I am a huge believer in positive thinking. Yes, the restaurants and bars are closed. Yes, the shopping malls, massage shops, hair salons, gyms, movie theaters, golf courses, and pretty much every other form of entertainment are shuttered. We are staying home, avoiding groups, and self quarantining. Bad, bad & bad.

But,… if you look at the positive side, not only will you remain healthy and not infect loved ones by staying home, you can also use this time to learn new things, to expand your horizons. Allow me to introduce you to YouTube and the Internet, your two new best friends.

YouTube launched in 2005 and has become the 2nd most visited website in the world, behind Google, which happens to own YouTube. Google bought the service in 2006 for 1.6 billion USD’s from the founders, 3 former Pay Pal employees, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The service has exploded to the point where almost 5 billion videos are watched every day, with 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. You can learn how to do nearly anything on YouTube, including how to do a compression test on a 74 Plymouth Duster.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
-Henry Ford

The Internet brings the most impressive learning institutions into your home. There are tens of thousands of classes you can partake in from the world’s top universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT & Oxford, for free.

You can use this collection of online courses to learn everything you want from history, philosophy and literature, physics, biology, psychology, and computer science. The links include a lot of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). If you wish to enroll in a free version of a MOOC, you can select the “Full Course, No Certificate” (edX) or “Audit” (Coursera) option. You can also take the course for a certificate and credential for a fee.

Your quest for knowledge doesn’t need to be limited to Universities. Plenty of private companies also offer online learning. For the month of April, and perhaps longer, Nikon is offering all of their photography classes on-line for free.

Classes include;

Fundamentals of Photography
Take control of your photography. Nikon School instructor and professional photographer Reed Hoffmann will help you go beyond your camera’s Auto mode and master the fundamentals of photography. With in-depth explanations of each topic followed by hands-on demonstrations, you’ll learn the skills to take your photography to the next level—no matter what type or brand of camera you shoot.
Duration: 42:35

Beyond the Fundamentals of Photography
Go beyond the fundamentals with Nikon School instructor and professional photographer Reed Hoffmann to get a real understanding of how your camera works and how you can utilize your DSLR features to increase your creativity and create a wide variety of images. With easy to understand explanations and hands-on demonstrations, you’ll learn the skills to take your photography to an entirely different level—no matter what type or brand of camera you shoot.
Duration: 56:32

Photographing Children and Pets
Learn the secrets to taking portraits that will be cherished for a lifetime from renowned lifestyle photographer and Nikon Ambassador, Tamara Lackey. In this down-to-earth online video class, you’ll learn how to get genuine expressions from children and pets, how to create poses that look and feel natural, how to softly blur the backgrounds, how to set your camera, which lenses are best and more.
Duration: 50:24

Environmental Portraiture
Professional Photographer and Nikon Ambassador Joey Terrill will teach you how to define an environmental portrait that reveals a story about your subject in their environment. Joey will teach you how to create environmental portraits using available and Speedlight flash, how to select the right lens for the photograph and how best to direct your subjects in a clear, positive way that builds trust between you.
Duration: 43:57

The Art of Making Music Videos
Learn the tips and techniques you need to elevate your video productions. Filmmaker, photographer and Nikon Ambassador Chris Hershman will teach you the basics for creating music videos—concepts that translate to every facet of filmmaking, no matter your specialty or genre. Be empowered to make video magic with your DSLR camera.
Duration: 01:09:09

Discovering Macro Photography
Professional Photographer and Nikon Ambassador Joey Terrill will teach you the techniques and secrets for making amazing macro photographs of objects large and small. Learn the different way of seeing, of engaging your mind that you’ll use to create beautiful macro photos.
Duration: 50:43

Exploring Dynamic Landscape Photography
Learn how to make a picture, not just take one. Professional Photographer Taylor Glenn will teach you his tips and techniques for crafting a beautiful landscape photograph. Follow Taylor as he makes stunning landscape images, while learning the skills to transform your photography—no matter what type or brand of camera you shoot.
Duration: 43:50

If after your photography classes you are still feeling creative, consider signing up for one of the online art courses from The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The museum, which re-opened in October 2019 after a massive $450 million renovation, is offering free virtual classes through Coursera.

For those who miss dressing up for work every day, sign up for Fashion As Design. “Fashion as Design focuses on a selection of more than 70 garments and accessories from around the world, ranging from kente cloth to jeans to 3D-printed dresses,” according to the syllabus. The course looks at what we wear, why we wear it, how it’s made, and what it means to cultures around the world.

If you’re someone who asks the big questions like “What Is Contemporary Art?,” there’s a class for that, too. In this course, you’ll consider this question by reviewing more than 70 works of art made between 1980 and the present, with a focus on art from the past decade. Artwork includes painted portraits, 3-D printed sculptures, video games, and performances.

Other classes include “Modern Art & Ideas,” “Seeing Through Photographs,” and “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting.” All are taught by MoMA’s curatorial staff from departments including photography, architecture and design, film, and media and performance.

And while nothing can replicate the swell of a live orchestra or the quiet murmur of an art gallery, here are additional cultural experiences that can make your time indoors more artful and imaginative.

Musée d’Orsay: Paris
Take in 278 masterpieces here and don’t worry about clicking aimlessly,all the pieces have extensive descriptions and notations.

Uffizi Gallery: Florence, Italy
Take a virtual walk through Florence’s artistic gem before stopping to admire some of the museum’s most famous inhabitants. Our suggestion: Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” of course. But also, in the tour, don’t forget to drag the screen and look up at the beautiful frescoes on the ceiling, painted by Alessandro Allori.

Rijksmuseum: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Get up close with some of the world’s most loved artworks, including Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” and Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” via a new online platform, Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close, which allows visitors to browse artworks from the Amsterdam museum, accompanied by videos, audio clips and 360º images.
The Rijksmuseum also has a platform called the Rijksstudio, which allows participants to download artwork images to create masterpieces of their own. There are more than 700,000 high-resolution images to choose from.

British Museum: London
Explore a stunning visual timeline of the world, with an array of annotated objects. Our suggestion: This timeline pairs nicely with “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” a podcast narrated by the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor. (If your ears are craving more, here are some more culture podcasts to enjoy.)

Like everything else, Covid 19 will pass and our hectic lives will return to their normal hectic pace with too much to do and to little time to do it in. For the many not affected by the virus, these days of self quarantining could be and should be looked back on as a well-needed break and a preverbal blessing in disguise.


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