Salaryman waiting for the Bullet Train

Join my mate Vanelli for a Workshop in North Carolina

I met a heck of a nice guy when I was in Florida named Vanelli. I was introduced to him by RC Concepcion, who is normally a good judge of character — I remember him saying, “Trey, you gotta meet this guy named Vanelli!”

So, I did, and he made a good impression on me. He happens to be quite the Photoshop guru, and he absolutely loves photography. He’s a great communicator, and I’m sure he’ll put together a unique workshop. I think he’s only inviting about 10 people or so… and if you want to find out more, go to the “Vacation with Vanelli” website.

New Limited Edition Numbered Print – Hong Kong from the Peak

This week we are releasing a new print (see the print page) called “Hong Kong from the Peak“. It is a pretty one that many of you may remember, and it’s featured right towards the beginning of the book. There are smaller prints available on fine art paper all the way up to huge canvases to adorn your walls.

Hong Kong from the peak on a summer's night

Daily Photo – Salaryman waiting for the Bullet Train

I’ve always loved the Japanese word “salaryman”. It means exactly what you think it means. And whenever I say this word to Japanese people while there, they get so surprised what I know that word! Possibly, this is because I know only a few dozen words — and they consider this one to be somewhat obscure, I suppose. It’s hard to say. There is something wonderfully inscrutable about my conversations with Japanese people.

This was shot in Kyoto (to the best of my memory), on the way to Tokyo. These bullet trains are just great. I bought a week-pass on the bullet train for only a few hundred dollars — it’s a special deal for foreigners traveling to Japan. The only confusing bit was figuring out how to trade in my voucher at Narita airport. Well, there were a variety of confusing things at that airport, but that has never stopped me…

Salaryman waiting on the Bullet Train

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1,000 Red Gates – and Photo Mystery of the Week

Great Photowalk in San Clemente!

Thanks to everyone that came out for a beautiful sunset in San Clemente! I was happy to meet you all and hope you had a good time. Victor from Typical Shutterbug put up a post with a link to a Flickr group where you can share your photos.

Photo Mystery of the Week

What is the mysterious blue light in the photo below?  Who can guess?

Daily Photo – 1,000 Red Gates

What a wonderful and unique place on earth this is! In Kyoto, Japan, there resides the unique shrine of Fushimi Inari. It consists of thousands of red gates that wind up and down the mountain. I walked through it deep into the night…. I was the only one around and it was downright eerie. Every now and then, the gates would stop and there would be a mini-shrine off to one side or a graveyard to another. Both of these added to the creep factor.

I had a serious worry about an hour into the hike through these gates — what if they turn off the lights? I had no flashlight! I considered my two options — I could strobe my SB-800 to find my way out, which would be a totally surreal experience through these gates. Or, I could do what one of my Israeli hiker friends did in Argentina, use the back of my camera display for light (he actually used his to set up his tent)!

1,000 Red Gates

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length20mm (20mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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Red Temple Under in the Moon Forest

New Weekly Print Now Available

There is a new Limited Edition Numbered Print available. As always, prices start at $99 for the smaller paper numbered print and then go up if you want a giant canvas on your wall at home. We just got done showing a bunch of these amazing canvases at the book party in Chicago – they always look so impressive in person!

The print today is a summer reflection of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming across a high-running stream. While I was shooting this, a buffalo snuck up on me from behind. Those things are so big and quiet, it is a little unnerving! There is more info about the process on the Prints page as well.

The Grand Tetons

Daily Photo – Red Temple in the Moon Forest

Most people don’t know this, but I wrote a novel about 15 years ago. The reason no one knows about it is because it was so awful that no one would publish it. I printed out the first few chapters of the book, sent them to countless publishers, and then received countless rejections. I should have saved of them. It was quite depressing at the time, and it only took me 14 years to get over it.

Anyway, I bring this up because part of the story was based in Kyoto, Japan, where this temple is located. I had never been there before, but this is exactly how I always pictured it: peaceful, still, natural, ancient, with the soft sounds of the woods echoing around the old wood. It’s a wonderful place. I’ve done my best to capture the feeling of the place. I only hope I’ve come close to succeeding.

