Take a Free Course on Digital Photography from Stanford Prof Marc Levoy

Photography and video have advanced to such a degree that any one of us, for a modest investment of capital, can own the requisite equipment to make productions at the same level of quality as the pros. And most of us already hold in our hands computers capable of producing and editing hundreds of rich still and moving images. What we may lack, what most of us lack, are the skills and experience of the professionals. No amount of fancy photo gear can make up the difference, but you can at least acquire the education—a very thorough, technical education in digital photography—online, and for free.

Taught by Stanford professor Emeritus of Computer Science Marc Levoy, the course above, simply called “Lectures on Digital Photography,” covers seemingly everything you might need to know and then some: from the parts of a digital camera (“every screw”), to the formula for depth of field, the principles of high dynamic range, and the history and art of photographic composition.

Beware, this course may not suit the casual Instagrammer—it requires aspiration and “a cell phone won’t suffice.” Additionally, though Levoy says he assumes no prior knowledge, he does expect a few non-camera-related academic skill sets:

The only knowledge I assume is enough facility and comfort with mathematics that you're not afraid to see the depth-of-field formula in all its glory, and an integral sign here or there won't send you running for the hills. Some topics will require concepts from elementary probability and statistics (like mean and variance), but I define these concepts in lecture. I also make use of matrix algebra, but only at the level of matrix multiplication. Finally, an exposure to digital signal processing or Fourier analysis will give you a better intuition for some topics, but it is not required.

Sound a little daunting? You will not need an expensive SLR camera (single lens reflex), though it would help you get the most out of complex discussions of settings. The topics of some interactive features may sound mystifying—“gamut-mapping,” “cylindrical-panoramas"---but Levoy’s lectures, all in well-shot video, move at a brisk pace, and he contextualizes new scientific terms and concepts with a facility that will put you at ease. Levoy formerly taught the course at Stanford between 2009 and 2014. The version he teaches online here comes from a Google class given this year—eighteen lectures spanning 11 weeks.

Find all of the course materials—including interactive applets and assignments—at Levoy’s course site. As he notes, since the course has “gone viral,” many videos embedded on the site won't play properly. Levoy directs potential students to his Youtube channel. You can see the full playlist of lectures at the top of this post as well.  For more resources in photography education—practical and theoretical, beginner to advanced—see PetaPixel’s list of “the best free online photography courses and tutorials.”

Lectures on Digital Photography" will be added to our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

via PetaPixel

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How to Get Started with Yoga: Free Yoga Lessons on YouTube

If you’ve dipped even a toe into the yoga world lately, you’ve perhaps noticed controversies raging from East to West about the Hindu practice of meditative postures (āsanas). Is yoga religious? If so, does practicing it in schools violate religious freedoms; does the Indian government’s endorsement of yoga slight Indian Muslims? Is yoga an ancient spiritual practice or modern invention? Is Western yoga “cultural appropriation,” as both campus groups and Hindu groups allege? Is there such a thing as “Real Yoga” and is “McYoga” killing it?

These questions and more get debated on a daily basis online, on campus, and in statehouses and councils. No one is likely to find resolution any time soon. However, you may have also heard about the health benefits of yoga, trumpeted everywhere, including Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic, and you can safely ignore the politics, and learn the physical practice in any number of ways.

Like millions of other people, you may find that it helps you “fight stress and find serenity” as Mayo writes; or become a “mindful eater,” boost “weight loss and maintenance,” enhance fitness, and improve cardiovascular health, according to Harvard.

Various teachers and schools will make other claims about yoga’s practical and spiritual effects. These you are free to take on faith, experience yourself, or check against scientific sources. And when you’re ready to get out of your head and connect your mind and body, try a yoga class. Skip the gym and Lululemon. You don’t even have to leave your home or get out your wallet. We have several free online yoga classes represented here, from reputable, experienced teachers offering poses for beginners and for experienced yogis, and for all sorts of ailments and types of physical training.

