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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Beginning another hike

Your Favorite Hiking Trails?

What is the best hike you’ve ever done? I’m not exactly some kind of a super-hiker, but I think now the best one was last week along the Greenstone River near Glenorchy.

Daily Photo – Beginning Another Hike

Yesterday I mentioned one of the long hikes, and here we are starting out on another one. That's Bel and Bas there, leading the group. Every day for a week, we did a 10-16km hike through some of the most beautiful trails in the world. This was part of my week at Aro-Ha, which was absolutely fantastic. I could not recommend it any more!

The whole time I took my Sony A7r with me, and I grabbed a ton of photos. I'm just getting through processing them right now. Here's one of the ones taken with the 55mm F/1.8.

Beginning Another Hike

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJanuary 17, 2014 at 8:39am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture1.8
  • ISO80
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Misty Pond in the Morning

Soggy Feet

I think this last year has been my Soggiest Foot-Year On Record.

I do end up out taking a lot of photos as usual, but there just seems to be a massive amount of soggy ground around this area lately! It has been an extremely rainy summer, which I hear is unusual around here. I’m not enough of a local to know what is normal yet!

I’ve seen some questions too about the weather here in the summer — does it get hot? No! A good summer day is usually somewhere in the 70′s, and it rarely gets above 75. There is a ton of sun, and no one even has air conditioning… whenever it gets above 75 (which is super-rare), everyone just opens their windows!

Daily Photo – Misty Pond in the Morning

Here's another scene from Bendemeer Estates between Queenstown and Arrowtown. There are about half a dozen lakes, and the morning seems to be the best time to shoot them. The air is very very still, and as soon as the sun hits them, a little mist starts to rise then slowly drift across the surface.

Misty Pond in the Morning

Misty Pond in the Morning

Photo Information

  • Date TakenNovember 2, 2013 at 6:13pm
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/13
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

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24 Hours Till the Big Event!

New HDR Tutorial Live Event Soon!

For everyone who has grabbed the new Complete HDR Tutorial, I’m looking forward to seeing you in the live event soon! We’ll pick the winners for the trip to New Zealand, the new Sony A7, and the 10 free copies of Nik Software. In addition, of course I’ll be doing some live demos, critiques, and have lots of other fun stuff lined up for the Q&A session. All the details are there in the link above. I’m really looking forward to it! :)

A little 40 min tutorial

Here’s a good little preview of the full thing! It’s about 40 mins long, but the full course is 10 hours.

Daily Photo – Exploring the Hobbit Holes

Here's one of the new photos that is edited in the full course. I took a ton of photos while on the Hobbiton Movie Set, and this was one of my favorites. If you ever make it there, actually, you'll see that pretty much all of the 40 Hobbit holes are just this picturesque!

Exploring the Hobbit Holes

Photo Information

  • Date TakenOctober 17, 2013 at 6:01pm
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/13
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Having a drink at Northburn Station

HDR for the Skies

If you look at the sky here in this daytime photo, you might notice that there are a few wafting icy clouds way up there in the atmosphere. This is probably one of my favorite things about HDR Photography — is it helps to bring those out a bit! I’m not a huge fan of plain blue skies, so anything I can do to get a few painted-cloud-brush-strokes is okay in my book. For those of you new to the site, I use a program called program you can read more about in the Photomatix Pro Review.

Daily Photo – Having a drink at Northburn Station

This is another great place to have lunch if you're in the wine country area of the south island of New Zealand. It's called Northburn Station, and the view is incredible. There is a little brook that rumbles along by the restaurant and the food is outstanding. This is another place that we came on our little Appellation Wine Tour… a great day all around. Actually, looking at this photo now, I wonder why I haven't been back!

Having a drink at Northburn Station

Having a drink at Northburn Station

Photo Information

  • Date TakenNovember 8, 2013 at 2:34am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Pete on a hike on Sawpit Gully

Taking the Sony A7r on Hikes

I’ve taken to carrying the Sony A7r and just two lenses on these hikes. I think you can take a big DSLR too, of course, but it’s so much easier to take this light little system around! I hardly even notice it’s there… almost just a fraction of my water bottle. I’ve now probably hiked 130 to 150km carrying the Sony A7r, and it never felt like a burden even once!

