Temple in the Trees

Better by Design CEO Summit 2013: Trey Ratcliff – Disruption through Visual Design

Below is a talk that I recently gave up in Auckland at the Better By Design conference that is put on by Icebreaker and Jeremy Moon. It is a private function that has about 400 CEOs from the biggest New Zealand companies that attend. It’s a really fun and thought-provoking two days where everyone is challenged to evolve design and design thinking.

Check out Bokeh

My friend Michael Zhang just launched a new app called “Bokeh” — follow that link to find out more! Also, here is a direct link to it in the App Store.

Daily Photo – Temple in the Trees

It was a hot and humid day in Beijing. I was getting a bit tired around mid-afternoon, but I still had that itch to take photos, you know? I found my way into this temple complex here that was covered with trees. I mostly hung out under the trees for an hour or so to recoup… and, whilst in recoup, I took a few photos like this! :)

The Temple

Temple in the Trees

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture10
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Reflections of Old China

Reminder about the New Smugmug Look

I’m still so happy with my new SmugMug portfolio. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out my Smugmug Review here on the site!

Daily Photo – Reflections of Old China

I love these old parts of China that could be from almost any period in history. The riverside part of Feng Huang is a bit like this, so it is one of my favorite areas to photograph. I really need to go back… I’m looking forward to returning and re-imagining these places with new equipment. And maybe the weather patterns will be better, but I usually doubt it in China where it is commonly grey and morose in the sky!

Reflections of Old China

Reflections of Old China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time3
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length20.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

The Mysterious Table and Don’t Forget about the Contest!

Don’t forget you can win a Quadcopter with a camera!

Be sure to pop on over to This Post from a few days ago and enter a comment to win this awesome thing you see to the right. I have one on the way, and I am so excited! It’s called the Phantom 2 from DJI, and it looks pretty incredible. It even has a 14 megapixel camera, which is not too shabby. I’m starting to think about some crazy photos and videos I can shoot with it!

And Speaking of Drones…

Amazon just announced they are working on some package delivery drones. They look like they’re pretty far into testing them! You can see this rather amazing video over on the right… whoa… I wonder how long before we just see drones all over the skies… probably not too long if this looks to be happening. I’ll probably order all kinds of useless stuff just so I can see the drones come over again and again!

Daily Photo – Secret Photo Day

Can anyone tell me where this amazing place is located?

I found it on a recommendation from Sir Richard Taylor (the gentleman from Weta Workshop), and he told me it was absolutely crazy inside. He was right! There are so many crazy pieces of art, every chair is unique, and, well, the list goes on and on. I think there are over forty rooms, and they are all different. This is just one of them!

The Crazy Chinese Table

Secret Photo Day

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time6
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Big Announcement! The Arcanum Opens its Doors!

New kind of Master & Apprentice based Academy for Art and Photography

Want to join in early for the initial launch? Jump on the waiting list now over at The Arcanum! We’re bringing back the Master & Apprentice method of teaching photography and art through modern technology. Come join with us in the new online movement and explore your own, personal, artistic path.

We’ve got some great Masters now for the first batch too, and we’ll have many more soon. But here are just a few Doug Kaye, Thomas Hawk, Catherine Hall, Karen Hutton, Jeremy Cowart, Dallas Nagata White, Frederick Van Johnson, Dallas Nagata White, Gordon Laing, Nicole S. Young, Doug Kaye, Alexia Sinclair, Laurie Rubin, Lisa Bettany, Dave Cross, Jaime Ibarra, Miss Aniela, Jason Law, Brian Matiash, Mike Hollman, Frank Doorhof, Mike Langford, Jackie Ranken, Doug Kaye, Tim Pierce, Bel Jones, Cliff Baise, Peter Adams, James Brandon, Alex Koloskov, Damion Hamilton and even more! Those names took a long time to type in, but they are worth it! Honestly, I am so excited to work with these amazing people — we’re building something completely new, in a way. This idea of Master & Apprentice is very powerful, and we are going to build this new kind of self-replicating Academy from the ground up in an organic way.

