Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Don’t forget about the huge Arcanum Critique hangout today!

See the Event Info and Times Here!

This will be a great event with me, Lisa Bettany, Rick Sammon, and Dave Cross.

As we march toward opening the doors to The Arcanum, you’re invited to participate in this special event just for our community!

Through participating in this event our community will get a taste of The Arcanum Experience: Learning through constructive critiques, which is just one of the many things that happen inside the hallowed magical doors!

The Arcanum Photo Critique and Make-Over event is a Google+ Hangout On Air, open to the public, scheduled for Monday February 10th at 7pm.

To Participate:
You must submit a single candidate photo by Sunday, February 9th to be considered for the random selection. You can submit any photo to The Arcanum Google+ page.

If you already applied to The Arcanum – we truly hope you’ll submit a photo to be critiqued. If not, no worries at all! Either way, you can watch the live event! :)

And if you’re wondering when the doors will officially open for The Arcanum, the answer is as soon as magically possible! We’re doing a test run right now with all the Masters to work out any kinks. Also, we are a bit (!!) overloaded with Apprentice applications, so it will take a while to ramp up. It may be a good opportunity for you to pop over and update your application at www.TheArcanum.com !

HDR Photo

Daily Photo – Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Ethan just started at Wakatipu High School here in Queenstown and he wore Glass on the first day. There was a special event that afternoon where the parents came along too, so I decided to snap a few photos! See the full album here on G+.

100% of the kids and teachers found the Glass to be fascinating. No one asked him to take it off, but of course he was not taking any tests on the first day! I had him also record a lot of videos and take photos so we could look in and see what it all looked like from his perspective. My wife Tina also has Glass, so next time we're going to do a live Hangout so she can see exactly what he's seeing… this “shared vision” thing is pretty cool, especially for moms who really like to see what their kids are doing! :)

BTW, if you're wondering, all the photos in the album were taken with the Sony A7r and the Leica f/1.4 50mm.

Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJanuary 31, 2014 at 2:35pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Worldbuilders Charity Update and Deer-Sheep Situations

On Live with Patrick Rothfuss to talk about my sheep-related bathroom selfie story

This was a fun live hangout I did yesterday! As you guys know, I love this guy and his books (I recommend “The Name of the Wind” to everyone!). And there were all other kinds of great guests on too.

This hangout was all for Worldbuilders.org, where you might notice I had a stretch goal of $275,000 to take an ill-considered bathroom selfie. It starts at the 2:54:00 mark when I join in the fun and show some of the behind-the-scenes photos from the day. :)

Daily Photo – Majestic Deer in Queenstown

This is only related to the sheep story above insofar as it is a four-legged animal that lives in New Zealand.

I went out one morning with my friend Neville Porter to try to take photos of some beautiful deer here in Queenstown. He also brought along all of his various Leica lenses, and the one you see here is the 75mm f/1.8. It was a great lens, and it made for the perfect one for shooting this amazing deer that ran right up on the hill in front of the Remarkables.

Majestic Deer in Queenstown

Majestic Deer in Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJanuary 23, 2014 at 12:27pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/6000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Flying in a Glider while taking Photos

A new video!

This video was made for The Arcanum — but decided to release it to the public for fun! For those of you that have signed up and are enjoying The Arcanum (or are still on the waiting list for a Master) — thanks!

This is kind of a strange video, but it talks about how to take photos from the air in high-speed conditions. I stayed in Aperture Priority and let the camera figure out the shutter speed. This worked out great everywhere except at landing where the speed delta and shake was too intense. I was using a Sony A7r with the NEX 10-18mm lens — you can see the full Sony A7r review.

I was shooting in Autobracketing not for HDR but just for some exposure variety in the shots. I was not totally sure at the time, so I figured having some exposure coverage would be smart. In post-processing, I appreciated having three different photos to choose from.

