The Gentle Eye of the Beast

Amazing Time with the Wounded Warriors

Last night I had the chance to meet and present to a group of wounded soldiers that have recently returned from combat.

I’m still here at this ranch in Yellowstone, and we had some recent arrivals. There is a program called the Wounded Warrior Project, and many groups of soldiers come out to Montana to do a bit of fly fishing.

I sat by Dave Kumlien at dinner tonight (read about Dave here), who helps lead the Warriors & Quiet Waters program. He’s a master fly-fisherman (we call him the “Trout Whisperer” around here). He told me a bunch of different stories about this program over the last four years. He’s worked with over 150 vets and has 150 stories about how they have changed. I’m trying to convince him to write a book about it!

Anyway, after the big dinner, we all retired to the Great Room, and I gave a little half-hour presentation on photography. We had a great time during and afterward — and I was happy to meet and talk to them all.

Daily Photo – The Gentle Eye of the Beast

I gave a little impromptu workshop a few days ago.  I took a group of friends for the afternoon and we went out for an instructional photowalk, followed by a hardcore critique.

On the short walk, we visited a barn and a stable.  I gave assignments to people to all gather photos of the same subjects, find unique bits, and then submit a few photos for critique.  I’ve done this sort of thing many times before, and I’m always surprised at what I see.  Everything from the mundane to the stunning.  However, I am always impressed at what people find that I did not see.  I sometimes like to think that I can find many of the cool tidbits and angles, but then I am humbled when “newbies” find things that I completely missed!

Anyway, we had a great time milling about and comparing notes.  I did the whole assignment myself, and submitted this one into my own critique.

Landing in the Air & Space Museum

Daily Photo – Landing in the Air & Space Museum

I love this place! This was about the only place I was allowed to use my tripod (on the outside), so I spent a bit of time hunting about for best ways to capture the amazing building.

I sent the Air and Space Museum a tweet to ask if I could use my tripod.  They responded and sent me to a FAQ.  I didn’t even have to go to the FAQ to know what it should say.  I think, frankly, it would have just been easier if they had tweeted back a “no”.

So, as you can see in the collection below, I did the best I could with a few handheld HDRs.

There are a few handheld tricks I employ:

  • Lock your elbows inward, on top of your abdomen.
  • Hold your breath like a sniper
  • Increase your ISO so it takes the multiple exposures as fast as possible
  • Pray

HDR-Photo

The Inner Sanctum of the Cavernous Museum

The following photos were all previously published here on the site, but I thought it might be fun to put them all here in the same post.

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

The Horse of Sagas

Two Worlds in HDR – National HDR Day!

Rick Sammon launched something big and fun over at his website. It’s called “Two Worlds in HDR“. Pop on over to that link to take a look!

There is a fun contest too where you can win a free print of the winning images. Good luck to you!

Daily Photo – The Horse of Sagas

I was in the middle of a beautiful drive in Northern Iceland just past midnight. The sun was about to dip below the horizon, and I was in the last hour of a five-hour sunset. Unbelievable!

I passed a perfect grassy farm filled with perfect Icelandic horses. They are all super hairy and very friendly. The horses have no fear of humans or elves. So I walked right into a group of them and started taking photos. I waited a bit until this fine horse got into position with the setting sun just behind him.

This was taken with a Nikon D3S (Nikon D3S Review) with a 50mm prime lens (Nikon 50mm Review), shot at F/2.8. The ISO was 800 and the shutter speed was 1/1000th of a second. The focus was at 1.1 meters from the lens. Usually I don’t put this information in the post, as it is readily available on SmugMug. But, I figured a lot of people would want to know the specifics on this shot immediately. And yes, this is an HDR — a single exposure HDR from a RAW file.

The Horse of Sagas

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/2.8
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Trey in Hot Water

Strange Things I’ve Seen/Done so Far Here:

I like to do my best to give timely updates when I am off on a photo adventure…. so while I am here in Iceland for about two weeks, I wanted to pop in on occasion with some new stuff!

  • Got my metal tripod stuck in an electric fence for 11 seconds.  That was 11 long seconds of shocks…  (was meant to keep the sheep in and photographers out)
  • Received a wake-up call at 8 PM
  • Took photos behind a waterfall at 3 AM
  • Avoided a dive-bombing bird who was upset at me for some reason
  • Found two caves
  • Drove for 3 hours without seeing another car

Daily Photo – Trey in Hot Water

In some spots, this water is like a lukewarm bath.  In other places, it’s like falling in fresh magma.  I wish I could get some place that’s right in between…. you know… about the temperature of a molten lava cake.

The water is a strange, but natural, light-blue color.   Really, milky-white is a more apt desciption.  The edges of the water are black lava rock, and the water laps up on it, giving it a fine white stain all around the outside.

The whole time I was in here, I kept thinking this must be good for my skin…. removing toxins or something… that’s what they say, but who really knows.  Conceivably, it could be inserting more toxins into my body.

There is a fine silica there that you can spread all over to make a little mud mask. I didn’t really do a full mud mask since I’m not a woman.

