Back in Hobbiton to make some more videos

New Stuff in the Works!

We just finished spending time on the Hobbiton movie set where we made a lot more videos a few days ago! They’ll take a while to edit of course, but at least the sausage is in the factory! Would you all be interested in a) A Lightroom Tutorial and a b) Night Photography tutorial? Let me know! :)

24-70mm Lens

I’ve been enjoying my new Sony FE 24-70mm lens on my Sony A7r (see my Sony A7r review if you missed it). I find it gives me that middle range I have been missing. In the meantime, I’m working (SLOWLY) on the Leica lens buying guide… trying to find some good affordable options that can unlock this really cool power of the new Sony bodies… I’m trying my best to understand it all myself, and then make it understandable to you! :)

Daily Photo – The Water Mill in Repose

This might just be a perfect water mill! I actually asked them to turn off the wheel (it works and everything), because it was messing up the reflection a bit. I mean, there was still some reflection, but not nearly as clean and lovely as this. It was a bit of a hard decision to focus on just this mill, since there was this really amazing stone arched bridge right beside it. Well, in honestly, I did not decide, because I got both photos! I just happened to process this one first :)

The Water Mill in Repose

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMay 8, 2014 at 8:38am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length39.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

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From Queenstown to Glenorchy

A behind-the-scenes video — first here on the blog

Hey everyone — I thought it would be fun to put this here first. Two days ago, I was driving back to Queenstown from Glenorchy (which is about 50 mins down the road), and the water was so smooth, I just had to jump out of my truck to take this photo! Anyway, here’s a little about the need to get down low… I make a lot of these videos for The Arcanum, but wanted to release this one here for y’all! :)

Daily Photo – Across the Crystal Lake

Those islands you see in the middle of the lake there are Pig Island and Pigeon Island. You can actually take a little kayak over there and there are huts where you can sleep for the night. No one lives there, and they just sit there empty almost all the time… I never see anyone on the lake at all… this is quite a remote area, really, even though it is quite easy to get to. This whole road to get here was only paved about 10 years ago, so it all still feels very fresh and undiscovered!

Lake wakatipu

Across the Crystal Lake

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMay 11, 2014 at 3:17pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length0.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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One Surprise Slot for Namibia!

An opening!

We just had my friend Javier (sadly!!) cancel for our upcoming Namibia trip, so here there is one more opening. Find out more about it on the Africa Adventure Page!

Daily Photo – Happy Mother's Day!

To all the moms out there, including my own and Tina below, Happy Mother's Day! I took this photo yesterday when we went out on a little family Mother's Day walk around New Zealand. The youngest one, Scarlett, has run off ahead down the path… if she can't be the center of every photo, she wants no part of it! :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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The Worst Thing About Mike’s Bar

More Stu in St. Bathans

I thought I might share a photo of Stu right before we went over to Mike’s Bar.

Walking on Water

Daily Photo – The Worst Thing About Mike's Bar

is Mike.

I mean, beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is a great place to eat and get drinks in St. Bathans. Wait let me qualify that. It's the only place. There is a very small town, and Mike has absolutely cornered the market in these two areas, but he has yet to corner the market in grace and civility. He's got a hard edge, that Mike. I went here with Stu and ordered some drinks. This process had all the charm and trappings of trench warfare with mustard gas.

Actually, we did quite like Mike. His unwavering negativity and general disregard for any basic human empathetic standard was worthy of a grisly respect.

The Worst thing about Mike's Bar

The Worst Thing About Mike's Bar

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/20
  • Aperture
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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No Horses Around

The free 40 minute teaser video!

Just in case you missed it when this was released a few months ago, here is a 40-minute video that shows how I make these kind of images. Enjoy! :)

Daily Photo – No Horses Around

Here's another photo from one of my trips to the Hobbiton Movie Set — what a treasure trove of photos. Those of you that got the new HDR Tutorial saw how much fun I had creating this photo in particular. Actually, we had to re-shoot this scene twice because as soon as we got out here, we realized Bel didn't ran out of batteries! She had to go all the way back to the Green Dragon to get some more… and Hobbiton is a bit spread-out — not like your typical movie set. But there are many things about this place that are not like a real movie set… it's too good to be true, but it is! :)

No Horses Around

Photo Information

  • Date TakenOctober 19, 2013 at 12:44am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture10
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

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Inside the Hobbit Hole of Bilbo Baggins

One of the many edited photos

If you got the New HDR Tutorial, then you have all the RAW files for this photo and can go through it with me! This one was a fun one to work on because there were many options in the processing. I chose to keep it pretty dark and moody on the inside, although I could have had everything perfectly lit. This is maybe one of the coolest things about HDR – is that it gives you more options for how to interpret the light in the scene.