The first, Yoga with Adriene, opens things up gently with “Yoga for Complete Beginners,” at the top, a 20 minute “home yoga workout” that requires no special props or prior experience. From here, you can browse Adriene’s Youtube channel and find playlists like the 38-video “Foundations of Yoga” and 10-video “Yoga for Runners” sequence, further down.

Should Adriene’s approach strike you as too casual with the yogic tradition, you might find the instruction of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois more to your liking. His one-hour “Primary Series Ashtanga” video, above, opens with this disclaimer: “The following video is NOT an Exercise Video. It is intended for educational, artistic, and spiritual purposes only.” The text also warns that Master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ yoga practice is taught “to six highly experienced students,” as will become clear when you watch his video.

Other courses---from yoga video series by Kino Yoga and Yoga Journal---gesture to both ends of the purely fitness-based and purely spiritual-based spectrum, and both have beginner series, above and below. It's up to you to decide where you stand in the yoga wars, if anywhere. You’ll find, if you look, no shortage of reportage, think pieces, academic articles, and rants to fill you in. But if you want to learn the physical practice of yoga, you needn’t look far to get started. In addition to the resources here, take a look at some curated lists of online yoga classes from New York Magazine, Huffington Post, and Elle UK.  Thanks go to our Twitter followers, who gave us some helpful hints. If you have your own tips/favorites, please drop them in the comments section below.

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Sonny Rollins Describes How 50 Years of Practicing Yoga Made Him a Better Musician

 Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Change Your Life! Learn the Japanese Art of Decluttering, Organizing & Tidying Things Up

Custom dictates that you should observe July 4th---America's Independence Day---outdoors, eating hot dogs, drinking beer, waving tiny flags on Main Street, and viewing fireworks.

Why not liberate yourself from the tyranny of the traditional by spending a portion of the day indoors, communicating affection to your clothing, as organizational expert, Marie Kondo, author of the best selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, does in the instructional video, above?

Most of us who dwell in small New York City apartments are already familiar with her teachings. Hers is a take-no-prisoners approach to clutter control. Any item that doesn’t “spark joy”---be it a pair of stretched-out sweatpants, a long ago graduation present, a ream of children’s artwork, or a nearly full bottle of slightly funky-smelling conditioner---must be discarded immediately.

(Note to self: ask Mom whatever became of my Spirit of ’76 watercolor. She had it framed because it won a prize. Best Bicentennial Observance by a 4th Grader or some such. Things like that don't just vanish into thin air, unless…)

The total makeover Kondo proposes is an arduous, oft-emotional, week-long task. Don’t blow your entire July 4th holiday trying to complete the job.

Instead, take an hour or two to refold your clothes. New Yorkers’ drawers are where Kondo’s influence is felt most deeply. Whether or not we subscribe to her practice of treating each garment like a treasured friend, our underwear definitely has more room to breathe, when not on active duty.

See below for a graphic demonstration of how to best fold shirts, pants, and several species of undies, using Kondo’s Kon-Marie method.

And don’t be tempted to decamp to the backyard barbecue when you run across challenges like overalls or baby onesies. Watch below as Kondo tackles a shirt with kimono sleeves, a pair of Edo-style mata hike pants, and a sweater with a marked resemblance to a Thneed.

If you're beginning to feel like fireworks may be overrated, Kondo delivers a 45-minute overview of her philosophy as part of the Talks at Google program below. Or lose yourself to an entire playlist of Kondo folding videos here.

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Free Coloring Books from World-Class Libraries & Museums: The New York Public Library, Bodleian, Smithsonian & More

Ayun Halliday, author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine, will be reading from her travel memoir, No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late at Indy Reads Books in downtown Indianapolis, Thursday, July 7. Follow her @AyunHalliday

How to Build Stuff: A Free Short Course on Making Prototypes by Entrepreneur Dan Gelbart

Dan Gelbart, a Vancouver-based electrical engineer, helped create a company called Creo, which Kodak bought in 2005 for roughly $1 billion. If you read Gelbart's short autobiography here, you can learn about the arc of his career: About how, during his early years, he started working for a tech company that produced high-speed film recorders. And about how Gelbart told the company that he could build a better film recorder, at a cheaper price. And he could do it in the basement of his home. He explains:

After a crash course in optics, I changed the design [of the recorder], but surprisingly managed to deliver a shippable prototype in 12 months with only one person working with me. I had a small metalworking workshop at home, many of the machines home-built, and this allowed me to fabricate most of the parts for the prototype myself.

