Devil’s Staircase

Silicon Valley

I highly recommend watching this show. At first, I wasn’t sure… but it really grows on you! I think it’s just in Season 3 now, so it’s a good time to get started!

Daily Photo – Devil's Staircase

Isn't this a cool road? This is one of the first photos I took with the Hasselblad. That's quite a camera eh? Amazing optics and sharpness. I can't quite figure it out because it's not like my Sony system is blurry. The feel is very…immediate, no?

This is actually quite a dangerous part of the road between Kingston and Queenstown, especially when it's raining… so if you are ever coming down here, be sure to drive carefully! Sometimes it's not your fault as there are a lot of Chinese tourists who are not that familiar with driving at all.

Devil's Staircase

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-12-21 02:13:16
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture13
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length80.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Wild Earth Winery at Night

Lunch suggestion

There are a ton of great places to eat all around Queenstown, but this one is a must-visit I think. Not a lot of people go because it’s about a 40-minute drive towards Cromwell… but the food is really amazing. They actually have converted old wine barrels into grills. Very cool!

Daily Photo – Wild Earth Winery at Night

This was a hard photo to take! I took it during one of our workshop events after we had just had an amazing dinner. It wasn't hard to take because I had too much wine — it was hard to take because it was on a swinging bridge. So I got to the very very edge of the bridge right by where it connected to the ground to minimize the swing. It was still a very long exposure and I was holding my breath. I really like the way it turned out!

Wild Earth Winery at Night

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-08-12 05:33:56
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time30
  • Aperture
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

An Idyllic Weekend at Wharekauhau

A hard word to say?

Yes, the resort below is hard to say for sure. I have my own system for how to pronounce it (I always have trouble with Maori words). So I say it (kinda): “Forry ko ho.” I’m getting better! 🙂 haha

Daily Photo – An Idyllic Weekend at Wharekauhau

What a treat to spend a few days here. It was soooo relaxing and beautiful. There was a really nice vibration to the place and I always felt at home there. Dave, Curtis, Olivia, and I drove here from Wellington through some beautiful rolling hills. As you can tell just by looking at it, this estate is massive. Those white buildings there are individual cottages where the guests stay. I was in that one on the left. In a future blog post, I'll show you the main lodge where we would all hang out and eat together during the days and evenings.

This property actually touches on James Cameron's plot, where they'll be filming Avatar 2!

An Idyllic Weekend at Wharekauhau

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-05-19 07:49:35
  • CameraFC330
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/750
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramUnknown (58655)
  • Exposure Bias

An Art Stay with Gabriella Lewenz

Waiheke Island

I can’t believe it took me four years in New Zealand to get to this spot! I got a ton of photos, though, and I’ll be sharing them all here on the blog soon!

Daily Photo – An Art Stay with Gabriella Lewenz

Now here's an amazing idea. When I was on Waiheke Island, I went to go visit the home of Claude and Gabriella Lewenz. He designs villages and she's a fine art painter. This is a picture of part of their amazing home there. Anyway, they've just launched this new concept of an “Art Stay” where you can go stay with them for a few days. While there, you commission an art piece from Gabriella and she begins making it while you are there. What a fun idea…you'll love it! I wanna go! See more at http://artstay.com/

An Art Stay with Gabriella Lewenz

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-05-25 12:18:55
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Deep in the 5,000 Bottle Wine Cellar of Huka Lodge

Interested in a Bespoke Travel Experience?

Over the past year or so, I’ve been toying with the idea of putting together a rather unique vacation offering for people that enjoy unique travel experiences. Places like the Huka Lodge below, for example… wonderful spots that locals know but are hard to find from the outside. A whole customized trip, just for you, friends, or family. Anyway, we’ve got some good ideas here and will get back to you.

Daily Photo – Deep in the 5,000 Bottle Wine Cellar of Huka Lodge

A few nights ago in the wine cellar of Huka Lodge, we had a gin tasting with a master sommelier. What a cool guy and what a unique experience!

He kept all the gins a secret until the end and made us guess. We missed every single one and there were many exotic ones, but the only one I recognized what Lighthouse. He had all kinds of opinions on the right way to have it and what kind of tonic water to use. I told him I thought all tonic water tasted the same and he politely guffawed. He also refuses to put ice in his G&T saying it waters it down. “Do you put ice in your wine good man?” No, he had me there. But my friend Scott Kublin put sugar cubes in his zinfandel.

This is a photo I took right before the tasting… this is just part of the 5,000 bottle wine cellar. So awesome!

