Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

First on the blog – What does the fall look like here?

I wanted to release this video here first to you all… just a little segment of my day — what I saw yesterday. So I’ve been going out every day here to take photos. I’ve gotten some great ones, but then I realized one of the best things about the Autumn here is the soft movement of everything. So I set my Sony A7r to video mode to get a few scenes from the day. There’s no instruction or anything —- and you might even find it rather boring! Also the audio is not so great because of the wind. Sorry about that! Haha… anyway, you can at least see a bit of what I saw yesterday.

Daily Photo – Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

This is a lovely road here in my neighborhood called Speargrass Flats. I was just here yesterday when I took this photo. It's where I go on my jog, and very close to my turnaround point. What a great place! I love the feeling of running through here while listening to music. And just now, everything has started to change colors… and it is so beautiful!

Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Happy Easter from the Ratcliff Family!

Have a great Easter!

Have a good Easter, or, at least have a lot of chocolate! :) Here’s some super-fresh photos from our Easter egg hunt here today. We go up to The Hills and Sebastian dresses up as this huge bunny. The kids chase him all over the place, over the hills, through the forest, and beyond… he throws out eggs and the kids go crazy for it!

Easter-in-queenstown (37 of 180)

Daily Photo – My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

Here's my two girls, Isabella and Scarlett. They are walking through the forest here looking for any hidden Easter eggs! The colors have just started to change down here in New Zealand, and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful Autumn.

My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length300.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

An Amazing City of Blue

Unique Places around the World

Below, you’ll see a secret place I found… any other places you know of that are amazing for photography but you never see other photographers? Let us all know first! We’ll buy some plane tickets straight away! :)

Daily Photo – An Amazing City of Blue

What an amazing place this is. Chefchaouen. It's a secret place. But I don't think it will be so secret after this post.

Now, naturally, there are other photographers that have been there, but it is pretty niche. Very niche. The whole time I was there, I didn't see another photographer, which makes it almost wholly unique in the world.

The entire place is painted blue. The walls, the roads, the… everything! I'll have make more photos of this place in the near future… hang on and you will see more!

An Amazing City of Blue

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture11
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Facemasks of Tokyo

Why the facemasks?

I think most people assume that the facemasks are because they are afraid of getting sick or SARS or something like this. But it is actually the opposite, I suppose! They wear the masks because they are being considerate and worried about getting their germs on other people. I’d guess that anywhere from 25-50% of the people in subways and public areas of Japan wear these facemasks. I think they are actually kind of cool. It makes people very mysterious and you can just look at the eyes.

By the way, all of these were taken last week with the Sony A7r and the Leica 50mm f/1.4. This is a manual focus lens, so I got a lot of practice with being fast with the manual focus with all these moving subjects! :)

Daily Photo – Girl with Facemask in Shibuya Station

I walked up to her and she could tell I was a photographer. I asked her in my best international-speak if I could take her picture and she said yes. Most people are super-cool with photos in Japan, which is awesome. Anyway, she smiled and was laughing while I took this photo. I thought her eyes had a really pretty color and luminance to them…

Girl with Facemask in Shibuya Station

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Beginning another hike

Your Favorite Hiking Trails?

What is the best hike you’ve ever done? I’m not exactly some kind of a super-hiker, but I think now the best one was last week along the Greenstone River near Glenorchy.

Daily Photo – Beginning Another Hike

Yesterday I mentioned one of the long hikes, and here we are starting out on another one. That's Bel and Bas there, leading the group. Every day for a week, we did a 10-16km hike through some of the most beautiful trails in the world. This was part of my week at Aro-Ha, which was absolutely fantastic. I could not recommend it any more!

The whole time I took my Sony A7r with me, and I grabbed a ton of photos. I'm just getting through processing them right now. Here's one of the ones taken with the 55mm F/1.8.

Beginning Another Hike

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture1.8
  • ISO80
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring Shibuya Station, from the Subway and Beyond

Goat Simulator on a Mac running Parallels

I spent about two hours with my son getting this Goat Simulator to work. This is not the normal thing I talk about around here, but we figured out some stuff, so some of this may help. First, if you are installing Parallels, be sure to also use the menu and go to “Virtual Machines” and “Install Parallel Tools”, which will get all the drivers running for the video card. I’m all Mac now, but I am reminded of the issues back in the day when I had to deal with drivers! After that, when you are in, make sure you shut everything else down. Also, and this doesn’t make any sense, but if you shut down Adobe Creative Cloud, it seems to make things way faster. Adobe, why do you hate Goat Simulator? Why oh why? Last, you may have to go into the video settings then “Advanced” and turn off things like Light Shafts and this sort of extra stuff. Now we get a decent frame rate. Okay, Goat Simulator update, out.

What is it like?

Warning: This video may be very boring!!

