Zipping Through Tokyo, and a Live Video Chat with you on Thursday!

Live Video Chat on Thursday!

This Thursday, November 19th, at 7 PM CST (5 PM PST), I’ll be hosting a live video chat here on the site! I’ll also be making a special announcement at the beginning of the chat. You don’t need anything special, just come to that page! You’ll see my live video mugshot along with Sara Jane Todd from Peachpit. There is a chat window where you all can ask questions, and Sara Jane will pull random ones and ask me… I’ll answer to the best of my ability! This is all QUITE experimental, so I hope you come along to join us! And please, don’t crash my server like that night we opened the Workshop for registrations!


We have a newsletter going out today. It’s a free thing to sign up for and it will make your inbox pretty! It’s a great way to share photos with friends and family. Also, this is very interesting — someone sent me this full “analysis” of our newsletter! Hehe. It is entitled “Is it Ever OK to Break Best Practices?” I know that most users here have a high screen resolution, good bandwidth, and enjoy seeing big, pretty pics. I can’t make everyone happy, but we decided to keep that newsletter pretty big and bold!

Daily Photo – Zipping Through Tokyo

I think it rained almost every day I was in Tokyo, but that’s just fine with me. It gives you all these “Black Rain” conditions, and makes the place twice as moody as it already was. I walked through Rappongi one evening to find a secret Italian restaurant. I ended up having to cross the road so many times on these overpasses, that I finally decided to stop and take a photo of the action underneath.

Zipping Through Tokyo

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

Tokyo Road and International Pre-Orders now Available

Book Update

We got good news from Peachpit! You guys in many international locations can finally pre-order the book. Now, I’m afraid that you cannot get the one available here that is autographed and comes with the Limited Edition print. However, someday when I meet you in your country, I’ll be happy to sign it in person!

Today’s Photo

Today we have a fun one from Tokyo at dusk. What a cool place! I think I could climb up to the top of a different building every day at sunset and just shoot in every direction. None were bad! There is that perfect time just before the sun sets when all the lights are coming on… they sort of have that soft glow while they are getting warmed up.

Tokyo Road and International Pre-Orders now Available

The Secret Spots in Tokyo

First, I’d like to thank everyone that expressed their interest and gave feedback to the HDR Workshop yesterday. Great stuff. I’m shocked. Really.

Second, I am glad so many of you are getting a kick out of my Five Twitter Lists! I KNOW you guys are finding some interesting people to follow on Twitter. As always, I’m open to suggestions, especially if you would like to join the Stuck In Customs Community List. Follow it, make a suggestion or recommendation (even recommend yourself – no prob!). I’ll take care of it.

Third, for today’s photo! What an amazing place. Now, knowing the crowd around here, you will be able to identify this secret spot in Tokyo. I really thank everyone out there for being so kind and introducing me to these great spots for photography. I feel quite lucky that when I travel, I have instant friends everywhere. I can’t believe it! Anyway, the gentleman who ushered me into this incredible lair was Alfie. Be sure to hit that link if you ever visit Tokyo and want to get some lessons WHILE seeing great places around the city.

The Secret Spots in Tokyo

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

Halloween Every Day in Tokyo – Harajuku on Parade

Like any big city, Tokyo has many huge neighborhoods, each with their own personality. One of the quirkiest is an area called “Harajuku”. I don’t know if I can accurately describe it, but I’ll try!

It’s a place where the most outrageous of the outrageous congregate. You’ve probably seen those Japanese people that like to dress up like anime characters and the like. Well that’s kind of the starting point. It goes onward from there, with everything from girls covered in pink frills to goth men wearing gas masks. In fact, in that little video I made, you can see a pair of legs/shoes in differing colors that I shot in Harajuku. This guy below was with a group of extreme rockers that were parading around the streets. They all seemed to love having their photo taken… which was cool. I could have gone to that place every day to take photos… I’ve got some other crazy ones in the hopper too for the future!

Halloween Every Day in Tokyo - Harajuku on Parade

The Restaurant in Tokyo that Inspired that crazy scene from Kill Bill

When I was in Tokyo, I had a great time out with Altus! He stayed with me here in Austin, and we were able to meet up for a fun time of photography out in Tokyo. That’s one of the BEST things about having a blog, I must say! It gives me the chance to meet all kinds of nice people like YOU that extend gracious invitations for photography!

After dark, Altus took me to this cool restaurant (btw, the original sized version has nice details on Flickr!) The manager was very nice and let us sit where we wanted and then a carte-blanche for taking photos. He asked if I would send him photos and if I charge… and I told him no… I do this stuff for fun! So, we have a smart and well-movied community here – who can tell me the name of this restaurant?

Peachpit definitely has the sample from my book up on their website now. Just click on “Sample Content” and you’ll be in good shape. There are some very good tips just in that 20 pages! :)

The Restaurant in Tokyo that Inspired that crazy scene from Kill Bill

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

Tokyo at Dusk – Blade Runner Extreme

This is a beautiful scene from Tokyo at dusk one evening. The city is a crazy Blade-Runneresque techno-fest that is alive, foreign, and crazy-wonderful. I had a great time there and took an absolute swath of photos. I’m so excited to post all of them… but only one photo per day….! You know the rules! Hehe.

I shot this from the top of Bunkyo Towers. I took photos here during sunset before meeting up with Alfie Goodrich. He’s a great guy – an Englishman that lives in Tokyo and gives photography lessons (click on that link to see more info). Tell him I sent you! He knows all the best spots all over Tokyo, so a really recommend that you hook up with him!

Tokyo at Dusk

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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