We did a few FB Live shows from here too – you can see them if you check out the “videos” area of FB. Here's the one when we flew the quadcopter over Huka Falls… that was scary!

Deep in the 5,000 Bottle Wine Cellar of Huka Lodge

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-05-24 14:21:13
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time10
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Painted Sky of Dunedin

Aurora HDR Pro

This is one of the most “extreme” filters from the New Aurora Expansion Preset Pack that I designed about a month ago. I actually did a lot of the design while I was down here in Dunedin, taking photos of various subject matters.

Daily Photo – The Painted Sky of Dunedin

I was lucky enough to stay on St. Clair's beach in Dunedin for a few nights. Each morning had a different sort of sunrise. This was one of my favorites. I was out there pretty much all the time, with my camera fully loaded and ready to go!

The Painted Sky of Dunedin

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-04-05 19:55:33
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time0.4
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Boomrock from Above

Dramatic Quadcopter Deaths

This story even beats the time in India when my quadcopter had a blade malfunction and tumbled dramatically into the river in Kerala. I don’t think I’ll ever forget any quadcopter crash… like a car crash, they seem to happen in slow-motion!

Daily Photo – Boomrock from Above

This is the place our quadcopter died when it got hit with a golf ball! Of all things… that story in a moment.

Here's an amazing place on the North Island of New Zealand called Boomrock ! Wow, what a place. We choppered in here and had a crazy two hours — we started racing around a private race track inside the newest Mercedes AMG sports car, then off to shoot clay birds, then to a driving range where you hit balls into the ocean (and quadcopters) with some drinks and tasty treats, then back home on a 10 minute helicopter flight to Wellington. It was definitely an amazing time… never seen anything like it!

As for the quadcopter thing, we had the DJI Phantom 4 out taking videos. We were pretty far away, so while we were trying to get a skilled shot, Bartman got a lucky shot and took out the quad! It spiraled? to the ground in a dramatic death. Curtis went deep into the bush to see what he could find. We made the recovery, and we're still pouring over the video to see if we can spy its final moment.

Boomrock from Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-05-17 11:15:58
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture4
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

The Real Lord of the Rings

Live from WETA Workshop

I’ve been having some great fun out on the road broadcasting via Facebook Live. It’s a blast to bring you all along on my adventures and even better that we can interact via the comments and questions as the broadcast takes place! One of the highlights so far has been our visit to WETA Workshop where Sir Richard Taylor gave us a tour. If you have seen Lord of the Rings, Narnia, King Kong, District 9, Mad Max, or Avatar (to name a few) then you have seen their work. It was a super cool experience, check it out below.

Favorite New Zealand Photos

And here are some of my fave photos inspired by the movies! 🙂

Coming Home

Underearth

The View From Deer Park Heights In New Zealand

The Dirt Road to Paradise After you pass Glenorchy, the paved road continues for a while as you approach Paradise. The paved road then turns into a dirt road. At this point, many visitors turn around, which is a shame! You can keep on rolling down this road in your rental car for quite a way. There’s even a few river crossings you can make, like Arwen on horseback. You can do it! Probably. I even see giant campervans going through here… anyway, the dirt road is in pretty good condition, so don’t let that turn you back!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

It’s still my favorite drive

Drone Fun

I have plans one day to sit in the back of my pickup while Curtis drives and fly the drone overhead down this road… how fun and dangerous would that be? It’s both one of my best and dumbest ideas! 🙂

Daily Photo – It's still my favorite drive

About four years ago when I first came to New Zealand (I've been living here ever since), I reckoned this was the prettiest road in the world, and I still feel that way. I've never seen the same clouds or weather either. I think I've done this road about 30-40 times now, and each time is magical. Sometimes there is no wind and the water is perfectly smooth, like a giant mirror. Of course, those times I didn't have my camera! Bad Trey! Bad!

It's still my favorite drive

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-10-08 02:27:20
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length29.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

A Hassy Pano at Monkey Creek

New Article on Stuff

Here’s an article on Stuff.co.nz about our new Facebook Live show.

Best Pano Software?

I use Photoshop or Lightroom for simple panos that are only a few shots. For the bigger panos, especially when I want to HDR them, I use Auto Pano Giga. That program is hard as hell to use, but I love the results!

Daily Photo – A Hassy Pano at Monkey Creek

It was a bleak day for sure, but I really like the mood of this photo. It was literally my first day using the Hasselblad, and I didn't quite have the lens I wanted to get in the whole valley. So I made a series of horizontal shots and stitched them all together later in Photoshop.

A Hassy Pano at Monkey Creek

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-12-21 08:42:23
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/50
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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