Boats in waiting

SmugMug Review

Don’t forget to go check out the SmugMug Review — I’m adding to it all the time!

Daily Photo – Boats in waiting

Along Beihai Park in Beijing is a collection of boats that wait for passengers. Some of the touring companies are so strange. I walk by these, and there is absolutely no one there. It’s not staffed and I’ve never actually seen anyone in a boat. If I wanted a boat ride, I would have no idea how to go about getting one! This is one of the strange things about some of the consumer-facing operations that are still under the full domain of the government — general confusion! Many (probably most that you see in public areas) are not under the thumb of the government, so they operate in the way you’d expect a normal business to operate…but not these boats… oh no, there’s no way you’re getting on them!

Boats in waiting

Boats in waiting

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5
  • Aperture1.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Asian Blade Runner

I need a life-sized sheep that is not real

Does anyone in Queenstown know where I can get a full-sized or nearly-full-sized sheep? I need it for this Rather Strange Charity Thing I committed to with Patrick Rothfuss. Here’s a link right to the fundraising page.

Philip K. Dick Books

What’s your favorite? I’m on a new PKD kick thanks to a new friend. He is recommending book after book, and I am drinking them all in voraciously!

Daily Photo – Asian Blade Runner

Speaking of PKD, the Blade Runner city was based on Los Angeles, but I think it is probably the asian cities that are more likely to move into that future. Whenever we hit that, “Okay, this is absolutely Blade Runner” moment will be from some place like this. For example, this is Beijing. And it’s kind of a tight race between here, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and maybe a few others. Which city will be the first to escalate itself to this sci-fi ending???

Asian Blade Runner

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time6
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length83.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

A quick pose between servings

Funny Amazon Reviewer

Okay I figured out that the Kleenex review was a fake, written by this guy who has 1,000 AMAZING reviews that are totally off the hook… haha man that guy is great. I wonder if there is a book that is a collection of these!

Daily Photo – A quick pose between servings

While in Beijing, we had this richly decorated waitress that would bring us serving after serving! It was non-stop food. She was dressed in such an ornate outfit (see those shoes?), and she was a fun subject for photos. When she was going back and forth between bringing me the food, I jumped out to take a photo. She saw me, and made a quick fun pose!

A quick pose between servings

A quick pose between servings

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-5R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture5
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length78.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Long Bridge to the Ancient Island

If I go to Beijing

I’m going to take drones. This will no doubt freak out the Chinese people. I wonder what they will think? I think we kind of take it for granted here in the Western world, but I have a feeling that they will just stare at it and wonder. Plus, these DJI Drones are super-noisy and scary-sounding. I don’t know what the Chinese government will think, either… so whenever I am approached by a policeman, I just say that I am with the Chinese government and it would best if they just left me alone. I’m not sure this is the best policy, but it has worked every time so far!

Daily Photo – Long Bridge to the Ancient Island

This was a new find in Beijing. I had never been out to this little island before — Beihai Weizhou Island. There are several long bridges that get to the island, and they are all an equally long walk. I guess that is one thing I notice about Chinese attractions — they all involve long walks! I mean, I’m not complaining… but I’m walking around these places carrying all my stuff and then the thought always strikes me, “My God! I’ve been walking forever!”

Beihai Weizhou Island

Long Bridge to the Ancient Island

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1.3
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length80.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Parallel Universe In China

Should I go back to China?

XI got an offer to come back to China again from the government. They are always very nice to me. They give me a driver, an assistant, and a translator, and I have carte blanche to go anywhere and shoot anything. The only thing they ask for in exchange is a few dozen photos that they can use also, but I still own all the rights. It’s a pretty good deal, I say! Plus, I simply like having all the access and freedom, which you don’t otherwise have in China! But, the pollution always gets me down so much… I don’t know if I want to go subject myself to another week of that. I’m completely undecided.

If I go, I was thinking of taking a few drones and going drone-photo-crazy in China. I think that could be a pretty unique thing to do… but I wonder if my drones would shut down in the polluted skies and drop like birds from a horror movie!?!

Daily Photo – Parallel Universe In China

Whenever I visit China, it’s a bit like when crew members of the NCC-1701(n) would visit the Klingon home world. Everything is so foreign and isolated that everything feels a bit “off.” But then I go into a shopping mall like this and I get back into parallel-universe mode. The whole scene seems strangely familiar, but also a little bit “off.” It’s like I am out of phase with time or something. I enjoy it, am observant, take photos, eat snacks, and all the normal kinds of things I do, but I have never felt totally in vibrational sync in these sorts of places. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you or not, but maybe.

Mall in China

Parallel Universe In China

Photo Information

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

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

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x