La Recoleta – The Crypts of Buenos Aires

We are getting ever-closer to the release of the new Stuck In Customs Textures tutorial. The video is now over 90-minutes long and it’s full of all sorts of examples and new techniques that I’ve figured out over the past few years. I’ll go ahead and post the results of one of the finished products. I recorded video live of all these things… didn’t know how they would turn out before I started. I kept it live and voiced aloud my “thinking process” around accomplishing these images.

Everyone who has bought a previous Textures Tutorial will get a coupon for either the same level of product or an upgrade to a new “Ultimate Package”. The coupons will be very fair because we want to take care of all previous buyers.

This shot below is another from the outdoor crypt area of Buenos Aires called La Ricoleta. The airlines lost my bags, so I did not have my tripod! I had to walk around this awesome place without a tripod. So I had to do everything I could to wedge myself against statues and scary-spikey-gargoyles to try to stay stable.

La Ricoleta - The Crypts of Buenos Aires

The Tree Alone Against the World

Two textured shots in a row! Sorry, I usually don’t do this (put two very similar things back to back on subsequent days) but I’ve been spending my weekend evenings here recording these videos. I just finished this one and was happy with the way it turned out.

There was this interesting tree sitting alone after a morning snow. The snow had melted, but the skies still had these white-out conditions. Those skies normally make for very dull visuals, so I thought this would be a good candidate for textures. I think, by now, you guys know I can’t stand a boring sky in my photos… and since you can’t always have a four-star sunset, maybe it drove me to use the world around me to find textures to re-purpose inside these photos. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll figure out that bit in a while.

The Tree Alone Against the World (by Stuck in Customs)

The Glassy Lake Near Antarctica

I’m in the middle of working on a full upgrade for the Stuck In Customs Textures Tutorial. I think it’s already very good (only had ONE return in over a year!), but I can do even better. I’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months about this stuff and the technique continues to evolve. As I am working through some new shots for the tutorial, I thought I would go ahead and post this one. It was taken late one afternoon near a glacial lake on the southern edge of Argentina.

We have put together a fair upgrade plan if you have purchased the current Textures Tutorial and you want to a new set of 50 Textures taken from secret locations along with the new video. I’m excited to get it out there… not sure how much longer it will take. I want to give it a professional touch. In the meantime, I wanted to share this one with you!

The Glassy Lake Near Antarctica

The ROT Biker Rally of Texas

Every year we get thousands of bikers that descend on Austin for a few days during the big ROT Biker Rally.

They cruise up and down 6th Street and close fill the streets with incredible bikes and works of art. It’s an amazing place for photography, so I was able to take a break this evening and go down and shoot for a few hours.

I remember when I was growing up that bikers where just about the scariest people on earth. But now, everyone I have met seems to be much nicer and more affable than the average joe. They love having pictures taken of their bikes and generally seem to love life. That’s cool.

The ROT Biker Rally in Austin (by Stuck in Customs)

Strange Things Grow in Vegas

How about this place?

This was shot at a really slick bar called Club Mix at the top of THE Hotel in Las Vegas. A lot of people ask how I end up getting shots when no one is around… Sometimes it is a camera trick, and sometimes I am lucky enough to get into places when no one is around. In this case, the people from MGM/Mirage, who own many of the most beautiful hotels-casinos in Vegas knew I was coming to Vegas and they gave me carte blanche to move around freely. I wore those poor people out because I didn’t get tired… I was like Homer in that episode where he went to hell and was forced to eat donuts nonstop. He kept saying “more” until the devil got frustrated.

Anyway, a big thanks to David and his crew there at MGM/Mirage. I have a ton more shots coming in the future… so, as with other threads, stay tuned!

Last, I have updated my “Things That I have Found That Inspire Me” page. That page may take a while to load… my apologies… but once it is done, I hope you see a few cool things as well.

Strange things grow in Vegas (by Stuck in Customs)

When a Temple is Forgotten

These are the kinds of places that are too cool to be true. I think these are called “banyan trees” (no doubt one of my smart readers will correct me if I’m wrong!), and their seeds fell centuries ago on top of these old tombs. Although not part of the main complex, the temple of Ta Prohm is still considered part of Angkor Wat. It’s a distance away, but, in many ways, cooler than the main temple.

Maybe I was lucky, the the days I spent there hardly had any tourists around. There were a few monks, but most of them were not Cambiodian and had traveled there from other monasteries all over the world.

Probably the coolest thing about the place was the ability to go anywhere and do anything. No little chamber, passageway, doorway, or underground mystery was off limits. It was definitely one of the best places for spontaneous adventure that I have ever been.

Note this was made with Lucis Pro 6.0… a few months ago, I did Lucis Tutorial, in case you want to know more.

When a Temple is Forgotten (by Stuck in Customs)

A Topaz Adjust Review – and the ’57 Chevy

I’ve found a wonderful new piece of software!

It’s a Photoshop plugin called Topaz Adjust and I’ve written a full Topaz Adjust Review here on the site. People send me software all the time to review, but I only end up reviewing stuff that I actually use. Eric Yang, one of the gurus over at Topaz, also gave me a Topaz Adjust Coupon Code of “STUCKINCUSTOMS” for 10% off to pass along to my readers. I think you will like it as much as I do! I actually recommend the Topaz Bundle (for MAC or PC), but you can read more about why inside the review.

