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Lesson Plans

Re: buying photo equiptment

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Marvin P Bartel (marvinpb)
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 22:34:04 -0500

original message - question
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 13:39:54 EDT
From: Tucsndawn
Subject: buying photo equipment

>I teach K-8 art. A friend of mine has an old enlarger and
>photo equipment that I can't decide whether to buy or not. It is possible to
>build a darkroom in my storage room too. I am just not sure if its worth it
>for one enlarger. I am afraid I will buy it and it will just sit. Plus I am
>unsure of how I would schedule developing etc.

>Has anyone here on the elementary level ever done a photography unit with
>K-8 before? Can kids develop their own film without an enlarger? I want to do
>a photo unit. I feel like this is one of the few media that I have not
>covered with my students.

>Any input would help... Thanks....Dawn in Tucson

I haven't taught much K-8 photography, but have worked with kindergarten
children with polaroids and in the darkroom. My students teach some
photography to K-8 students. These have been largely very positive and
exciting educational experiences. Mainly, I teach college photography,
ceramics, and art education.

For what its worth, at this point in history, I would suggest bypassing wet
processes and spend the money on one or more digital cameras. If your school
doesn't provide good computers, you may not have this option. Educational
prices for photo software are reasonable. The school's video camera may be
another option. Yes, some artists will continue to use film and chemistry,
but a closet needs proper ventilation, and some chemicals can not be
disposed of easily. Supervision is important with younger children around
the chemistry.

I currently use a digital camera and ink jet printer for most of my
photography. My images up to 8x10 are just as good as those printed from
film. My college students are currently required to learn both, but this may
change soon. Some artists will always use film, but other than artists and
photographers won't use much film in five or ten years. There are many old
photo materials you can't purchase now, but a few artists continue to make
their own. Currently, if you shop the web, you can get cameras with
resolution up to 2.1 million pixels per image for $800 or less. Cheap
digitals are under $200. These have a course looking picture. But, children
can learn a lot of art and photo concepts with such a camera. Recently,
every two years the camera quality has doubled while price for the best has
goes down.

One of the best photo introductory activities we've done with children is to
block the classroom windows on a bright sunny day with pieces of opaque
black plastic sheeting fastened with duct tape (any opaque material works).
When the room is absolutely totally dark and everybody's pupils have
dilated, we uncover a half inch diameter round hole in the plastic and we
can see the school yard upside down on a large piece of white foam core
suspended in the room. On a sunny day the white foam core sheet (or other
white material) can be about 10 feet from the light hole. This is a camera
obscura similar to those used by artists to learn perspective and proportion
in drawing correct prior to invention of photo chemical process (and before
Betty Edwards). Think of it as a giant pinhole camera with observers in it.
It is still the concept used by any camera. If people are moving about
outside in the sunlight we get to see an inverted motion picture. This is
not an art lesson by itself, but a good introduction to how photography works.

I would place emphasis on composition, on pictorial personal story telling,
and on photo history. With the software, you can elect to emphasize post
visualization creativity. Photomontage projects can be good team projects at
the computer and they teach each other how to use the software and
collaborate on what makes an effective composition.

Whatever you decide about the enlarger, there are a lot of great ways to
learn art through photography.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art
Things I teach:
CERAMICS - "I learned I could do it." -- from a student from the class
ART EDUCATION - "You can't never know how to do it before you never did it
before." ... a boy, age five, working with clay the first time
PHOTOGRAPHY - "How hard could that be?" -- a student who never took the class
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN -- "What is truth and beauty in a building?"
MULTIMEDIA CONCEPTS -- "Can you imagine it?"
Goshen College, 1700 South Main St., Goshen IN 46526
Art Department Office (219) 535-7400
Studio (219) 533-0171
Fax (219) 535-7660
e-mail: marvinpb
To see my 98 exhibition Catalog:
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