I am truly honored to be spending time with such excellent Masters. My theory is that the knowledge that is in their heads is extremely valuable, and the best and most human way to unlock it is by establishing Master & Apprentice relationships. This system allows the idea to flourish and self-replication. I know that even me, personally, if I could have someone like an Alexia Sinclair to mentor me, give me challenges, critique my work — how awesome would that be? I’d never forget it! I did the same thing with Jaime Ibarra , but I actually had to drive over to his house in Austin and have him show me stuff. How inconvenient! And it’s much better than just watching his videos on the Internet; often times watching videos on the Internet feels sterile and lonely without a human connection.

But I could go on and on… Pop on over to The Arcanum and see and read more for yourself!

Thanks Peter Adams!

Many people have been saying lots of very nice and exciting things today. I hate to pull just one out, but here’s a nice take on everything from one of the Masters, Peter Adams:

The Arcanum Launches!

Here’s another big idea from +Trey Ratcliff.

I’m super excited to be a part of this and here’s why…

Many of the photographers that I consider living masters today got their start as “assistants” to other photographers. They agreed to work all hours of the day/night (for very low pay) in order to learn the craft from their master. Needless to say, being a photographer’s assistant isn’t something that everyone can do.

What’s so cool about The Arcanum is that technology now makes this same master/apprentice learning model much more accessible to a far wider group of photographers. Apprentices can access/learn from masters but do so at their own speed and on their own terms.

If you’ve ever been on a photowalk with Trey (or any of us) you might have experienced shades of this. It could have been while listening to how/why a shot was setup, watching how flash can be used to light a scene, or just getting feedback on your technique.

Well, now there’s a way to take your learning process to the next level by tapping into that kind of coaching/feedback on a 1:1, ongoing, basis.

I’ll see you at The Arcanum.

Daily Photo – The Infinity of China

Here is a new photo I really love.

It was taken in the old city of Li Jiang, China when I last visited there. I did not get a chance to work on it until just recently. In fact, I love it so much, you can probably see it up there on The Arcanum website behind some of that parallax scrolling text.

I like the idea of this kind of Chinese infinity, the repetition, the slight variations on a constant theme. It all kind of came together in this scene.

liJiang China

The Infinity of China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Looking down on Beijing

China Next Year?

I’ve gone to China every year for the last four or five or so. But I may skip it this time. The pollution in the cities is so bad that it literally makes me not feel good towards the end of the trip. Of course when I arrive, I am so excited to go! And I keep that excitement for a long time… but then the last few days I’m just dragging… it’s too much for me… so maybe I will fill that hole with something else – maybe like just staying at home in New Zealand where there is negative pollution! :)

Daily Photo – Looking down on Beijing

Here is a view of the master-planned roadway system from the top of one of Beijing’s tallest buildings in the CBD (Central Business District). I notice something funny about the way Chinese governments name areas. They are always so literal and formally translated that there is no magic in the names. One building might be called “Tower of Office” and another would have the name “Newspaper Building”.

Looking down on Beijing

Looking down on Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length84.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

A Child in a New Hutong

What does the Fox Say in Google Glass

My daughter Scarlett loves to use glass to watch music videos and sing or dance around… in this case, she did a voice search for “What does the fox say” and this happened. She can hear it fine, btw… the music is playing clearly by vibrating into her skull through her occipital bone.

My sorry golf clubs

I’ve been playing more and more golf lately. I’m not good. That’s not the direction I’m going with this; I’m going in the direction of having a very old and scattered set of clubs. I think I must have irons and woods from at least six different makers, and many of the key ones are missing. 7-iron? Gone. 4-iron? Gone. But I do have all these other strange clubs that I have never even found the occasion to use – even one with a wooden shaft. I have to pilfer my son’s new clubs to fill the gaps… I haven’t taken it upon myself to get a new set yet because I don’t think my game warrants it… but maybe some day! :)

Daily Photo – A Child in a New Hutong

Hutongs are older, family, communal areas in China. There are thousands of them scattered all around Beijing, for example. Most are old and classical, but some of them have gone through modern renovations and are now a mix between the old and the new. This one had some trendy furniture stores, a theater, and a little coffee shop on one half while the other half was still old-school and classical. I saw this child resting on top of a ramp to a theater.

