Scooping Junk in Mumbai

These three guys spent at least eight hours out in the bay of Mumbai (Bombay is the British name) scooping up junk into their little boat. I know this because I kept passing the same place over and over again by the seafront. This was actually right by the Taj Mahal Hotel that was recently bombed, so I remember it very well.

After my third go-around, I leaned over the sea wall as they approached. After I got a few shots in, they all waved happily. There were not many white people around there, so I think I kinda stuck out, especially with the big ol’ camera.

Scooping Junk in Mumbai

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Le Arc de Triumph from the Champs-Élysées

This wonderful landmark is always fun, but challenging, to photograph. It’s right in the middle of a roundabout that is as dangerous as that thing Bond got stuck in to test G-forces in Moonraker.

There was a recent rain, and the Champs-Élysées was shiny and perfect in the cool dusk air. I set up and kept the f stop as high as possible so that the French passerby would fall out of the frame during the long exposure.

Le Arc de Triumph from the Champs de Elysses (by Stuck in Customs)

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The Granite Cleaves

I’ll be going back to Montana towards the end of the month, so I decided to process this shot from Glacier National Park.

I took my wife and son down to the edge of the lake, and there were these giant granite blocks on the perimeter. The regular freezes and thaws around the lake created these right-angle cuts. It was nice to have them there with me… they got to hear me drone on and on about rocks and whatnot. I used to have a double-major in Geophysics and Computer Science, so I know the sorts of things about rocks that only come in handy when you have a captive audience like a family stuck on one while you are taking photos.

I ended up dropping the Geophysics part of the double-major after an ideological fight with a professor. That’s a longer story.

The Granite Cleaves (by Stuck in Customs)

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Old China

I found this woman outside the train station in Hangzhou. She was sitting by herself waiting on someone or something. Like most Chinese, she didn’t speak a word of English, and none of my international gesticulations seemed to trigger a response. Except, that is, for the one when I asked if I could take a photo. She nodded happily and sat serenely while I grabbed a shot. I walked on, and turned around to wave. She gave me a little nod.

There are a lot of the older generation in China that I am sure are completely amazed by what is happening of late there. I wished I could have asked her a few questions, but my Mandarin is woefully inept. My 8-year-old son is taking lessons… maybe I’ll have to take him with me next time to act as translator!

Old China (by Stuck in Customs)

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The Bats in the Belfry

India is full of timeless slices of life like this.

I set up for this shot and then sat there for a while.  I had heard some sort of aviary commotion and hoped that creatures would come streaming out at some surprise moment.  I kept my finger over the trigger just in case, and then, like magic, they all came ripping out with quite a commotion.  After this, I packed up my tripod and decided to head towards this little temple to see what was inside.  I’ll be sure to put those up in coming weeks…

The Bats in the Belfry (by Stuck in Customs)

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A Little Place I Found on the Way to Dinner

I wish I could walk to dinner every night and find little places like this along the way. Since I carry my tripod and camera just about everywhere, I’d always be ready in case something like this pops up!

This was shot in Halle, Germany, just a short train ride from Leipzig. I love how these old churches are often lit with orange lights… I think it always makes them look nice against the blue dusky skies.

Setting up the tripod for these evening HDRs always allows you to set the ISO as low as possible, and in aperture priority mode, the shutter will stay open for a long time, letting those clouds drift by and drag light across the lens. It gives a nice feel to the shot and makes the church look even more timeless and solid.

A Little Place I found on the way to dinner in Germany

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Moonlight over Everest

If there is one thing that is almost as cool as being deep in the Himalayas, then it’s being at Disneyworld after dark near the Expedition Everest ride. This is probably one of my favorite rollercoasters, and I endeavored to stay here late one night to try to grab the moon in the right spot. The whole area is riddled with excellent little Buddhist offering temples, where you can submit fruits of offering in exchange for the blessing of not tossing your lunch right before the Yeti takes a swipe at your runaway train.

I also got a very nice Twitter message yesterday from a dad who was excited that his kids were getting him my Textures Tutorial for father’s day. I thought that was kind of cool and I was flattered! Of course, that means he’s going to have to use the techniques to make some memorable photos of his family… This is something that I always hear too… that I don’t take enough photos of the family, but I do I do! But I don’t think that the grandparents can ever be happy unless I have a webcam on them 24 hours a day like a non-stop grandchild Truman show.

Moonlight over Everest

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The Ancient Library

This is an old library found in a remote temple complex in the wilds of Cambodia.

It’s hard for me to imagine what a library was like back then.  A library in the 12th century must have been very interesting.  Almost 1,000 years ago, I imagine it was probably filled with all sorts of fascinating scrolls and documents.  Without the Internet, it must have been the most interesting thing to do on a boring day.  I wonder what it would be like to rip back in time and show them the iPhone and then show them some ancient-scroll app from the App Store.  I’m pretty sure the AT&T connectivity would be about as good as it is in 2009.

The Ancient Library

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Green Fins in Austin

See how cool American cars used to be? And then they started getting designed by committees and focus groups and marketing experts… Did anyone see that Simpsons episode with Poochie the dog? I think about that episode a lot whenever I see a boring product flounder its way onto the scene.

Anyway, none of that has anything to do with anything… other than just as a talking point when looking back at old American cars and how much personality they used to have. This was shot at a classic car show here in Austin, which is always a great place to take the tripod for some HDR goodness…

Green Fins in Austin

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The Treasured Shrine and… a Newsletter Choice!

Angkor Wat was built to honor the god Vishnu and his shrines fill many of the hallways and crossroads within the temple complex.  This was shot in the inner part of the temple, where the walls came together to form a quincunx.  The symmetry of this place was wonderful, as you can tell, so it was a real joy to move around and get a bunch of compositions that made good mathematical sense.  This is something I think about a lot when I shoot…  taking the entropy of the world and reducing it something that is mathematically idealized inside of the frame dimensions.

In other news, we have two Stuck in Customs Newsletter (sign up here – it’s free) styles for you to choose from!  We have Choice 1 and Choice 2.  Which do you like better?  I’m curious to know your thoughts…

The Treasured Shrine

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