Fall, 1999 - updated 8/31/99
Marvin Bartel, Instructor
Goshen College

copyright - Marvin Bartel 
Click on the photo to see 
a larger image.


Syllabus Contents
use the Back button to return here
Are you in the right course?
Mistakes Happen
Time Needed
What is Learned
Topics and Issues
The Instructor
Special Instruction
Field Trips
Visiting Artist
Supply Costs
Whose Course Is It?
Upper Level Credit

Everybody takes pictures, but we strive to become photographers who understand that every situation lends itself to photographs to be made many different ways. Every photograph is only one of many options available to the photographer. We become aware of these options. We learn to make choices that make better photographs.

In addition to acquiring vocational and avocational skills in photography, we begin to gain a greater interest in our surroundings and the people around us. Our visual awareness is sharpened. We become more aware of design and aesthetics. In learning to see and in working with our subjects most of us also become more interested in our environment, in human interaction and in expressions of personality.

Many photographers find their work a source of self revelation, self understanding, and self-fulfillment.

Art or Communication
Are you in the right course? This course deals with the art of photographic communication. If you are an art major, register for Comm credit (because of college catalog limitations in your major). If you are a Comm major, follow your advisor's recommendation. This course is appropriate for the needs of both majors. Art 315: Photography is taught as an art course only. This class is a prerequisite to Art 315. Art 315 is offered is in the May Term, 2000.

Time For This Class

Outside of class you do background reading and preparation, expose your film, process, print, learn Photoshop, and have appointments to go over your results. Nine to ten hours per week, average, in and out of class (in fall term), is the total average expectation for an average student to make average progress. It is extremely important to stay on schedule. Do NOT TAKE THIS CLASS if you do not intend to spend significant out-of-class time or if you expect to cut any classes. The learning requires both class attendance and lots of extra time. Fortunately, the work is fun and the class sessions are intended to be interesting as well as informative. Students who procrastinate often find it impossible to complete all the work. Incompletes are never granted except for "act of God" circumstances.
Class Sessions
No unexcused cuts are permitted, and the student is responsible for the content missed whether excused or not. Class time is used to view and discuss photographs (others) and (ours), clarify assignment objectives, discuss technical and compositional aspects of assignments, demonstrate procedures, and review outcomes. Since a limited number of projects can not cover every important topic, some class sessions will cover issues in photography that go beyond the scope of the studio assignments. "Ethics in photojournalism," is an example.

What We Learn

We learn visual ways of knowing. We learn how the power of image and the power of composition can merge to produce meaning and feeling. We improve our awareness and skills in the following areas. 1. We learn to recognize, develop and encourage our own creative impulses and insights including ways to intentionally foster the creative aspects of our personalities.

2. We learn there are many compositional options in presenting an image; some sensitive, some bold, some candid, some deliberate, some flat, some involving, and so on.

3. We gain insight into compositional theory needed to produce effective work.

4. We learn many reasons photographs are made and how the photographer's intention impacts the style of the photograph.

5. We learn to ask the ethical questions facing photographers.

6. We learn to control the camera's features.

7. We see many qualities and characteristics in light and shadow as it strikes the subject, each effecting photographs differently.

8. We learn about photographic careers including photojournalist, photo artist, and others.

9. We become familiar with a number of prominent photographers and their work.

10. We learn to use strobe (flash) and other lighting to get the right amount of light and to get quality lighting.

11. We learn to select and control film characteristics both in exposure and processing.

12. In the darkroom and we learn to manipulate the tone and contrast of prints and to selectively improve areas in the print as needed. 

13. We learn to digitize images and use the computer to enhance, interpret, combine, and print images.

This is an experiential learning course. We learn by doing things. We make photographs, look at them, discuss them, and learn from them. Due dates and evaluation appointments are announced in class.

Students complete 6 projects explained in more detail on assignment pages linked to this page. Some class time and assigned reading helps prepare us to complete each project successfully. For full text of the assignments click on the Assignments button on the left.  The six projects are:

1. Using directed variations of Available Light for people pictures.

2. Using available light for a Photo EssayorDocumentary Series.

3. Using directed variations on Flash for people pictures.

4. Using Fast Film in limited light - probably P3200 film at a night sporting event.

5. Using Zone System theory to control the negative's contrast and tonal range to make a landscape, still life or product photo.