Below is a shot of a ’57 Chevy. I saw it when walking back to the Magnolia Hotel on Friday night after dinner in Dallas. I took a photo of this pretty car under the blue lights of the porte-cochere, went upstairs to my room, downloaded the Topaz Bundle software, made the adjustments, and had the whole thing finished in less than 30 minutes. That quick turnaround speaks to how easy the software is to use. I’ve since used it on a number of other images, including some unpublished ones that are coming soon.

Topaz Adjust Review - and The 57 Chevy (by Stuck in Customs)

The Bizarre Da Vinci Styled Hotel

This was shot in the lobby of The Joule Hotel in Dallas. All the architecture and decor inside is related to energy. I found it by accident while walking down the street on last night after dark with my rig. I saw some interesting lights inside, then peered closer to see a giant gearworks rotating around. I ducked inside for some shots and ended up talking to some very nice people behind the front desk. The hotel itself is filled with all sorts of art, and they gave me a nice little guide so I could work myself around and drink it all in.

There is also this awesome swimming pool ( pic from their website ) with a glass front that juts out over Main street in Dallas. It was under repair, so she said I could not photograph it…. but maybe next time!

Note this photo is not HDR. It uses some new software that I am in the process of reviewing… I hope to get it up soon!

The Bizarre Da Vinci Styled Hotel

I’ve Made it to the Edge of the World

Daily Photo – I’ve Made it to the Edge of the World

This was shot in the final hours of daylight, near the southern tip of Argentina and the edge of Chile, just a glacier’s throw from Antarctica.

In the morning, we woke up at 4:30 AM in -7 degree cold. I hardly slept 30 minutes the whole night. I was in a tiny 2-man tent with Yuri. The noxious fumes of our tiny prison reminded me, if you will, of the inside of a tauntaun that had spent its life consuming cognac and cigarettes. Furthermore, his snore had the sonorous bass and carrying power of a humpback whale with none of the beauty.

I started on one edge of these rugged peaks and moved around to this side, to get the view from the glacial lake. The spiked mountains there are Cerro Torre, and I was very lucky to see them without cloud cover. I understand they are covered up 90% of the time, so to have crystal clear air was fortunate. The glacier there, which presents on the right but really goes back behind many more mountains, is called “glacier grande”.

I did a lot of other things this day too, including a 45-minute 1500-foot ascent up an icy trail that was not really a trail at all. Dima and Vulva (Vulva is one of the other Russian gentleman who joined us on the trip — it’s hard to pronounce with a strange V-W sound, but he seemed to respond when I called him “Vulva”) went up the mountain with me in the pitch black, using only headlamps. I’ll have more on that story later because it was pretty sketchy. But, alas, we were able to see Fitz Roy as the sun turned the tips pink. After that, we began the long additional 10km hike that brought us to this location. I stayed here watching icebergs float by until the last morsels of dusk remained.

Last, I hope you like the new theme – it should come online sometime today. There are still minor little probs — the comments will get better, etc… but we will ease into it. The new design was done by one of the top graphic designers in the world – a Frenchman named Fabian Barral. He used images from my passport to create the look and feel. I think it’s great — let’s hope you do too! :)

I've Made it to the End of the World Patagonia Wilderness Photo

I’ve Made it to the Edge of the World

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/16.0
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length28mm (28mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

A Godly Dance at the Taj

I was barefoot like the rest of them.

The day must have been around 95 degrees and as stuffy as can be, but the cool marble seemed to keep me from being drenched in sweat. After a long walk, I had finally made it to the inner core of the Taj Mahal, around the main tomb structure where pilgrims from all over the country had gravitated. The faithful coiled in long lines and snaked their way around the complex, waiting patiently to reflect at the megamausoleum and communing with the god of their choice. How could a billion people be wrong?

When I travel, I actually always enjoy talking to Indians (or whoever) about their religion. Here is a little thing I do… I’m not sure it’s totally ethical since I say the same thing over and over, but I enjoy seeing people’s reaction as a probe a panoply of personalities. Inevitably, when I’m in a taxi or man-powered trike-mobile, there is some sort of deity that is jiggling about on the dashboard or handlebars. It can be anyone from Shiva to Brahma to Vishnu to Krishna to Ganesha and beyond.

So, I always ask, “Who is the god to whom you pay reverence?”

They respond quickly and directly, usually naming one from of the top ten from the pantheon of possibilities.

I respond back, in all seriousness, “Oh! He is a very powerful god!”

To this, they always turn to me and nod gravely.

My guide there was from no from one of the traditional Hindu sects — he was a Jain. The Jain don’t recognize the divine origins of the Vedas (made popular in the US from Oppenheimer’s re-quote after testing the Bomb), nor do they believe in any one supreme deity. They instead revere Tirthankaras who have raised themselves to divine perfection. So anyway, if you ever try out the little trick above, don’t bother with a Jain because they will just give you a funny look and a wobble of inconsequential solitude.

So if any of you get the chance to go, I recommend it.  The people are all nice as can be and very eager to engage in conversation about just about everything.  Or, of you’ve already been, then you know what I mean!

By the way, this comes from my new Lucis Tutorial.

A Godly Dance at the Taj

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