Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope you all have a great new year! I look forward to spending 2012 with you… We have all kinds of fun stuff to see and do together this year – let’s have some fun :)

Daily Photo – As Night Settles on the Old Lake

Here is another photo that is too good to be true… and, unfortunately, it is.

This is a replica of Portofinio, Italy. It’s a resort hotel in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios. It’s so wonderfully fake — and so wonderful at the same time. I can’t quite decide if I like the fakeness of it all. It does make for amazing photos, though, so that is cool. Maybe it’s kind of like a really hot girl that has had a lot of plastic surgery. There’s some fake in there, but it’s still nice to look at. Okay that’s a horrible analogy… but you get the idea…hehe.

As Night Settles on the Old Lake Here is another photo that is too good to be true… and, unfortunately, it is.This is a replica of Portofinio, Italy. It’s a resort hotel in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios. It’s so wonderfully fake — and so wonderful at the same time. I can’t quite decide if I like the fakeness of it all. It does make for amazing photos, though, so that is cool. Maybe it’s kind of like a really hot girl that has had a lot of plastic surgery. There’s some fake in there, but it’s still nice to look at. Okay that’s a horrible analogy… but you get the idea…hehe.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Late Night in Germanville

Thanks Gail and Louis and Gino and….

So, whenever I post a photo of Montana, I always know it will make Gail happy. So I like to see not only her comments, but all the other regulars… I also like how you all are getting to know one another. If you are on Google+ or Facebook, feel free to share your info so people can friend you in these other mediums as well!

Today’s photo has a bit of a German theme, so I know someone will be extra-happy… .or maybe William Beem because it’s from Disneyworld!

Daily Photo – Late Night in Germanville

This area of Epcot is one of the best for night photography. There was a little bit of light in the sky, so I had to make this shot as quickly as possible. I didn’t really have time to do a proper scouting, but this was such a nice situation, I made it happen as quickly as I could. I think my full-tripod-setup is under 25 seconds in these emergency situations.

Normally, I like to zen out and take my time. Others, like this, are the result of sheer, bloody panic.

Late Night in GermanvilleThis area of Epcot is one of the best for night photography. There was a little bit of light in the sky, so I had to make this shot as quickly as possible. I didn't really have time to do a proper scouting, but this was such a nice situation, I made it happen as quickly as I could. I think my full-tripod-setup is under 25 seconds in these emergency situations.Normally, I like to zen out and take my time. Others, like this, are the result of sheer, bloody panic.- Trey RatcliffRead the rest here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Fireplace in the Tower of Terror

 

Lou Mongello

HDR Photo
Lou, waiting to get on the Toy Story ride with us…

While at Disneyworld, I ended up meeting Lou Mongello, a very interesting guy that is Disney’s biggest hardcore fanboy! Note that I say that with the ultimate respect, because he has built his love of something into quite an empire! Now he runs WDWRadio.com, has podcasts/apps, and more!

Robert Scoble interviewed Lou while we were there together. Watch, and you’ll see all kinds of tips! Thanks again Keith Barrett for setting everything up.

Disney Shots

We have a category system here on the site, so if you want to see all of them, check the “Disney Category” at the bottom of this post. Once you get to the bottom of the page, click “PREVIOUS” and you’ll get another pagefull…

HDR Photo
Keith grabbed this photo while I was setting up in the lobby area…

 

Daily Photo – The Fireplace in the Tower of Terror

I’ve always wanted to get “behind the velvet rope” and take proper photos of this area, and it finally happened!

This lobby was richly decorated to look like an old, classic Hollywood hotel that has been left alone to slowly deteriorate. Although this angle in particular does not show the decay, future ones will… Also, a future one will include the full story of how I got behind the velvet rope — you won’t believe it!

The Fireplace in the Tower of TerrorI've always wanted to get "behind the velvet rope" and take proper photos of this area, and it finally happened!  This lobby was richly decorated to look like an old, classic Hollywood hotel that has been left alone to slowly deteriorate. Although this angle in particular does not show the decay, future ones will... Also, a future one will include the full story of how I got behind the velvet rope -- you won't believe it!- Trey RatcliffRead the rest here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Final Night of the Space Shuttle

 

Today: Google+ Hangout Live from NASA at 11:15 EST

Join me on Google+ today at exactly 11:15 AM when I’ll be doing a LIVE Video Hangout. Only a limited number of people can get in, so be ready to click to join the hangout! New to this stuff? Here are some video hangout tips I made.

