Posts Published in February 2010

MIT Photography Courses Online

Update: It looks like many of these courses are no longer available.


In a well known scene from Good Will Hunting, the main character Will drops the following gem as he defends his uneducated friend against a cocky Harvard student: “[...] you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f**kin’ education you coulda’ got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the Public Library.”

If you’re looking for some education in photography, another school in Cambridge, MIT, is offering the material of quite a few photography classes for free online. This includes everything from reading lists and assignments to full downloads of course materials and student projects. Here’s a quick list:

4.341 Introduction to Photography

This course also offers practical instruction in basic black and white techniques, digital imaging, fundamentals of camera operation, lighting, film exposure, development and printing. Course provides opportunity for continued exploration.

4.341 Introduction to Photography and Related Media

This course provides practical instruction in the fundamentals of analog and digital SLR and medium/large format camera operation, film exposure and development, black and white darkroom techniques, digital imaging, and studio lighting.

4.343 Photography and Related Media

Fosters a critical awareness of how images in our culture are produced and constructed. Student-initiated term project at the core of exploration. Special consideration given to the relationship of space and the photographic image. Practical instruction in basic black and white techniques, digital imaging, fundamentals of camera operation, lighting, film exposure, development, and printing.

4.A21 Stories Without Words: Photographing the First Year

The transition from high school and home to college and a new living environment can be a fascinating and interesting time, made all the more challenging and interesting by being at MIT. More than recording the first semester through a series of snapshots, this freshman seminar will attempt to teach photography as a method of seeing and a tool for better understanding new surroundings.

11.309J / 4.215J Sensing Place: Photography as Inquiry

This course explores photography as a disciplined way of seeing, of investigating landscapes and expressing ideas. Readings, observations, and photographs form the basis of discussions on landscape, light, significant detail, place, poetics, narrative, and how photography can inform design and planning, among other issues.

21A.348 Photography and Truth

Photographs in anthropology serve many purposes: as primary data, illustrations of words in a book, documentation for disappearing cultures, evidence of fieldwork, material objects for museum exhibitions, and even works of art. This course explores photography as art, research tool, and communication.

Have other links to free online courses? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

(via Your Photo Tips)


Image credit: The Dome at MIT by opencontent

Collapsible Tent Pole Tripod by Tamrac

Here’s a “carry around” tripod for your carry around lens and camera: The ZipShot is a “compact, ultra-light tripod” by Tamrac that has aluminum-alloy legs that resemble the collapsible poles used in tents. While it’s not very useful in windy situations, or with heavy professional gear, it might suffice for most ordinary uses and lighter cameras (supposedly it can hold up to 3lb). The biggest benefits are obviously weight (11oz) and setup time. Here’s a video showing how quickly you can set the thing up:

The ZipShot costs $50, and can be found at most camera equipment retailers online (just search for “zipshot”).

Recycled Kodachrome Slide Curtains

At the beginning of the month we featured a creative lamp shade made using slide film. Here’s a new idea: curtains. Jacki Vance-Kuss over at Yarn Zombie took Kodachrome slide film and aluminum chainmail rings and created a unique curtain for her front door.

Here’s the finished curtains I made out of Kodachrome slides! The slides date from the 50s and early 60s, and are all from a lot of slides I got in Kansas City last fall. The majority of slides on the right panel are of horses. Go figure. Travis drilled 8 holes in the slides using a Dremel tool in a Dremel drill press thingy, and I connected them all using aluminum chainmail rings.

The curtains open and close just like you would expect:

In response to the whole “Won’t it fade?” question, I’m pretty sure that yes, in time, the slides (especially the ones in direct sunlight) will fade. I don’t know how long they’ll last. If it happens in the next week or so, I’ll let you know. :) Hopefully, they’ll last a year or so. I have a ton of old slides, so as they fade, I can just replace them with others. That won’t be any big deal. I think if this was on a north-facing window, the slides will fade a lot slower. Also, I scanned in the most interesting slides, so in case the slides to fade to nothingness, the image is still preserved.

If you have old Kodachrome slide film that you’d like to recycle, this could be a fun project for you.

(via Lifehacker)


Image credits: Photographs by yarnzombie and used with permission.

Homebrew Space Photography

About a week ago, San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge launched its own space program, Spacebridge.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the hackerspace Noisebridge, our ongoing mission to explore strange (yet economically priced) new ascent technologies; to seek out new parts and new partnerships; to boldly go where no non-government-or-massively-industrially-funded-group has gone before.

They sent a weather balloon to nearly 70,000 feet equipped with two cameras for photo/video and a T-Mobile G1 for recording data using its GPS and accelerometer.

The video recorded by the balloon is somewhat interesting (and extremely nauseating), but the photographs taken by the balloon at the “edge of space” are quite breathtaking:

Someone should manufacture a “Space Photography Kit” so we can all do our own launches. Recovering the balloon afterwards might be quite a hassle though.

