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.

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Epic Storm hits NASA before shuttle launch

A Long Day on the Cape

I’ll talk all about my day at NASA in a later post… I’m super-duper tired… but I wanted to share this photo I just took of a massive storm sweeping over the complex on the evening before the launch.

I was supposed to be going over to the actual launch pad as night was falling to get a shot, but this storm started to roll in, upsetting those plans. The big structure you see on the other side of the flag is the Vehicle Assembly Building, and that blue structure you see to the left is the famous countdown-clock you always see in front of the press area before the launch.

Right as I was taking this, an official lady from NASA ran into the field warning me that this was now a “Level 2 lightning alert!” I happen to be standing by another NASA Tweetup invitee, Lavar Burton. He asked, “Is that like a Level 3 diagnostic?” Greatness. He was a really cool guy, btw… I put up a photo of us together over on my Facebook Page.

HDR Photo

100 Cameras in 1 – Try it Free

We have a new free version! (iTunes Link) It comes with well over a dozen effects for free. You will have fun using this app and giving it a whirl. There are some options inside the app if you want to unlock more effects too.

Also, you’ll see we added a new camera interface that is very cool… I think you’ll like it. We have an iPad version too, of course. (4.5 stars with over 200 reviews – thanks!)

100 - Landscape

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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

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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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Balloons at Disney

Daily Photo – Balloons at Disney

I’ve been trying to capture a shot of balloons at Disney forever… it took a while before I found something with which I was happy!

Do you know these balloons cost $10?  TEN DOLLARS!  A ten dollar balloon…  but they do light up.  So that’s kinda cool.  What isn’t cool is that you have to buy one for every single kid in your retinue.

One other cool thing (kinda secret) is that if it ever goes flat or pops, you can bring it back to get a free one.  Technically, you could even bring it back the next year and still get a new one.  This might go against the spirit of the deal, but it is a ten dollar balloon for the love of Disney-god.

HDR Photo

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Morning in America

HDR DVD and the Clubhouse

HDR Photo

We are having a good time in The Clubhouse! I hope that everyone that received the HDR DVD has successfully signed up and entered the Clubhouse. If you have not, be sure to contact support AT stuckincustoms.com with the email address you used when ordering the DVD. They will be sure to get you set up!

Daily Photo – Sunrise in America

Early morning shoots are often coffee-challenging. The photography is fun and invigorating, but it can be a little distracting when half of your simian brain is thinking about warm drinks and food. Usually, these early mornings are a bit too early to get coffee from anyplace that sells the stuff. Sometimes, my hotel room will have some coffee inside, but not in a to-go cup. Besides, I have to wake up so early, I can’t imagine getting up an extra 30 minutes before just to have some coffee!

This was taken off the Florida coast on a warm summer morning. At this exact moment when the sun breaks the horizon — well, this is a time when I am not thinking of coffee.

Sunrise in America West Palm Photo

Sunrise in America

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10mm (15mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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To Another World

Music in your mind…

Do you all listen to music when out taking photos? Have you ever tried it? I love putting on my noise-canceling earphones and listening to all sorts of things when I am out taking photos… I never see anyone do this, so maybe I am alone in this practice?

Daily Photo – To Another World

There are no short days at Disney! They are all long escapades, filled with happiness, crying, sticky fingers, strollers hitting you in the achilles tendons, and scary people that should not really be allowed to the buffet area.

This was another one of those very long days. Sometimes, towards the end of the day, one of the only things on my mind is getting back home to collapse — especially after carrying around my tripod and D3X the whole day! But, on this particular exit from Epcot, everything lined up so nicely that I just could not help myself!

HDR Photo

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The Grand Entrance

The International HDR Tutorial!

Here is a reminder that we have our tutorial in 3 different languages now!

Daily Photo – The Grand Entrance

This is the entryway to the Portofino Hotel at Universal Orlando. It’s a pretty posh place. I get nervous when I see young kids running around these places at full speed. I get really nervous when I see my own kids doing it!

We stayed here a few nights and it proved to be a perfect location for accessing Universal Studios. There is a little lake/canal system in the back that connects to the main park so you can take little boats back and forth. More importantly, there are a ton of interesting things scattered around for photography!

HDR Photo

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The Lego Dragon

New Print Available!

The Adventure Tree, one of my favorite, warm photos, is now available as a limited edition print. This is a wonderful tree I found sticking out alone in a forest in Patagonia. I used a variety and mix of textures to give it a warm and timeless feel.

HDR Photo

Daily Photo – The Lego Dragon

There are these Lego stores popping up everywhere it seems. That’s okay with me… Who doesn’t like a good Lego set?

This one is just outside the Lego Store at Downtown Disney in Orlando. They have a few of those gigantic Lego beasts that were mysteriously built. Anyone that is sensible knows that it takes many hours to build something roughly the size of a human hand. So, these monstrosities must be either built by aliens or an army of industrious Germans that parachute in during the wee hours.

HDR Photo

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The Tori Gate

Free London PhotoWalk!

Don’t forget! It will be a lot of fun… It will be at sunset on September 10th. Exact details to come soon.

My general plan is to get started about 30 minutes before sunset. We’ll get started and meander through an interesting and scenic route for about 90 minutes. My PhotoWalks are always laid back and fun. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. I’ll stop several times along the way to set up, talk about my shot, answer questions, and the like. And then we’ll meander more until we find another cool spot. Of course, no one is required to listen — people can come and go as they please and seek their own scenic fortune!

After the event, we can all meet at a local pub or cafe and get drinks/snacks and hang out… that will be fun too. I look forward to meeting y’all!

Daily Photo – The Tori Gate

What a perfect post-storm dusk! I was going photo-crazy.

This is a replica of the exact same place I have been near Nikko, Japan. The Nikko one is quite hard to shoot! There are many things in the way, and setting up for the ideal shot is no easy matter. Plus, when I was in Japan, the sky was not so great that evening. It’s the luck of the cards sometimes!

But this evening in Disney World was ultra-perfect. Epcot is the park that has all the little international areas. Japan, Germany, France, etc etc. It’s all a little silly and fake — but it’s also very cool and scenic! I don’t know how it can be both… but it is. Those Disney imagineers do an incredible job of making things look dreamy. I do the best I can to capture the magic as I saw it.

HDR Photo

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