A Topaz Adjust Review – and the ’57 Chevy

I’ve found a wonderful new piece of software!

It’s a Photoshop plugin called Topaz Adjust and I’ve written a full Topaz Adjust Review here on the site. People send me software all the time to review, but I only end up reviewing stuff that I actually use. Eric Yang, one of the gurus over at Topaz, also gave me a Topaz Adjust Coupon Code of “STUCKINCUSTOMS” for 10% off to pass along to my readers. I think you will like it as much as I do! I actually recommend the Topaz Bundle (for MAC or PC), but you can read more about why inside the review.

Below is a shot of a ’57 Chevy. I saw it when walking back to the Magnolia Hotel on Friday night after dinner in Dallas. I took a photo of this pretty car under the blue lights of the porte-cochere, went upstairs to my room, downloaded the Topaz Bundle software, made the adjustments, and had the whole thing finished in less than 30 minutes. That quick turnaround speaks to how easy the software is to use. I’ve since used it on a number of other images, including some unpublished ones that are coming soon.

Topaz Adjust Review - and The 57 Chevy (by Stuck in Customs)

A Winter Snow in Autumn

I was in Patagonia as the leaves were turning colors for the fall, and on the edge of the glacial zone of the Andes, it could snow at any time.

I had camped in a very picturesque little forest to get away from the wind and the elements. We were pretty close to a river, which was nice to listen to while I slept. Note that I wasn’t in a tent since I had removed myself from Yuri’s tent for the sake of sanity and sleep. Luckily my sleeping bag was rated for negative 10 degrees, so I stayed snug.

The next morning when I woke up, a gentle snow was falling all around. The inner sanctum of the forest was green and warm while snow started piling up on the edges of the trees. It all looked too perfect, so of course I had to set up for a shot to bring it home to y’all!

A Winter Snow in Autumn (by Stuck in Customs)

Lunch at Chateau Rodin

I had been hiking around Paris with way too much equipment for several hours. Whenever, I’m in photo-gatherin’ mode, I am fairly tireless. I go from spot to spot like a Navy SEAL… but this day, I actually planned to have lunch at Chateau Rodin, the famous estate of the great French sculptor.

I had some food in my backpack that I had picked up at a small store a few hours before… a fresh baguette, a selection of cheeses, some fruit, and few truffles for dessert. I sat down at the edge of the fountain with my tripod up, aimed, and ready to go. I relaxed for a bit, listened to some Gotan Project on my iPod, and waited for the clouds to get just right.

Lunch at Chateau Rodin (by Stuck in Customs)

The Bizarre Da Vinci Styled Hotel

This was shot in the lobby of The Joule Hotel in Dallas. All the architecture and decor inside is related to energy. I found it by accident while walking down the street on last night after dark with my rig. I saw some interesting lights inside, then peered closer to see a giant gearworks rotating around. I ducked inside for some shots and ended up talking to some very nice people behind the front desk. The hotel itself is filled with all sorts of art, and they gave me a nice little guide so I could work myself around and drink it all in.

There is also this awesome swimming pool ( pic from their website ) with a glass front that juts out over Main street in Dallas. It was under repair, so she said I could not photograph it…. but maybe next time!

Note this photo is not HDR. It uses some new software that I am in the process of reviewing… I hope to get it up soon!

The Bizarre Da Vinci Styled Hotel

A Mini-Land of San Francisco

Everyone always seems to like San Francisco, eh? It’s one of those places that people either have fond memories of, or an ongoing feeling like they need to go there.

I know some photographers are probably familiar with this tilt-shift type of shot. For those of you not familiar with it, there is a way to take photos and convert them into something that looks like a miniature. You can do it in-camera with a certain kind of lens, or afterwards with some post-processing. I don’t do a lot of tilt-shift stuff, but I thought I would share this one! :)

The Mini-Land of San Francisco

A Canyon Oasis

This place is deep inside Glacier National Park. The only bad thing about photography is I can’t show how deafening the sound of the waterfall inside the canyons was! It ricocheted around the rocky walls and seemed to be perfectly acoustic echo chamber. I didn’t get in, but the water seemed super-cold.

