Student Experience Blog

Go! And How I am Still Very Well Rounded

So recently I have developed a new hobby. It is surprising what 3 months of no school will do to you. I am all for weeding my garden and taking care of chickens, but that isn't enough to keep me occupied. I started off with frolf, and also started taking panoramic photographs, some of which have been posted on this blog before. (I think a hobby is necessary because it helps keep your mind fresh, and ready for such stuff as work.) Recently I started doing two more things. I picked up Go, which is an old Asian board game. I like to think of it as chess, but on amphetamines. No, I am not advertising casual drug usage. I call Go such, because it is amongst the most intense games I have ever played.

I am a massive fan of Wikipedia, so here is what Wikipedia describes Go as:

Go is a board game for two players that originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. The game is noted for being rich in strategy despite its relatively simple rules. The two players alternately place black and white playing pieces, called "stones", on the vacant intersections (called "points") of a grid of 19×19 lines. The object of the game is to use one's stones to surround a larger total area of the board than the opponent. Once placed on the board, stones may not be moved, but are removed from play if captured. When a game concludes, the controlled points (territory) are counted along with captured stones to determine who has more points.

Go originated in ancient China. Archaeological evidence shows that the early game was played on a board with a 17×17 grid, but by the time the game had spread to Korea and Japan, in about the 5th and 7th centuries CE respectively, boards with a 19×19 grid had become standard.

I played my fifth game today with a Delt brother, Kitt Connor. He is pretty good at the game, and except once, I have not beaten him (and that one time was because he was incredibly lax on me, and I won 70-60). Andrew, my colleague in both the Delts and the student bloggers, is also an avid player. Try it, it is awesome.

I also mentioned another hobby, of sorts. I have been offered an 8x10 view camera on loan, and I have been reading up on how to use one. It can be excused if you have no idea what I am talking about. Remember those old movies where the photographer had a huge contraption with bellows, and his head was under a sheet? That.

No, it is in some ways a place where I have to forget everything I learned as a photographer and relearn everything. Which is really hard, because I have been taking pictures pretty consistently for the last 5 years or something. It is also really hard and demanding on the photographer for multiple reasons. For one, the camera itself is at least 8 pounds, and the lens is roughly the same. Add a tripod and film to that, and pretty soon your friendly Indian photographer will resemble a pack-mule. Next comes the fact that the negative itself is 8x10. That is inches, not mm. It is expensive, and I can not see the image as soon as I take it, or bracket my exposures. Which means I have to be technically perfect. Again, I refer you to the interwebs: http://www.largeformatphotography.info.

This site has been most helpful on my brushing up on large format photography. Browse through it, and you will see lots of physics, math and chemistry. All that to take a measley old photograph, you ask?

Now people will call this beating on the old horse, but I think it is kind of important to be well rounded. I even wrote an article on the blog about it, proclaiming myself to be exceptionally well rounded, and better then all mortals and what not. You can read it here if you are so inclined: http://collegeofidaho.edu/blog/student-experience/2012/06/14/explanation-all-strange-earlier-posts-i-am-exceptionally-well.

Learning how to operate a behemoth of a camera is just another in the list of things that tells me that even though specialisation may be fine and dandy, it pays to be a jack of all trades. I have a decent background in the hard sciences, because before deciding to be an art major I wanted to be an engineer. So I could understand what was going on when people started telling me online about circles of confusions and retrofocus lenses and catadiopteric attachments and infective development. But then I also know I am goofy in terms of an art major. I know most of us (I am sorry to generalise, and if you want to stab me right now, come and get me) are uncomfortable with anything that has math or physics in it. Heck, most of the time, I stay away from math. But then we need to realise that the hard sciences show up everywhere.

Sculpture? Want to calculate the young's modulus for the material so you build massive sculptures that don't collapse (and kill your dreams with you?), got some old paint that is cracking? Did you know if it is still usable, it will crack at 90* angles, and if it is useless, it will crack at 120* angles? Want to be the next Henri Cartier Bresson but have horridly underexposed negatives? A mercury intensifier bath will help you, and if it is too dark, farmers reducer will save your negative. Did you know that theatre lighting is more a question of science then it is art (it is art too, I am not bashing theatre light people, heck, I used to be one.) And music is all about physics of wave motion?

Learn the hard sciences and the world will make so much more sense. You know what they say right, Math is the universal language?

Also, rather than making a shameless plug for PEAK right now, i'll just put in a link. You should check it out. It's cool. It's underground. It is the hippest thing since ironic mustache tattoos and the good ol' flannel skinny jeans combo: http://collegeofidaho.edu/peak.

-Rahul Sharma

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