1.5 Mil Downloads and a Giveaway Comment-to-Win Event to Celebrate!

Happy Passport Day!

Thanks again to those of you that are Passport Members – Today you get a special 360-degree behind-the-scenes video at Milford Sound. Well, TWO videos actually! If you don’t know what “Passport” is – well it’s a simple thing… for the price of a couple of cups of coffee per month, you get extra behind-the-scenes stuff, presets, and more. Nothing has changed on the blog… still a new photo and tips every day, but now I’m able to use some cool tech to add more stuff!

1.5 Million Downloads and a Giveaway + Deals to celebrate!

1.5 million downloads for Aurora HDR! Amazing everyone… and that’s only on the Mac (wait till we release the Windows version!! yes yes… still working on it, I promise!). Anyway, to celebrate this number, we’re throwing together a fun package deal just for a short time… it’s a bundle of the software and me newest (and best) HDR Tutorial video I did with Lisa Bettany in Venice.

Giveaway Time! Just Leave a Comment for you and a friend to win!

To celebrate that crazy number of downloads, I’m giving away 5 copies of Season 1 of Becoming an Artist. We filmed the whole thing in Africa, and I think you’re gonna love it… a very personal project chockful of tips & tricks.

To win a copy for yourself and a friend, simply leave a comment below (and, well, say whatever you want!) but also be sure to mention your friend. We’ll pick 5 random winners in the next week! 🙂 Here’s the promo video:

Favorite Photos of Milford Sound

Since I use Aurora HDR pretty much every day of my life, I thought I’d share some of my favorite HDR photos from Milford Sound! If you watch the exclusive PASSPORT videos below, then you get to see how amazing these fjords are all around you! 🙂

Amazing Milford Sound with Silky Fog

 Clayton Morris from Fox News Balances The water was slowly, slowly, slowly rising one morning in Milford Sound when we were all there together. We made a desperate retreat just as things were getting a bit too late. The last one to cross was Clayton, so I spun around quickly to get this shot while he was being all Cirque de Soliel with his tripod. And no, he did not fall into the water!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Poems in the Moonlight in Milford Sound

trey-ratcliff-new-zealand-milford-sound (374 of 649)

Passport Exclusive – Tips from Milford Sound

Thanks again Awesome Passport Member! You’re the best… has anyone told you that lately? Well, now they have! 🙂 Here are two 360 videos I recently made in Milford Sound… enjoy

Exclusive content for Passport members

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Exclusive content for Passport members

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Into the Night in Milford Sound

TIP: How to use the Samsung Gear 360 Camera when using any Android Phone

This was not easy to figure out! Luckily good man Stu here, my techie right-hand-man at Stuck In Customs figured all this out… here’s how you do it!

Why would you do this?

The Gear 360 can be controlled using its small LCD and the buttons on the device but some functionality available in the app isn’t available using this method.

Main Benefits of the App:

  • Only way to unlock images for processing (happens during copy from camera to handset)
  • Live view so you can see where the stitching will be and avoid it landing on key areas
  • Ability to set ISO, white balance, HDR etc
  • Fire the camera wirelessly (you can hide)

In short, the app will function just as it does on a Galaxy handset. The only thing you need to remember is NOT to transfer videos via the App. At the end of transfers the app does some encoding, it’s a drain on battery/time. Just stick the the MicroSD card to from the Gear 360 into your system and copy the videos. Load them into the Gear 360 ActionDirector (bundled with the camera) and it will unlock them for use in your editing software.

Pics, you can transfer those on the app and let them convert so you can work with them in Photoshop, Lightroom, Aurora HDR, etc.

How to install the Gear 360 App

Step 1) Use Google Play to install the Samsung Accessory Service.

Step 2) Enable Unknown Source Installs on your handset. (Settings>General>Fingerprints + Security)

Gear 1

Step 3) Download and install the Gear 360 Manager from here.

Step 4) Launch the Gear 360 App. It should run as normal. The connection initially is via Bluetooth but then it switches to its own Wi-Fi network later on.

Step 5) Switch back the unknown source option to off. (Settings>General>Fingerprints + Security)

That’s it… in theory!

I did read that on some phones if live-view or file browsing doesn’t work you may need to switch the option to for mobile data when on Wi-Fi but opinions varied. If you need it here is the option (Settings>Networks> tap the current network). You can also watch out for new versions of the modified apps over on the XDA forum. Those guys over there have done some great work to make this possible.


