing techniques to enhance faded images, the creation of image mosaics, as well as best-practices for technical photography. The practical goal of this 2014 workshop is to document the faintly visible graffiti on the church frescos, produce drawings of them, and finally to incorporate them into the project record. The students will learn the basics of good technical photography, and the theory of both RTI and photogrammetry. They will, by the end of the course, be able to set-up, shoot and post-process RTI images. They will also be able to take these images to create 2D drawn records of graffiti and inscriptions. The students should also be able to plan and execute close-range photogrammetry projects, including the creation and manipulation of colour point-clouds and the generation of orthophotos. 

All participants will receive:

  • Project handbook (in PDF version by e-mail and a hard copy on arrival);
  • Balkan Heritage Field School Certificate specifying the fieldwork hours, educational modules, and sites visited.
Room and Board Arrangements

In comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, TV) in a hotel located in the downtown of Bankya, wich also provides free Wi-Fi. Laundry service is available. Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian food) per day are covered by the admission fee.Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Single rooms are available upon request for an additional fee!

Cost: Admission fee before 31 January, 2014 for the Standard/Extended Project is 1259/1889 EUR (app. 1599/2429 USD). Admission (regular) fee after 31 January, 2014 for the Standard/Extended Project is 1399/2099 EUR (app.1799/ 2699 USD). The admission fee includes educational and fieldwork activities, full-board accommodation (hotel + 3 meals per day), tools, materials, project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance, excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees and administrative costs.

Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee starting from 270 EUR (app. 350 USD)!

Contact Information:
Ms. Anna Parmakova
Admission Office
Balkan Heritage Field School


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