This is what it looks like (wearing Google Glass) when taking the subway to Shibuya, then getting off and exploring the busiest intersection in the world. There’s no commentary or anything… but you’ll actually see me make the photo below. And let me know if you like videos like this… I’m really afraid it’s a bit boring haha! :)

Daily Photo – Bike Crossing at Shibuya

Shibuya is an amazing place, and I go every time I am in Tokyo. The people are really incredible… the energy, the lights, the music, the everything! Maybe I'm even more drawn to it because I live in a small town now, you know? Anyway, maybe the video above will give you a sense of the place. One other thing — this is so safe that it is ridiculous! Maybe it makes you think of New York, which can be a little sketchy… but it is nothing like that. Unbelievable! :)

Shibuya

Bike Crossing at Shibuya

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture13
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Docks at Glenorchy

Trying the 70-400mm Alpha Lens

Here I tried using the Sony Alpha Adapter on the A7r with the 70-400mm lens. I backed up quite a bit away because I wanted to get the compression thing working. It worked pretty well, but I was kind of ridin’ dirty with the way I attached it to my tripod. If you don’t know, these big lenses have their own little tripod attachment because they become the new center of gravity. But the foot of the tripod attachment is approximately the exact same width as the standard shoe-size that attaches to most tripod heads. But it doesn’t have those little ridges that secure it inside, so actually attaching it to your tripod head is a mistake! I don’t know why they made it so similar… I imagine that a lot of people have broken lenses because of this! Anyway, for this shot, I didn’t have another little shoe to attach, but I decided to go for it anyway. I KNEW that it wasn’t really attached, but I still put it in the tripod head just to keep it balanced. This worked out pretty well while I was taking the photos, but then I jerked it a little bit and it fell right off! Luckily I had the strap around the back of my neck, so the only thing that got hurt was my pride and my stomach when the lens swung down with full force!

Daily Photo – The Docks at Glenorchy

This is one of the most famous little landmarks in the small town of Glenorchy. There is a dock here that juts out into Lake Wakatipu, and it ends up being a little destination for most people who first visit the area. In a way, I suppose, it's kind of the “end of the road” because there are not really many paved roads that continue on past Glenorchy. Whenever you have these old fjord-based road/lake/river networks, you end up with these sorts of towns that are formed at a terminus. It is a strange feeling, and I know I've commented on it before — but this idea that there is a town with only one road into it. It's kind of a comforting, albeit discomforting, sensation.

The Docks at Glenorchy

The Docks at Glenorchy

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time15
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length150.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Friendly Horses in the Field

Composition Challenge

Whenever I take photos of objects that are defined by their shapes, I do my best to position my body (head) so that the objects do not overlap one another. I want each to have its own space. So, here in today’s photo, you can see the two horses with a nice separation between their heads. But you can also imagine that if I had been about 10 steps to the right or left, the heads might have overlapped one another. It’s a little thing to notice, but one of those little things that makes for a better photo.

Daily Photo – Friendly Horses in the Field

We walked through The Hills near Arrowtown one morning and went all the way down to where Max Patte's huge horses dominate one of the fields. I like how these look wooden, but they are actually made out of iron. There was a small group of us taking photos here, and we talked a little about the composition notes above, and this is what I came up with!

Friendly Horses in the Field

Friendly Horses in the Field

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/90
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length100.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Grasses along the Trails

Amazing Intro Video from Varina Patel!

Many of the Masters in The Arcanum made little intro videos to introduce themselves to others. I love watching these, and hers is particularly fantastic! You can see even more of her on her website at PhotographyByVarina.com. We’re so honored to have her around for the big show!

Daily Photo – The Grasses along the Trails

I've gotten really into all the different grasses that grow around here. I do a lot of hiking and sometimes some trail running. All the little grasses that rub up against my legs are like cats rubbing up against you under the table. It's a very nice feeling! Even better, you don't have to worry about snakes or anything here that might jump out and zap you… that means that you can just kind of pounce through the grasses without a worry in the world!

The Grasses along the Trails

The Grasses along the Trails

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Utah Summerstorm

Non-Texas Storms

I never get those big scary Texas late summer storms any more. The huge mountains here all around me break up the clouds a bit so they never have a chance to get too crazy. There is all kinds of fast-changing weather here though… cold storms in the morning that open up to 75 degree days in the afternoon. Bright blue sunny mornings that turn into bitter icy evenings… it all happens here!

Daily Photo – Utah Summerstorm

There are many wide-open areas across Utah after you emerge from tight canyons. It changes very quickly, and then it also reminds you how quick the weather can change. Whenever you can see a huge storm in the distance moving this way and that, everything feels a bit surreal. It's not clear if the storm coming your way or not, although, secretly, I think everyone wishes it really is. A big storm is kinda fun, eh? :)

Summerstorm in Utah

Utah Summerstorm

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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