The Gentle Grasses of New Zealand

New Textures Tips From Vanelli

Back when I moved my portfolio to Smugmug (See my Smugmug Review), we did a little promotion where a winner got to go on a Vacation with Vanelli. Remember that guy? Well, here comes Vanelli blowing back onto the scene with something new – a video. He has made a cool variation of techniques with my textures, and he wanted to share this “grouping” trick with everyone.

See Vanelli’s New Texture Video there on his site. You will be able to tell very quickly that Vanelli really gets a kick out of all this stuff, and he loves teaching people. You might want to surf around his site a bit more for even more goodies.

New Zealand Images Groweth!

By now, we have posted 17 images of New Zealand! Cool. It’s a beautiful place, and surely you can see why I plan on moving the family (and StuckInCustoms.com) there. In fact, today I got a little email from Roy Furgeson, New Zealand Ambassador to the US (and former ambassador to North Korea)! I was so excited. In HUGE red letters on it, the email said, “UNCLASSIFIED“, which I suppose means that I can mention it without any untoward Kiwi repercussions.

I went to the official New Zealand website for these sorts of diplomatic matters to see what else has been happening of late. This week, besides the historic occasion of emailing me, the Ambassador has been quite busy.  A Kiwi bird was born, and Mr. Ferguson had the honor of naming it “Hiri”.  Hiri is a Maori word that means, “Kiwi Egg Was Not Eaten By A Dirty Drunken Aussie Possum”.

Daily Photo – The Gentle Grasses of New Zealand

As we moved from the North to the South Island (by grinding our Kea Camper onto a moaning ferry), we expected the terrain to change dramatically. Everyone in the north told us how different things were in the south!

But right after we arrived in Picton and started making our way to Nelson, the terrain still had the soft hills and flowing greens of the north. Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you. But, for a while (until we made it further south), I thought that the whole North Island was playing a huge practical joke on me, and the South Island was actually a perfect replica of the north. After ravenously consuming the comedy stylings of The Flight of the Conchords, I thought I would be able to scry every type of Kiwi humor.  While driving through this bit, I thought perhaps I had fallen prey to old Country-Wide-Giant-Practical-Joke.

HDR-Photo

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Ripping Through the World

New Video Tomorrow!

We posted a behind-the-scenes video a few days ago, and a new one is coming tomorrow. You can see previous ones on the Videos page.

Updated Woopra Video Review (Thanks London!)

I recently updated my Woopra Review, which is a cool real-time analytics tool for your website or blog. I recommend it! You can try it for free and be up and running in just 10 minutes after a visit to the Woopra site.

Daily Photo – Ripping Through the World

I know everyone has their own various tastes for HDR, and mine is all over the map! Sometimes I really feel artsy and go crazy with one, like this car below. It’s hard with awesome cars… because the reflectivity in HDR is so off the map.

I’ve been meaning to get to one of those high-end car shows and go crazy with my tripod. I’ve heard the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach is really one of the best in the world… but maybe you all know of some other stellar car shows you can recommend?

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Akihabara Street – Geek Heaven

Technical Problems

Some of you have mentioned on Twitter that the site is slow and is having some memory errors. I’ve got a few people looking at it and I hope to get it fixed up soon!

Daily Photo – Akihabara Street

It took me many days in Tokyo before I finally made it over to one of my favorite areas – Ahikabara. This district is famous for its pure technology insanity! If you are a geek, then this is geek heaven!

Every street is filled with huge towers, each one flowing over with all sorts of technology, gadgets, games, robotics, toys, and scantily-clad-women. The streets are filled with girls that dress in… hmmm… how do I explain it? Imagine a grown woman wearing little-girl clothes, with puffy-laced mini-skirts, giant bows, and comely dispositions. They stand around, handing out little flyers, trying to get you to come into a shop, a cafe, or something in between.

There is even a cafe there with monitors built into the table. When you order a drink, your waitress goes over to the soda fountain, where a camera lies in the floor pointing upward. Upon pressing a special button, an extra blast of air is strategically blasted to increase your viewing cone.

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From the Forest, Across the Valley

Upcoming Review of Nikon 18-200 Lens

This is probably an unexpected lens for me to buy, but I’m really getting a kick out of it! I’ll be sure to update the Nikon 18-200 Review when it is all done.  I’ve been using it a lot in the last few weeks and I quite like it.  I wasn’t sure for a while…  mostly because it is a DX lens.  But I am using it in a bit of an unconventional way — anyway, a full review will come when I get a bit more time!

I added a few pictures of the new lens on my camera while here in Japan. You can get an idea of the relative size of the thing… it’s certainly a lot smaller than the 24-70mm or the 70-200mm. By the way, this will be the crux of my review… that is more convenient and lighter, and the higher f-stop is not a problem whilst in a tripod.

The 18-200 lens retracted at 18mm on the body of a Nikon D3X

Daily Photo – From the Forest, Across the Valley

I’ve read several interesting anthropological studies of what people like to see in paintings.  I assume the same thing goes for photos.  I don’t hyper-analyze all the constituent parts, but I do notice when they come into play naturally.  There are a number of features that are desirable, most of which track back to a genetic history of the Pleistocene.  One interesting bit is that we like the idea of being near the protection of a forest while looking out across a wide plane that has a sense of scale.

Well there is plenty of that in New Zealand!  This spot was found on the long drive to Milford Sound.  I had so many wonderful distractions along the way…  how can I not stop for something like this?

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The Artist’s Palette in Rotorua

The World in HDR, now on the Kindle

I found out that my HDR Book is now on the Kindle. That is kinda cool! Although, frankly, in all honesty, I would recommend you get it on the iPad rather than the Kindle when it is available. It will just look so much better in color. Anyway, I thought you guys would like to know that little update… I have no date yet on the iPad version. I did talk to my editor on the phone, and everything is moving forward!

Daily Photo – The Artist’s Palette in Rotorua

Isn’t this spot awesome? I did not expect all this geothermal activity in New Zealand — it was just as impressive as Yellowstone.

This area of the north island is called Rotorua. This, specifically is the Champagne Pool at the Artist’s Palette at the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland. The term “Wonderland” always makes me think of a cheap attraction on the side of the road where you can buy rubber snakes after the kids have had a great time and the parents are bored out of their skulls. But this Wonderland really was a Wonderland for all ages! I made a few videos here as well… I need to get around to editing these things together for y’all!

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