A Child in Tiananmen Square

Game of Thrones

I’m so excited! This is my favorite series of fantasy books in the world… I think George RR Martin is pure greatness. I heard HBO was making this series, and I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting. They just came out with a behind-the-scenes preview of the first season. See the preview here on YouTube!

Fail Pictures

My friend John P over at One Man’s Blog put together the best Fail Pictures. Nothing can make you feel better than some idiot doing something stupid.  And I’m not talking about John P there.

Daily Photo – A Child in Tiananmen Square

After I left the exciting-sounding (but actually cool) Beijing City Planning museum, I walked under the street to get to Tiananmen Square. There were thousands of people out celebrating a national holiday. Kids, parents, families, and all sorts of festive activity. Asian kids are always cute aren’t they? You just can’t get away from it…

I found this little one with a busy mom snapping away nearby. Everyone was taking photos everywhere…. it was kind of crazy. I knelt down to grab this one before moving on to find more cute kids.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Chinese Mothership

Thanks!  And New Version coming Soon!

A few days ago, I asked if you had media connections to help with 100 Cameras in 1.  And now we have stories on Wired, The LA Times, TUAW, AppAdvice, Toucharcade, and many more!  And this was in addition to the Gizmodo / Kotaku reviews…  Thanks very much! You guys rock!  

This helped us to finally pass Camera+, which is quite an accomplishment!  BTW, I keep advising that you pick up Camera+ too since my friend Lisa made it… support your local internet artist! :)

Even though these ratings vacillate, you might be interested to know that we are in the top 0.16% of all the 300,000 apps in the store.  Amazing!  In the US, we’ve stayed in the top 10 all week for photography.  For that category in other countries, we hit #3 in the Netherlands, #8 in Australia, #9 in Brazil, #3 in Finland, #8 in France, #4 in Argentina, #5 in Belgium, #7 in India, and #6 in New Zealand!  Thanks countries of the world!  We’re working on some amazing updates with secret surprises… stay tuned.

Oh China, let’s be friends!

As opposed to the stats above, in China, we are a depressing #268. Oh China, why oh why? We’ve been such good friends, and I’ve tried to take such pretty pictures of you, China. Don’t be like that. Maybe I just need a Chinese version of the app, but I’m not sure how to do that.

Even worse, in Russia, we are #310. Was it something I said? Oh China and Russia… I don’t wanna fight… can’t we just be friends?

Daily Photo – The Chinese Mothership

Look at this magical place in Beijing… it’s on the edge of belief.

I could hardly fathom the nature of this place. I expected the lights to appear on the grid with melodic tones a mystical, alien language, like in Close Encounters. But none of that happened… So I just stood there for a long time, thinking about how incredible this place was… and took my time, setting up my system for a fitting photograph.

Remember when we were kids, and we never finished our food, even under the threat of starving children in China? Now, I say to my kids, you better eat your food, or else Chinese children will grow up and create an economic powerhouse. Well too late for that!

This is the amazing National Centre for the Performing Arts, or as I like to say, the 国家大剧院 — I find that rolls of the tongue a bit easier.

The Chinese Mothership

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length16mm (16mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

The Inner Museum

Photography Gadgets, Updated

I updated the Photography Gadgets page, and that thing is still a work in progress. I know perfect is the enemy of good… so my usual method is to put up pages while they are still incomplete, and then I iterate on them over time. That page is on its third iteration, but not quite where I want it yet!

Part of that page is a “Photography-related Gadgets”, which involve things that are in the orbit of my camera. One cool new thing I added was the Moshi products… There are two on there, and I pictured one to the right. I’ve tried three different iPad cases, and this one is the best.


Moshi iPad Case

Daily Photo – The Inner Museum

This is the Capital Museum in Beijing, and it houses some famous and exquisite pieces. Many of the works were still incomprehensible to me, but it’s nice how there seems to be an international feeling of beauty around different objects.

The lighting was very unique in here, and the layout made for a challenging shoot. Of course I did use a tripod here…I’m not sure it is possible to capture it otherwise.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Mysterious Chinese Woodwind

Waiting for the Sunset in Atlanta

High Dynamic Range PhotoWhen I was in Atlanta last year, I set up on the top floor of the W Hotel for a sunset shot. I was there with my friend Scott Kublin. So much of taking photos is just patience… in this case, I laid down for a bit to think about things. I didn’t realize it until just yesterday — but Scott took this photo of me! Anyway, I thought it came out kind of nice… and it shows that most of what I do is not really as exciting as it might seem.

