Meanwhile, in New Zealand

Get the new Newsletter New Zealand video news

Sign up below… a new video will be available soon. You’ll see it first! :)


Me at the North Korean Prison

Here’s a photo below of me at a North Korean Prison in Queenstown, New Zealand. It’s a movie set, you may recall! This photo was taken by Karen Hutton…

You’ll see a lot more crazy action from this movie set in the upcoming videos… really, this is one of the coolest sets of videos we have made – I can’t wait for you to see them!

Daily Photo – The Gardens of Queenstown

The class took a nice stroll through these gardens. I challenged people to try to get five different photos of this bridge, and this was one of mine.

The actual shot I took was much bigger, but I decided to crop down in post to focus on the water. I liked the way they all looked like brush strokes. It made me begin to understand why Monet spent so much time trying to capture the strange light that comes from water and plants.

Queenstown Gardens

The Gardens of Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length58.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Across the Little Lake at Sunset

Karen’s Vita-Mix

When Karen Hutton came to stay with us in New Zealand for about two weeks, she brought her Vita-mix. We liked it so much that we bought it from her. This was fine with Karen because, for some reason, she had three of them. Anyway, it’s a pretty cool thing… and I like it better than juicers because you get all the little bits of the veggies in there too. It even works pretty well in tricking the kids into adding more veggies into their daily regimen. If we could just somehow make them less “green”, then there’d be less ‘splainin to do.

Daily Photo – Across the Little Lake at Sunset

Here’s a little tip for shooting and getting those sun rays that burst out like that. So, you may have heard that you can set your f-stop as high as it can go… say, f/22 or something. But, you actually don’t have to go quite that high. The bad part about maxing it out is that you’ll see all the dust on your sensor and all the little bits on your lens. That takes a long time in post to clean up. Instead, try around f/16 or f/14… you can still get that nice effect without all the junk getting in the way! :)

Across the Little Lake at Sunset

Across the Little Lake at Sunset

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/16
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length24mm (24mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

NPS Australia is Absolutely Awesome

NPS Australia is a model for the other NPS branches

Nikon is a confusing company. The way the NPS (Nikon Professional Services) territories have been separated by the Japanese-corporate-groupthink causes a lot of confusion. I know it’s “just the way they do things,” but that is a sorry excuse from an old-style company that refuses to change and be more like, well, Apple. The way products are sold with distributors and middlemen that create this “grey-market” is absolutely perplexing to the well-meaning customer. I never get a “grey-market” iPad. Wherever I buy an MacBook, for example, I can take it into any Apple store around the world and get it fixed.

A few months ago I wrote a blog entry called “Bad Experiernce with Nikon Professional Services“. I’ve now put an update at the top of that blog entry with this sweet “exception” about NPS Australia!

If NPS does decide to change things up, they should put the team from NPS Australia in charge of the whole shootin’-match. These guys are awesome.

Thanks to my friend Alexia Sinclair and her new husband James, they hooked me up with NPS Australia while I was there with Tom. I had a problem with my 14-24mm lens. It would not reset the aperture between shots. The NPS Australia team got the lens, fixed it, and cheerfully delivered it to me in Melbourne a few days later. This is of course exactly what I would expect from a Professional Services organization. Compare this to dozens of multi-paragraph emails and countless confusing phone calls with other NPS branches, and, well, you get the picture.

(and thanks to all the other Big Camera Companies that contacted me during this dark period in my life… but I’m still staying with Nikon for now… your Australian outfit saved the day!)

Daily Photo – Through The Mists of Milford Sound

The mornings are the best in Milford Sound, I think. I’ve been here about seven times now. Even though I had one amazing sunset, I think that the mornings tend to have better luck for photos. Note this is all anecdotal, and I’ll be more sure after I visit 100 times, which I plan to do, by the way! It’s only a few hours from my home… I really have no excuse, do I?

