Entering the Neo-Opera

The Student Interview

Remember these? I never ran all three parts, so I will start that now.

See the rest of part 1 on Vimeo… At the time I uploaded that YouTube video, I was not yet a YouTube partner so I had to make it short… so you may want to fast-forward a bit through that Vimeo one there…

Daily Photo – Entering the Neo-Opera

This is a truly beautiful building. I sometimes feel like I am cheating… when the colors and textures and lines are already there, it just makes for such a pleasant shooting experience. But, when times are easy like this, it reminds me of when the situation is a non-stop struggle to get a good shot. I guess, like everything, it comes in waves…

HDR Photo

Shopkeeper in Beijing on Steps

Category Reminder

I’m usually pretty good about tagging the daily entries with categories.  If you see one that interests you, just click on the tag at the bottom.  For example, this one is in China, so clicking that will take you to all the China photos.  I only put up about 15 per page, so if you click “Previous” at the bottom, you’ll get another set of 15, and so on.

Daily Photo – Shopkeeper in Beijing on Steps

I carry around two cameras so I can get things like this.  I keep my main body affixed to my tripod with whatever lens fits the bill.  This is either a the 14-24 or the 28-300.  I keep my second camera with a prime — either the 50 or 85 prime.

I was taking photos of the festive street at dusk, and I noticed this shopkeeper out taking a rest.  I’ve always admired how people can rest in this position.  I can only sit in that position for about 15 seconds before I scream in agony and my patellas pop off at a hyperspeed tangent.

Shopkeeper in Beijing on StepsI carry around two cameras so I can get things like this.  I keep my main body affixed to my tripod with whatever lens fits the bill.  This is either a the 14-24 or the 28-300.  I keep my second camera with a prime -- either the 50 or 85 prime.I was taking photos of the festive street at dusk, and I noticed this shopkeeper out taking a rest.  I've always admired how people can rest in this position.  I can only sit in that position for about 15 seconds before I scream in agony and my patellas pop off at a hyperspeed tangent.- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Evening at the Summer Palace

TWIT Photo – New Video

The new video from TWIT is up now. I hope you enjoy it!  Among many other things we discussed:

  • My friend Lisa Bettany is not doing the show any more on a regular basis
  • The future of digital photography
  • Instagram integration (BTW “100 Cameras in 1” made #1 in Photography for iPad!) (iTunes link)
  • Lens correction in photoshop and lightroom
  • And, in general, you can get to know a bit about Mikkel Aaland

Daily Photo – Evening at the Summer Palace

I didn’t make it to the Summer Palace until my final evening in Beijing, and I was graced with a delicate sunset.

This place is also called the “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony” and it rests on top of “Longevity Hill”, a very Chinese-folk-sounding name. What is kind of interesting is that this entire area was manmade, and the huge hill was built out of dirt when they excavated the man-made lake!

It is a truly beautiful place, as you can plainly see. I could not have asked for a better place to explore on my last night in China.

Evening at the Summer PalaceI didn't make it to the Summer Palace until my final evening in Beijing, and I was graced with a delicate sunset.This place is also called the "Gardens of Nurtured Harmony" and it rests on top of "Longevity Hill", a very Chinese-folk-sounding name.  What is kind of interesting is that this entire area was manmade, and the huge hill was built out of dirt when they excavated the man-made lake!It is a truly beautiful place, as you can plainly see.  I could not have asked for a better place to explore on my last night in China.- Trey RatcliffRead more (and check out a new TWIT Photo Webcast) here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

HDR Photo

The Original Photo

Now, you guys know I don’t normally do this… and don’t get used to it, but I thought you might like to see the original photo. Sometimes the colors come out so wild that people just surely assume I am “painting” in some wonderful color… but as you can see this is not the case. By the way, the reason I don’t do this very often is not be elusive — just I am incredibly, insanely busy and this all takes extra time…

Now, of course the HDR helped here a lot to bring out better color and all the detail in the palace, as well as bringing back the evening “haze” that was really there… Beijing does have a bit of a constant haze problem, to say the least… and the fast exposure there to the right (I believe it was the -1) did not pick it up… but the color of the sky is just about right.

Austin Airport Not Supporting Artists

Austin Airport Not Supporting Artists

This one angers me… especially since I am supposed to live in a city that respects and supports artists. Anyway, you won’t believe this story…

So, I was coming through the Austin airport many weeks ago, and in the PRIME spot at the bottom of the escalators is a huge light-up photo display. Inside, I saw a photo that looked HDRish and so I went over to investigate. Down in the corner, it said simply “photo by mapaolini.” So, I recognized that “name” because Mike had taken one of my workshops back in a 2010.

About a month later I saw Mike at the Austin photowalk during SXSW and congratulated him on getting his art up in the airport. He said, “What?”

HDR PhotoAnd so then I got very very interested. After my most recent trip to Florida, I took this photo with my iPad while waiting for my baggage and sent it to Mike so he could see! We then got into a big email conversation while I was trying to figure out what happened… it was pretty much immediately obvious to me, but I wanted to see if my suspicions were correct.