HDR-Photo

All I Want for Father’s Day Is…

My family of course. But, after I have that, why not ask for a few more goodies? It’s good to have hobbies to keep us productive, after all…

So, here is a great list of…

Photo Toys and Gifts for Father’s Day

Some of this stuff I have… some of this stuff I want.  Either way, it’s a great list of goodies!  If you want more, see my full list of HDR Camera recommendations or Photography Gadgets.

HDR-Photo
  • The Awesome Green Cube – Approx $7
    • See Amazon’s current pricingThe Green Cube Everyone Asks Me About
    • Mini Review – This is a clear, greenish 3-D bubble level.  I use it almost all the time and people always ask me about it.  It’s useful and cool-lookin’.  Even better than a fish-tie.
HDR-Photo
  • HyperMac Portable Battery – $199 and up
    • See latest pricing - HyperMac Battery Page
    • Mini Review – If dad has an iPhone, iPad, or Mac laptop, chances are one or all three are always running out of batteries!  This is a fantastic extra battery that powers all three.  I keep one in my bag all the time.  More than handy!

HDR-Photo

  • Entry Level Camera – The Cheapest Way Into HDR Shooting
    • Canon G11 – Approx $449-$479
    • Mini Review – This is the bare minimum camera I can just barely recommend! The only reason I have it in here is because of price — it is arguably half the price of the Nikon D90, which is really the direction you should be going.
HDR-Photo
  • A Very Good Camera for HDR Shooting (or any kind of photography, really)
    • The Nikon D90 – Approx $700-$900
    • The Nikon D90 with Excellent Starter Lens - 18-105mm – Approx $1,100
    • Mini Review – I recommend this wonderful camera because it does auto-bracketing, can hold a variety of lenses, and is an amazing camera now and for the future.  You’ll be able to have this be your main body as you slowly build up a collection of lenses in the future, as you get to better know your camera.
HDR-Photo
  • The Nikon Lens Coffee Cup - $40 and up, depending on auction price
    • See Latest Prices on EbayLens Coffee Cup – All
    • Mini Review – How could not this be the best thing ever? I can’t think of anything more ridiculous or wonderful!

Daily Photo – My Camera in Tokyo

As you saw in the video a few days ago, I did a lot of night photography in Tokyo. Since I now often carry around two cameras, I sometimes use my second to take a photo of the first! Sometimes, I’m doing timelapse stuff which can take a looooooong time… so I get bored and start taking pictures of taking pictures!

I also included this because it has that green cube thingy mentioned above!

D3X Out

The Awesome Green Cube Everyone Asks Me About

Stuck In Motion Video Now on YouTube

Video on YouTube – Japan: Heartbeats of Time

A little tweety birdy told me that smooth operator Frederick Van mentioned this video on This Week in Photography. So, I thought I would use the YouTube occasion to bump it back to the top!

If you want to know how I did this, visit the Stuck In Motion page.

So, I have a dumb question for all you video-smarties out there! I first put this video on Vimeo. By default, it has HD and seems to produce a smooth, HD signal. YouTube, on the other hand, has a more tricky HD Embed option. When I choose it, YouTube tries to force it to 1300 pixels wide, which is wider than this page. I’d be happy with 900 across. Any ideas?

Daily Photo – Traditional Japanese Woman in Tokyo

A few weeks ago I said I was working on some tips and tricks for taking photos of people. I haven’t forgotten about that promise! I’ve just been super-busy. And now I will be in Iceland for about two weeks… but it is still on my to-do list!

Japan is of course a great place to take photos of people… and, if you are like me (I suspect you are, since you are a regular), you like watching people. It’s especially nice to watch people when they look a little different and their mannerisms vary slightly from what we expect. Making that whole experience even more intense is the pure fun of trying to capture a whole person with a single photo.

Tokyo was full of all sorts of pedestrians. Most of them are modern — or, rather, neo-modern. They sport the latest fashions and are as flamboyant as any nation that is comfortable with itself. But, on occasion, you see a traditional Japanese woman gliding through the streets. These sorts of anachronisms are wonderful subjects.

You may also notice her traditional two-toed shoes.  I wore these a lot inside ryokan — the big toe goes into the first slot and the rest of your nonsense toes go into the other part.  They’re a bit like mittens… strange but quite comfy.  How she kept hers dry and clean in the wet streets remains a mystery!

HDR-Photo

The RAW Fireworks & a Photomatix 4.0 Preview

Two Weeks in Iceland!

Watch for me Live on This Iceland Webcam. I should be strolling in and out of those from time to time.

To the right, you can see some of my upcoming notes from the trip. I’ll be focused on the coasts with a concentration on the fjords in the northwest part of the country. We are getting close to 24 hours of daylight, so I think this will be an amazing time to go. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, feel free to let me know!

As you all know, Iceland is one of my favorite places in the world for photography. You can see the entire Iceland Photo Collection here — several pages there for you to enjoy!