Daily Photo – San Francisco at Night

I haven’t been back to San Francisco in a while — I need to change that! I heard that Pete is going to organize a little Arcanum get-together for the Masters somewhere around here… I sure wish I could easily pop over there to join the festivities! :)

San Francisco at Night

San Francisco at Night

Photo Information

  • Date TakenOctober 20, 2011 at 9:08pm
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time30
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length200.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Chivas Regal

Bokeh Quality

I’m still trying to get my head around the difference in quality levels in the bokeh area of photos. This photo below was taken with the Leica 50mm f/1.4 on the Sony A7r. This one was taken with the Sony 55mm f/1.8 (one of the new native FE lenses for the A7r). Anyway, when I go back and forth between the two, they both seem pretty magical! But the Leica one is about $10,000 whereas the Sony one is about 10% of that. I’ll keep shooting with both for a while and see if I can tell the difference… but currently, I am struggling!

Daily Photo – Chivas Regal

Stu’s studio 55 is an awesome collection of stuff to take photos of with Leica lenses. I don’t know what came first… the studio with knick-knacks or the Leica lenses… or maybe they just self-organized around one another.

Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Beard and The Bob

Leica Lens Collection

My current collection is lame, and I mean to change this.

I need to find a vast store of Leica lenses so that I can make them part of my world. Running around and getting one lens here and one lens there is okay, I suppose, but I feel more like a woman visiting international cities to go high-end purse shopping. The shopping bit of it does not get me as much enjoyment and the purse-using bit of it. That’s where the analogy breaks down… so I have my eyes and ears open for a Vast Array of Leica Lenses that are in need of a Photographer to take care of them, all at once!

This photo below was taken with the Leica 24mm f/1.4. You can see how the background falls away into a wonderful Leica bokeh. :)

Daily Photo – The Beard and The Bob

This guy on the right, Bob, is some kind of a legend in Saint Bathans! Everyone seems to know him. In fact, everyone pretty much INSISTED that we go and see him. They said, oh, just drive down to the end of that road and there Bob will be. Be careful, he’ll hug you!

So there we were, and my friend Stu (on the left), went right on over to get that hug. And then they started walking towards me like this. And then I took the photo. And then Bob jammed me in the sternum with that stick!

The Beard and The Bob

The Beard and The Bob

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture
  • ISO64
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Sony NEX Lenses on the Sony A7r?

The Sony NEX 10-18mm on the Sony A7r

I did a full comparison here of the two main wide-angle lenses that are currently available from Sony for the new Sony A7r (see my ever-growing Sony A7r Review here on the site). One of them is NEX 10-18mm (see the full Sony 10-18mm Lens Review) that worked so well on the cropped-sensor of my NEX system. The other is the full-frame Sony 16-35mm lens from their DSLR system. The latter needs an adapter to work on the Sony A7r.

As you can see in the video below, the NEX lens is my surprising favorite! I didn’t really expect it to be equal in sharpness and quality to its bigger full frame counterpart. The advantages to the bigger 16-35mm are that it can shoot all the way down to f/2.8. This would be valuable in low-light wide-angle handheld shooting (which I don’t do). It would also be valuable in astro-photography (which I rarely do).

But the advantages of the NEX 10-18mm are manifold! You basically get to move it between 12mm-17mm without seeing the ring around the outside. And yes, you get the full-frame goodness of the 36 megapixels of the Sony A7r! That’s much wider than the 16-35mm. The distortion is pretty much exactly the same on both cameras, as you can see in the video review. Even better, the NEX lens is over 2x lighter, 3x cheaper, and a fraction of the size. One last thing that my friend Gordon Laing from CameraLabs.com reminds me: this 10-18mm lens has built-in image stabilization. Amazing! I’m not seeing any difference in the sharpness of the lens.

So this was a pretty big decision for me — to switch to this lens when I fully anticipated using the 16-35mm until the new FE wide-angle lens for the Sony A7 launches later this year. I expect that will be a superior lens to both of these, although probably not as inexpensive as this NEX 10-18mm.

Daily Photo – My Fortress of Solitude

This is my studio! I walk out here every day from the main house to make art for you.

I don’t know why I’ve never taken a photo of it before now, but this seemed like a good occasion. I’m so in love with my new camera, and I’m super-enamoured since I discovered that my “old” NEX wide-angle lens works so well on the camera! No need to lug around that giant thing any more…

If you watch the video above, you’ll see the view when I walk out the front of my little cottage. If I had filmed this a few weeks before, you’d see those cherry trees blooming over with pink blossoms… it’s my little slice of Japan down here in the Southern Hemisphere. As you can see, the roses are now in full bloom… it’s the middle of summer here. The mornings are very early and the nights stay well lit. It doesn’t even get fully dark until around midnight… it makes for a very long and beautiful day of shooting!