Yesterday I did a very cool live broadcast video hangout from NASA with Google+. We had people from all over the world connecting while I was on video on my laptop approaching the launch pad. We all went through a few levels of security together (I made everyone be quiet), then we approached the VAB, saw some of the media center, before finally getting to the launch pad. I’ll do another live Google+ Hangout tomorrow during my setup and you guys can ask questions…or just…hangout!

Interview with Scoble

Robert Scoble is here with me at the NASA event (along with many other people). After a little #NASATweetup session yesterday, he grabbed me for a quick interview about photography (click link to listen), and how I was planning to this trip in particular. Enjoy!

Daily Photo – Final Night of the Space Shuttle

I was completely soaked after laying in mosquito-invested waters for an uncomfortably long time. At one point, a concerned French news reporter came up to me and said, “Excuse me, but you’re quite covered in bugs.” It must have been pretty bad for him to come over and say that… I think perhaps he thought I was dead because I stayed in the same position for so long, trying to zen-focus on the shot.

This is the Space Shuttle Atlantis, in case you do not know. It’s also the final space shuttle launch, ever. So, it’s incredibly special, and I’m happy I got to spend time with the ship on its final night.

HDR Photo

Bonus Photo – The Countdown Clock at Sunrise

And this is the famous countdown clock. Scott Kublin and I woke up before 5 AM to start setting up our remote cameras. One of them Leo Laporte Fed-exed to me overnight so we could have time to set it up… we put those inside the blast zone and set them up to automatically fire at the launch. We made a behind-the-scenes video to show how everything was done… it will be edited and shared soon… but, in the meantime, here is what I saw first thing in the morning upon arrival to NASA.

The Countdown Clock at Sunrisethis is the famous countdown clock. Scott Kublin and I woke up before 5 AM to start setting up our remote cameras. One of them Leo Laporte Fed-exed to me overnight so we could have time to set it up… we put those inside the blast zone and set them up to automatically fire at the launch. We made a behind-the-scenes video to show how everything was done… it will be edited and shared soon… but, in the meantime, here is what I saw first thing in the morning upon arrival to NASA.- Trey RatcliffRead the whole entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Daily Photo – Test daily photos – 1

Blurb number 1

Test daily photos – 1

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/3.5
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Sun Busting Through Stormclouds at NASA

 

Want to follow the pre-launch activities?

Follow me @TreyRatcliff and the #NASATweetup hashtag on Twitter.

Also, Robert Scoble (and many others) will be with me at the launch, and I figure we’ll be using Google+ quite a bit too to post updates, photos, and the like, so that’s another fun place to watch.

Daily Photo – Sun Busting Through Stormclouds at NASA

I was in the Tweetup tent doing something terribly important but completely inscrutable when Stu Maschwitz came in and told me that the storm clouds were breaking upon our shores. So I got my little rig and went outside to see the matter.

We get these kind of huge powerful summer clouds in Texas too. The kind that roll in on a too-hot day and you have a feeling that something powerful is a-comin’. You tie down the cows and take the favorite sheep down to the basement because it’s gonna be a long night…

The sun darted in and out of the clouds, and I grabbed it just as it peeked through a small hole it tore in the thunderhead.

Sun Busting Through Stormclouds at NASAI was in the Tweetup tent doing something terribly important but completely inscrutable when Stu Maschwitz came in and told me that the storm clouds were breaking upon our shores.  So I got my little rig and went outside to see the matter.We get these kind of huge powerful summer clouds in Texas too.  The kind that roll in on a too-hot day and you have a feeling that something powerful is a-comin'.  You tie down the cows and take the favorite sheep down to the basement because it's gonna be a long night...The sun darted in and out of the clouds, and I grabbed it just as it peeked through a small hole it tore in the thunderhead.- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Endeavor Lifts Off

 

OTW To Florida

I’m coming in for the final shuttle launch and I heard about a secret thing… Nikon has a special room/building at NASA that is full of lenses and all kinds of awesome stuff! I just need my NPS (Nikon Professional Services) card and I can be a kid in a candy store. Now, all of this sounds way too good to be true, but I’ll swoop in there to get the full scoop and let you know. (I even heard they have a 1200mm prime laying around!)