Sony A7r Review

Just in case you have not seen it, be sure to check out the Sony A7r Review on the site. I’m always adding new photos there! :)

Daily Photo – Pete on a hike on Sawpit Gully

This is one of my favorite hikes / running trails in the area. It's right behind Arrowtown, and it's a tough 8km up&down trail. Walking it can take about 90 mins, and a good run can be around 50 mins. That's about my record… much of it is so steep and rocky that it's basically impossible to run up unless you are one of these crazy Kiwi-running-gods, which I am certainly not! But it is a great hike that I recommend if you are ever in the area. On this day, I went with Pete (pictured) here, and Curtis, who is off to the side resting on a rock.

Just after we were done with this hike, we went over to Mt. Difficulty for a lunch a wine tasting, which is a photo you probably remember from a previous post! :)

Pete on a hike on Sawpit Gully

Pete on a hike on Sawpit Gully

Photo Information

  • Date TakenFebruary 1, 2014 at 11:23am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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The Docks at Glenorchy

Trying the 70-400mm Alpha Lens

Here I tried using the Sony Alpha Adapter on the A7r with the 70-400mm lens. I backed up quite a bit away because I wanted to get the compression thing working. It worked pretty well, but I was kind of ridin’ dirty with the way I attached it to my tripod. If you don’t know, these big lenses have their own little tripod attachment because they become the new center of gravity. But the foot of the tripod attachment is approximately the exact same width as the standard shoe-size that attaches to most tripod heads. But it doesn’t have those little ridges that secure it inside, so actually attaching it to your tripod head is a mistake! I don’t know why they made it so similar… I imagine that a lot of people have broken lenses because of this! Anyway, for this shot, I didn’t have another little shoe to attach, but I decided to go for it anyway. I KNEW that it wasn’t really attached, but I still put it in the tripod head just to keep it balanced. This worked out pretty well while I was taking the photos, but then I jerked it a little bit and it fell right off! Luckily I had the strap around the back of my neck, so the only thing that got hurt was my pride and my stomach when the lens swung down with full force!

Daily Photo – The Docks at Glenorchy

This is one of the most famous little landmarks in the small town of Glenorchy. There is a dock here that juts out into Lake Wakatipu, and it ends up being a little destination for most people who first visit the area. In a way, I suppose, it's kind of the “end of the road” because there are not really many paved roads that continue on past Glenorchy. Whenever you have these old fjord-based road/lake/river networks, you end up with these sorts of towns that are formed at a terminus. It is a strange feeling, and I know I've commented on it before — but this idea that there is a town with only one road into it. It's kind of a comforting, albeit discomforting, sensation.

The Docks at Glenorchy

The Docks at Glenorchy

Photo Information

  • Date TakenFebruary 4, 2014 at 9:43pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time15
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length150.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Friendly Horses in the Field

Composition Challenge

Whenever I take photos of objects that are defined by their shapes, I do my best to position my body (head) so that the objects do not overlap one another. I want each to have its own space. So, here in today’s photo, you can see the two horses with a nice separation between their heads. But you can also imagine that if I had been about 10 steps to the right or left, the heads might have overlapped one another. It’s a little thing to notice, but one of those little things that makes for a better photo.

Daily Photo – Friendly Horses in the Field

We walked through The Hills near Arrowtown one morning and went all the way down to where Max Patte's huge horses dominate one of the fields. I like how these look wooden, but they are actually made out of iron. There was a small group of us taking photos here, and we talked a little about the composition notes above, and this is what I came up with!

Friendly Horses in the Field

Friendly Horses in the Field

Photo Information

  • Date TakenFebruary 5, 2014 at 7:43am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/90
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length100.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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The Grasses along the Trails

Amazing Intro Video from Varina Patel!

Many of the Masters in The Arcanum made little intro videos to introduce themselves to others. I love watching these, and hers is particularly fantastic! You can see even more of her on her website at PhotographyByVarina.com. We’re so honored to have her around for the big show!

Daily Photo – The Grasses along the Trails

I've gotten really into all the different grasses that grow around here. I do a lot of hiking and sometimes some trail running. All the little grasses that rub up against my legs are like cats rubbing up against you under the table. It's a very nice feeling! Even better, you don't have to worry about snakes or anything here that might jump out and zap you… that means that you can just kind of pounce through the grasses without a worry in the world!

The Grasses along the Trails

The Grasses along the Trails

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJanuary 18, 2014 at 9:04am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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