Have fun and be sure to share your results in our Facebook Group.

Starry Starry Night

Passport Members get to see a special 360 video below about an hour before I took this photo. Something that’s not in the video that I can tell you now – I shot this with the Leica 21mm at F/1.4. Getting as LOW as possible in that F-Stop is key for getting good star shots.

Thoughts on Failure

Here’s another 360 video I shot here in Milford Sound just as it was getting dark… Enjoy! Oh, P.S. the Timelapse video turned out to be TERRIBLE. That Samsung 360 Gear is really cool, but not so good for low-light photos.

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Daily Photo – Into the Night in Milford Sound

This is maybe my tenth trip to Milford? I always have a lovely and different sort of time there. I've never seen it so starry, though! I was here with my friends Mark and Curtis and the photos and wine were flowing nicely! 🙂 Curtis had suggested we go back to the room and relax for a while then come back out for the stars. I refused to follow this plan because I was afraid we'd never make it back out! But then just about 45 minutes later it was dark enough to take these sorts of photos.

Into the Night in Milford Sound

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-02-18 17:52:34
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time20
  • Aperture
  • ISO3200
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias+2

10 Problems with the New Phantom 4 Pro Plus

Phantom 4 Pro Plus Problems (lots of P’s but even more Probs)

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my Phantom 4 Review here on the blog! 🙂 Enjoy 🙂 I’ll put the video from the review at the bottom of this post.

So I have both versions of the Phantom 4 Pro. The “Plus” version that includes an integrated screen and the normal one where you just use your phone (iPhone or Android). I went out this weekend with my friend Mark who also has the Plus version, and we noted the EXACT SAME ISSUES. Some are major… others are minor… I’ll list them in the order of the most annoying!

1) At least three times while up in the air and fairly far away, the Plus thought there were obstacles in front of it. There was nothing… it was in the middle of the bright open air. This mostly happened when I was trying to fly it back to me. The two workarounds I found were a) to do a 180 and back it home to trick the sensors and b) switch to ATTI mode to manually fly it back. Of course, ATTI (Manual) mode can be very scary if the quad is a far away dot and you can’t tell what direction you’re going. (It seemed to happen whether or not I calibrated the compass before each flight.)

2) On four occasions the UI disappeared and we were left with a slightly zoomed-in version.

3) On three occasions I would get it up and somewhere between 50 and 100 feet it would say “Maximum Altitude Reached.”

4) After booting up, it took a long time to get a good connection to the controller. The connection was often weak even though there was no EM interference anywhere (we were in the middle of nowhere on the South Island of New Zealand).

5) Every time I fly now after a few minutes it says “Unable to save video – video cache is full.” For a while, this messed with my head because it made me think my SD card was full. That’s what it sounds like, right? So I kept landing and putting in new SD cards. But now I think it means the controllers video cache was full. I don’t know what that means or why it happens. The cache should just be dumping all the time as new stuff comes in, right?

6) The video that appears on the screen is not super-smooth and does a major tear randomly every 5-15 seconds. By “tear” I mean it shows half a second of video from 2-3 seconds previously. It freaks me out because I don’t feel like I’m getting real time video – also it makes me think I’m not getting smooth video.

7) When broadcasting to Facebook Live (See My Facebook Live Videos!), there was no way to upload the HD version or save the video myself. These are both options avail on the non plus version.

8) When going live on Facebook, I cannot choose my “Fan Page” – only my personal page.

9) Last, a minor one… when making the description for FB Live, I only have like 80 characters and there is no way to copy/paste more than a single word.

10) …another minor one… didn’t notice it until the import but the default clock does not update automatically. All my pictures say they were taken in 1951, which is well-known for being one of the worst years for quadcopters.

Anyway, I didn’t have any of those problems with the non-Plus version. The best thing about the Plus version is still the Very Bright Screen (way brighter than a mobile phone) and how quickly I can get it up in the air from the box. I can probably launch it in 45-60 seconds after I open the box and break it down back into the box in 30 seconds.

However, with all the bugs listed above, I’ll still recommend the non-plus version for a while.

Here’s the video from my first review of the Phantom 4! 🙂

The Waves Crash In Iceland

Another Passport Day!

