Happy New Years Eve!

Thanks for 2013!

Thanks for hanging out around here in 2013! There will be a lot more photos, experimentation, and fun stuff happening in 2014 — I’m all ready for it! :

Daily Photo – Reflections in Milford Sound

Here’s one of my favorite images from Milford this last year. Right after the big New Zealand Workshop, I took the team down to Milford Sound for the evening. The night was kind of moody in the lighting, but the next morning made for some great shots! Oftentimes, the best reflections are not in the sound itself, but in the huge puddles that are left behind at low tide, like this one.

We didn’t bring the whole workshop down here because the weather is just so dang unpredictable! We got lucky the first time, but did not want to press our luck. But for those of you that signed up for the workshop in 2014, we highly encourage you to take a side-trip down here! It’s only 4 hours from Queenstown, and certainly worth the drive!

Reflections in Milford Sound

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-11-09 00:00:00
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture10
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1.3

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 Taken2013-12-28 00:00:00
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Driving into the far snowy hills

Two Workshops for 2014 in New Zealand

I’m reminded because THIS photo below is the first one I edited doing the post-processing bit of the New Zealand Photography Workshop. There would be ample post-prcessing time after the sunrise shoot and before the afternoon/evening shoots. A lot of time in a sweet dark room with lots of post-processing and snacks! Yay what a perfect series of days!

We only did two last year, and we only have two planned for all of 2014, so be sure to sign up. Curtis told me there were some cancellations so you can swoop in there!

Daily Photo – Driving into the far snowy hills

I took this right before the recent workshop down here in Queenstown. I went on a mini-road trip with the guys up towards Mount Cook and stopped to see this on the way. There is this lovely road that connects the two places and so many opportunities to stop and shoot. This is one of those many that I did!

Driving into the far snowy hills

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-10-29 00:00:00
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length70.0 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

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-12-15 00:00:00
  • 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

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-12-10 00:00:00
  • 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!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-12-18 00:00:00
  • 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 Taken2013-12-15 00:00:00
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Relaxing in Saint Bathans

Funny Amazon Review

Here’s a ridiculously funny Amazon review of Kleenex by a mom.

Daily Photo – Relaxing in Saint Bathans

There was only one hotel in town and I think it only had two rooms. Either way, it was booked, so Stu and I were out of options almost immediately on what we assumed would be an overnight mantrip. So we went to the local giftshop and got into a strange LGBT conversation with the lady that worked there, and then she ended up recommending “Coomb’s Cottage” just down the road in the middle of this conversation. She raised her eyebrows as if this was an LGBT-friendly bed&breakfast. I raised my eyebrows with a slow nod to let her know I understood the nature of her recommendation. I did not want to let her know I was not in the family though, because I did not want to offend her hitherto sensitive sensibilities. Either way, we ended up a few kilometers away, here at this open-minded cottage with this open-landscaped view.

Relaxing in Saint Bathans

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-12-15 00:00:00
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Leica Lenses and More

Upcoming Leica Video

I’m in the middle of editing a video all about using Leica lenses on the Sony A7r. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting. I’ll share it here and on my YouTube channel soon!

Thanks for all the Leica Help

A few months ago I asked for some Leica help, and you guys and gals gave me some great advice — thanks so much! I’m still learning, but I’m enjoying the process. I’ve tested about four different Leica lenses on the Sony so far thanks to my friend Stu, and more are to come

Daily Photo – The Lupins at F/1.4

The lupins are everywhere all over New Zealand this time of year! Some of the locals think they are weeds; this is something I’ll never understand. I even dug some of these weeds up and planted them around parts of my home, hoping they spring back up next year. It’s gonna be great, I tell ya! 🙂 Sure, they look a little scrabbly in the off season, but not so bad.

These lupins were swaying in the wind outside of home in St. Bathans. I had on the Leica 50mm f/1/4 wide open and snuck up on some pretty ones to get this shot.

The Lupins at F/1.4

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-12-15 00:00:00
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO64
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Bilbo’s Hobbit Hole at Bag End

New eBooks, fresh for the holidays!

I think you’ll like seeing some of the latest offerings from over at FlatBooks.com !

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Alister BennMaritime climates are usually dynamic, and the rhythm of the tides and the passing clouds make it relatively straightforward to create images bursting with energy and flow. Seascapes make an excellent learning ground where diverse techniques can be mastered – and for those of us fortunate enough to live within the scent of salt water, every day we go back to familiar locations they can look completely different. The Seascape Photography Bundle, Alister Benn’s three-book series, has been written to teach you everything you need to know to get out there and start taking marvelous seascapes – from the most basic and hassle-free techniques through to complex and demanding contemporary disciplines at the cutting edge of our art and craft.<

Daily Photo – Bilbo’s Hobbit Hole at Bag End

One brisk evening on the North Island of New Zealand, I was on the Hobbiton Movie Set and I was able to take a photo of Bilbo’s home as the day fell away and the warm lights came on. I was completely transfixed by this day. I had spent the entire day there, from 5 AM until late into the night (and well beyond this). A few little rainstorms came and went throughout the day, dropping fresh, glowing rain all over the 40+ hobbit hole-homes there. I spent some time here inside Bilbo’s hole during those times… just sitting there, watching the rain fall across Hobbiton.

Bilbo’s Hobbit Hole at Bag End

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-10-18 00:00:00
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture5
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

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