The secret lair of Hans Zimmer, from where he inspires the world

Update! I got to spend a whole afternoon with Hans!

To get that full story, see “Hans Zimmer in His Studio.”

I Approach my Quarry!

Six days ago I was up at 3 AM, listening to Hans Zimmer while editing photos, and then I had an idea for a project with him, so I made a blog post. Now, less than a week later, I was in his studio in California!

For those of you that don’t know who Hans Zimmer is, he’s, like, the Liger of composers. He did the soundtrack for The Dark Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King, Gladiator, Sherlock Holmes, and many more! In fact, back when I was in college and had a double major in Computer Science and Geophysics (I dropped the Geophysics bit after a fight with the professor), I commandeered the SGI machine in the Geology department to make a computer animation, and I set the whole thing to one of Zimmer’s songs from Backdraft called “Burn it All”. So, in short, I’ve had Hans Zimmer’s music in my head for about 20 years.

The Story of How I Got Into Hans Zimmer’s Studio

It’s because of you! We have millions of visits here on the blog every month, and you all know how thankful I am for your repeat patronage. It’s tough to get a pretty photo up every day, and I thank you for all your feedback! So, when I put out the call in my newsletter, I got a ton of responses. My math-guess was that I was one or two degrees away from Hans, especially since there are many creative-types that are regular visitors.

Also, many of you hyper-active types (like me!) talk to me, ask questions, and follow me on Twitter — thank you for being responsive to real-time requests and news.

About an hour after I sent out the newsletter at midnight, I got a response from a German gentleman (name private) who is friends with Hans! In fact, he told me he was going to see Hans the next day at his studio near Hollywood! He did a few things to help out, and, although I could not meet Hans today, I did get an amazing opportunity to take photos of his studio. I knew I could make his studio look the way it feels — I had a sublime confidence I could make it happen. Anyway, I was like a kid in a candy store. I got a ton of shots… I only had time to process four of them.

Hans Zimmer’s Studio

I don’t know if words do it justice, but I hope these photos do.

The studio is even bigger than I thought, and I was reminded of the Crimson Lounge in Chicago. In fact, I pulled up the image on my laptop there on the table to compare textures and light. I thought everything worked well together — the decadence and richness of the decorations integrated with the technology. I don’t know if there is a word for such a look… It’s something out of a Phillip Pullman novel, somewhere between Steampunk and Techno-boudoir. Again, words fail.

The first two photos I have placed on Flickr. You can click on them to go to Flickr and then zoom into the full-res size.  Amazing details — especially in the chair photo. I’ll post more in coming weeks, months, and years, as usual.  So, stay tuned… my ongoing quest continues!

Hans Zimmer's Studio I don't know if words do it justice, but I hope these photos do. The studio is even bigger than I thought, and I was reminded of the Crimson Lounge in Chicago.  In fact, I pulled up the image on my laptop there on the table to compare textures and light.  I thought everything worked well together -- the decadence and richness of the decorations integrated with the technology.   I don't know if there is a word for such a look... It's something out of a Phillip Pullman novel, somewhere between Steampunk and Techno-boudoir.  Again, words fail.The first two photos I have placed on Flickr.  You can click on them to go to Flickr and then zoom into the full-res size.  Amazing details -- especially in the chair photo. I'll post more in coming weeks, months, and years, as usual.  So, stay tuned... my ongoing quest continues!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Chair

Skulls

The Back Room

More photos from the studio…

I put these in a later blog post… and came back to post them here too.

Sunset Under the Pier

Synthetic Happiness and Photoshop

I have a strange array of answers I give when people ask me questions at book signings and stuff. I recently met a cool guy named Casey Berner, and he asked me if I ever “go back” to a photo after I am done to work on it again. I told him no, and then referred to a TED video from Dan Gilbert. Most of the time, I say this stuff and people just nod… but I don’t really know if it sinks in. But it did with Casey – in fact, he wrote a whole blog post on it and included the video I mentioned!

Coming to California

I’ll be coming out to California soon… to both LA and Northern California.  I’ll be sneaking into a few bookstores here and there to secretly sign books.  I hope things are warmer there than here!

Daily Photo – Sunset Under the Pier

We had a great time at the workshop today!  After a sunset dinner at the Oasis, we came back to the Driskill and I offered to let people watch me stay up late and process photos.  Everyone came but Cliff Baise who was probably drunk.  (Actually, during the workshop, Cliff uploaded this cool pic to Flickr).