And guess what? The sunset was really boring, so I never got a good photo. These things happen quite a bit… But I never have a photo to show of it… the absence of a photo is not a photo that is worth sharing…

HDR Camera Recs

I updated my camera recommendations page with the old good/better/best categorization. I’m sure not everyone agrees, but that’s okay! I could easily describe 10 different Nikon models, but that gets a little overwhelming for new people that are just getting into the sport.

But about that “Entry Level” option. Maybe you can make a case for a better one? I want to recommend something VERY inexpensive that can do bracketed JPEGs. Not everyone can afford $900+ for the better DSLRs, but they really want to make bracketed photos for HDR.

The Mysterious Chinese Woodwind

In one of the older areas of Beijing, I visited several different operas. Luckily, my team on the ground there was able to talk to the management to make sure I could walk around anywhere during the performance to find interesting things. I saw this woman playing this most unusual instrument, so I stayed in her area for a while until the light was right.

This opera had some very unusual instruments, and I heard sounds that were completely foreign to me. They say that these instruments and styles have been handed down over centuries, and I suppose that is why they sound so unique.

There’s one sound in particular, not made from the instrument, that I can’t ever forget. It sounds vaguely, forgive me, like a large metal mixing bowl, 1/3 full of water, that is struck with another, empty metal bowl. It’s a jarring but mystical sound… maybe you know the instrument I am talking about? Or maybe you recognize the one from this photo?

Edit: Smart Commenters below point out it is called a “The Chinese sheng” (Chinese: 笙; Pinyin shēng).

High Dynamic Range Photo

Gardens in the Mist

What’s up Australia?

How did 100 Cameras in 1 get to be the #1 App for photography in Australia? This baffles me… I know we have I have a lot of internet-friends there (pretty much just as good as real friends!), but I still didn’t expect this. Thanks!

Daily Photo – Gardens in the Mist

The Li River valley is a beautiful and serene area of southern China that’s green, alive, and mysterious. The verdant limestone cliffs cover the landscape and give everything an ethereal feel.

After a trip down the river, I got off the boat and decided to hike back to the little village where I was staying. Along the way, I decided to hike down a side-road that went off into these little family-run farms. I set up for a shot on this quiet dirt road.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Metal Ribbon and Animoto Review

Animoto Review

I wrote up a full Animoto Review here on the site. If you want to read more about it, pros and cons, and more, check out the review. Below, I have placed one of the videos I made with Animoto.

You can also use the Animoto Coupon Code of “STUCKINCUSTOMS” to get 2 months free with a pro account… thanks for the team there for providing that for us!

The music has a nice, artistic story behind it. There is a big fan of the site here named Antonis Karalis, a musician from Greece. He put together this song — did all the instruments and voice himself. If you like his song and want to support another internet artist — click here to get it in iTunes!

Daily Photo – The Metal Ribbon

Here we have another stunning example of the fanciful architecture in Beijing. The opera house is a huge, cavernous complex. On the top level towards one side, there is an immense gathering area that’s used for banquets, parties, and other such events. Luckily, my translator and assistant had set everything up ahead of time, so we were able to get in for several hours before the big concert to take some photos in peace before the crowds arrived.

High Dynamic Range Photo

Boats in Ancient China

Daily Photo – Boats in Ancient China

This is the spot where I cracked a rib. I’ll tell that story in a moment… This is the ancient village of Feng Huang in distant southern China. I hired a local driver to get me there, and the ride was longer than most plane trips! And a lot less comfortable… Anyway, after arriving, I had a wonderful time exploring. One morning, the old town was covered with thick fog. And it’s that still, wet, timeless fog of China. When you are looking at it, you become convinced it will just never go away. I worked my way down one of the banks to an area where the local rivermen keep the boats to grab this shot. The morning was wet, obviously, and that was the downfall of my mishap. I stepped down onto what looked like damp, dirty concrete. I’ve done this a thousand times. I was carrying my D3X with 14-24mm lens on a tripod on my left hand and holding my D3S with 50mm 1.4 prime in my right hand. It turned out that I was stepping onto that super-slick wet clay. It was razor-thin and slicker than ice. I didn’t stand a chance. I fell right down, both cameras slamming into the ground. The D3X hit extra hard because the tripod gave it some painful torque. I landed on the D3S, it’s body caving in one of ribs… right in the middle of the man-nipple area. It was too bad because I’ve always treasured that area. I made reference to the injury when I was still unsure about it in this Part 2 China Interview.
High Dynamic Range Photography

My Irregular Annual Student Interview

Brain Pickings!