(via Laughing Squid)


Image credit: IMG_0125.JPG by longobord

Scientific Curiosity Captured in Photos

Caleb Charland is a Maine-based photographer who combines a love of scientific experiments and photographs into wonderful and amazing photographs. If Isaac Newton or Benjamin Franklin were into photography, their photographs might look something like these:

“Wooden Box with Horseshoe Magnet”

“Atomic Model”

“Demonstration with Hair Dryer and Aluminum Foil”

“Candle in a Vortex of Water”

“Fifteen Hours”

Regarding his work, Charland tells us,

Wonder is a state of mind somewhere between knowledge and uncertainty. It is the basis of my practice and results in images that are simultaneously familiar and strange. I utilize everyday objects and fundamental forces to illustrate experiences of wonder. Each photograph begins with a simple question “How would this look? Is that possible? What would happen if…?” and develops through a sculptural process of experimentation. As I explore the garage and search through the basement to solve these pictures, I find ways to exploit the mysterious qualities of these everyday objects and familiar materials.

To check out more of his work, you can visit his website.


Image credits: Photographs by Caleb Charland and used with permission.

A Shortener for… Your Photographs?

Liquid Scale is an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that offers content aware image resizing. What does that mean? Basically it’s like a URL shortener for your photographs, reducing the dimensions of the photograph but retaining the meaning.

Liquid Scale enables new creative ways of editing images. It resizes pictures without deforming or cropping the content. Pictures can be transformed to a new aspect ratio in a fast and intuitive way.

Basically the application detects which areas of the photograph are “unimportant” (either automatically or manually), and attempts to only reduce and remove these areas through the resizing. Here’s an interesting video showing how it works:

We’re not sure how useful this app is, but the technology is pretty interesting nonetheless. The application is available at the iPhone App Store for $1.99.

MIOPS: Smartphone Controllable High Speed Camera Trigger

MIOPS is a new smartphone-controlled camera trigger that combines all of the features photographers want in a high-speed camera trigger into one convenient device.

Read more…

Self-Portrait Mirror for Your Digital Camera

When I’ve needed to take quick self portraits with my DSLR, one of the tricks I’ve discovered is to focus the camera using the reflection in the UV filter. As long as my eye is directly over the center of the lens in the reflection, then I know the center autofocus point is focused on my eye.

With smaller point-and-shoot cameras, it can be much harder to frame the shot (though focusing correctly is probably easier). Cameras are now coming out with an extra LCD screen on the front of the camera just for this kind of shot. noahw has a cheap, do-it-yourself solution – attach a small mirror to the front of your camera!

This project is dead simple: Digital Camera Sticky backed Velcro Small 1″ – 2″ mirror (convex is best, flat is ok, concave w/magnification is no good) Small mirrors are everywhere. Check out mirrors from compacts and make up. The one I liked best was from an “Inspection Mirror” made by “General Tools” bought for 2 bucks from a hardware store.

To get started you can watch the following video, or head on over to Instructables for a step-by-step tutorial.

Self-Portrait Camera Mirror (via Lifehacker)

Amazing Steampunk Camera Workstation

For sale on eBay is a Century Studio Camera by Eastman Kodak transformed in steampunk fashion into a computer workstation. The auction starts at $5,000, but you can Buy it Now for 7,500. The workstation is shown with a matching steampunked keyboard, but it’s not included in the auction.

Amazing ‘Steampunked’ original Century Semi-Centennial No.1 Portrait Studio Camera (Eastman Kodak manufactured in Rochester NY) — totally restored and transformed into a modern computer workstation! Our restoration includes all the original parts of the Century camera with some additional period items including Victorian ‘Lion’ Angle Brackets and brass balls.

(via The Online Photographer)

Aviary Sets Online Photo Editing Free

One of the best online photo editors is now completely free to use. Aviary has decided to offer its entire suite of online apps for free, including its popular Phoenix image editor.

The application used to cost $25 per year, and those who subscribed in the past 30 days can request refunds. While there has always been a free version of Phoenix, everyone can now save files privately on Aviary’s servers, watermark their images, and access the tutorials that previously required a subscription.

Offering the service for free should help Aviary better compete with Adobe, which offers its online version of Photoshop for free as well (up to 2GBs).

I wonder if (or when) online editors will rival traditional programs in terms of power and functionality. Any guesses?

(via Lifehacker)

Uncle Jack Shot with a Pentax K-7

Pentax recently asked a couple production companies to shoot short films demonstrating the HD filming capabilities of the Pentax’s flagship K-7. After the recent flurry of short films shot with Canon and Nikon DSLRs, it seems Pentax would like to remind us all that they’re still in the game. The two films were recently released, and are titled “Uncle Jack” (embedded above) and “The Rider“.

I actually liked “Uncle Jack” enough to want to share it with all of you. Some of the low-light scenes seem to demonstrate some color and noise issues, but the story is pretty creative and does a good job of showing off this camera’s potential.