My Fortress of Solitude

Photo Information

  • Date TakenDecember 28, 2013 at 12:13pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Leica Lenses on the Sony A7r

Leica and the Sony

What a great combo!

In this video below, you’ll see me testing a bunch of different Leica lenses on the Sony A7r (see the updated Sony A7r Review — many more Leica shots there). You’ll be able to see how they attach, how focus-peaking works, and more. You’ll also get to hear all about my friend Stu Robertson‘s Leica fascination along with his project Peace in 10,000 Hands!

Here’s a photo of Stu below with the Leica 24mm f/1.4.

Here’s a photo of Stu below with the Leica 24mm f/1.4.

Daily Photo – Walking on Water

With his Christmas-Jesus like beard, Stu attempts to walk on water in an usual scene upon the Blue Lake in Saint Bathans.

This was taken with the Leica 24mm f/1.4 lens. It’s such a tiny and fun lens to use! I’m not used to shooting wide-angle stuff with such a big aperture, but it is kinda cool how it throws the background out of focus if you’re focused on stuff close to you. I could get used to it!

Walking on Water

Walking on Water

Photo Information

  • Date TakenDecember 15, 2013 at 11:36am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Full interview from This Week in Photography

This Week in Photography about The Arcanum

I was joined by Peter Giordano and Bel Jones as we were interviewed by Frederick Van Johnson all about The Arcanum. Applications are blowing up and we can’t wait to get started! We answer a lot of questions in this interview, and you can see even more answered over on the This Week in Photo site.

Daily Photo – Daydreaming in gradeschool

Well here is a photo of Bel Jones, one of the Masters of the aforementioned Arcanum looking at some nice bokeh lights! I had just gotten the new Sony A7r and was testing out some of the prime lenses. This one was the Sony 55mm at f/1.8. I commented on how nice the lights looked at f/1.8, and she turned her head to look, so I ducked over to the left to get this quick photo!

This is one of the photos in the new Sony A7r Review here on the site.

I really do like the lens very much. I’m trying to compare it to that Leica 50mm f/1.4 but I need to do some more experimentation. That Leica lens is like a $10,000 lens, which is cray-cray! I’m doing my best to use a discerning and analytical eye to see if that out-of-focus area is $9500-more buttery!

Daydreaming in gradeschool

Daydreaming in gradeschool

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture1.8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a great Christmas and holiday season! Thanks so much for being with me and my family for the whole year — I appreciate you very much!

Daily Photo – Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family!

This was a fun photo to make, although a little challenging! The most challenging part was not chopping down the tree — it was not decorating the tree with lights — it was not convincing Tina to lay under the tree to spin it — it was not positioning the tree and getting the camera settings right (35mm at f/8 for at 1000 ISO for 3 seconds btw — I know you are wondering) — the most difficult part WAS getting the three kids to sit still for THREE SECONDS. haha man we did everything to get them to stand still. This is position 1 by the way, and position 1 was always interrupted by a lot of rolling and laughing and nonsense on the floor. I had to keep saying, “Okay everyone stop having fun so we can take this damned photo!” haha…

Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family

Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family!

Photo Information

  • Date TakenDecember 18, 2013 at 10:23pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time3
  • Aperture8
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Say Hello to my Little Friend

Looking for Last-Minute Photo Goodies for the Holidays?

We put together a 30% off everything-at-the-store for a short time! Pop on over to The Stuck In Customs Store and you’ll see the secret code right there on the front page! :)

Daily Photo – Say Hello to my Little Friend

This is related to yesterday’s photo at Coomb’s Cottage! Right after I took the photo out the front, I walked up the hill in the back along the fenceline. The house pup bounded along and followed me all the way! He was very friendly. Maybe he was a bit worried about the upcoming storm…

Now this effect I got in this photo is a bit different! It’s pretty much straight out of the camera with the 24mm Leica f/1.4. And I shot it at f/1.4. You can see how the dog and the nearby stuff is in focus while the background and clouds are out of focus. I never really do landscape shots like this, but I kind of find it interesting…

Say Hello to my Little Friend

Photo Information

  • Date TakenDecember 15, 2013 at 9:08pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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