Google Zeitgeist Speech

The Use of Artifice in your Craft is Virtuous

Here’s the talk that I gave at Google Zeitgeist this week at the conference. I talk about “our struggle” — that is, the struggle that many of us that enjoy post-processing have to endure. I know many of you are with me on this one! :)

Google Zeitgeist was great fun – it was interesting to hear talks from people like JJ Abrams, Morgan Spurlock, Bill Clinton, Larry Page, Sean Penn, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and more – their talks are all coming online soon too.

Images from the talk

A lot of people came up after the talk and asked me about different images. Below, I’ll paste some of the more popular ones:

A Neo-Rockwellian Christmas When dad is a photographer, then there is a major degree of pressure to deliver photos on all the requisite holidays and celebrations! So, I decided to try to re-invent the family Christmas photo with HDR. Please note that many of my inventions go down in flames, but, as Winston Churchill said, “success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm”.Christmas scenes have a lot of light levels. The lights on the tree, the deep greens withn the branches, a roaring fire, lights in the room, reflections off the ornaments, and the like. It’s wild! I’m pretty sure this is why people like Christmas scenes so much - a wonderful treat for the eyes that is rich in texture and rich in light. Traditionally, it’s been very difficult to capture so much richness in a single photo, saving a lucky and heroic combination of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and lenses.The tree lights made the faces of my three stunt-children (who are also my real children) glow perfectly. No flash could have achieved this, unless you are the kind of Rambo-flash guy that would go bury one inside the tree to hit their faces from the left. But, let’s face it. That’s hard.This was a 5-exposure HDR. You will notice that I often use 5 exposures, but note I could have done it with 3 exposures at -2, 0, and +2. Some silly Nikon cameras, like the D3X I use, will not let you step by twos, so I had to take 5 at -2, -1, 0, +1, and +2. The middle exposure, from which the kid’s faces were masked in and perfectly lit, was shot at f/4 aperture, shutter speed of 1/250, 100 ISO, and at 28mm.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: A Ratcliff Neo-Rockwellian Christmas

-The Great Wall of China-Wow I was alone here. As I walked along this ancient, original stretch of the Great Wall, I felt the ghosts haunting the old towers and little enclaves.I finally found an extremely remote part that is far enough away from civilization to stay pure. The ruins of the wall in this area has been overgrown with vegetation. When you walk along the top, you have to snake your way between huge bushes and all sorts of trees. Stairs and parts of the walkways have crumbled away in the past thousand years. The old towers are slowly fragmenting as lichens and moss cover parts of the stone that are decaying away.This has only reminded me that the main tourist part of the Great Wall is a very tiny stretch that has been re-built in recent years… so it is all fake and kind of Disney-wall. I don’t think I like that…That day I walked from tower to tower, looking at the sinuous wall as it snakes over the mountains. It’s so huge that I won’t even begin to come up with analogies… but, speaking of snakes, a family here told me to watch out for them. I kept that in mind as I hiked back in the pure black of night. I had a little flashlight to keep me company, along with my music. I didn’t see any snakes, and I didn’t fall down, so all together it was a great day and night.

Above: An old, crumbling and vegetation-covered section of the Great Wall of China

Bustling Beijing Getting this photo was not easy at all!I knew of this area of Beijing called the CBD, or Central Business District.  I notice that they have all these catchy names here, much like the building I took this photo from: "China Merchants Building."  At any rate, I had the driver circle the business district a few times so I could find a good angle.  We found one in this building, but did not know if we could take a photo from the top floor.  Woo went in first.  This might have been a mistake because during the shoot he admitted he had a dreadful fear of heights.  But he said it in such a charming British accent I thought it could have been my subconscious.We went up to the 32nd floor.  No windows no dice.  We then went to the 31st floor, but the confused secretary would not let us through.  Then we tried 30.  The secretary said yes and let us into a boardroom, but the angle was not right and the other offices were busy.  So we went to 29.The secretary on 29 was confused so I instructed Woo to tell her, firmly, "We are with the Government."- Trey RatcliffFind out what happened here at stuckincustoms.com.

Above: The TRON of Beijing

Daily Photo – The Gentle Path to the Beyond

Here’s one of the images that was used as a background during the Zeitgeist event. It was really cool to see JJ Abrams (and others) give their talks in front of this background… so surreal… it was actually kind of like being in a dream. I watch a lot of JJ’s work (haven’t seen it all but watched Lost, Alias, Super 8, Star Trek), but to see him up there in front of this… was just weird and awesome! And then, he even mentioned me during his talk and my heart skipped a beat!

Forest leaf fall autumn japan red maple

The Gentle Path to the Beyond

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length28mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure Program
  • Exposure Bias

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  • susan ratcliff

    Awesome presentation you gave Trey – the photos and that format made it even more beautiful – wtg!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cliff.baise Cliff Baise

    I really enjoyed the speech and the format in which your photos were presented. They looked awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694766890 Dick Higdon

    Just got to see this, I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts. I am 68 and am glad I still have time to open up the right side of my brain!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/RussConsidine Russ Considine

    Super speech and photos – thanks (again) for sharing both your photos and your insight!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thank you! :)

  • Guest

    Really nice job on the talk Trey. I’m glad to have added your magic to my photos.

  • Facebook User

    Really nice job on the speech Trey. I’m super happy to have HDR in my photo bag of tricks thanks to you! – Jonas

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