So, get this:

  1. Mike was never informed that his photo was in the airport
  2. Mike was never paid a dime (placement like this should be worth several thousand dollars to the artist, especially if they are going to use it for many months)
  3. Mike’s name is not even correct in the corner of the photo.  His name is not “mapaolini” – that is his Flickr codename!
  4. They made the WORST CROP EVER.  See his original Flickr photo!

Any one of those things is annoying — but all of them together are just embarrassing for the airport and the city of Austin.

Mike did some detective work and called the airport, who said they got it from the Austin Tourism Bureau.  They said this is considered Non Commercial.  HORSE MANURE.  Is all art in the airport non-commercial?  Does no one get paid?  How much did they pay for that huge bronze of Barbara Jordan (who looks like she is waiting on her baggage)? How much did they pay for those gut-wrenchingly awful paintings above the checkin counter for American Airlines?

It’s an insult to Mike, and, by extension, to all photographers and artists in Austin. They know what they did, and I think it’s pretty lousy…

Daily Photo – High-Tech Dining in Beijing

Beijing has some of the funkiest restaurants in the world! I think that some of the interior designers and architects really take some risks to do all sorts of things with lighting, textures, and styles. It doesn’t always work, but I  think it works pretty well here.

This restaurant was right next to the opera (see my blog post on “Amazing Opera Discovery in Beijing“). This was also built inside one of the old imperial bans in this old sector of Beijing.

High-Tech Dining in Beijing Beijing has some of the funkiest restaurants in the world!  I think that some of the interior designers and architects really take some risks to do all sorts of things with lighting, textures, and styles.  It doesn't always work, but I  think it works pretty well here.This restaurant was right next to the opera (see my blog post on "Amazing Opera Discovery in Beijing").  This was also built inside one of the old imperial bans in this old sector of Beijing.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

And, below is the photo that was taken next door at the opera just after the amazing dinner.

The Peony Pavilion at The Imperial Granary I was invited to go see a very special event here in Beijing.  There is an old area that has the ancient Imperial Granaries that date back hundreds and hundreds of years.  One of these has been converted to an intimate opera house.  They bring in some of the best opera actors from all over China to perform here.If you haven't seen a Chinese opera, you are in store for something totally original!This particular performance was called The Peony Pavillion, which was written during the Ming dynasty and is a love story about all kinds of crazy mythical stuff that I don't want to spoil for you.  But it's really a must-see if you are into unique forms of entertainment.  And you do feel a bit like a time-traveller, watching a scene from hundreds of years ago.Even more interesting, there is a trendy and delicious restaurant next door.  Everyone eats together and has a wonderful leisurely meal before meandering over next door to enjoy the opera.  It's a great experience!- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of this entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Lantern in the Streets of Old China

Free Upgrade for the Digital Workflow eBook!

Digital Workflow

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Note that the new video is about half a gig, so the zip file will take a little while to download. The support team can help you with that too, if you are having trouble.

Daily Photo – The Lantern in the Streets of Old China

My time in China was winding down, and I took a flight back to Beijing for a few more days of exploration. There is so much to see in the old city that my month there was still not enough! And on one of these final nights, I decided to visit this very old section of the city.

It’s very well maintained with bright, fresh red paint, restored ancient lanterns, ornate windows, and the like. And inside many of the ornate windows are all sorts of antiques and old Chinese curios. I went into several, and now I am kicking myself for not buying more stuff. They had a bunch of bundles of old Chinese photos. I can’t figure out why I didn’t buy them… I think, now, that I was just overwhelmed by all the stuff that was inside. But next time when I go back, I’ll get a few bundles and bring them home to hand out at some event! That seems like a good idea.

The Lantern in the Streets of Old China My time in China was winding down, and I took a flight back to Beijing for a few more days of exploration.  There is so much to see in the old city that my month there was still not enough!  And on one of these final nights, I decided to visit this very old section of the city.It's very well maintained with bright, fresh red paint, restored ancient lanterns, ornate windows, and the like.  And inside many of the ornate windows are all sorts of antiques and old Chinese curios.  I went into several, and now I am kicking myself for not buying more stuff.  They had a bunch of bundles of old Chinese photos.  I can't figure out why I didn't buy them... I think, now, that I was just overwhelmed by all the stuff that was inside.  But next time when I go back, I'll get a few bundles and bring them home to hand out at some event! That seems like a good idea.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Batch 1 Of Spots Sold Out

Webinar Update [Batch 1 of spots Sold Out]

Update: Normal prices are now effective for Batch 2 of spots for the Photography Webinar! Don’t miss out! I hope to see you there!

Andrea will email everyone today (some may have already received) with details on the specifics of the Webinar location with a special link for you. I’ve spent the last few weeks figuring out how to jam a ton of practical tips into this 9-day 9-hour course. Also, and it should go without saying, but of course there is a money-back guarantee. If you don’t feel like you learned a ton and are inspired to do great, creative work, then you are more than free to take me up on that!