It was a nice spot to stop and take a break for a bit. You would think the noise would kind of relaxing, but it was less of the alarm-clock-bubbling-brook and more of the 747-emergency-landing…

A Canyon Oasis

Inside My Secret Cloning Chamber

I would love to have a mad scientist lab that is only accessible via a retinal scan and a special dance. Inside I would have all kinds of fabulous things, including a clone chamber where I would clone myself several times so that I could keep track of all my various social networks. The clone would, of course, have the same retina, but it could not gain access into the mad science lab because it would fail the special dance bit.

I’d very much like to record a music video in here alongside Flight of the Conchords.

As you can see from my intricate tagging system, this was shot in Chicago. Who is the first to know this location? ..and my Chicago insider is not allowed to say! :)

Inside My Secret Cloning Chamber

Sometimes, I’d rather be in Disney World

Actually, maybe I should change that title to: “I think I’d like to always be in Disney World!”

They shoot off fireworks every night in the Magic Kingdom, and I feel bad if I miss it. I’m sure that’s a strange thing to feel bad about… To get everything in, I have to plan the days and nights like a neo-Clark Griswald to ensure the perfect storm of technology meets up with whatever spectacular events are happening that day. For this shot, I had got reservations three months in advance at the California Grill restaurant, which has a nice majestic view of the show as the restaurant empties out onto the roof of the Contemporary Resort.

There is not much of a viewing area up there, and there were a bunch of people around me while I tried to get my tripod in place. I could deal with the crowds and fleshy shouldering, but the one thing that always annoys me is people beside me with little cameras that use their flashes to take photos of something a mile away. Sometimes they see I have a big camera, and they turn to ask for advice. They ask, “Do you think my flash helps?” I am really a totally nice and approachable guy, but since this is one of the very few things that annoy me, I usually just give them a shameful negative nod of the head.

This doesn’t have anything to do with the shot, but I had some great sushi in that restaurant. It was made by a Japanese female sushi chef, and she is one of only three “official” sushi chefs in the world (or so the matri’d told me). The Japanese do not let women be sushi chefs normally, as their hands are too “weak”.

Sometimes I'd rather be in Disney World (by Stuck in Customs)

The Lotus at Sunrise

Thank you for all the feedback yesterday. I appreciate it very much; indeed the negative feedback was quite constructive and helpful. Thanks for taking the time, as usual, to share your thoughts.

Now that we are getting back in the normal groove of posting beautiful places and beautiful things, here is a nice one for your Sunday!

This is Angkor Wat in Cambodia at sunrise. I think I went there every single morning around 5 AM to see the clouds and light in different formations. I got to know some of the locals there. A small girl from a family would see me in the dark by the lake, and come over to say hello. She would then bring me a chair and some Vietnamese coffee (quite thick and sweet with condensed milk). I would pay her just a few dollars and she was thrilled… I paid extra to keep the coffee coming in dangerously quick intervals. The sunrise lasted for several hours, and I was in no hurry…

The Sunrise in Siem Reap (by Stuck in Customs)

Patagonia in Autumn

As is the case with every day here, I have also included a photo. This is of the indomitable Fitz Roy at sunrise buried deep in the Andes, in the hinterland between Argentina and Chile. To get this shot, it was none too easy! First, I “woke” up after a sleepless night in a two-man tent with Yuri. It was perhaps the worst night of my life and I’ve never had a panic attack before, but I honestly felt like I was pretty close. The smell combined with the pitch black, the snoring, the freezing cold, and the tiny tent was almost more than I could bear!

I woke up around 4:30 AM with -7 Celsius temperatures. It was bitter cold. I got dressed QUICKLY in the pitch black cold and then headed off with two of my Russian friends to begin scaling the mountain. They had lights on their hats; I did not. I walked between them, trying not to slip on the icy “trail” between the dodging shadows cast by their headlights. I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. We ascended 1,500 feet in less than 45 minutes so we could catch the pink rays of sunrise just as they hit the peaks.

Last, I have been interviewed about photography and more on the Pro Photo Show. It’s a free podcast that you can listen to if you want to know more about the process or just hear me ramble on about stuff you may or may not find interesting!

A Razor to the Sky

A Razor to the Sky


Patagonia in Autumn from Trey Ratcliff on Vimeo.

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