The Mighty Castle

More TED Talks

I added a few new TED talks to my list that I keep here on the site. If you all have some suggestions, be sure to drop them in… I do my best to scour the web to find the most inspirational stuff, and I always appreciate your input.

Daily Photo – The Mighty Castle

The beautiful castle shifts and changes its color every few minutes. The way the light cycles and changes on it is mysterious. If you just watch it steadily, the light never seems to change, but after a short while, upon reflection, you’ll realize there is a whole new color splashed onto the surface. It’s quite mesmerizing!

I set up here at the base with a 12-24 lens. I felt sorry for everyone else with their cell phone cameras that were trying to get a proper shot of the place from nearby! Whenever I set up and take a while, sometimes it draws a smallish crowd. This crowd, in turn, pulls out cameras and starts shooting from my same perspective. I often turn about and give people a knowing nod.

HDR-Photo

The RAW Fireworks & a Photomatix 4.0 Preview

Two Weeks in Iceland!

Watch for me Live on This Iceland Webcam. I should be strolling in and out of those from time to time.

To the right, you can see some of my upcoming notes from the trip. I’ll be focused on the coasts with a concentration on the fjords in the northwest part of the country. We are getting close to 24 hours of daylight, so I think this will be an amazing time to go. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, feel free to let me know!

As you all know, Iceland is one of my favorite places in the world for photography. You can see the entire Iceland Photo Collection here — several pages there for you to enjoy!

Planning the trip to Iceland-1

Full Photomatix 4.0 Preview

I’ll be sure to post it when it is ready on the Photomatix Review page. Actually, even better than a preview, I will do a quick head-to-head with Adobe Photoshop CS5. It’s all pretty much complete… just want to get a few more metrics for you.

I would like to get it up this weekend… not sure – a lot of busy stuff lately!

Daily Photo – The RAW Fireworks (and yes, that is a handheld single shot)

So, I have in my hot little hands an Advance Copy of Photomatix Pro 4.0 (BTW, the TREYRATCLIFF Coupon Code will still save you the most money). Wow this thing is cool! I’m in the middle of a full review/preview. This isn’t really it… just a preview of a preview. I know… how lame of me, but I am so excited that I want to leak out a few details.

Today’s fireworks photo below from Disney World a few nights ago was just processed with Photomatix 4. This is from a single RAW photo. This was a handheld shot as I was walking along a pathway near the Crystal Palace. Amazing, eh?

Well, I can’t take all the credit – so much goes to Photomatix Pro. Here are a few points for you to chew on:

  • There is all new Noise Reduction code in there…  a fresh dialog appears when loading a RAW photo like this one.
  • If you already own Photomatix Pro 3 (or buy it now), the upgrade to Photomatix Pro 4.0 is FREE.  (cool!)
  • There is a new way to control ghosting… very nice.
  • So far in my testing, it’s way way way faster than Photoshop CS5′s new HDR feature.  But I am still testing with metrics… full results soon.

HDR-Photo

Beautiful Disney World at Sunset

Minor Altercation

A few nights ago, I had a minor photography/police incident at Downtown Disney (Twitter followers saw the ordeal realtime). Everything is resolved now, and maybe a result of the whole thing is that security will be easier on photographers in the future. We live in hope!

Now, I’ve never had a problem using tripods or “professional-looking equipment” at any of the Disney Parks, like the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, but Downtown Disney seems to have a special set of rules. I was approached by security when they saw the tripod – they asked what I was doing. I said I was a blogger and was taking personal photos. They pressed me more. They asked if I had permission, and I said that in fact I did have permission, although that should not matter; I’m just a photographer taking photos of a place to show the world some beautiful things.

I didn’t have my ID with me, since everyone in Disney World carries around these little Disney ID cards that you get at the resorts. You charge food, goodies, and everything on it. You don’t need a wallet or anything, so I just leave that back at the resort. Since I didn’t have ID, they called in the Sheriff’s Department. I called my wife, who was shopping elsewhere with the kids to swoop in and vouch for me.

My wife was of course quite worried and upset, seeing me surrounded by four security guards and a newly-arrived member of the Sheriff’s department. Luckily (I guess?), she had her ID with her. The police took all her information down (why?) and then left. I assume they finally got the right people on the phone at Disney that knew who I was and that I had permission.

