A Visual Guide to the Universe with the Smithsonian [TTC Video]

A Visual Guide to the Universe with the Smithsonian [TTC Video]
A Visual Guide to the Universe with the Smithsonian [TTC Video] by David M Meyer
2014 | Course No 1893 | M4V, AVC1, 640x360 | English, AAC, 2 Ch | 18x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.85GB

For the first time in human history, we can see the full splendor and mystery of the universe, thanks to instruments on scores of planetary probes and observatories that have been launched into space since the 1990s.

From Saturn’s rings to the heart of the Milky Way, and from colliding galaxies to cataclysmic gamma-ray bursts at the edges of visible space, some of the most spectacular sights in the cosmos are now as easy to see as the stars above. Many of these cosmic phenomena occur at wavelengths of light that are beyond the range of human vision and can only be detected by special instruments in space.

The dazzling new images are not just a data bonanza for scientists; they have entered popular culture, appearing in art galleries and coffee-table books, as well as on posters, T-shirts, and even postage stamps. Above all, this stunning archive is providing a new perspective on our dynamic universe, including views such as these:

  • Solar magnetic storms: The Solar Dynamics Observatory has recorded dramatic time-lapse footage of the sun in ultraviolet light, including a huge explosion of material from the solar atmosphere, with debris smashing back into the sun’s seething outer layer.
  • Runaway star: A normal-looking nearby star is in fact racing through space more than 20 times faster than a rifle bullet. The action shows up in an infrared view, which beautifully reveals a shock wave of interstellar gas in front of the star, like the bow wave on a speedboat.
  • Galactic crash scene: When viewed in wavelengths beyond human vision, Andromeda, the nearest large galaxy to our own, displays evidence of having been struck 200 million years ago by a dwarf galaxy—just as Andromeda will one day collide with our Milky Way.
  • Dark matter revealed: Most of the matter in the universe doesn't emit, absorb, or scatter light at any wavelength. The most convincing proof that this dark matter must exist shows up in combined X-ray and visible light images of distant colliding galaxy clusters.

And that’s only the beginning. Our instruments in space have prospected for water and life on Mars, detected thousands of possible planets orbiting other stars, mapped superheated matter swirling into gigantic black holes, and deciphered the all-pervasive echo of the big bang, which is the key to understanding the large-scale structure of the universe.

The fantastic scientific story behind these remarkable images is yours in A Visual Guide to the Universe, produced in partnership with the Smithsonian—one of the world’s most storied and exceptional educational institutions. These 18 lavishly illustrated lectures that take you from our neighborhood of the solar system to the farthest reaches of space and time. Your guide is Professor David M. Meyer, an award-winning teacher, popular public speaker, and distinguished astronomer at Northwestern University.

Greatest Hits of Astronomy’s Golden Age

Designed for astronomy novices and practiced observers alike, A Visual Guide to the Universe covers a wide range of telling phenomena that have made our era a golden age of astronomical discovery. In selecting the images, Professor Meyer has aimed for variety and scientific significance, while also focusing on key concepts in astronomy, making this course an ideal visual tour through today’s thrilling science of the universe.

As Professor Meyer discusses different images, you learn background ideas such as the electromagnetic spectrum and the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for charting stellar evolution. You also hear about techniques for finding extrasolar planets in the glare of faraway stars and the breakthroughs that make today’s cutting-edge space probes and observatories possible. Illuminating diagrams and animations help explain what’s going on in each image.

Meet the Explorers

Many people associate space exploration with human spaceflight. But the most productive scientific workhorses of the space age have been robotic instruments such as these:

  • Cassini probe: The first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, Cassini has been sending back high-resolution images of the ringed planet and its moons since 2004. Among the findings: The moon Enceladus has towering surface geysers spewing water ice and organic molecules into space.
  • Hubble Space Telescope: Capable of resolving objects 10 times smaller than the largest ground-based telescopes, Hubble has been revolutionizing optical astronomy for more than two decades. Its countless images include breathtaking studies of far distant galaxies.
  • Spitzer Space Telescope: Details of star birth are often hidden from optical view inside dark clouds of interstellar dust. But the process is crystal clear in infrared, which Spitzer is designed to detect, making it the ideal instrument for observing star and solar system formation.
  • Chandra X-Ray Observatory: Extremely energetic processes in the universe produce X-rays, which are very difficult to focus. Chandra does just that, allowing it to image the violent events connected with black holes and other phenomena that heat gas to extreme temperatures.