You guys know I only recommend stuff if I think it’s awesome.  Life is too short not to focus on the awesome!

One of the accidental things I have found is called “Brain Pickings”, and you gotta see their end-of-the-year redux for 2010 — amazing stuff they found last yea!.  I found them because we were both featured on FlipBoard, and it looked kinda artsy.  And then I got in deeper, and saw that the woman that curates Brain Pickings is my kinda gal!

Besides the link above, also see their “10 Most Popular Articles” – it’s a good sushi sampler from the chef, Maria Popova.  Also, it’s one of those sites that lives off donations — so maybe you are feelin’ internet-generous.
100 Cameras in 1

iPhone App Updated

Our team cranked away and put in a ton of new features and updates, so thanks to everyone! You can download 100 Cameras in 1 pronto.

Here are some of the new features and updates:

➤ Option to disable sound & music
➤ Added option to dramatically increase resolution in cropping phase for each iPhone model (e.g. for iPhone 4, which is 2592×1936 pixels — the square is cropped to 1936×1936)
➤ Added ability to turn on/off cropping after you take the photo or select from Library
➤ Three new Achievements
➤ Upload to Flickr, Facebook, Twitpic at maximum resolution for your given iPhone (in square format)
➤ Even more features added! See all of them on our 100 Cameras in 1 page.
➤ (shhhh… and many more currently in super-secret development for next update… shhh)

New Video – My One Student Interview for the Year

Hehe… well… I explain the title of this early in the interview. Here are a few things that are discussed in the video:

  • The business side of Stuck In Customs
  • What my wife does (and other personal questions… *ahem*
  • My thoughts on Getty licensing and what a RIP OFF model they have
  • My thoughts on micro-stock photography (I’m sure people won’t like what I say)
  • My thoughts on contests and judges and how silly contests can be
  • My thoughts on using a lot of lights in your photos and what happens by accident
  • And a bunch of other BS. But – well… all kinds of stuff… hehe.

Daily Photo – The New of Old China

I found this place near the one of the old Imperial rice barns that had been converted into an opera house.  It’s a hard-to-find but charming area of the city.  Not even my driver or assistant could find it, and they’ve lived in Beijing their entire lives!

To find out more about other things found amidst these hidden gems, see “Amazing Opera Discovery in Beijing“.

High Dynamic Range Photo

On Gossamer Wings

Recap – Five Tips for Photographing People

In case you missed the piece a few months ago, you can always go back to read “Five Tips for Photographing People“.  I hope they help!

Canon Giveaway

You guys know I’m a Nikon man, but I still occasionally will let myself be seen with Canon shooters like Scott Bourne.  But only rarely, and if he buys dinner.  Anyway, Scott is running a contest over at PhotoFocus to win a free Canon 5DMKII.  Look at that picture on the page!  It doesn’t even have a lens… what a cheapskate.

Daily Photo – On Gossamer Wings

I had spent most of the day inside the Forbidden City, trying my best to find little bits here and there. Tiny discoveries, you know. I was pretty tired after a day of searching, but I still had barely enough energy to keep exploring into the night.  At that point, I decided to go to another, older area of the city.

There were hundreds of quaint shops, the smell of fresh food, families walking to and fro… it was all very nice.  I came to cross a little raised bridge, and I saw this woman standing there.  She was dressed in vintage Chinese grab and holding a delicate umbrella.  While talking with her friends, the light caught her umbrella just right, so I snapped a quick photo.