Daily Photo – Inside the Hobbit Hole of Bilbo Baggins

I spent many hours inside of Bilbo's Hobbit Hole! The first day I stayed in here for quite a while to duck out of the rain. It was when I was there for the Air New Zealand shoot and a strange storm came through. The hobbit holes were the safest and driest place to be! I was actually in here with the whole crew and many flight attendants for the duration. While I was stuck in here, I took this photo of one of them who we dressed up like an elf!

Inside the Hobbit Hole of Bilbo Baggins

Inside the Hobbit Hole of Bilbo Baggins

Photo Information

  • Date TakenOctober 19, 2013 at 2:11am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture10
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length11.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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The Ever-winding River

This spot on Google Maps

If you look at this Google Map, you can perhaps spot where the photo below was taken! :) It’s a bit prettier even if you click on the “Earth” view in the lower left!

Answer: Here is the exact bridge where I took the photo! :)

Daily Photo – The Ever-Winding River

There's this amazing man-made river here in New Zealand. It's used for irrigation, and as far as I can tell, the water flows south from Lake Pukaki down towards the south. The water that comes out of that lake is this amazing unholy blue, and it looks so perfect and strange as it flows in these smooth lines and curves on the way to the south. And then, when the sun is setting, the color becomes somewhere between blue and rainbow.

The Ever-Winding River

Photo Information

  • Date TakenOctober 29, 2013 at 7:31am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

First on the blog – What does the fall look like here?

I wanted to release this video here first to you all… just a little segment of my day — what I saw yesterday. So I’ve been going out every day here to take photos. I’ve gotten some great ones, but then I realized one of the best things about the Autumn here is the soft movement of everything. So I set my Sony A7r to video mode to get a few scenes from the day. There’s no instruction or anything —- and you might even find it rather boring! Also the audio is not so great because of the wind. Sorry about that! Haha… anyway, you can at least see a bit of what I saw yesterday.

Daily Photo – Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

This is a lovely road here in my neighborhood called Speargrass Flats. I was just here yesterday when I took this photo. It's where I go on my jog, and very close to my turnaround point. What a great place! I love the feeling of running through here while listening to music. And just now, everything has started to change colors… and it is so beautiful!

Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

Photo Information

  • Date TakenApril 21, 2014 at 12:44pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Happy Easter from the Ratcliff Family!

Have a great Easter!

Have a good Easter, or, at least have a lot of chocolate! :) Here’s some super-fresh photos from our Easter egg hunt here today. We go up to The Hills and Sebastian dresses up as this huge bunny. The kids chase him all over the place, over the hills, through the forest, and beyond… he throws out eggs and the kids go crazy for it!

Easter-in-queenstown (37 of 180)

Daily Photo – My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

Here's my two girls, Isabella and Scarlett. They are walking through the forest here looking for any hidden Easter eggs! The colors have just started to change down here in New Zealand, and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful Autumn.

My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length300.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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The Ruins of Macetown

Landscapes at f/1.4

I’ve been using these Leica lenses more and more. And, by the way, they don’t have to be very expensive. There are many shades of grey. For example, there is a whole line of Leica M lenses that are very affordable. Anyway, I don’t shoot a lot of landscape type shots at this kind of aperture, but I am experimenting more and more. Like, for example, today’s photo is kind of cool with this situation, and I’m not sure it would be any better another way around…

Daily Photo – The Ruins of Macetown

If you go past Arrowtown down a rather rough dirt road and cross the river about 15 times, you get to an old abandoned mining town called Macetown. The school hikes the kids there every year and it's kind of a destination. I don't know why it is a destination though. On the day we went, it was rainy and cold and I found much of it to be rather dreadful, even though I tried to have a good attitude. Or, at least, an attitude of acceptance, which sometimes helps. Anyway, I did manage to take a few photos while there, and here is one of them near the end of our quarry.

The Ruins of Macetown

The Ruins of Macetown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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