Among your many adventures, you explore the red planet with the Mars rovers, orbit an asteroid with the Dawn space probe, solve the mystery of gamma-ray bursts with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and take an extraordinary “baby picture” of the early universe with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. In case after case, you use multiple instruments to view the same object at different wavelengths, learning how each portion of the electromagnetic spectrum contains clues that let you assemble a remarkably complete picture of events happening up to billions of light-years away.

Of course, the true space explorers are the astronomers and other scientists who direct the activities of these far-flung machines. Professor Meyer is one such investigator, having used space telescopes many times in his research. He speaks from experience when he describes the astounding missions—exploits that can be compared to those of Columbus, Magellan, and Lewis and Clark.

With A Visual Guide to the Universe, you have an opportunity to embark on our era’s greatest voyages of discovery, guided by Professor Meyer, the Smithsonian, and The Great Courses. Without leaving home, you’ll find the view is truly out of this world!


  1. Probing the Cosmos from Space
  2. The Magnetic Beauty of the Active Sun
  3. Mars: Water and the Search for Life
  4. Vesta and the Asteroid Belt
  5. Saturn: The Rings of Enchantment
  6. The Ice Moons Europa and Enceladus
  7. The Search for Other Earths
  8. The Swan Nebula
  9. The Seven Sisters and Their Stardust Veil
  10. Future Supernova, Eta Carinae
  11. Runaway Star, Zeta Ophiuchi
  12. The Center of the Milky Way
  13. The Andromeda Galaxy
  14. Hubble's Galaxy Zoo
  15. The Brightest Quasar
  16. The Dark Side of the Bullet Cluster
  17. The Cosmic Reach of Gamma-Ray Bursts
  18. The Afterglow of the Big Bang

National Geographic Masters of Photography [TTC Video]

National Geographic Masters of Photography [TTC Video]
National Geographic Masters of Photography [TTC Video]
2014 | Course No 7923 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | English, AAC, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.78GB

Photography is an art. We may all take pictures—now more than ever—but to rise above the level of a snapshot, you need to go beyond shooting and hoping for the best. You need to actually understand what you’re doing and anticipate the results.

The best way to learn any art form, including the art of photography, is by watching a master artist at work. By observing the creative process of a photographer who has truly mastered the trade, you can gain rich insight into how to approach your own images, boost your confidence as you work, and improve your photographs by learning skills that are rarely shared or taught in an ordinary classroom.

Now, in National Geographic Masters of Photography—24 lectures taught by 12 top National Geographic photographers—you gain unparalleled access to some of the world’s greatest photographers. Through our partnership with National Geographic, the gold standard of photography for more than a century, we are able to collaborate with some of the organization’s most talented photographers. As a result, we have brought together a dozen world-class experts for this one-of-a-kind instructional series that will forever change the way you approach photography.

National Geographic Masters of Photography goes inside the creative process of the industry’s most sought-after photographers as they reveal their working methods, from the planning stages of an assignment through the painstaking execution. Across 24 fascinating lessons, each professional uses his or her vast body of work documenting exotic locales around the world, as well as riveting stories of life in the field, to illustrate points and share invaluable expertise. As you explore their craft in units on Adventure, Wildlife, Landscape and Nature, People, Color and Light, and Storytelling, your guides take you far beyond Photography 101 territory into ground you’d never cover elsewhere—short of landing an apprenticeship with a photographer of this caliber. These lessons also touch on fundamental concepts of lighting, composition, and using your camera, but they’re truly designed to help you learn to see as top professionals do, and to ultimately discover your own personal vision.

Each unit is presented by a pair of photographers, exposing you to diverse perspectives on how to achieve captivating results. In the end, you’ll come to see that having a good camera and knowing how to use it is important, but it’s only a tool. Taking great photographs requires technical skill, plus preparation. As Michael Yamashita says, “the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph is often a matter of inches or milliseconds.”

After completing this course, you will possess a refined set of tools and insights you can use to drastically improve your photography, whether you’re using an expensive camera or the camera on your phone.

Elevate Your Photography with Essential Advice

In this visual feast of a course, you’ll gain insight on the elaborate process National Geographic photographers go through—both in the technical and artistic sense—from researching and planning a shoot to working a scene and waiting, often for hours, for the right elements to come together.