I now have a wonderful CNC machine shop at home, but I don't have the boundless enthusiasm of those days. However, I still build all my prototypes myself, finding it to be faster than sending out drawings and waiting for parts.

Above, you can watch what Gelbart calls "A Short Course on How to Build Stuff," a series of 18 videos designed for students and scientists who want to build prototypes very quickly, using machines that are easy to master. Writes Make magazine, the "series begins by demonstrating how to use and modify his favorite shop tools, and reveals all kinds of enlightening shortcuts that make complicated assemblies trivial to produce. There is a true art to uncomplicating things, a rarity for some engineers."

You can access the complete playlist here. Individual topics include:

1. Introduction
2. Safety
3. Waterjet
4. Bending
5. Spot Welding
6. Coatings
7. Presswork
8. Enclosures
9. Materials
10. Flexures
11. Non-metals
12. Plastics Forming and Casting
13. Large Structures
14. Brazing
15. Mill and Lathe
16. Machining
17. High Accuracy
18. Design

Gelbart's course will be added to our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

via Metafilter

Learn Calligraphy from Lloyd Reynolds, the Teacher of Steve Jobs’ Own Famously Inspiring Calligraphy Teacher

The story has, over time, solidified into one of the columns of Steve Jobs lore: in the early 1970s, the man who would found Apple left for Reed College. But before long, not wanting to spend any more of his parents' money on tuition (and perhaps not temperamentally compatible with the structure of higher education anyway), he officially dropped out, couch-surfed through friends' pads, lived on free meals ladled out by Hare Krishnas, continued to audit a variety of classes, and generally lived the prototype techno-neo-hippie lifestyle Silicon Valley has continued relentlessly to refine.

Perhaps the least likely of those classes was one on calligraphy, taught by Trappist monk and calligrapher Robert Palladino. More than thirty years later, delivering a now-famous Stanford commencement speech, Jobs recalled his time in the calligraphy class: "None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography."

And what of the calligraphy teacher who made that possible? "Palladino, who died in late February at 83, joined the Trappist order of monks in New Mexico in 1950, according to a 2003 profile in Reed Magazine," writes the Washington Post's Niraj Chokshi. "Just 17 at the time, his handwriting attracted the attention of the monastery scribe, who worked with him on his art. Five years later, Palladino moved to Lafayette, Ore., where local artists brought news of a skilled amateur to Lloyd Reynolds, an icon in the field and the creator of Reed’s calligraphy program."

Now you, too, can receive instruction from Reynolds, who in 1968 starred in a series on the Oregon Education Television Service's program Men Who Teach, shooting twenty half-hour broadcasts on italic calligraphy and handwriting. Eight years later — about the time Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak — he re-shot the series in color, and you can watch that version almost in its entirety with the playlist at the top of the post. (Reed has also made some related instructional materials available.) You may feel the temptation to turn all of Reynolds' lessons on the art of writing toward your goal of becoming the next Steve Jobs. But try to resist that impulse and appreciate it for its own nature, which Jobs himself described as "beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture."

We'll add these vintage lessons to our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting: Now Free on YouTube

Last year, we let you know that the first season of The Joy of Painting, the public-television paint-along show hosted by the neatly permed and persistently reassuring Bob Ross, had appeared free to watch online.

Produced by WNVC in Falls Church, Virginia, that season aired in 1983, and had some rough edges — the audible movements and murmurs of the crew in the background, the naturally improvisational Ross' occasional stumble over one of his scripted lines — that would get thoroughly smoothed away as the program rapidly became an international TV institution, a process you can witness again for yourself now that Bob Ross' Youtube channel has made available all 31 seasons free online.

Season Two

"Bob Ross died in 1995 at 52 after a battle with lymphoma," writes the New York Times' Foster Kamer, "but his cultural legacy has grown in his absence. He was around to witness the beginnings of his own cult status. In the early ’90s, he was big in Japan. And MTV, catering to the Gen X penchant for irony, ran a series of promotional advertisements that featured him."

