Horses Alive

New Workshops 2014 in New Zealand

Be sure to check out the New Zealand 2014 Workshop schedule — there are just two planned for 2014, so come join me. We always end with a big dinner at my house — a grand event! No tux required.

Upcoming Company Trip

We have sort of a new annual tradition around here. We’re not a big company here at Stuck In Customs – quite small, really. But there is a great team of people here that help us out. This year, we’re bringing a handful of people out to visit me here in Queenstown (last year was Virgin Gorda). Among the many curious activities that we will engage in is a golf outing here at this place below. So, it’s very possible that between golf and wine that response times from our team will be a little slow — our apologies – things will get back to normal after we all get back to our own homebases… or… maybe I can just convince everyone to move here!

Daily Photo – Horses Alive

I’ve taken to taking two bags with me when I golf – my golf bag and my camera bag. Even though this is very strange, it’s okay because I’m usually alone! This golf course at The Hills in Arrowtown is crazy-beautiful. Actually, I bet there are many beautiful golf courses in New Zealand — I don’t quite have enough golf-course experience here. So, I’ll gladly be taking both bags with me to all golf courses.

Horses Alive

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-03-24 00:00:00
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Tips for Shooting Out of a Helicopter

How to shoot out of a helicopter

I’m not at all an expert on this, but I have taken a lot of photos out of choppers, including the one below.

The two most important things to keep in mind seem to be shutter speed and window glare. Experiment with the lighting conditions before you get into the chopper and set your camera into Aperture priority (or Manual if you wanna go mega hardcore). Get the F-Stop nice and low since everything you’ll be shooting is far away and you won’t have any focus problems. Also, get your ISO around 100, but you may need to increase that if you feel your shutter speed is dragging a little. If it is super-bright, you may not want to be at the lowest F-Stop, because then everything will be blown out.

When I was doing this shoot below, I felt like the shutter was dragging a little bit, so I kept increasing the ISO. When you are in Aperture Priority, doubling the ISO makes your shutter speed drop in half.

The last thing to keep in mind is the glare. You want to minimize this of course, and it is very hard when the chopper is always turning this way and that. Just be mindful of it and get very close to the glass to minimize the effect. You can fix some of it in post, if it is not too terrible!

Daily Photo – New Zealand with Choppy

There are more valleys and rugged mountains around here than I could ever explore. I’m starting to really believe this! I know there is a lot of cool stuff around me, and, in the beginning, I had a confidence that I would be able to explore it all — but maybe not! Whenever I get up in a helicopter and fly around, I’m reminded how vast this place is. Vast and mostly empty. It’s like scary-awesome-empty… it’s really kind of a strange feeling flying over it in a way… so remote and beautiful and empty…

New Zealand with Choppy

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-08-14 00:00:00
  • CameraNEX-6
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Taking the Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station

Into Old Ships?

If you’re really into ships, you may enjoy reading more about the TSS Earnslaw on this page.

Daily Photo – Taking the Earnslaw to Walter Peak

This great old steamer ship was originally commissioned in 1911. It’s a regular sight on the lake here in Queenstown, going back and forth between Queenstown and Walter Peak High Country Farm. Back in the day, it used to take gold down to Kingston. I’ve actually never been on it! This is something I’ll remedy soon. I have flown over it in a helicopter a few times, and on this particular day, I got a shot of it as it was pulling into Kingston…

Taking the Earnslaw to Walter Peak

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-08-15 00:00:00
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture5
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.7

#1 in the Apple Store and Now Featured!

Now Featured!

Grab it from the App Store here.Free! Yay! The Android, iPad, and Mac versions are now complete and new updates are going around now! Next up is Trip Syncing, so your personalized trips can go with you on any device, online or offline. Yes, you’ll be able to find all those amazing travel/photography spots you want to visit even without Internet. !! πŸ™‚ More Reviews welcome! Please, actually… don’t make me beg! Those 5 star reviews really help, and if you have any questions or problems, we have actual humans standing by to answer your email at [email protected]

HDR Photo

In the forests of the South Island of New Zealand

You might be interested in some of the behind-the-scenes of the photo below. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Daily Photo – An endless beautiful forest

And here is one of the final shots from the video above.

An endless beautiful forest

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-02-05 00:00:00
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1.6
  • Aperture22
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Conversation on Google+ Series

A unique event with Google!