Red Temple in the Moon Forest

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Two Paths Through the Tangled Japanese Forest

The classic Taj Mahal photograph, Limited Edition Numbered Print now available

Every week we are releasing something new into the Print Gallery. Each on is a Limited Edition numbered print from 1 to 250, so when they are gone, they are gone. The paper prints start at a very affordable $99 and, if you want a large dramatic showpiece in your home or business, there are giant canvases available too.

We launched with only 20 prints, and this dramatic photograph taken from the Taj Mahal is the next that is available in the collection.

Farewell India - The Taj Mahal

Daily Photo – Two Paths Through the Tangled Japanese Forest

The day in Kyoto had a steady light rain. When I was going through this forest, I was able to lower the umbrella. The little droplets seemed to get caught up in the upper canopy of the trees. Big drops would plop down from time to time, but it was kind of nice, in a storybook way.

I got to this point and couldn’t decide which way to go… which way would you have gone?

Two Paths Through the Tangled Japanese Forest

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Twitter Contest is Live, and Finding Dinner in the Alleys of Kyoto

Win A Free Book!  Twitter Contest is Live!

We have a new Twitter contest to win some free copies of “A World in HDR”, hosted by the team at @Peachpit.  It goes for three days and will be a ton of fun.  Anyone can enter, and you can enter as many times as you like!  For full details, see the Twitter Contest Page!

Peachpit (the publisher) is giving away three copies to some of the best photos found on Twitter.  Submit as many and as often as you like.  Note that my photos are not eligible — let’s use this as a way to find other great new photos and artists out there!  Again, all the details and info on The Judge can be seen on the Twitter Contest Page!

Daily Photo – Finding Dinner in the Alleys of Kyoto

After exploring an area (and era!) of ancient temples in Kyoto, I was absolutely starving.  I tend to get in a “shooting mode” where I do not undertake basic human necessities like eating, sleeping, and making regular bathroom breaks.  In fact, Nikon makes this great set of diapers you should try.  They’re Japanese so there are little buttons that dispose of everything and leave you fresh as a daisy.

Anyway, after shooting, I headed down into the old part of Kyoto to find a traditional Japanese dinner.  I sat there for a long time, enjoying myself thoroughly.

Finding Dinner in the Alleys of Kyoto

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Exploring Kyoto at night

Twitter and Facebook Contests!

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting some of the best and most successful Twitter and Facebook contests I have seen. We are going to be having the good people at @Peachpit run a few contest to give away copies of the book after release! I’d like you guys and gals to pick your favorites. So please, if you have more suggestions, let me know. I’ve got a great list already, so let’s keep ‘em comin! Note that I don’t want to do just boring, obvious contests. I’d like them to be fun, different, and engaging. Know what I mean? So, if you’ve seen some that are successful, please pass them along!

Today’s Photo

I think I could stay in Kyoto for a few years and go out taking photos every day and night! What a picturesque place… I feel like someone designed it a thousand years ago just for HDR! Now, I think this is a pretty darned good example of HDR. When you are there, you do see all these colors and light levels. Absolutely! Thank goodness for the sweet lady HDR and all her little tricks.

Exploring Kyoto at Night

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The Bamboo Forest and some great Twitter Lists to follow

Some Twitter Lists for You!

BTW, I’m @TreyRatcliff on Twitter!

As you guys know, I’ve been using Twitter for the past 27 years or so. Over that time, I’ve built up a good list of people to follow. Now, I can share this list and more very easily with you. When you visit the links below, you can “Follow” the list. Or, you can also go through and follow the individuals. Any questions? Just ask below!

Do the good people on here a favor.  Follow the list, and then go through and follow some of the most interesting individuals inside.  Twitter is better once you build your own personalized list, and this will be a really good injection of inspiration into your world, I hope!

How to Use Tweetdeck

I made a video to show you how to use Tweetdeck to stay connected to members of the Stuck In Customs community!