Daily Photo – The Endeavor Lifts Off

So, when I took this, I was using two different cameras. The first one was my D3X with the 28-300mm lens on a tripod, and that is how I got this one. It’s an HDR from a single RAW.

Not long after this, the buffer filled up and it started to shoot slowly, so I went to my second camera around my neck, the D3S with a 50mm prime. And I got the second shot below.

The Endeavor Lifts OffSo, when I took this, I was using two different cameras. The first one was my D3X with the 28-300mm lens on a tripod, and that is how I got this one. It’s an HDR from a single RAW.Not long after this, the buffer filled up and it started to shoot slowly, so I went to my second camera around my neck, the D3S with a 50mm prime. And I got this shot.- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of this entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Space Shuttle

 

Girl In Ocean

 

Big Lenses

Are you the type of person that uses big lenses a lot? I admire you! I don’t…and after lugging this 600mm around for a while, I really got a good sense of what some of the hardcore bird/animal photographers do…

Daily Photo – Girl in Ocean

I got this 600mm from BorrowLenses.com to take photos of the shuttle on my first trip. Since the shuttle didn’t take off, Scott and I decided to go to the beach and take photos of girls from a distance like real creeps. I openly admit it… we looked downright creepy up there with two huge lenses, peering in every which direction until we saw something interesting.

Then I saw this gal splashing around in the waves with her friends… seemed like a good subject so I took a few shots. With the 600mm I was so far away, that she would have had no idea I was taking them. This made it all feel even more sketchy, but, you know, having said all that, I’m quite happy with the shot.

Girl in OceanI got this 600mm from BorrowLenses.com to take photos of the shuttle on my first trip.  Since the shuttle didn't take off, Scott and I decided to go to the beach and take photos of girls from a distance like real creeps.  I openly admit it... we looked downright creepy up there with two huge lenses, peering in every which direction until we saw something interesting.  Then I saw this gal splashing around in the waves with her friends... seemed like a good subject so I took a few shots.  With the 600mm I was so far away, that she would have had no idea I was taking them.  This made it all feel even more sketchy, but, you know, having said all that, I'm quite happy with the shot.- Trey RatcliffRead the rest here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Webinar Grand Prize: Destination Austin with Trey

Great Prize Bundle – Thanks Photomatix!

Here’s a fun prize! This is open to all that have registered for the Photography Webinar. It starts tonight, but you can still join even up to a week late and just download the classes you missed!

  • Grand Prize: All Expenses Paid Trip to Austin to shoot an abandoned power plant with me – Thanks Photomatix for this prize
    • Plane, +Hotel (2 nights), +Car, +$100 in meals!
      • Note: Plane allotment covers anything below $750.  If you are overseas and want to make up the difference, then feel free to enter below!
  • Bonus Prize: Photoshop CS5 – I have another new copy I’ll give you when you arrive here in Austin.
  • To Enter: Leave a comment below!  People with more than one comment are disqualified.
  • Eligible: You must be registered for the Photography Webinar
  • Contest Ends May 15th at midnight CST. I’ll select a random winner and announce on May 16.
  • Questions? Contact support@stuckincustoms.com

And, of course there are many other prizes as well, such as a New Drobo every class. Pop over to the Webinar page to see them all listed out.

Daily Photo – The Megahangar at NASA

Here is a zoom-in of the image below to give you a sense of the size of this beast.

Imagine a giant skyscraper, but hollow and filled with people making rockets.  That’s what the VAB is.  To really get a sense of the size of this thing, look at the outline of the man standing in the distance, his body backlit by the door.

The VAB, or Vehicle Assembly Building, is the worlds largest single-story building, and it’s where NASA assembles many of the rockets, including the mighty Saturn V.  It’s also the tallest building in the US that’s not in a downtown area.   It’s situated at Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center, and it’s awesome dot com.