Daily Photo – Cracking The Egg

Ahhh…the wonderful things that man can create!

I was just coming off the end of a sickness from some bizarre viral strain I picked up in another part of China. And I was extra-tired because I over-worked myself and gave a long speech / demo at Google in Beijing. And then I over-over-worked myself because I had an amazing invitation to visit The Egg here, but I had to go, you know? You gotta go… I couldn’t say no to these amazing opportunities. …and I wasn’t collapsing with fatigue and sickness… I could still move around a bit, even though I was not in top form. But I’m glad I went.

High Dynamic Range Photo

Sad and Alone at Night

Free Photoshop Awarded

When I announced the prizes for the webinar, I also decided to give away an extra copy of Photoshop CS5 I had here at home. We got over 1400 comments, and 100 of them were from Theolonius Gonzo, who wins the most entertaining award (go read his long comments… you can’t miss ’em!).

The randomly selected winner is Iain, who I hope doesn’t mind if I plug his website at Emptiful, which was embedded in his comment registration. I though this byline was kind of nice – it reads “photoblog of Iain Simmons: amateur husband, amateur photographer…”

Mostly Photo – Going Commando

I recorded this a few weeks ago, but I never posted it… I don’t know why! So, here it is… On this episode, Leo Laporte, Lisa Bettany and I talked about what kind of camera to get for entry-level DSLRs, the advantages/concerns of upgrading, and other general photography talk.

Daily Photo – Sad and Alone at Night

On one of my first evenings in Beijing, I walked around some of the older parts of the city to get a feel for it. Whenever I have extra time in a city, I usually don’t go too hardcore with the photography initially – choosing instead to explore on foot and get a sense of the place. But, you know, I do have my camera with me to get a few things here and there…just can’t help it. Between a few streets, I came across this little guy sitting on the seat of a small motorcycle.

High Dynamic Range Photo

Climbing Inside the Dyson Sphere

The new tutorial will come…

I promise. It has turned out to be a bit of a beast. The tutorial will feature “The Making Of” 80 Days 8000 Photos. It is a fun process, and maybe you can give it a whirl too.

Daily Photo – Climbing Inside the Dyson Sphere

When you’re inside these megastructures, every room seems like a triumphant masterpiece on its own. I only know a little bit about architecture…just sort of as a general “fan” that can say, “Oh that looks cool,” but I wonder about how many architects work on a structure like this. I’m sure it’s a full team, and I imagine one of the junior guys getting to design this room. Even that would be a dream assignment, I would think!

This towering Escheresque room is inside The Egg, which you can see by looking back at previous photos of Beijing. Or, specifically, here is one photo from inside the egg, and another from the outside.

High Dynamic Range Photo

Cart Runners in Old Beijing

Slideshows

What’s your favorite way to make online Slideshows? There are so many tools available. I was just thinking about this with my China photos — I used Animoto to make one of a few of my favorite portfolio pieces — that one is up on the Animoto Review page. I’m going to do one in a few months with all my China photos too.

Daily Photo – Cart Runners in Old Beijing

There are many old pockets scattered all over Beijing. I haven’t become totally familiar with all the names of these quadrants yet, but I should get another chance to re-visit all these places. This is actually kind of a weakness in the whole “travel blog” thing. See, a REAL travel blogger would memorize the names of all these places and spout them back to you. But, here is my excuse… and maybe it is not really that bad… but, to me, this kind of photo could be taken in many different places. The exact neighborhood does not matter. In fact, by NOT telling you the spot, you may be more likely to find it just by wandering about.

These uniformed guys sat together in between jobs and had a rest. I don’t know what struck me about it, but it just seemed like a nice little moment.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Temple of Heaven

Webinar Class Soon – Need your help!

Can you help by filling out this survey? I’d like to know what you would want to get out of a photography webinar. What post-processing and HDR skills do you want to learn? How can I help you out?

I’m planning on this being a 3 week live online course. It will be 9 classes, one hour each. I’ve already got a lot planned, and I look forward to seeing what interests you the most.

What is a Webinar? It’s a live online class and all you need is internet! You’ll see me on video, I’ll share my screen, and it’s a very fun way to learn. And you’ll learn how to do photos like this…

Daily Photo – The Temple of Heaven

One too-early morning brought me to this very important place for the Chinese called The Temple of Heaven. It’s the most important Taoist structure in all of China and millions flock to it every year, especially during the National Holiday. It was built in the early 1400’s during the reign of the Yongle Emperor.

I was lucky to get private access in the morning during the sunrise. After waking up in the dark at the hotel, my driver took me out to the location, where I met one of the directors while members of the military let me inside the giant doors. Since it was a special celebration week, there were throngs of people waiting to get inside. I’m sure they were wondering what in the heck some white dude was doing busting through the doors with a giant tripod! I nodded to them all in a mysterious way before I went through the doors.

(btw, a few questions as to whether or not I photoshopped the moon there. The answer is no… I’m not one of those guys that will “photoshop in” something major like a moon.)

HDR Photo

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