However, I still strongly believe that even if I didn’t have permission, that I, or any other photographer, should be allowed to take photos. It’s 2010! Everyone else is taking crappy photos with their mobile phones and uploading to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and all over the place. I’m doing the same thing as them, but mine are simply taken with a bigger, nicer camera. What’s the crime? Even more importantly, all I’m doing is promoting the beauty of this place to hundreds of thousands of people here on the blog.

With what little influence I have at Disney, I suggested that they tell the powers-that-be to stop bothering photographers (I know good man William Beem, among others, also had a run-in). I understand there are some new conversations in the works, but I don’t know if anything will really change.   Let’s hope so.

Daily Photo – Beautiful Disney World at Sunset

Hey, you know… I can’t stay mad at Disney for too long.  I think those issues are just at Downtown Disney.

This photo below, from Epcot, is one of the reasons I keep coming back again and again.  It’s such an amazing place, and Epcot may be my favorite new spot for photography at Disney.

This is the “France” area of the World Showcase, which is a huge lake that is circumnavigated by about 10 different countries or so.  Each one has a cluster of buildings set in the theme of the country.  They are all quite authentic, and the areas are staffed with people from the countries.  The Norway area has authentic-looking and -sounding Norwegians.  The Germany area is filled with Germans in postcard-German-clothes.  The Canada area has people that look and sound like Americans.

The afternoon had ripped open a wicked thunderstorm on the whole park.  It was subsiding around sunset, so the clouds were swirling about with these wonderful tempestuous formations.  I set up to take this shot before moving over to the Japanese area to watch the big fireworks show on the lake.  While I was taking these shots, by the way, I had sent my family into one of the pastry shoppes here in the France area to load up on wonderful little morsels to keep us fully loaded during the fireworks show!

If you have seen the wonderful fireworks show at Epcot — where is your favorite place to stand?  I’ve got a new spot.. I’ll reveal that with a bunch of new tips/ideas soon!

HDR-Photo

Another Magical Disney Fireworks Show

New Print on Sale

Every week a new print comes available in Limited Edition Numbered series. This week it is “The Fallout Bunker”, the unique and wonderful airport architecture in Thailand. This is the sort of print may not work so well in a traditional home (like my others), but for the right environment, it will be a real stunner.

Stuck in Customs in Space

Daily Photo – Another Magical Disney Fireworks Show

Disney has a very cool “Pirates and Princess” party where they really take their fireworks to the extreme. I worked hard to find a nice reflective surface, even though I had to elbow a few little princesses to get this spot. They started to complain, and I just said, “Stop being such a princess!”

Now, if I can only convince the Powers That Be at Disney to fire off these fireworks at dusk – now THAT is a photo. The thing is… everyone shoots off their fireworks in pitch black, well, because everyone ELSE does. However, I can make a strong case that fireworks look better when there is a bit of ambient light in the air. The fireworks are still bright and beautiful — they do not have to be against a pure black backdrop to “pop”.

Another Magical Disney Fireworks Show

Peaceful Disney in Resplendent Color

See you in Chicago!

The Chicago Book Launch Party is tonight at the Hotel Sax. It starts at 6 PM, and I’ll be speaking around 7 PM. If you are in the area, stop by so I can shake your hand and say hello! More details on the Facebook Event Page.

Secretly Signing Books at Borders

I’m going into bookstores all over the place to secretly sign my book. I did one today off Michigan Ave in Chicago, put up a quick iphone pic on the FB Fan Page, and sent out a tweet.

It’s causing little tweet-flash-mobs and is very fun! Whenever people are browsing in the section, and then I come up and start writing in a book — they certainly do give me some strange looks! I just give them a knowing nod, and that seems to do the trick.

Daily Photo – Peaceful Disney in Resplendent Color

Dinseyworld is probably the most awesome place in the world, at least, if you are like me and haven’t yet lost your childlike fascination with the fanciful.

I like to visualize things, and I always imagine a membrane in my brain between fantasy and reality. If you have children, or hang out with them much, then you know they have a razor-thin membrane, and thoughts swim back and forth between the two sides. In one moment, they are talking about something completely impossibile and in their heads, and in the next, they are talking about something right in front of them.

As we get older, that membrane thickens and solidifies. The realm of fantasy is for children and the harshness of reality is for adults. At least, this is what society at large wants us to believe. The only time that “grown-ups” are allowed the occasional dalliance into the realm of the fantasy is once or twice a week when they go see a movie. Only in these pre-described theaters and environments are grown-ups allowed to get lost in the fanciful side of things.  (or, maybe you are more like me!)