6. An Expressive photo of a more personal nature - including the use of Photoshop to manipulate images - possibly a self-portrait.

Some may elect to make theater photographs of a play in place of 2, 4, 5, or 6 above. Individual students who can show that they have previously mastered the materials in these assignments may propose alternatives to any of the assignments. Plan to present proposals to the instructor before you expose the film.

You are encouraged to do additional work for the Record, the Maple Leaf, or any other reason for extra credit. Bring the work in for feedback and for credit.

Several tests help us verify learning. The tests and the topics covered are announced in advance. Tests have questions from class and assigned reading in the text and handouts. Additional test information will be placed on-line or in Course Info pages available on campus only.

Field Trips

Tuesday, October 5, most art classes are planning to spend all day in Chicago to see exhibits. Some students use this as a chance to photograph subject matter in Chicago. Other field trips may include seeing exhibitions, on-location photographing, and studio visits.

Visiting Artist and Exhibition

In November the Goshen College Art Gallery has an exhibition of the art work of Ken Heibert, graphic designer. He has authored several graphic design texts. Heibert is this year's Eric Yake Kenagy Visiting Artist. He will present his work on Tuesday, November 2, in Ad28. He will speak in Convo on Wednesday, November 3. Students in this class attend both events (or study the video if attendance is prevented by a serious conflict). There will either be a related assignment or test items related to these events.
Topics and Issues
Each term the Art Department sponsors or designates three Topics and Issues sessions, one hour each. All students in all art courses are responsible to attend and respond to these sessions in their various classes according to each instructor's requirements. These may at times take place at a time you have another class. If this happens, you should plan to watch the video recording of the event. This term's Topics and Issues are listed here. Place these times and places on your calendar.
September 5, Sunday, 4 pm
Art Gallery
Tim Dyck and Ted Springer discuss their work
October 21, Thursday, 6 pm
Art Gallery
"Milestones and Intersections"
John Blosser
November 2, Tuesday, 7 pm
Ad 28
Ken Heibert, Visiting Artist


Assignments will rely on specified background reading. The text, Photography by London and Upton, is not covered sequentially, but every project is based on information in the text. Some test material is taken from text materials related to assignments and class topics.
Supply Costs
Tuition provides instruction, student assistants, facilities, darkroom, computers, software, and enough supplies to complete the basic requirements of the course. However, students are not limited to the basic requirements and some students simply use more materials because they make more mistakes. In these cases students may purchase their own supplies at Gene's Camera Mart in Goshen or elsewhere. The college can also provide supplies for which each student is billed on an individual basis at the end of the term for extra film, printing paper, and so on. supplies.  The instructor keeps an individual record of all extra supplies in order to calculate an additional fee at the end of the term for each person. It is recommended that students also also keep a record. Record every role of film used, who provided it (you or GC), the date, and so on. Write down all supplies used.

Assignment Deadlines

Late work receives a lower grade unless you have something go seriously wrong (like a blank film), in which case you must show the film (do not discard it) and get the deadline extended in order to redo the film. You must prearrange to have the deadline extended in order to receive full credit.

Mistakes Happen

Whatever can go wrong, does. Murphy's law rules photography. Good learners own up to their mistakes and make good use of mistakes to perfect their practice. Poor learners admit to having bad outcomes, but they tend to blame the bad outcomes on circumstances beyond their own responsibility. Never redo a role of film unless you are fairly sure what was done wrong and how to improve the procedure enough to avoid same mistake. Consult the instructor unless you are very sure about what to do differently. It's very easy to ruin a roll of film by a moment of carelessness. Don't despair. Do it over, but always find out for sure what went wrong. Save the film for problem analysis. Often the instructor can tell you the solution over the phone. There's no penalty to your grade so long as you prearrange a deadline extension. Have a cry, but don't despair; it happens to me too. Mistakes are extremely disappointing, but they can be the best learning experiences if we keep a "can do" attitude.
Stay in Touch
You may phone the instructor any time between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Office: 535-7592, Ceramics: 7593, Photo Lab: 7596, Home: 533-0171. Generally, e-mail is better than voice mail: anytime. Leave a phone number in your e-mail message. You will get a fairly prompt reply.