Planning the trip to Iceland-1

Full Photomatix 4.0 Preview

I’ll be sure to post it when it is ready on the Photomatix Review page. Actually, even better than a preview, I will do a quick head-to-head with Adobe Photoshop CS5. It’s all pretty much complete… just want to get a few more metrics for you.

I would like to get it up this weekend… not sure – a lot of busy stuff lately!

Daily Photo – The RAW Fireworks (and yes, that is a handheld single shot)

So, I have in my hot little hands an Advance Copy of Photomatix Pro 4.0 (BTW, the TREYRATCLIFF Coupon Code will still save you the most money). Wow this thing is cool! I’m in the middle of a full review/preview. This isn’t really it… just a preview of a preview. I know… how lame of me, but I am so excited that I want to leak out a few details.

Today’s fireworks photo below from Disney World a few nights ago was just processed with Photomatix 4. This is from a single RAW photo. This was a handheld shot as I was walking along a pathway near the Crystal Palace. Amazing, eh?

Well, I can’t take all the credit – so much goes to Photomatix Pro. Here are a few points for you to chew on:

  • There is all new Noise Reduction code in there…  a fresh dialog appears when loading a RAW photo like this one.
  • If you already own Photomatix Pro 3 (or buy it now), the upgrade to Photomatix Pro 4.0 is FREE.  (cool!)
  • There is a new way to control ghosting… very nice.
  • So far in my testing, it’s way way way faster than Photoshop CS5’s new HDR feature.  But I am still testing with metrics… full results soon.

HDR-Photo

Aerophilia

My Best Tweet Ever

Some of you follow me on Twitter to get regular useful and useless updates throughout the day. Sometimes I check back to see which tweets get “ReTweeted” the most. By far, the best tweet ever was:

@TreyRatcliff This guy traveled the world in the early 1900s & captured it all in COLOR http://bit.ly/apc4MK

If you follow me, I promise never to tell you when I am standing in line at a coffee shop. I try to do 33% inspirational tweets about interesting art and cultural finds, 33% connecting people with others, and 33% links to my own personal latest works. The last 1% is “Wildcard” (said in the Charlie voice from It’s Always Sunny).

Daily Photo – Aerophilia

Is aerophilia a word? Probably not. People that are really into planes probably have a very specific word for this, and the “wrong” word probably really irritates them… so I apologize in advance.

This wondrous place is the new Air and Space Museum in DC. I thought I knew a lot about planes until I got here. I would recognize this and that, but the whole gestalt of the place was completely overwhelming. Overwhelming in an awesome way, of course.

I only took the Nikon D3S in here (see my Nikon D3S Review) because they would not allow tripods. The D3S is so much better at quick shots with low noise. All of my HDRs in here were handheld, so I had to be sure that I took the photos quickly and with very little noise.

HDR-Photo

Japan: Heartbeats of Time – A New Video

New eBook – First goes on sale to Newsletter Subscribers!

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a new eBook. It’s very cool — a very detailed description of a best-of-breed digital workflow. Are you starting to feel like your digital photos are a little unorganized? I’ve put together a great system for you!

The first shot at it will go to Newsletter subscribers. It’s free to sign up, so just do it below!


5 Tips for Photographing People in Public

I’m working on an upcoming post that gives some practical and easy-to-follow-through-on advice on taking photos of people in public. I get a ton of questions about it in Twitter and whatnot, so I am happy to share these tips. You’ll notice a lot of this activity in the new video below…. and I know everyone enjoys and wants to take pictures of people in public, but are sometimes unsure of how to go about it.

Digital Workflow

New Video – Japan: Heartbeats of Time

I spend a lot of time thinking about the way memory and sight work together. I don’t think we remember in “pictures” or long videos… but something in between. Perhaps we also sense, at times, more than 30 fps, and unexpected parts of the brain fire when we are presented with certain objects and forms.

If you want to know more about how I did this, visit the “Stuck In Motion” section of the website. Good news – the best bits now only require a $200 camera!

Also, you may enjoy seeing my free HDR Tutorial, which describes how I accomplish some of the other favorite photos below, which were also shot around Japan.

A Few of my Favorite Photos from Japan

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

In the Rain in Tokyo & Big Release on May 21

Big Video Event on May 21

I posted a new photo from the streets of Tokyo tonight in celebration of the completion of a new video work (which is Japan-centric).  The video will be released on May 21.  Stay tuned here and we’ll all have a good time together!

Daily Photo – In the Rain in Tokyo

Most of my walks around the city streets had me carrying two cameras.  I keep the D3X on my tripod, and have that ready to go for serious HDR work.  But over my right shoulder, I carry the D3S with a fast lens.  In this case, I was using the 50mm prime (see my Nikon 50mm Review) to capture quick scenes in the streets.

I carry two cameras because it takes much too long to change lenses.  Also, it’s a real pain to do that sort of thing in the rain.

There are often questions about how I go about taking photos of strangers.  I have a post coming up in the future with five great tips for this sort of thing… I’ll try to get everything into one spot for you, since I know we all want to be able to better capture interesting people here and there as they pass through our worlds.

HDR-Photo

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x