Gen Xers across America would surely all have caught glimpses of Ross — and more importantly, heard a few of his mesmerizingly delivered words — during late-night or midday channel-surfing sessions, but now, thanks to the increasing availability of The Joy of Painting's archives on-demand and online, it's made new fans even of those born after Ross had already departed.

Season Three

The show always made it easy for its viewers to paint as they watched, with Ross always taking the time to run down the short list of required tools, making tirelessly sure to emphasize that under no circumstances should they buy nylon brushes or clean those brushes with turpentine. As the production values increased, so did the number of colors on the palette, though they never expanded too far beyond the core set, which The Joy of Painting die-hards can rattle off like a mantra, of Bright Red, Phthalo Blue, Midnight Black, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow, Van Dyke Brown, Titanium White, Sap Green — and, as Ross himself might say, the "almighty" canvas-covering Magic White, the foundation of the "wet-on-wet" technique he learned from mentor, and later bitter rival, Bill Alexander.

Season Four

The New York Times article quotes Annette Kowalski, a onetime student of Ross who now helps run the Bob Ross, Inc. empire, on the host's enduring appeal as a teacher: “If you listen closely to Bob’s programs, he never says ‘I’m going to teach you this. He never assumes that he knows more than you do. He says: ‘We’ll learn this together.’ And I think — even though people don’t realize it — I think that’s what his big turn-on is.” But it almost goes without saying that not everyone fascinated by the show, and maybe not even most people fascinated by the show, actually have any desire to paint themselves.

Season Five

So why do they still tune in, on whatever platform they might tune in on, and in such large numbers? The key must have something to do with Ross' oft-repeated reminders to his viewers that, when it comes to the landscapes on their own canvases, "this is your world, your creation," and in your world, "there are no set, firm rules — you find what works for you, and that's what you do." On The Joy of Painting, Ross created a world, or perhaps a reality, of his own, one where "anybody can paint; all you need is a dream in your heart and a little practice," where "there are no mistakes, just happy accidents" (plentifully inhabited, of course, by "happy little trees"), and one which many found they enjoyed living in, brush in hand or not, even if only for 26 minutes at a time.

Season Six

We will continuing adding seasons to this list as they become available.

Season Seven

Season Eight

Season Nine

Season Ten

Season 11

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15

Season 16

Season 17

Season 18

Season 19

Season 20

Season 21

Season 22

Season 23

Season 24

Season 25

Season 26

Season 27

Season 28

Season 29

Season 30

Season 31

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How to Sound Smart in a TED Talk: A Funny Primer by Saturday Night Live‘s Will Stephen

Is there any subject that can’t be covered in a TED Talk?

Apparently not. You can make a TED Talk about anything, even nothing, as veteran improviser and rookie Saturday Night Live writer, Will Stephen, demonstrated at a recent TEDx event in New York City.

What you shouldn’t do is deviate from TED’s established presentation tropes. Stephen may be punking us with his How to Sound Smart in Your TEDx Talk, above, but aspirant TED speakers should take notes. One can’t practice observational humor without being a keen observer. Stephen's insights are as good a playbook as any for that unmistakeable TED-style delivery:

Use your hands.

Engage the audience by asking them a question that will result in a show of hands…

By show of hands, how many of you have been asked a question before?

Hit ‘em with an endearing, personal anecdote.

Projections will enhance your credibility.

Replay the clip with the sound down, as Stephen suggests, and it’s still obvious what he’s doing - giving a TED Talk.  (The familiar camera work and editing don’t hurt either.)

Even if you’re not planning on nominating yourself to become a TED speaker in the near future, Stephen’s lesson should prove handy next time you’re called upon to do some public speaking, whether running for President or delivering the toast at your best friend’s wedding.

And nothing is certainly not the only topic of substance upon which Stephen can discourse. Witness his Tinder Strategy Powerpoint.

Hmm, maybe there are some TED-proof subjects  after all...

via BoingBoing

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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