Man Walking in Marrakech at the Koutoubia Mosque

Silver Efex Pro 2

If you’re B&W-curious, I recommend this software from Nik. It can do some amazing things to photos to give them a special kind of pop. I tend to like some of this high-key stuff, but my tastes are also changing a bit… maybe not changing… evolving? Is that the right word? I don’t know… maybe I am just moody and my tastes pop around randomly with little rhyme or reason!

Daily Photo – Man Walking in Marrakech at the Koutoubia Mosque

This is one of most scenic mosques in this area. They would not let me inside, me being a non-muslim and this sort of thing. So I would just stay outside and take photos of interesting people as they passed by. I got many photos of the mosque by itself, but it seems more interesting with people.

I hung out around mosques quite a bit in Morocco and would see men come in multiple times throughout the day for the call to prayer. One thing I noticed that I thought was a bit odd — is that everyone came out looking quite serious and dour.

Man Walking in Marrakech at the Koutoubia Mosque

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 13, 2014 at 11:15pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture9.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

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Boats in repose in Essaouira

The Fish Market

Right by this place below was a fish market. Fisherman had been out since the morning, and now their partners were out selling fish on the docks. There were the craziest looking fish! I mean, there were some normal looking fish, but there were a few I have never seen before. I’d like to think I can identify a fair number of fish, but whenever I visit foreign fish markets, I see the craziest-looking sea creatures. It’s just amazing — I would have no idea how to prepare them or cook them… in fact, they often look way too scary, and I just kind of avert my eyes.

Daily Photo – Boats in repose in Essaouira

What a beautiful and amazing little seaside town this is! Who knew that Morocco had such charming places on the ocean? Well, I'm sure Moroccans know… but I sure didn't. This is definitely a fishing town and everything is boat-centric. I spent countless hours on the shore and on the docks exploring all the mythical boats. Here are a few of them for you.

Boats in repose in Essaouira

Boats in repose in Essaouira

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 14, 2014 at 7:07am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture10
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

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Man in Ginza

People Watching

Are you into people watching too? I one time watched an hour long documentary on some billionaire guy. He said his favorite hobby was to go sit in grocery stores and watch people. It wasn’t even his business — he didn’t end up making money from that sort of thing — his career was far removed from the shopping habits of humans — but that always stuck with me… that people watching can be a hobby and there is nothing wrong with it.

Daily Photo – Man in Ginza

I stayed in this area for many hours, watching people. It's so strange (and cool!) just to stay in one general area with no other agenda than just to watch people and occasionally take a photo. I feel a bit like an anthropologist, just sitting here and observing humans in their native environment. And then I put on my photographer-hat, and then really think about the best way to capture them in that environment.

Man in Ginza

Man in Ginza

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 24, 2014 at 11:22pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO4000
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Tokyo through the Glass

Shooting Through Hairline grids

This was another one of those windows that had a mesh of wires on the inside. I suppose that is to make the window stronger and less likely to break. Even though you think those lines might mess up the photo, they don’t even show up if you keep your aperture wide open. So give it a try next time you end up in that kind of situation — it looks hopeless, but it’s actually full-of-hope! :)

Daily Photo – Tokyo Through the Glass

This is just yet Another Amazing Part of the city. At first, when I went here, I thought that it would be a big city like New York, but, just, you know, Japanese. But it's really so much more vast in terms of the buildings and the lights and the action (and the safety!). There are literally so many places you can go to and see this kind of scene that it is mind-boggling. Even though I have been there, my mind still boggles.

Tokyo Through the Glass

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 21, 2014 at 10:26pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length0.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Lamps in Marrakech

What is a critique like in The Arcanum?

As you may know, we are currently in an early testing phase of The Arcanum, but one question we often get is “How do critiques work?” Well here is a how-to video of everything that happens up to and including the critique. Another cool thing about these is that every single critique is saved on YouTube and submitted to the Grand Library inside… so you can just sit there and watch critiques all day if you like!

This video comes from the Arcanum Leveling Guide for levels 1-10.

Daily Photo – Lamps in Marrakech

This is a good example of why it's nice to have a fast, prime lens at dark situations! Many experienced people will already know this, but I'll explain it for those that don't! When you shoot at night, it's hard to get a lot of light into the camera quickly to make a good photo. But if you have a wide open aperture, in this case, f/1.4, you can take very fast shots that are not blurry without too much noise. The other nice side-effect (or maybe even, the main-effect) is that you get this nice depth-of-field effect where only one bit is in focus as the foreground and background fade away into bokeh.

Lamps in Marrakech

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 13, 2014 at 8:26am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture
  • ISO1250
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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KLIA Airport, a few minutes ago.