The thing is so big that it even has its own weather system.  In fact, on humid days it can even rain inside the building!  In my photo below, you are really only seeing part of it.  Off to the right, they are fueling up the Atlantis for its upcoming mission.  Staring through the girders from another angle, you can easily see the giant orange tank going through its pre-launch ordeal.

Getting into this place was very difficult.  I felt privileged to even get through the various security screenings and get the governmental approval to go inside.  They let in little groups of us from the Tweetup, and I have to thank Stephanie Schierholz for making it all happen.  It’s one of the mysterious places on earth I’ve always wanted to visit, so I was very excited to be inside.  My next goal is to get back inside and get up higher… perhaps even get in while they are prepping the next rocket.

I have many more shots of this building that I’ll be sharing in coming weeks and months… you guys know how I like to keep these threads and stories open for a long time!

The Megahangar at NASA Imagine a giant skyscraper, but hollow and filled with people making rockets.  That's what the VAB is.  To really get a sense of the size of this thing, look at the outline of the man standing in the distance, his body backlit by the door. The VAB, or Vehicle Assembly Building, is the worlds largest single-story building, and it's where NASA assembles many of the rockets, including the mighty Saturn V.  It's also the tallest building in the US that's not in a downtown area.   It's situated at Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center, and it's awesome dot com. The thing is so big that it even has its own weather system.  In fact, on humid days it can even rain inside the building!  In my photo below, you are really only seeing part of it.  Off to the right, they are fueling up the Atlantis for its upcoming mission.  Staring through the girders from another angle, you can easily see the giant orange tank going through its pre-launch ordeal.Getting into this place was very difficult.  I felt privileged to even get through the various security screenings and get the governmental approval to go inside.  They let in little groups of us from the Tweetup, and I have to thank Stephanie Schierholz for making it all happen.  It's one of the mysterious places on earth I've always wanted to visit, so I was very excited to be inside.  My next goal is to get back inside and get up higher... perhaps even get in while they are prepping the next rocket.I have many more shots of this building that I'll be sharing in coming weeks and months... you guys know how I like to keep these threads and stories open for a long time!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Journey of a Lifetime in Africa

Topaz Adjust Review and Problems

If you want to know more about how the photo below was made, and why it “pops” in that way, see my full Topaz Adjust Review.

So, I still use it from time to time to add some microcontrast to images, but I notice it is going super slow. Is anyone else having this problem? I have a pretty fast Mac Pro too… I just can’t figure it out. Also, I still have an old install of Topaz Adjust 3, which I tried out… but it crashes whenever I try to run it. What a pain!

Daily Photo – Journey of a Lifetime in Africa

I have never been to Africa, but it is very high on the list. Very very high. And I understand from many of my friends that it will get very deep into me, and I’ll want to go back many times. That’s okay… and I look forward to that feeling!

This photo below is taken in Disneyworld in the Animal Kingdom. The Imagineers run around and make everything look all Africa-ey and authentic… I don’t really know how authentic this is… but I certainly liked the feeling and style of this wall, so had to take a photo!

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Mystery of the Orient

All the DisneyWorld Photos

If you want to see all my them, click on the Disney World category. After you get to the bottom, click “Previous” to see another batch of 15 or so. I have a lot… and if you love Disney like me, maybe you’ll find a few in there you like.

Daily Photo – The Mystery of the Orient

The biggest mystery here, which you may have guessed by now, is that this is not in the orient at all. This is in the World Showcase area of Epcot. In some ways, I think, Epcot has the least exciting rides and attractions of the four Disney parks in Orlando. But what it lacks in rides, it makes up for in photo ops!

My best suggestion for photographers is the following. First, if you are staying in a Disney resort, then you get special “night hours” at different parks. Be there on the Epcot night, and make sure you are as far away from the exit as possible when the park closes. Then, you can take your time walking back to the entrance and take as many photos as you like! Everything is well lit, there is nobody around, and security doesn’t even seem to mind. No one rushes you out… it’s very relaxing and perfect. And, of course, the World Showcase has all sorts of cool buildings, architecture, and landscaping… countless opportunities for great compositions.

I took this photo right outside of a great Japanese restaurant. I forgot the name, but I had some pretty good sushi. I think this place and the California Grill have the best sushi at Disney, if you are into that sort of thing.

High Dynamic Range Photo

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