Special Instruction

In addition to the scheduled class sessions, some special instruction times are scheduled for darkroom instruction, picture taking, using the flash, computer use and so on. Students are encouraged to request special instruction sessions when they feel a particular need or if they are having any kind of problem. A special group session may be appropriate. Student requests and suggestions are welcome. Student assistants with advanced skills can be made available as tutors or as lab assistants in the darkroom when and if needed.

Equipment You Need

Each student should have the use of a 35-mm camera capable of manual f-stop, shutter speed, and focusing adjustments. Also, each camera needs a built-in or separate light meter. Have your own cable release if your camera does not have a time delay shutter release. Other equipment is available in the art department. Your own tripod would be great. This web page has been prepared to help you make camera and equipment selections.
Housekeeping in the lab
Never leave the area before you go back and see what you left behind. We share a facility. Good negatives and prints can't be made in a messy lab. In consideration of classmates you must leave the lab areas free of litter and chemical spills. Pick up all your stuff. Deposit trash in the waste can. All equipment must be placed back in its place. Always allow a few minutes to do this before you leave. Remind each other. Grades are reduced if messes are left. Others see leaving a mess as disrespect and hostility. It makes them angry and saps creative energy from their work. Students will be asked to DROP THE COURSE if they habitually fail to clean up their messes.

Stuff Breaks

Report malfunctioning or missing equipment or supplies to the instructor immediately with a phone call, e-mail, or a note on the office door.


Generally, you will have an evaluation appointment after each assignment. This gives an opportunity for instruction in whatever is needed. This will also clarify the criteria by which photographs are graded. The course grade is based on your photographs, your improvement, class ATTENDANCE and participation, tests, darkroom housekeeping, and a review of the whole term's portfolio at the end. Ignoring any one of these items lowers the grade. Your photographic production carries the greatest weight. Tests are second. Attendance and class participation is next.
Upper Level Credit
Art 315: Photography, May Term, is available to more experienced photographers who are upper level class members. This course would count in the current General Education Art list. For upper level credit, students do the same number of studio projects as for 255. Assignments may be directed toward artistic expression rather than communication or journalism. In addition they will study Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett, write a paper, and make a class presentation reviewing the work of a photographer or a group of photographers using Barrett’s methods and types. The report is illustrated with slides or scanned images made by the student.

This is Your Course

Be creative. Never feel limited by an assignment. There will often be more film in you camera than you actually need to do an assignment. Use it for whatever interests to you. Always carry your camera. Carry extra film. Don't miss spontaneous opportunities. Use these images for extra credit or just for fun. Of course, we hope the assignments are fun too, even if they are difficult. As you become more knowledgeable, you will do photography based on informed decisions, some skill and of course, creative inspiration. This may not be easy, but it is certainly fulfilling. "Photography made easy," tends toward thoughtless cliché. Great work comes from personal from conviction, persistence, some frustrations, many mistakes along the way, and dedication.

The Instructor

Marvin Bartel has been a member of the art faculty at Goshen College since 1970. Prior to coming to Goshen he was on the art faculty at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman U.), Bethel College (Kansas), and Topeka High School (Kansas). Bartel has master and doctor's degrees in art education from the University of Kansas. He is a practicing exhibiting artist, maintaining his own studio.

Bartel's primary artistic focus is ceramics, but he has produced numerous quality photographs including some in exhibitions at the Midwest Museum of Art, Elkhart and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Among his published work is an article in Ceramics Monthly on how to use photographic images on ceramics art objects. The Mennonite Central Committee has used Bartel’s photos from Zambia in publications. Goshen College has published his photos from Belize. In addition to photography, Bartel teaches courses in art education, architectural design, and ceramics. He designs buildings, designs and builds energy efficient kilns, has a small orchard and a vegetable garden. He and Delores are participants in the Eighth Street Mennonite Church congregation, Goshen. They have 3 children and 5 very photogenic and frequently photographed grandchildren.

Back to Photo Comm Home Page
Back to list of assignments