A Child in a New Hutong

A Child in a New Hutong

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-5R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture1.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Questions Answered Regarding the switch from Nikon to Sony

Questions about switching from Nikon to Sony – Jump to the answer!

I’m not going to embed the video here, because the Q&A Interface won’t work right, so Go Watch The Video Here.

After you press click on the link above and press play, , you can click on the questions on the right to jump forward to the answer! Actually, this is REALLY COOL that you can do this… this Q&A layer on top of YouTube is really slick!

If you want to know more, go ready my Sony NEX-7 Review.

Some of you may have already seen some of this, but if not, once inside, here are some of the questions & answers you can jump to!

- How are you able to get the quality of images you are getting with such a tiny camera?

- What was the impetus behind you deciding to try switching to the NEX?

- Why go with the NEX / APS-C size sensor? Why not go down to the Micro Four Thirds format with a slightly smaller sensor but with a better lens selection?

- What about photographers with clients? Is the perception of carrying a big camera vs small camera an issue?

- Bokeh…Talk about the differences there.

- What are the quality trade-offs?

- Durability…what are some of the differences there?

- I’ve noticed a different look to your edits since you’ve started using the mirrorless system. Is this intended or just the way your photos have come naturally?

- Did you find yourself shooting more with the NEX once the firmware update for auto bracketing was released?

- Trey, in your article, you stated you use the NEX6 for day to day and the NEX7 for your epic landscapes. Do you find the NEX7′s slow focus the cause for that?

- How do you carry your gear?

- Going back to your Nikons, with companies releasing adapters for lenses for other brands, do you see yourself grabbing a Nikon to NEX speedbooster to use your lenses on your NEX system?

- In your article you mentioned apps on the Sony. Do the new Android cameras like the recently announced Samsung NX1000 excite you in that department?

- Parting thoughts. Regarding advanced amateur photographers, what would you advise them if they’ve already spent thousands on DSLR gear or not , should they switch to mirrorless?

and lastly but not leastly:

- What would you rather photograph – Tennis or Water Polo?

Daily Photo – NEX in China

Here’s another photo I took while in China when in the middle of my Sony NEX experimentation. We went to an older area in the middle of Beihei to see this ancient scene, like time had stopped hundreds of years ago…

China Girl

NEX in China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-5R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture5
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length65.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

RAW Photos in the Cloud – now on Google+

An interesting development!

I just found out today that Google+ now supports the uploading of RAW files — as far as I know, this is the only social network to allow this – cool! I have tried it now with a few different images, including this one below. They support RAW files from over 70 different cameras, and I can only assume they will add more as time goes on. I have a few thoughts on this. I have a lot of questions too, but sometimes good questions are more interesting! So, when I uploaded some RAW files to G+, they worked perfectly. I was then able to go in and edit the photo using the just-released photo editing tools. These have all come online recently because of Google’s acquisition of Nik. Those guys have not just been sitting around. What started as a little side-project, Snapseed, has now become a new way to edit photos in the cloud. In fact, the Snapseed “meme” is spreading across all the Google products, from the Android to the web.

HDR Photo

An Adobe Disruptor?