To get your setup, do the following

Other suggestions for Tweetdeck:

  • Whatever interests you, make a “Search” column for it.  For example, my mom loves “General Hospital”, so I made a new Tweetdeck column for her with it.  Now, whenever anyone on twitter mentions something about General Hospital, she is the first to know!
  • Turn off the annoying sounds and the little popup notifier under the settings.  For me, it gets to be too much to constantly see updates!

After you follow the lists and some people therein…

Then you can then easily switch to that “channel” in Twitter to see the latest. Also, very soon you’ll be able to add that List as a Column in Tweetdeck, a program I highly recommend. As soon as they enable this, I’ll come update this post!

And, of course, be sure to tell your friends the fun of lists, especially those new to Twitter.  If people start out by getting good links with nice art and funny comments, it makes it a much better experience from the beginning!

Daly Photo – The Bamboo Forest

Today’s daily photo was taken while exploring the wilds outside of Kyoto a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful place! The walk took me into this giant bamboo forest. After strolling through it for a short eternity, I set up for shot. This is a standard 5-exposure HDR; it was shot with a 14-24mm lens. For those of you new to the site, you can find out more about my process in the HDR Tutorial.

The Bamboo Forest and some great Twitter Lists to follow

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The Perfect Tree on the Perfect Night

One evening after dinner in Kyoto, I visited a unique garden that was maintained by a sect of monks in Kyoto. I understood that the best time to go was at night because they had painstakingly decorated the entire expanse with lights and unique effects. It sounded perfect for photography, so of course I had to go!

When I arrived, I had to take off my shoes at the entrance. The inside was a traditional Japanese structure, raised off the floor, covered with mats and separated by rice paper walls. The monks lived and worked inside. This was plain as I moved from room to room via darkly lit hallways. I took this photo while barefoot. Little blue lights covered the grass and shone like stars. The whole place was quite unbelievable, fun, and unexpected.

The Perfect Tree on the Perfect Night

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Midnight Adventure in the Japanese Cemetery

The night had been dark for many hours by the time I hiked to this point. It was raining and somehow the wetness seemed to make everything even more black. There were old and new crypts, spider webs, lonely rotting wood, creaking trees in the heavy rain, and more strange sounds from the woods. Talk about eerie! Japanese cemeteries are not places that people visit very often. It’s bad luck. Naturally, I don’t believe in any of that, so it was my good luck it was empty for photography!

Of all the spots around Kyoto, this is probably my favorite. There is an area of 1,000 Red Gates that flow up and around a picturesque little mountain. This cemetery is about halfway up the trek and it shoots off to the right. It is both great and annoying to shoot in the rain. I had to carry an umbrella, tripod, bag of camera goodies, and the like, and everything gets all jumbled up when it comes time to set up for a shot. I need an assistant! :)

How did I do this one? There were three exposures +1, 0, -1. Normally I do 5 from +2 to -2, but in this case, it was so dark that the shutter speeds were outrageous enough. I kept the ISO at 200. The 14-24 lens was at 15mm (on a D3X). It was aperture priority at f/5.6. The three shutter speeds were 2/4/8 seconds. If you zoom into the Original size on Flickr – you can see all kinds of details.

Here is one special thing I did on the last exposure. It was DARK out there. And I mean DARK. I had my SB-800 in my bag. On the last exposure, I ran over behind the gate to the right like Carl Lewis, and jammed the “Test” button about 5 times in every direction to light up that area. I almost slipped and died… I have no idea what a police investigator might assume if they found me in the morning.

Midnight Adventure in the Japanese Cemetery

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The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji for my new Japanese friends

This is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto, so of course I had to go. It’s sort of like going to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Rudy’s BBQ in Austin.

It was originally built back in 1397 and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The building itself is as meticulous as the gardens around it. The Japanese really know how to tend a garden! There was a fleet of workers all over the grounds, sweeping up and rearranging little bits here and there. It was all very quaint and wonderful.

The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji for my new Japanese friends

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