Remember if you have our fun new offering, you’ll get all kinds of goodies. Today is one of those days where you get the bonus screencast where I edit this photo.

Behind the Scenes – Processing The Waves Crash in Iceland

Here’s the video of how I made this photo! Enjoy, and thanks again, loyal Passport holder! 🙂

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Daily Photo – The Waves Crash in Iceland

Seeing this and working on it puts me right back in the mood of Iceland! It's so rugged and extreme there. It always made me feel quite small and insignificant. These black rocks were extremely sharp and dangerous. I believe this is the same location where Clint Eastwood shot a few of his war movies. I feel sorry for those actors having to climb around on this sharp black glass!

The Waves Crash in Iceland

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2007-02-12 12:42:51
  • CameraNIKON D2Xs
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Decisions, Decisions

Antarctica Show!

Join me for a recent Live FB show where I tell a few stories from Antarctica!

Daily Photo – Decisions, Decisions

Which one to swim in? Is it better to swim in the pool that is body-temperature or the ocean down below where it's also body-temperature? These are the kind of life-or-death decisions you have to make on vacation sometimes. In this particular case, I chose both and was pretty happy with both decisions. This was shot at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora — what a spot!

Decisions, Decisions

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2014-06-24 12:09:49
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture16
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length27.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Another Sailing Design

Worth a Wikipedia Stop!

Whenever I look something up in Wikipedia, I tend to go down a little rabbit hole. But I found the Burj Al Arab entry to be pretty interesting! I’m just into buildings and architecture, even though I really don’t know much about it at all…

Daily Photo – Another Sailing Design

Yesterday's Sydney Opera House photo and today's photo of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai have a lot in common. They are both inspired by things-nautical. The opera house is based on waves and this is based on a huge sail. There's something else about this building that causes a lot of confusion with the scale of it. It's absolutely massive and I believe it's one of the tallest hotels in the world.

Another Sailing Design

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-03-19 19:58:49
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO64
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Another Country, another Portal

FB Live Goodies

Don’t forget to go to my page to see some of the behind-the-scenes Live Videos from when I was in Istanbul exploring these places.

Daily Photo – Another Country, another Portal

You might notice a repeating theme of doors and portals in my work. It's a fun little game I play to try to do interesting things with doors and people. I stood here outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul for about 30 minutes, capturing different natural, organic situations of humans coming and going. This is one of my favorites.

Another Country, another Portal

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-10-02 15:30:13
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture16
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Dinner with a View of The Maiden’s Tower

Fuji Xpro2 Review

I am just now releasing the first version of the FUJI XPro2 Review. There’s lots of sample photos – enjoy!

City Guides

It’s been on my to-do list FOREVER to put together different city guides about the best places to go take photos. I’ve not gotten around to it yet… but certainly on the list.

Daily Photo – Dinner with a View of The Maiden's Tower

What an idyllic place to have evening drinks and relaxation! This is on the coastline on the east side of Istanbul. The vast majority of Turkey is on the Asian continent, and I wanted to be sure I visited this side even during my short stint there. What a great place and an exhilarating walk along the shore. There wasn't a bad view to be found. I had no idea how in the heck I was gonna get back across the water. I found a car ferry and jumped aboard. It dropped me off back on the west side before finding my way back to my sanctuary of the Ritz-Carlton!

Dinner with a View of The Maiden's Tower

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-10-04 00:11:09
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1.6
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Some India Photos

How about a quick 3-batch of photos from India?


One place I entered did not allow any cameras at all, so I had to make do with my Android phone. Here’s a panorama made of multiple shots while inside Madurai.

Chennai Quadcopter at Night

Here’s a late-night quadcopter flight near Chennai. Usually, these are more noisy, but we were blessed with a still evening.

Mahamallipurum Detail

Beautiful details on the towers in Mahamallipurum. I could stare at them for hours.

Burning Man Freshness

Here’s some warm cookies for you 🙂

Here’s good old El Pulpo Mechanico lighting up the night!

Trey Ratcliff

Another scene from the BIllion Bunny March. I think I took 500 photos that day!

Trey Ratcliff

Here’s another one of those people at Burning Man that just climbs everything they see!

This photo was taken on accident… but I love the way it turned out.

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