I think so! It will be a while, but we can already see the stepping stones for Google stepping on the stones of Adobe. I know I know… you guys think I am crazy, but think long term. To think that you’ll definitely be using Adobe products in five or ten years seems short-sighted. Remember back in 1997 when we thought for sure we’d be using Microsoft Word forever? There has never really been a compelling competitor for Adobe Photoshop. Sure, there’s GIMP, but that is such an edge-case that most professionals don’t take it seriously. But when Google bought Nik, I think they wanted to disrupt the whole way of thinking about photography and workflow. Nik Software is used by professionals, and the whole team is full of serious photographers. Nik Software lacked a lot of the things that Adobe Photoshop provided that most professionals need. All we need is layers and a few more vital tools, and we can all switch to Google’s toolset.

Just in the cloud?

I don’t think so. Personally, I keep all my RAWs in Adobe Lightroom and it is too cumbersome to upload them all and edit online. I just checked my Lightroom, and I have over 260,000 RAW files. I need full-on speed and responsiveness. However, based on the tea leaves I am bullish that my workflow will change in the next few years.

Nik in Android and the Web

I guess we should just calling them “Nik,” yeah? Google, okay… So the Snapseed software is now part of Android, and the editing tools on my Android phone and tablet are at least twice as robust as the web tools. I assume this is because they have only released version 1 of the web tools, and we’ll see all the functionality move over to the web too. But, I hope we end up seeing MORE functionality in the web interface. After all, it’s a full-screen environment that is better for creative professionals.

The Coming Future

I believe we’re headed to a hybrid environment – one in which we slide our SD cards into the side of the computer and we have Chrome-based client software that does all the essential stuff that Photoshop provides (layers, masking, other tools) — all client side! In the meantime, RAW files are being privately backed up to the web as well as all of our levels of undo. We can all look back at how our workflow has changed over the last five years. In fact, it’s probably changed multiple times! To think it won’t change many more times in the next few years is not realistic. Lord knows we’re all dealing with the same post-processing workflow and organizational problems – so I am happy that so many hardcore photographers at Google are also working on this problem. And yes, I think it will all be free.

More stepping stones I’d like to see

The current RAW upload is a little strange. Here are some issues (questions) I have: – After I upload the RAW file, there is no easy way to “edit” the file. I have to scroll to the bottom of the album (which takes a while with hundreds of photos), find it, click it, then click edit. – Albums currently max out at 1,000 – so this will be a problem for anyone that wants to upload a ton of RAW for Google to keep. – Question: When I use the new Edit tool, am I editing a JPG conversion that has already been made, or is it using the RAW? For example, when I pull up the “Shadows” in the “Tune” dialog, is it getting the light data from the RAW or from the flattened JPG (I hope the former!)

The Mighty Templegate

Khan Academy

Man, Khan Academy just gets better and better. I use it a lot with the kids to help with math, but it also has a lot more now… everything from Computer Science to the History of Art. Even if you’re a grownup, I think you’ll find some cool stuff over there.

Daily Photo – The Mighty Templegate

If I am going to shoot photos in the middle of the day, these are my absolute favorite kinds of clouds. These are usually hot days and the big clouds are angry and want to form a storm, but they just can’t get it done, so they roil about and look dramatic.

This is one of the many temple complexes around the ancient town of Lijiang. There were hundreds of different ways and places to shoot, so I often find the process of choosing just a few to be an interesting challenge.

Temple Gate

The Mighty Templegate

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/180
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+3

The Giant Buddha

Extra Info!

I don’t usually get all wikipedia-ish on the blog… but I did look up more things about this most fascinating statue.

Maybe the coolest thing is that 8 meters (over 25 feet!) of this statue are underground, buried, and never seen! It was carved out of a single trunk of white sandalwood, and 18 meters of it stick up above ground. It’s from 1744 and it took over three years to ship the trunk to Beijing! There were over 8 million taels of silver spent to build it and 1800 meters of yellow satin to make the kasaya… amazing!

Daily Photo – The Giant Buddha

This thing was a pleasure to photograph! While I was in this temple, monks were taking huge long red sashes and walking around the upper areas and draping them around different parts of the enormous statue. It was all in slow motion and most interesting!

Buddha Lama

The Giant Buddha

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/9
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10mm (15mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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