I processed three images, and I had a bear of a time with this one from Manhattan Beach.  It was a class “HDR Problem” shot that had ghosting in the waves, a dirty gray sky, and unfortunate artifacting.  I showed everyone how to fix these problems, and I hope some of it sunk in!

Sunset Under the Pier

Guarding the Beaches of LA

Being a lifeguard in LA must be a great job. Or it might be a boring job. Or it might have occasions of greatness filled with a long periods of boredom.

There was a lifeguard sitting here in the station on Manhattan Beach when I took the shot. I guess I could have asked her while I stood outside her station for 10 minutes with all my glass aimed right at her. I kept giving her a nod of confidence, indicating that everything was okay. I was really just waiting for the colors to get right in the reflection.

Guarding the Beaches of LA (by Stuck in Customs)

The Twisted Metal of Disney

This is the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. It was designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2003.

The day was pretty hot, even for LA, so I ducked inside for a bit. There was some kind of event going on, and I was able to slip between the cracks of security to enter the inner sanctum. I would go grab a manager and try to explain the whole situation… like… you know… you really DO want me to take photos of this place… millions of people on the website will see it and want to come here and pay you money… but then again, I usually end up speaking to some low-level functionary that barely has the authority to tie their own shoes while on the clock. So, often, I don’t bother, and just sneak around, which is not easy with a tripod and the tank of a Nikon atop. I did get some shots from the interior of the concert hall as well, which I hope to process in coming months… as always, this is another thread that will get closed in true Lost fashion before the season ends…

The Twisted Metal in Los Angeles (by Stuck in Customs)

The Surf in LA as Night Passes

There’s this moment in California when the sun hits the horizon that I am quite sure most of the natives take for granted. The gradation of sky from the burning sun to the deep blues can only be really appreciated if you swing your head around and purge your short-term memory. The effect is not dissimilar to the optical illusion of the giant full moon on some evenings, seemingly magnified by our inability to establish a frame of reference. I think something along those lines happens with color as the sun dips. You can see this from space, as the sudden band from light to dark rips around the earth — that same viewing cone can be seen from anywhere on the surface, and it can be best noticed in places like LA, with the nearly infinite horizon.

The Surf in LA as Night Passes (by Stuck in Customs)

Hollywood and the El Capitan Theater

This is a cool part of Hollywood with a lot of activity and interesting people-watching.  I do very much enjoy sitting stil with my camera and watching hundreds of interesting-people walk by, and it’s even better when there is a surreal background.  In the distance there is the famous El Capitan Theater.  You might have to click on ALL SIZES to get to the larger size to see it in detail.

Hollywood and El Capitan Theater

The Fountains at Hollywood and Highland

Some lovely fountains just after dark in the center of a popular shopping center in Hollywood. The red sea of children playing in the water parted in time for me to take this photo.
The Fountains at Hollywood and Highland

The Lonely Road to the Dinosaur Dig

It was an amazing week out with Jack Horner and his crew. We could not have been any more remote! Out deep in the wheat fields of Montana, we were met every morning with amazing sunrises and the evenings had these surreal sunsets.

I’ll post more about the dinosaur dig, what we discovered, and all sorts of things in coming months… it was quite a trip and Jack was every bit the hero my son envisioned!

The Lonely Road to the Dinosaur Dig

A Perfect Morning at Glacier National Park

I’m back in Montana for a few days!

We were graciously invited by Jack Horner up to northern Montana to join him on a dinosaur dig, My 7-year-old son (and the 7-year-old in me) is excited as can be by this once in a lifetime experience. We are not sure yet, but we think there is a special kind of Tyrannosaurus Rex that has been uncovered near Rudyard, Montana. Jack has his dig team out there, so we are going to camp out with them for a while and help with the dig… we are mega excited.

For a few nights before the dig, I took the family unit here to nearby Glacier National Park. We stayed at the Many Glacier Inn, which is this 1930’s Swiss-style chalet on a beautiful lake looking out at Mount Grinnell and several glaciers.

I woke up early in the morning to get this shot, while the rest of my family and the inn was still asleep. As usual, I had my ipod on full blast while I took in the scene and snapped away.

If you look down at the bottom, you can see all the rocks through the crystal-clear glacial lake.

A Perfect Morning at Glacier National Park

Grand Theft Auto 4 in LA

This is one of most famous buildings in LA for these kind of advertisements. I can’t think of a cooler one than showing those three characters from GTA4. Even though I played and beat the game, I am not quite sure I ran into that gal on the left… I think I would remember that.

Grand Theft Auto 4 in LA

Newsletter Sign Up

The most beautiful newsletter ever!