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iap and digital SLRs

i am really enjoying mit. as long as you’re not an undergrad here (they appear to just get pummeled incessantly) mit is a fun, and dare i say – laid back place. right, i am never going to eat those words.

in any case, what’s inspired my demeanor has been IAP: mit’s “independent activities period.” essentially, we’re given all of january off to spend as we see fit. as a bonus, the school sponsers a bunch of free and lighthearted classes like learn hebrew in 8 hours!, introductory blacksmithing and the battle of the brownies. heh, that last one sounds like a class the chemE’s back at columbia had to take to graduate.

i decided to get in on the sweet iap action by signing up for a digital photography course called “finding the light in the shadows” (or something to that effect). over the christmas break, i had parlayed my christmas gifts and a fair bit of personal savings into buying my first SLR camera – a Nikon D50 and a nice all-purpose lens (18-200mm). the iap class appeared to be perfectly timed to coincide with the new camera.

unfortunately, after attending the first class this past weekend, it doesn’t look like things are going to work out between “finding the light in the shadows” and me. for one thing, the instructor had this creepy predilection for the female students with long necks and “beautiful eye sockets.” eccentric instructors make classes more interesting though, so that wasn’t the deal breaker. rather, this class appears to exclusively teach studio portraiture; i was really hoping to learn a lot more about general photography: basic techniques like how to choose an aperture and more artistic ones too, such as how to compose a shot.

the four-hour session wasn’t a complete loss though. i did get to use $10,000 of lighting equipment to take some glamour shots of my fellow photography students:

the dude above is hide (accent on the e), a buddy of mine and captain of our biological engineering tennis team. these lights were phenomenonal – hide looks like someone out of an apple commercial. and ladies, i do believe he’s available.

the image below, however, is my favorite:

chatting with this gentleman afterwards, i found out his name was dmitri bertsekas. that name rang a bell and after mulling over it for a couple of moments, it hit me. he was the author of my undergrad probability textbook – high on my list of favorite textbooks. gushing like a school girl, i told him how much his book meant to me. i should have foreseen his reply: “which of my textbooks?” i’m not sure my fragile ego can weather this kind of punishment throughout my 5 to 7 (shudder) years here.

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