Peaceful Disney in Resplendent Colo

In the Nepalese Shadows of Everest

Thanks for the good fight on Kelby’s Blog!

Hehe – my guest post on Scott Kelby’s Blog was not even about HDR, but that is what the discussion down below concerned. I was surprised that we ended up having so many defenders, including the likes of Scott Bourne, RC Concepcion, Moose Peterson, Frederick Van, and many many others! Thanks everyone for the healthy discussion… I do love making art as much as you guys do… so I’m happy we’re all in the same boat!

Daily Photo – In the Nepalese Shadows of Everest

I always like how all these Nepalese monkey statues look a little bit evil. They seem to be a bit like gargoyles, and everyone thinks those things are great. I don’t know why we all like gargoyles so much, but I am never bummed out when I see them on a building.

This photo was shot at Disneyworld in Orlando. It’s a great place to bring your tripod, and I am happy I’ve never had a problem there before. Well, I do have problems with my family sometimes because I get too busy taking photos… but there are so many awesome things — it’s like I’m in Disneyworld!

In the Nepalese Shadows of Everest

The Magic of Disney’s Main Street at Night

Disney after dark is very cool…  All the lights change and it comes alive even more, if possible.  One trick that I have picked up is the essential nap while at Disneyworld for the entire family.  We head back to the room after a busy morning and a carbo-bloat lunch for a family nap.  It keeps everyone sane.  And then, we can all stay up late with minimal chance of breakdown.  Seeing kids breakdown at Disneyworld is just not right… it’s not so Disney…

This one also has some nice details in the original size if you want to zoom in on Flickr… about 4200 pixels across methinks.

I hope you all enjoyed the Newsletter!  #3 went out yesterday on an automated schedule, so you should have received it at some point during the day.  Check your SPAM folders if it did not come through…  Feel free to forward it to your friends and relatives.  The site has grown virally over the years, and the more, the merrier.  I enjoy reading people’s comments and thoughts on things (not just positive feedback… but all sorts of thoughts around photography, family, travel, etc etc.).  Also, as always, feel free to share links to your own photography in the comments!  I don’t frown on that one bit.

The Magic of Disney's Main Street at Night

Castle in the Black

I had a hard-edged rule that I am now considering breaking. Who am I kidding? I’m gonna break it for sure.

Now that Ethan is eight, we’ve been able to take him to Disneyworld a few times. Isabella is three and she has never been. I had a rule that it is silly to take kids on vacation before they are five, since you really can’t form long-term memories before that age. Yes yes, I know… Some people disagree with this. Like my wife. She says it is not good that there will be a missing child from our family vacation photographs, no matter how good I am at photoshopping Isabella’s head on a stunt-body. I try to offer the counterargument that a sub-five-year-old can have the same quantifiable amount of fun (within an acceptable margin of error) while at home with Disney movies. This, then, is thrown back in my face with my three-year-old having a dangerous fascination with Cinderella’s castle. She can hardly believe that it is a real place.

So now we are going to take her to Disneyworld. Not for her, but for us. Well, also for her. Okay it’s kind of for all of us. Rule broken.

Castle in the Black (by Stuck in Customs)

Disneyworld for us

Disneyworld is the perfect place for 7-year-olds and the 7-year-old in me.  We had a great time there and I can’t wait to get back again.  Tina took this shot for us one afternoon in the Animal Kingdom.

This picture reminds me of how nice it is to be a hero to someone.  It’s kind of one of those things that I’ve always wanted to be.  I’m afraid some day I will lose this “hero” status.  I don’t want to think about that right now!

Disneyworld for us (by Stuck in Customs)

Moonlight over Everest

If there is one thing that is almost as cool as being deep in the Himalayas, then it’s being at Disneyworld after dark near the Expedition Everest ride. This is probably one of my favorite rollercoasters, and I endeavored to stay here late one night to try to grab the moon in the right spot. The whole area is riddled with excellent little Buddhist offering temples, where you can submit fruits of offering in exchange for the blessing of not tossing your lunch right before the Yeti takes a swipe at your runaway train.

I also got a very nice Twitter message yesterday from a dad who was excited that his kids were getting him my Textures Tutorial for father’s day. I thought that was kind of cool and I was flattered! Of course, that means he’s going to have to use the techniques to make some memorable photos of his family… This is something that I always hear too… that I don’t take enough photos of the family, but I do I do! But I don’t think that the grandparents can ever be happy unless I have a webcam on them 24 hours a day like a non-stop grandchild Truman show.

Moonlight over Everest

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