Guided by multiple experts, you’ll explore in depth the key three elements of great photography: good light, good composition, and a moment, as well as how to take advantage of the compositional concepts and principles they rely on every day. You’ll encounter specific techniques for:

  • taking action shots;
  • chronicling family life;
  • crafting poignant portraits;
  • creating striking silhouettes;
  • shooting in various weather conditions;
  • harnessing the light at dawn, at dusk, and every moment in between; and
  • approaching and working with subjects.

Every time you look through your lens, you’ll refer back to the secrets these top professionals share for constructing an extraordinary image, such as:

  • drawing the viewer in with leading lines and S-curves;
  • showing scale to communicate a sense of vastness;
  • using the rule of thirds to construct well-balanced images;
  • utilizing layering to create depth and interest; and
  • lighting scenes effectively—whether your source is the sun, a flashlight, event lighting, or your camera’s flash.

With these insider tips, everyone from the novice to the accomplished amateur will find ideas for enhancing their picture-taking skills. At the conclusion of each presenter’s session, you’ll be inspired to go out and apply your newfound knowledge based on an assignment outlined by the photographer.

Journey Around the World Through Photography

The Scottish isles. Paris. The Niger Delta. Papua New Guinea. Take a dazzling visual journey to these locations and many more as you join these globe-trotters for a behind-the-scenes look at precisely what went into getting the shot—and the trouble some found themselves in overseas.

Even if you’re already a skilled photographer or simply an appreciator of art, the gripping images and stories these esteemed experts share make the experience highly worthwhile. From arresting tales of surviving sub-zero temperatures in Antarctica to risking life and limb to document the perpetrators and victims of human trafficking, the experiences and worlds that will be revealed to you are nothing short of spellbinding.

  • In the Adventure section, Cory Richards takes you high into the Himalaya and deep under the sea, while Stephen Alvarez brings you to remote places no one had ever before witnessed.
  • In Wildlife, Steve Winter demonstrates how understanding animal behavior informs his work, then Joel Sartore shows you how to apply your knowledge to not only highlight animals, but also potentially make a difference on their behalf.
  • In the Landscape unit, Jim Richardson takes you from the Hebrides of Scotland to the American West, demonstrating how he experiments to work a shot. Michael Yamashita draws parallels between Japanese gardeners and landscape photographers, showing how both use light and color to direct the eye.
  • In the section on People, Jodi Cobb explains how she gains access to hidden worlds, from geisha houses in Japan to the tents of Bedouin women in Saudi Arabia. Then, Ira Block describes how he builds relationships with people of other cultures, even in the most hostile environments.
  • In Color and Light, Michael Melford describes the four kinds of light photographers seek—but demonstrates that it’s possible to work with any kind of light, given enough perseverance. Annie Griffiths communicates the joy of experimenting with color to evoke an emotional response.
  • In Storytelling, William Albert Allard uses images from his 50-year career to illuminate how you can incorporate place and moment to tell stories visually. Conclude with Ed Kashi discussing types of storytelling—from advocacy journalism to the way digital photography and the Internet allow for new kinds of narratives.

A Master Class with 12 Top Photographers

To say that National Geographic Masters of Photography is visually stunning would be an understatement. Words simply cannot do justice to the spectacular images presented by all 12 master photographers in this course. Breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and at times shocking and heartbreaking—their work represents the pinnacle of the art form.

Beyond revealing professional secrets and supplying you with a toolbox overflowing with techniques you’ll put into practice every time you lift your camera, these lessons offer a personally enriching journey like none other.


  1. Redefine Adventure (Adventure)
  2. Broaden Your View (Adventure)
  3. Show What No One Has Shown (Adventure)
  4. Set the Scene, Get Close (Adventure)
  5. Understand the Animal (Wildlife)
  6. Use All the Tools (Wildlife)
  7. Make a Difference (Wildlife)
  8. Go Back, Get It Right (Wildlife)
  9. The Joys of Nature (Landscape)
  10. Exploring Landscapes (Landscape)
  11. Guide the Eye (Landscape)
  12. Moment in Landscape (Landscape)
  13. Gaining Trust (People)
  14. Uncover the Human Condition (People)
  15. Build Relationships (People)
  16. Use the Background (People)
  17. Good, Bad, and Magic Light (Color & Light)
  18. Wait and Work the Shot (Color & Light)
  19. Compose with Color (Color & Light)
  20. Write with Light (Color & Light)
  21. 50 Years of Telling Stories (Storytelling)
  22. Moment, Gesture, Place (Storytelling)
  23. Engaging the World (Storytelling)
  24. Raising Awareness (Storytelling)

The Art of Travel Photography: Six Expert Lessons [TTC Video]

The Art of Travel Photography: Six Expert Lessons [TTC Video]
The Art of Travel Photography: Six Expert Lessons [TTC Video] by Joel Sartore
Course No 7912 | WMV, VC1, 640x360 | English, WMA, 2 Ch | 6x30 mins | 2.33GB

Most of us wouldn’t dream of traveling—or even taking a day trip—without bringing a camera along. Photographs not only let us share our experiences with others, but they preserve once-in-a-lifetime moments, breathtaking sights, and visits with friends and loved ones precisely the way we want to remember them.