Happy Birthday Bianca!

Happy birthday to my awesome sister Bianca!

Comments Fixed!

Errrrrrr I think! Email me if it is not the case!

A few minutes ago in Kuala Lumpur

Here’s a video and a photo I literally made less than 30 minutes ago… I wanted to put it here on the blog first. Enjoy! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel Here.

Daily Photo – KLIA Airport

I love Kuala Lumpur! I don't know if you care for the sorts of videos above where I just kind of ramble… stream of consciousness… I wonder if you find it boring or just-above-mildly-entertaining! Let me know! That is, if the commenting is working again on the blog… Curtis will let me know when it is working, and I'll let you know ASAP! Sorry about the tech difficulties! :)

KLIA Airport

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMay 23, 2014 at 1:05pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture4
  • ISO4000
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1.3

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Woman in Fes

Comment Problems

We’ve been having tech problems — we’re trying to figure it out now! Apologies!! :(

Most exotic clothing?

What culture would you say has the most beautiful clothing? I can’t say I know for sure. Maybe it is some remote tribe or distant Asian province. I didn’t really think about this too much until I was in Morocco and started looking at how interesting the outfits were — and all the variety therein.

Daily Photo – Woman in Fes

When I am in places like this and everyone is in rich, colorful outfits, it kind of makes me wish the whole world was like this! Wouldn't it be cool if everyone was dressed exotically all the time? I guess you'd have to rotate the cultural styles every year or so… because I doubt any culture considers itself to be exotic. But this plan would require everyone to be constantly buying new clothes as the rotation period comes around. On second thought, it is a terrible idea (but not my worst).

Woman in Fes

Woman in Fes

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 13, 2014 at 6:22am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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A Hobbit Hole in the Night

The North American Circus Competition

Find out more about this Photo Contest and Competition here! I’m going to be a judge at this amazing event, and I’m really excited about it! I’ll be staying at the Four Seasons in Toronto, and maybe we can do a photowalk from there or something while I am there…

See More at http://www.circuscompetition.com/

Daily Photo – A Hobbit Hole in the Night

Here's one of the first shots of Hobbit holes at night. Everything has been freshly and delicately lit, and the entire place feels alive and mysterious! Some of the lights on the 44 holes you can't fully appreciate until you closer. From afar, they are just these mysterious little glittering jewels on the bottom of the sea.

A Hobbit Hole in the Night

A Hobbit Hole in the Night

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMay 7, 2014 at 7:30pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time20
  • Aperture4
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Grand Prize Announced – the Sony A7r!

I’m giving away my camera in China!


I just updated my Sony A7r Review here on the site with new data, photos, and more. It will give you a good backgrounder on the camera if you don’t know much about it. I also updated all the Camera Recommendations with new links, data, reviews, and more.

More on the PhotoWalk

I updated the PhotoWalk information here on the site with the new information including a special guest star!

Some favorite photos from China

-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.