High Dynamic Range Photo

Flowing through China

Tips for Foreign Travel

1) Prepare way in advance with your paperwork. If you’ve traveled around Europe or Canada or Mexico or a lot of these easy-in-easy-out places, you don’t have to worry about visas. But getting a visa is kind a pain in the butt… it takes a while, and you have to mail off your passport to parts unknown. This always makes me very nervous! I pay extra to get the Fed-ex service to minimize errors! Also, it may surprise you, but you never know what countries require a visa! Like, for example, I wanted to leave the Sydney airport for 4-5 hours during a long layover, and they would not let me out of the airport! I didn’t know I needed a visa… how annoying! I thought that Australia was just kind of like a floating Canada where people are even more laid back. I was wrong.

2) Go with the flow. The more you get into a distant land, the more different everything becomes. Schedules, food, drivers, basic communication, and more can seem at odds with your customs. (BTW, that is a secondary meaning of “Stuck In Customs” — but that is an element that no one ever gets… that’s okay I can see why it’s kinda out-there). Anyway, if you stop thinking about how “different” it is in terms of “better/worse” — and start thinking about it in terms of a “different” way of doing things that is not necessarily better or worse… then that makes everything easier. Imagine you are on a Star Trek away mission — studying the culture like a scientist. And, well, you better just stick to the prime directive since they may not have yet discovered warp technology.

3) Don’t worry so much about speaking the local language. Don’t let your lack of knowing the language scare you into not going or staying in the hotel room! When you travel to a lot of different countries, it’s just impossible to know all the languages. For example, I know barely enough French to get around, but that doesn’t help me anywhere else in the world! And it barely helps in France! There is an international language, actually. If you just open yourself up to a conversation, you can communicate almost anything. It takes a lot longer than usual, but it’s certainly possible.

4) (If you are American) don’t be an annoying loud American. I know I may catch flak for this one… but it is kind of a big thing to me. Earlier this year, I was on a train from Montpellier, France to Barcelona, Spain. I was sitting with my wife towards the front of the train. There were a lot of empty spots, but we were sitting in assigned seats. The other passengers in the car were from Germany, Japan, Thailand, and a few other countries. Anyway, a loud, obnoxious American woman came in and said, “Oh my God! Look at all these empty seats! I talked to that woman at the ticket counter and she said there are no seats!” Then, one of the Germans (who understand trains very well, mind you), said, calmly, in English, “The train makes many stops, and people get on and off, so these seats will probably be full by the time we reach Barcelona.” To this the American woman said, in a rather shrill way, “Well there are seats available right now! Well that’s the French for ya!” My wife and I just buried our heads in our hands…

5) Plan loosely. Don’t Griswald-up your schedule. It’s really hard to hit exact timetables and fit a lot of stuff in… just be calm and leave plenty of “getting-lost” time! When you get dropped off at a destination, have them drop you off “near” the destination, then find the rest of your way there on foot. You’ll see all kinds of unexpected things. If you’re feeling stressed… just channel me and my favorite Buddha quote: “It’s better to travel well than to arrive.”

Daily Photo – Her Tears Flowed

Today we have a new one from Beijing. I’m happy to say the art movement is alive and well in Beijing! There are still issues here and there, to be sure. For example, I heard that there was one artist in particular who had his studio torched by the government in Shanghai. That really sucks! But, despite that nonsense, there are still plenty of areas of artistic expression. It’s not as wide-open as the west, but it’s better than ever (and only going in one direction).

One afternoon in Beijing, I went to a huge artistic area, much like SoHo. It’s called the 798 Art Zone. 50 years ago, it was a huge military factory, but it’s been converted to about a hundred funky art studios, galleries, quirky restaurants, and more. Very cool! Inside one of the larger exhibition halls, I found this interesting piece. Water worked its way up through tubes and would slowly leak out of the eyes of the statues.

China High Dynamic Range Photo

More from China

And, sticking with the theme of this week, here are some favorites from China!

Hong Kong from the Peak

China High Dynamic Range Photo

The Wormhole (Shanghai)

HDR Photo

Lonely Boats in Hangzhou

China High Dynamic Range Photo

Tron (Beijing)

HDR Photo

Cartier in Shanghai

China High Dynamic Range Photo

The Bund

China High Dynamic Range Photo

Shanghai in the Morning

China High Dynamic Range Photo

Morning Fisherman on the Li River

HDR Photo

Red Bridge in Late Afternoon

HDR Photo

I Found Pandora from Avatar

HDR Photo

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