Yet all too often, we find that our photos fall short of our expectations. And our lackluster results are made all the more disappointing by the knowledge that we may never return to the pictured locale. From blown-out lighting to the same ho-hum shots that have been done a thousand times before, we’ve all learned how difficult it can be to capture the magic of the moment or do our travels justice with a point-and-click approach.

But by understanding some basic photographic principles and best practices, you can develop and refine your photographer’s eye so that you break free from the traps most travelers fall prey to and produce pictures that reach their full potential.

The Art of Travel Photography: Six Expert Lessons is your ticket to capturing the beauty and awe of any scene, anywhere in the world. Your guide is Joel Sartore, a National Geographic contributing photographer with more than 30 years of experience who has traveled the world shooting photographs in the most challenging of conditions. Filled with practical tips, proven techniques, and field demonstrations, this course helps you learn to see the way professional photographers do so you can take compelling photographs worth framing and sharing—whether you’re traveling to some exotic locale or simply spending a day at the beach.

With Mr. Sartore’s expert guidance, you’ll better understand

  • how to put your own spin on frequently photographed attractions;
  • ways to make your shots appear more professional;
  • how to handle less-than-ideal circumstances and changing sunlight;
  • the importance of planning ahead and doing research; and
  • the capabilities and limitations of your camera.

Leave Your Photographic Signature

Who among us hasn’t taken a photograph of a towering monument or a majestic geological feature, only to feel deflated at the less than awe-inspiring results? Mr. Sartore explains why our attempts pale in comparison to the postcard images we’re familiar with—but he also cautions that postcard images shouldn’t be the goal.

Instead, this course delivers the art and mechanics of taking dynamic, intriguing photographs that you haven’t seen before. In every lesson, you’ll learn how to create shots unique (and maybe even quirky) enough to command attention, whether your destination is a cathedral or a campground. Discover how to get beyond the postcard by

  • giving objects scale;
  • softening chaotic backgrounds and visually isolating people;
  • shooting silhouettes to make the commonplace seem mysterious;
  • using color as a focal point—particularly in clothing;
  • changing your perspective to a bird’s- or worm’s-eye view; and
  • following the rule of thirds, which places subjects in the corner of the frame.

You’ll also learn the dos and don’ts of using flash to achieve a studio-lit look and the fundamentals of building photos from the background forward.

Think before You Shoot

Should you shoot into the sun or away from it? Should you photograph structures with or without people standing in front of them? Is overcast light desirable or detrimental? Mr. Sartore answers these questions and more as he demonstrates why common mistakes occur and how to avoid them.

Throughout the course, he stresses the key ingredients of patience and persistence, as well as the importance of putting yourself in the right place at the right time when a photo op or ideal lighting presents itself—even if that’s before dawn.

But he also teaches you how to react quickly in the moment and what to scout for when you arrive at a location to maximize your time there, whenever that happens to be. After you learn what to look for—whether it’s a higher vantage point or a dramatic backdrop—you’ll never take a shot before considering your options again.

Join an Expert in the Field

Mr. Sartore is a photographer whose work has been featured by major magazines and broadcasts, as well as a gifted teacher with a special ability to explain his craft and make learners feel as if they’re right in the field beside him. In this course, he walks you through his thought process in plainspoken terms and gives an assignment at the end of each lesson that lets you get hands-on practice with the techniques he describes.

One of the most thrilling aspects of The Art of Travel Photography is the opportunity to not only join Mr. Sartore on location, but to crisscross the globe via his impressive portfolio. Traveling from Washington, D.C., to Moscow, you’ll see his principles in action and gain knowledge you can put to use during your very next trip or event.


  1. Getting Beyond the Postcard
  2. Light—Early, Late, and in Between
  3. Faces and Places
  4. Local Attractions and Unexpected Delights
  5. Interiors and Exteriors, High and Low
  6. Storytelling and Serendipity
pages: 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115
*100: 100