Night Settles In Feung HuangThere is a general poetic peace when it begins to go dark outside and the town comes alight with shopkeepers and villagers come out to turn on the lights.  If you look around, you can see them popping on, one at a time, like little fireflies coming out to play for the evening.This area is no different, and it's made even more magical by the little river that flows through the middle of it all.  And then you are faced with all these nice decisions... where to eat?  where to drink?  where to find an inn for the night?  - Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Nameless Pagoda SleepsTom and I visited this Pagoda late one evening in Li Jiang. There was zero wind, so the perfect reflection made us happy. The thing that did not make us happy was having to get on the ground with our tripods in the lowest position. I do try to avoid getting on the ground as often as possible… but when the scene is right, I guess I have no choice!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the entire post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Hong Kong from the Peak on a Summer's Night If you want to see how I made this (and how you can too!), visit my HDR Tutorial. I hope it gives you some new tricks!I had a long day waking up at 5 AM to take a series of subways and trains up to Shenzen for some meetings. I had a Chinese VISA, which you don't need to get into Hong Kong, but I had to use to cross the official Chinese border after getting off the train. I didn't realize that it was a one-time use VISA, and I had to go to Shanghai the next day. This caused a lot of problems with the Chinese officials, a body of government with which I do not enjoy causing problems.Anyway, after I got back to Hong Kong after a day in Shenzen, I was hot and sweaty and in the sort of meeting clothes that aren't great for being hot and sweaty in. But, everything about Hong Kong was still awesome and I had too look hard for things to complain about. The sun was setting, and I made it up to The Peak just in time for a shot.This was a 5-exposure HDR shot at 100 ISO, and, of course, a sturdy tripod to get all the lights as steady as possible.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Boat in Feng HuangIt was a cool and calm afternoon in the ancient and impossible town of Feng Huang. It's an old town, wreathed in many legends.On the old river, you can occasionally see a boat passing here and there. The boatmen come in all shapes and sizes, but many wear the same hat and style. It is absolutely like a warp of time...- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Morning Fisherman Now, getting to this place was not easy!I arrived about 1 AM at a tiny family-run inn by the river.  I was meeting a local guide at 5 AM, so I didn't get a lot of what I would call "quality sleep".  Anyway, I got up very early and went downstairs in pitch black.  There seemed to be a big white cloth box I had to go around to find the front door.  My guide was outside.  The door was locked and we could not figure out how to get it open.  Everyone at the little inn was sound asleep and I was totally confused.  Then, from inside the big white box, a body flew out of it!  There was a 60-year-old Chinese guy inside that was sleeping until I woke him up with all my lock-manipulations.  His naked limbs in the white sheets scared the bejeezus out of me and woke me right up!And then we were on the river about 5:15.  It was still completely dark outside.  And I mean COMPLETELY DARK.  It was a thin bamboo raft with an outboard motor.I turned around to ask my guide, "How the heck does the boat driver know where he is going?!?"He calmly said, "Oh, no worry.  The river is very wide."I not-calmly said, "Well, that's great and everything, but I can't even see the edge to the river!"He calmly said, "But it is so wide."This line of questioning was not getting me anywhere, so I just decided to sit back and enjoy my possible last moments on Earth.  Then the sun started to rise, and we moved the boat over to the best bank for the angle.Want to hear something amazing about these fishermen?  You won't believe it... but maybe others can confirm this! The fishermen use these two trained cormorant birds that have their throats tied.  The birds dive into the water, eat a fish, but then can't swallow it because of the rope.  The fisherman rudely pulls the fish from the bird's throat and drops it into that basket behind him.  The bird then goes over to a tiny keyboard and sends out the tweet, "WTF".- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Dark and Light in LijiangHere’s a photo that I edited live during the class a few days ago. The motions I went through are also inside of one those “Trey’s Lightroom Presets” I mentioned a few days ago… you can do so much in Lightroom nowadays that it is kind of scary!This is one of the main streets in the city of Lijiang. During the day, it looks quite traditional, but at night, everything lights up and becomes wonderfully alive.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the entire post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Beijing PhotoWalk 2014! Join me soon on May 28 at 6 PM! Win a Sony A7r!

Many more PhotoWalks This Year Planned

I’m in the loose planning of many more PhotoWalks. Watch for dates in San Francisco, Dallas, New York City, Toronto, Burning Man, London, Berlin, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and maybe more. These are always free events, and for those of you that have been, you know how much fun they are! :)

Win a Sony A7r!

For this amazing event in China below, I’ll be giving away a Sony A7r, which is the same camerea I use! See my Sony A7r Review, recently updated, to find out more about it.

Winner announced!

The winner for the Sony A7r from the Beijing Photowalk is Jack Soltysik! There were MANY amazing photos taken on that afternoon, evening, and night… and I really enjoyed looking at them. And here’s the thing… Jack used an iPhone to take his photos! So I think he’ll really be excited about this new camera.

Here’s Jack Soltysik’s Tumblr page… at last count, the photos from the event were on Page 6 at Jack Soltysik.

Beijing PhotoWalk

I’ll see you in the 798 Creative Space on May 28 at 6PM. Bring your camera, bring your family, bring your love of photography. This is a free event, and everyone is invited!

When there, we’ll weave through the streets of the 798 (one of my favorite areas!) and I’ll be setting up to take a number of shots. I’ll talk through my photos, settings, etc etc, and you are welcome to come ask me any question any time.

Day: May 28
Time: 6PM
Location: 798 Creative Square – http://goo.gl/3Mmxo6 (more below)
Location Photos on Google Maps: http://goo.gl/2iNDkY
Length: At least an hour or two… or as long as you want! :)
Unofficial Afterparty: Yes, at a secret location that is not so secret any more (see below)
Prizes: Grand Prize – a Sony A7r, the same camera I use!
Hashtag for event: #BeijingPhotowalk2014

There’s more information on the Google+ event page and the Facebook event page.

Special Guest – Ms. Leona Yayan Xu

We’ll also be joined, all the way from Shenzhen in the Guangdong province, by Ms. Leona Yayan Xu ( her Weibo at http://weibo.com/p/1005051861918502 ) our famous model for the night! I’m going to bring her some goodies from all the way from New Zealand from Diamond — my friend here in Queenstown makes this new baby formula, so I thought I’d bring her some for her new baby!