Through The Mists of Milford Sound New Zealand

Through The Mists of Milford Sound

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/11
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length24mm (24mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Forest on the road to Paradise

Comments while on the road

This week, I’m at SXSW in Austin, so it’s a bit harder for me to respond to comments on the blog. But, I still read THEM ALL. So, have no fear… when it comes to feedback and reading what you have to say, the blog is always my first stop! :) And yes, I will always try to respond as much as humanly possible… thanks! :)

Daily Photo – Forest on the road to Paradise

When you leave Glenorchy and start driving on the dirt road to Paradise, there are a few little wet forested areas that you’ll pass through. It’s worth pulling over your car and just going on a random walk. I recommend following a stream or river so you can always find your way back. Because if you get more than 100 meters from your car and you lose your way, you’ll never find your way again! The heaviness and thickness of the forest is totally confusing, and you’ll be hopelessly confused… but following a little stream is usually a good ticket to find your way back.

Forest on the road to Paradise

Forest on the road to Paradise

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length28mm (28mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

The Valley of Mount Cook

Aoraki Village

This photo below is very close to Aoraki Village. This is a very small place at the end of a dead-end road. This idea of a village at the end of a road that is encompassed by mountains is very interesting to me! I think it’s so cool, since most places have at least two (or more) ways in and out of the town. Anyway, once you reach the end, there are two places to eat or have a snack. One of them is the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Café and Bar, named after the famed Kiwi explorer himself! :)

Daily Photo – The Valley of Mount Cook

One of the most unexplored (but easy to explore!) areas of Mount Cook is the valley. After you pass the lake, the valley opens up into a tremendous plain. There are thousands of little bits here and there to find. This is one of many gentle streams that flows across the valley floor. I walked along this one for a few kms… getting interesting shots throughout. Plus, no one is around… so, once again, you are off on your own!

The Valley of Mount Cook

The Valley of Mount Cook

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/10
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length14mm (14mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Thanks again to everyone for the amazing New Zealand Photo Adventure!

Will we plan more?

Maybe! Sign up at the top of the Photography Workshops page to be the first to find out!

A Huge Thanks!

Above you can see everyone that joined us… and our final night together at Bendemeer Estates (also below in the daily photo!) and the Woolshed.

Besides my team of Curtis Simmons, Karen Hutton, and Scott Kublin, I’d also like to thank, in no particular order, Touch of Spice, Artisan Catering, Hilton Queenstown Hotel, Tours and Travel New Zealand, The Hills Golf Club, Milford Sound Lodge, and Southern Discoveries!

Just below is a photo of one of the fire dancers that performed for all of us one evening.

Fire Dancer in New Zealand This is a photo of one of the fire dancers that performed for all of us one evening at the New Zealand Adventure workshop!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Daily Photo – The Fields of the Queenstown Valley

See that cloud up there? It’s called a “Lenticular” cloud, and they seem to pop up down here every so often. I have never seen them before I moved here, but this is my first time living in a mountainous environment. Maybe you can tell me if these are common in rocky, mountainy areas!

The Fields of the Queenstown Valley Bendemeer Estates Woolshed Arrowtown

The Fields of the Queenstown Valley

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length16mm (16mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Brushing a Miniature Horse

To Share Your Own Photos with the Community

Don’t forget about the free Stuck In Customs Community on Google+ ! It’s a great place to share your photos and see other photos from regular visitors to the website here! :)

Daily Photo – Brushing a Miniature Horse

We took another trip out to Kerry & Simon Brackstone’s farm in Gibbston with the kids. My two girls, Isabella and Scarlett, love that miniature horse! They spent a very long time brushing it… apparently this is something that all little girls enjoy doing. We always hold this out as a carrot for them if they are being good, and they they can hold out a carrot for the miniature horse, and it will be a neverending circle of carrot-based incentives.

Brushing a Miniature Horse

Brushing a Miniature Horse

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length18mm (27mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, auto mode
  • Exposure Programnormal program
  • Exposure Bias

Downtown Austin PhotoWalk Details

Google+ SXSW Austin PhotoWalk with Trey Ratcliff – All Levels of Photographers – All Free!

Also you are invited to come to my featured (Google+ heavy!) speech at SXSW – “A Life Worth Living is a Life Worth Recording” (link for times and details)

Google+ PhotoWalk Details!

RSVP and Get More Details on the Google+ Event Here.

