Frederick Van Johnson

What’s in Trey’s Bag?

Here’s a video that we made soon after I took this photo below. You can see more (and updated stuff!) on my Camera Equipment page! :)

Daily Photo – Frederick Van Johnson

Here's my friend Fred. We were walking through the Queenstown Gardens here in New Zealand when I took this photo. It's shot with a Leica 50mm at f/1.4 on a Sony A7r. We started talking about camera gear so much that I almost forgot to take any photos! We had a great time together this week… this was just one of them! :)

Frederick Van Johnson

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Wow! Antarctica!

An Amazing Trip

I’m just now getting back to reality, but I wanted to share some quick pictures and thoughts!

It all started with me being a bit nervous. Antarctica! Jeez… I felt like I was both unprepared and unworthy. But I kind of swallowed all that down and boarded a US military plane in Christchurch – a CL-130. That “L” means it has skis on the bottom for landing on the sea ice. That’s the first photo I have below… my view during the 10 hour flight to land towards the middle of Antarctica near Ross Island.

My home base there was to be New Zealand’s Scott Base, which is just an incredible place with a great team. This is an odd way to go, as 98% of people that visit Antarctica go on a ship, which usually leave from the tip of South America. The idea that I had a base on land for the whole time was really awesome, and it was from Scott Base that we launched for several unique locations all over the continent.

Daily Photo – Approaching the Glacier

And not too long after I landed, I went to camp out on the mainland of Antarctica in the Dry Valleys, where countless glaciers spill into the old land. One day, I did a hike away from camp across the wild bits and came up to the face of the Howard Glacier here. I was able to walk right up and touch it. It absolutely towered over me, silent and white and great.

I have a ton more photos and stories to share… I'll be sure to share them all here on the blog soon!

Approaching the Glacier

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture11
  • ISO64
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Soweto from Above

District 9

I watched this movie again recently right before visiting this area of South Africa. I had forgotten what a good movie that is… I had forgotten what a good actor Sharlto Copley was in that movie… just amazing. And it certainly over-scared me to visit this region! But all that turned out to be unfounded…

Daily Photo – Soweto from Above

Even though I thought this would be scariest part of Johannesburg, it turned out to be my favorite. It was great to be there with all the people in the township. It was all smiles, photos, and wonderful feelings. The kids were especially great. They loved watching the quadcopter and thought it was so exciting. I wish I got to spend more time there, but excited to go back another time and take more photos and spend more time with the kids.

Soweto from Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraHero3-Black Edition
  • Camera MakeGoPro
  • Exposure Time1/380
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length2.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring Tokyo Tower

City Shooting Tip

The default compositional style when shooting cities from up high is to do the basic wide-angle landscape orientation. But I’ve been trying more and more to remember to go into portrait mode and zoom in a bit. Like this photo below, for example, was taken in this orientation at at 70mm.

Daily Photo – Exploring Tokyo Tower

The first time I saw this tower in Tokyo I did not like it. I thought it felt a little ugly, or maybe like a cheap version of the Eiffel Tower, but it has really grown on me. Especially at night. I really like the look of its starkness and warm shape against the blueness of the rest of the city.

Exploring Tokyo Tower

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time3
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length70.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

A Quiver Tree Stands Alone

Portrait Orientation and Composition

There is a rule that is sometimes okay to break that you should not put the subject in the middle of your composition. Well, when you switch into Portrait-orientation, all those rules go right out the window! You’re fully allowed to plop things (like the tree below!) right plum in the middle of the frame.

Daily Photo – A Quiver Tree Stands Alone

These trees are unlike any other tree I've ever seen! They are spread all around many desert-y areas of Namibia, and they are often quite spread out from one another. Each one has a totally unique shape, and you'll never see one that will be mistaken for another one. I've never seen individual trees that can look so unalike their neighbors… I'll post more of these in coming weeks and you'll see what I mean!

A Quiver Tree Stands Alone

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5
  • Aperture8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length17.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

The Behind-the-Scenes with Air New Zealand Video hits tomorrow!

The New Show Starts in 3 Days!

Come Find Out More and Support the Show! You can get in on the fun for just 1 penny! Any little bit is awesome! :) And if you put in $1, you’ll get to see the show a week early! The Premiere episode is going to be Monday, Nov 17 at 6 PM PT, 9 PM ET. See you soon!

The Behind-the-Scenes with Air New Zealand Video hits tomorrow!

Curtis tells me that tomorrow (Friday), we are releasing a special Behind-The-Scenes video with Air New Zealand. I spent a few days here at the Hobbiton Movie Set and we recorded the whole thing… it’s a really cool video and you can see how I set up all the shots, worked with the models, selected my composition, and helped to lay out the scenes.

Update: Released!

Here’s the video. If you wanna see the full 40-minute loooong version, just go sign up here StuckInCustoms.com/Hobbit (it’s free, and merged into our normal monthly newsletter).

Bilbo's Hobbit Hole in Bag End

Hobbiton in the Morning

Inside The Hobbit Hole Of Bilbo Baggins

Exploring the Hobbit Holes

The Clouds Of Hobbiton

Inside the Chinese Megapolis Waterslide Utopia

Interview with Ignite Channel

Here it is, in its entirety. I pasted the questions that Pamela Stewart asked me below the video.