For those of you that are on Weibo, mine is here… my name in Chinese translates to “Special Thunder!” haha.

HDR Photo

Bonus Special Guest – Liu Ruowang

I feel so lucky that we’ll also be joined by the famous Chinese sculptor Liu Ruowang! You can see more about him at http://www.liuruowang.com/ — you all may remember some photos I’ve taken of those amazing wolves in New Zealand — that happens to be one of his sculptures!

Unofficial After-Party

The after party is a great place for everyone to buy their new friends drinks and share photos on the back of their cameras. It’s a proper photo-geek-fest!! :)

Cafe LAS 798
D-09-2, 798 Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu
酒仙桥路4号798艺术区D-09-2号

Trey Beijing Photowalk CN3

Some Favorite Photos from Beijing

Here’s a collection of some of my favorite photos from Beijing. If you want to see more from China, check out the SmugMug China Search of my photos! :)

Secret Treasures of Beijing These little finds are everywhere!  Sometimes, while stumbling around from alleyway to alleyway, I appear right in the middle of these perfect little scenes.It was very close to the National Day, and crews were out freshening-up the city.  There were about four Chinese painters that were busy putting a fresh red coat of paint on this perfect little bridge.  By chance, they were just finishing up as I approached.   This little boat from the painters was pulled up beside the bridge in a wonderful way, so I set up my tripod along the bank for a photo.They all looked at me in a confused way.  They had no idea why I would want to take a photo of their little boat and the bridge.  I imagine they find this so commonplace as to be hardly worthy of a photo...  and it makes me wonder about all the non-photographers (or fans of this site) out there.  Perhaps they just go through life and don't even notice anything interesting pretty and nicely composed.  What an empty visual life this must be!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Sprawling City I’m experimenting with this style of city photography. I like this idea of reflection that is imperfect. I shot this from the top of one of the only television stations in Beijing. It was a perfect night without any wind. There was a lot of pollution, so the warm city lights cast a red glow into the ether…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Rickshaws at the Drum Tower I've visited Gǔlóu many times and never taken a photo.  I just couldn't figure one out.And then, this most recent trip, I walked around the tower several times until I finally got an idea.This is the giant drum tower built about a thousand years ago by Kublai Khan.  An enormous drum rests in front, and it was beat rhythmically to announce meetings. The temple sits in the Inner City to the north of Di'anmen Street.- Trey RatcliffRead more, including a preview of an exciting announcement, here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

More Beijing at Night This was another one of those cases where I was not quite used to the 10-18mm lens. I normally walk RIGHT to the spot I want to be in then pop the 14-24 on my Nikon and fire away. But now, I’m always off by a few steps with the NEX-7! But, I quickly re-adjust then shoot. If you have shot with a wide angle lens, then you may know about this concept of picturing things from that vantage before you even do it! - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Chinese Technopolis How boring does the "Beijing Planning Museum" sound?  Very!How surprisingly awesome is the "Beijing Planning Museum"?  Very!The museum features a few giant city-models.  And I mean GIANT!  You can get a sense of the size of this thing by looking at the waist-height red rope around the outside.  Not only is this a fully detailed model, but each of the buildings light up individually in a cascade, corresponding to a dreamy Chinese voiceover.  The voice describes each sector of the city and what makes it unique.  There is music playing in the background that I could have sworn was the same music as "Jurassic Park", so that was a very strange addition to the scene.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Painted Face in China I was walking along outside the Forbidden City trying to find a special entrance, and I saw these guys sitting on a bench. It was so interesting and amusing… I dropped down on a knee to take a quick photo while things were perfectly strange. What do you think is going on in this photo?- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Gateway to the Temple of Heaven I had an amazing opportunity in Beijing to get private access into the Temple of Heaven one morning.  Well-costumed officials from the government met me before sunrise just outside the gates, where hundreds of early risers were already outside doing exercises and preparing for a national holiday.  The nice men pulled out ornate keys and opened up the private doors to let me in.  I had about 90 minutes to take photos of everything as the sun rose.  It was a great day of shooting!This is one of those places that has many perfect lines, shapes, and other interesting angles for composing photos.  It's almost impossible to take a bad shot!  There were nice clouds and nice light on this cool morning, so I considered myself very lucky in many regards!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Downtown Beijing After Rain Just about the only time you get a break from the smog is after a good rain. I’m sure all that nonsense just ends up down on the ground and soaks slowly into the groundwater.Anyhoo, this is the CBD (Central Business District) of Beijing. And yes, I took this with the Sony NEX-7. I’m working on that other piece I mentioned above and will put it up on the blog soon!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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