$1000’s in Prizes! A ton of Google+ swag! Members of the Google+ team!!

Bring your camera (even mobile phones are cool!) and bring your sense of adventure and discovery! We’ll walk around the streets of Austin together and grab some cool photos to share with one another. If you’ve never been to one of these events before, then this is your chance. Bring a friend or bring the kids — it’s a family-friendly event and all are welcome! :)

I’ll be giving lessons and teaching how I set up for various shots. Anyone can ask me anything at any time… sort of an in-person AMA! :)

When: Monday, Mar 11 at 6:30 PM Austin Time
Where: Downtown Austin Watch For Exact Spot Here.
What to bring: Anything from a mobile phone to a DSLR with a tripod
Tag to use for photos: Attach the photos to this event and use the tag #AustinPhotowalk2013 ! :)

*Prizes (in addition to free Google+ swag to be randomly distributed):*
– Really Right Stuff Tripod goodies (BH-40 LR and some LB-40s)
– Huge Secret Adorama Prize
XUME Quick Release Adapters
– Syrp (A NEW Genie!!!) – http://www.stuckincustoms.com/time-lapse-photography-syrp-genie-review/
– FStop (Loka Bag and 1 ICU)
– Many copies of Trey’s Lightroom and Photomatix Presets!
Camera Sutra t-shirts
– Many Stuck In Customs Camera Straps
– 5 Copies of Midnight in Paris tutorial!

How To Win A Prize:

“Best Photos of Fellow Photowalkers!”
Share your photos on Google+ and/or in The Photo Community with the tag #AustinPhotowalk2013 – winners will be chosen by a Team of Humans at Google and other coaches from the photowalk.

Thanks to the coaches too: Dave Wilson, Alex Suarez, Mike Connell, Jerry Hayes, and Simi Shonowo !

Daily Photo – Moody Skies Over the Dark Church

I keep going back to Tekapo to see the skies over the lake. If it is clear, you can see amazing stars! But, if cloudy, it’s not so bad because you can get this kind of moody, long-exposure stuff… !

Moody Skies Over the Dark Church

Moody Skies Over the Dark Church

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/2.8
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length14mm (14mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programmanual
  • Exposure Bias

Slow Motion Sunset on the Color-Thickened Lake

Working on new videos

I’ve been working hard to record hours and hours of new videos. The photo below makes an appearance in one of the videos that will be coming out soon. I’ve just spent a small eternity inside Photoshop. It keeps crashing and it’s driving me absolutely batty. I keep submitting error reports, but I’m convinced those error reports are just placebos. I keep hoping I’m generally contributing to the common good, but I think it probably does nothing… I may give up… and play my own small part in contributing to the Tragedy of the Commons.

Daily Photo – Slow Motion Sunset on the Color-Thickened Lake

The sunsets in the summer here last about 2-3 hours. Once you get around 45 degrees latitude and beyond, the sun does not sink right into the horizon. Instead, it slides sideways into the horizon like A-Rod stealing second in slow motion. This means the colors change very very slowly, and sunset is a nice, long relaxed photography session rather than a high-pressure one.

Bendemeer Estates Queenstown Sunset

Slow Motion Sunset on the Color-Thickened Lake

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/11
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length21mm (21mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

العالمية HDRاهلا و سهلاً بكم في دورة ال

العالمية HDRاهلا و سهلاً بكم في دورة ال – Now in Arabic!

The ever-expanding list of languages continues. Thank you to Abdullah Suleiman for this translation! تتكلم العربية؟ اضغط هنا!

Now in more flavors! Links to the International HDR Tutorial!

Daily Photo – The Bird of Moeraki

We set up on the rocks of Moeraki just outside of Fleurs. There is this abandoned dock here that shoots out into the bay towards the sunset. I like this spot because it is one of the few places on the east coast I have found that points back west towards the sunset.

Taking photos of birds is really really really hard. It just takes a lot of trial and timing! I don’t do a lot of close-ups of birds… just not my thing… but I do like to try to incorporate them into the landscape when it feels right!

The Bird of Moeraki

The Bird of Moeraki

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/2.8
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length24mm (24mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x