1. You were one of the first photographers I saw working in HDR. I had no idea what it was, I just knew that your photographs felt real and surreal. They reminded me of the best dreams I have ever had. The Gentle Path to the Beyond is probably my favorite photograph. I don’t even know if I can explain how that image has settled in my soul, but it has. There seems to be a split between those who think the kind of photographs you take are more “real” and those who don’t see that. For example, The Edges of the Flatiron just feels more like a real experience to me. The first historical photographs weren’t in color, so technically they weren’t real either. There is nothing that can duplicate exactly what each person’s eyes see. What do you wish to convey with your work?

2. Your photographs of Burning Man are some of the most luscious and warm I have seen. I especially like the one from this year of Embrace with the couple dwarfed by the giant sculpture, and yet the feeling we get of the couple is larger than any representation made in wood. Burning Man is a photographer’s dream, but it is so much more. How has the experience changed you?

3. You’ve become a teacher and a mentor to thousands online. I like that you add the technical information to your photos, which is great for photographers who aspire to learn your techniques. You must get a ton of questions. What do you wish people would ask you and what is the question that you really can’t answer anymore?

4. People want to know the secret to your photography, but isn’t the secret something inside you? Isn’t it something that all artists have that can never be duplicated by another? What is you secret, or is it something so nebulous that even you don’t know?

5. Given all the places you have traveled to and shared with us, while you focus on the beautiful, you must witness the dark side of humanity in poverty and the destruction of nature. Do you ever have the urge to turn you camera in that direction, or would you rather share positive light?

6. I love your drawings (there is one titled Scarlett, which captured me). What art or music inspires you? How does working in other media influence your photographic work?

7. A lot of people may be fans of your work, but have not read your bio and the fact that you are blind in one eye. Since you were born that way, it’s all you know. When we look through a viewfinder, we only use one eye, so maybe you were given this gift as a kind of second eye, although I kind of see it as a third eye because your art seems to be imbued with a spiritual and intuitive quality. I know you didn’t take up photography until later in life, and I get that because I didn’t start writing until I was in my late 30s. I don’t know if you believe in a higher power, but if you do, what do you think? How do you think this gift came to you?

8. You create some incredible videos of your work with a soundtrack. Do you have any desire to do something outside of still photography like a documentary film?

9. Do you have any upcoming plans or events you would like to share?

Daily Photo – Inside the Chinese Megapolis Waterslide Utopia

I was having a bad day in China, so I decided to go here and see what it was like.

I was there, invited by an arm of the government. I had this massive fight with them that morning. They do help set things up for me from time to time, but they told me I could only go to a “certain” location on the Great Wall at a certain time. I told them they were being ridiculous and the light would be horrible in the middle of the day. The idea that I would not follow their plan, which was completely arbitrary to begin with, was so foreign to them that they had no idea how to handle me. These people still have no idea what the hell to do with me… so aggravating. Anyway, I'm not gonna work with those people again; way too frustrating.

ANYWAY, after I had the fight, I told the driver to take me here, because I always wanted to go and see what it was like… it was super-awesome inside!

Inside the Chinese Megapolis Waterslide Utopia

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture4
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Through the Thailand Jungles, I discovered this

Breaking Bad

I finally finished watching the last episodes of this awesome, crazy show! Anyone else out there enjoy it too? I can’t believe that last season… whoa!

Daily Photo – Through the Thailand Jungles, I discovered this

This is the best temple I've ever been to in the world! If you ever go to Thailand, be sure to go about 2 hours south of Bangkok to Pattaya to see this place! It's absolutely beautiful and you'll have a fabulous time. The nearby town of Pattaya is really worth a visit too, but it's totally wild! There is a road there called “Walking Street” that is full of all kinds of interesting debauchery. A lot of ladyboys, crazy bars, strip clubs, and, well, just colorful characters everywhere… it's really fun for street photography there too… Anyway, there's a little ladyboy+temple advice for ya!

Through the Thailand Jungles, I discovered this

Through the Thailand Jungles, I discovered this

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time13
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Mommy and Baby Elephant

Taken with the Sony FE 70-200mm Lens

Here’s one of the photos that is part of the new Sony FE 70-200 Review here on the site. The optical image stabilization really helped to make sure the shot was nice and crisp, even taken from a helicopter!

Daily Photo – Mommy and Baby Elephant

Aren't they cute? It was really nice seeing so many baby elephants walking around. All the girls we were with would go CRAZY whenever we saw a baby elephant, but I think all the guys quite liked them too… we just kind of kept that stuff inside… you know us guys, all stoic and stuff.

Mommy and Baby Elephant

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-6000
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO3200
  • Focal Length200.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

New Sony FE 70-200 review

My Other Sony Goodies and Lenses

Go visit the often-updated My Equipment Page to see all my goodies!

Sony FE 70-200 – New Review

Go check out the new Sony FE 70-200 Review that just landed on the site! I just used this lens for the first time after my month in Africa. I’m now looking forward to using it more here for landscape-y shots in New Zealand. It’s so light and awesome!

Daily Photo – Alone in the desert

One great thing about a zoom lens like this 70-200mm (linked above) for landscape photography is it allows this nice effect called “compression,” where you can do effects like this: Bring in the two layers of sand dunes from beyond and make them look nice and overpowering.

For this particular one, I used the A6000, which is a cropped sensor camera. This means I was able to get in even tighter, as this camera will change the specs from 70-200 to 105-300.

Alone in the desert

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-6000
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length138.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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