New Zealand Video Tutorial – Post-processing and Landscapes Galore!

It’s finally ready for pre-order!

Pop over to the new Landscape and Travel Photography Tutorial: New Zealand to sign up! Sign up now, and you get several goodies… you’ll save $20 and you’ll get to join a private video Q&A group after launch.

This is really the coolest video we’ve ever made. I think you’ll find the quality and the content to be second-to-none. Really. Just by watching this preview below you’ll get a great idea of the content. Basically, you get 2.5 hours of post processing and an additional 1.5 hours of live-action footage, following me around while I set up for photos.

And… there is the new puppy in the beginning! hehe :)

Meanwhile, in New Zealand

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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

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

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

Abandoned North Korean Prison in… New Zealand?!?

Want to see a video?

Our team is working on putting together a video now from our time here. I don’t know how much longer it will take, but you’ll find out first if you sign-up for my Newsletter. It’s free and pretty, and we promise not to spam you!


Daily Photo – Abandoned North Korean Prison in… New Zealand?!?

I’ve always wanted to get up to this place, but it has been virtually impossible since they closed all the roads years ago.

And yes, it’s right here in Queenstown, New Zealand, atop Deer Park Heights, a huge mountain that can be seen from pretty much everywhere in the valley. It might not look like a mountain next to the Remarkables, but it is huge. Everything in New Zealand is so epic that you lose track of the scale of things. For example, did you know that they make Cinderella’s castle in Disneyworld look bigger by using a forced perspective trick by making the upper spires much smaller than they would normally be? This is what happens with the relatively “small” mountains around here. So you’ll see Deer Park Heights and think, “Oh, I could climb that thing myself!” Well, maybe you could, but you won’t make it down by nightfall.

So, WHY, I hear you wondering, is there an abandoned North Korean prison in Queenstown? It was actually built as a movie set for a movie in the 80’s by Disney. It was called “The Rescue” — and it was horrible. The plot involved a bunch of young boys who had to rescue their dads who had gotten themselves imprisoned in North Korea. I think it skipped the theaters and went straight to airplanes, along with Miss Congeniality 4.

How was I able to get up here and take about 20 new friends? I cannot say! :)

Abandoned North Korean Prison in... Queenstown New Zealand Deer Park Heights

Abandoned North Korean Prison in… New Zealand?!?

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/4
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length15mm (15mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

The Ice Bar, Below Zero

Ice Hotels

I’ve always wanted to visit the Ice Hotels (did you know there are a few now?), and after visiting this place below, I’m even more interested. I had a list of places to visit one day, but the list was getting a little long and texty. I decided to take a few hours and re-build the list on Pinterest. I’m much happier with it now… it’s very visual and a more fun way to keep a list of places to visit. Anyway, I have a special board there you may enjoy called “Oh the places I’ll go!” (there are three Ice Hotels in there!)

4.5 Mil on Pinterest

And it looks like we just passed 4.5 million followers on Pinterest! It has officially passed Google+, which is keeping close at 4.4 million. I’m actively posting on both, so thanks again! :)

Daily Photo – The Ice Bar, Below Zero

We ran around all week preparing for the event here in Queenstown. We took a break to go visit the famous Ice Bar with Eden Brackstone. Just beforehand, he had met Karen Hutton, Scott Kublin, and Curtis Simmons on the rainy streets after a chocolate blow-out at Patagonia (none of this sounds like we are actually working does it?).

Anyway, the Ice Bar was very cool. You actually drink out out of cups made of ice, and when you are done, you get to smash them like plates at a Greek wedding.

The Ice Bar in Queenstown The Ice Bar, Below Zero New Zealand

The Ice Bar, Below Zero

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/6.3
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length14mm (14mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Speech at SXSW in Austin, PhotoWalk, and the view from Bendemeer Estates

“A Life Worth Living is a Life Worth Recording”

I’m giving a featured talk at SXSW – “A Life Worth Living is a Life Worth Recording” (links to SXSW website with more info).

The day after that is a big photowalk! See All the Event Details Here.

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! :)

We’ll also have many great prizes and other fun announcements. More info soon!

Previous Speech on this topic

I’m going to be doing a variation on this talk that I gave at Google Zeitgeist. Here it is below!

Daily Photo – Bendemeer Estates

This is the final place we ended up on the final night of the New Zealand Photo Adventure. Thanks again everyone that came! We’ll get a group photo up very soon so everyone can see. We took it in the woolshed at the bottom of this hill… it was really a remarkable place. I should have gotten a little video of these red-gold grasses blowing in the breeze. I think Curtis Simmons got that… I’ll ask him to put it in the comments! :)

Bendemeer Estates Queenstown New Zealand

Bendemeer Estates

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

The Milky Way over Queenstown

The Newsletter

Did you miss the latest Newsletter? It was a good one!

Many people hit “reply” on the email, and it actually goes straight to my inbox… I read them all. We decided to put more photos and descriptions in the newsletter going forward based on feedback — thanks for that! :) And thanks for forwarding the newsletter to your friends.

Daily Photo – The Milky Way over Queenstown

Tom and I went up to the top of the gondola a few days ago to get some shots of the stars. The sky was clear and we were lucky!

I made this with the fisheye lens and then did the lens correction on it. A bunch of stuff ended up getting cut off, but only I know that… It bothers me because there was some other awesome stuff! But since you don’t know what you’re missing… well I hope it is just good enough. :)

Queenstown, New Zealand Stars

The Milky Way over Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/2.8
  • ISO1250
  • Focal Length16mm (16mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programmanual
  • Exposure Bias

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