The Google team contacted me to do this new kinda thing… looks like fun! Here’s the blurb before and a little video to tell you more about it. πŸ™‚

This week, the HDR Photography Community (http://goo.gl/HiXlKG) is pleased to host a Conversation on Google+ with Trey Ratcliff about the stories behind photos! This unique partnership with Google is part of the Conversations on Google+ series, which involves thought leaders hosting online educational conversations in vibrant Google+ Communities culminating in well-produced Hangouts On Air.

To participate, share your most unique photographs and the stories that inspired them in the “Trey Ratcliff Conversation” category with the #TreyConvo inside the HDR Photography community at http://goo.gl/HiXlKG . To participate, post your memorable photos and the moments that made them unique. Trey will select the most insightful and interesting photographers to join him in a Hangout On Air on 10/4 at 2 PM PST.

Daily Photo – The Fields Along the Lake in Queenstown

I’m excited for everyone to come into Queenstown for the big event! This is the first place I took Curtis, Karen, and Scott after we arrived. It’s along Jack’s Point right down by the lake. It was actually one of the first time I took my truck a little bit off road too!

The Fields Along the Lake in Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-02-03 00:00:00
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/2500
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-2

Through the Valleys of New Zealand in a Chopper

Daily Photo – Over the Top

I’ve taken a few different helicopter rides, but this one below was with Choppy from Over the Top. She’s a super-cool lady and she jams serious music through the speakers while you are flying around. She even landed on top of another mountain and brought out golf balls for us to hit off the edge… fun!

Over the Top

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-01-15 00:00:00
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Walking down to the Lake

Free 30 minute video about these photos

I took a bunch of photos here in New Zealand – 1000 in fact! These are my favorite 36 from that grouping, and I talk through them a little bit… you’ll notice the field below in one of them! πŸ™‚

Daily Photo – Walking down to the Lake

The fields around Queenstown and Arrowtown become multicolored between any shade of yellow and green. There are even orange and red… so strange and interesting that the grass itself becomes as colorful as wildflowers.

Walking down to the Lake

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-02-10 00:00:00
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture11
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length20.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Painted Landscape

More about Deer Park Heights

There are a lot of people that want to get up to this spot to take photos, but it’s all closed off. You can indeed sneak up here, but it’s not all that easy. For one thing, I saw a buffalo on the way up, and you don’t want to run around those guys… no telling what they will do.

Just a few years ago, you used to be able to drive up here and take food to feed all the animals that run around these hills, but sadly all that has been closed down.

Daily Photo – The Painted Landscape

Here’s another photo that was taken atop Deer Park Heights in Queenstown. It’s virtually inaccessible since they closed it off because of family fighting. I just want to go up there more for artistic purposes… quite innocent… I’m not interested in the family squabbles — there is art to be made!

The Painted Landscape

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-08-12 05:58:10
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/7.1
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length17mm (17mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

The Blue

Paths in photos

I have a pretty good theory about paths in photographs! Here it is. I don’t know if it is right or not… but, well, probably.

So, when a human looks at a photo of a landscape, I think part of their brains imagines themselves walking or moving from one part of the landscape to the next. They try to get a sense of the 3D-ness of the photo and wonder how long it will take to walk to some distant object, tree, mountain, etc. The more hints you can give as to the distance of objects, the better. But, one thing that people always seem to enjoy seeing is some kind of a path (or, as in the photo below, a road). This is satisfying to see because their brain likes knowing there is an easy way to get from point A to point B. It’s not something that’s on the surface of the mind, but it is deep down… and I think paths generally make a photo more interesting to the brain.

Daily Photo – The Blue

What’s the best thing about the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy in New Zealand? This view! Well, honestly, there are about 1000 places to stop, each of which is idyllic for a wonderful landscape photo, but this ONE spot is a stop I always make. It is right by the road, so it is super-convenient. It’s one of those shots that is a “lay-up” as my friend Tom likes to say! πŸ™‚

The Blue

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-01-17 00:00:00
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length19.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Barn at Lake Hayes

Great Rental Property between Arrowtown and Queenstown

It turns out that my friend (and neighbor!) here in New Zealand inherited this amazing place and has recently converted it into an amazing rental property. You can see more at The Barn at Lake Hayes website.

I offered to go take photos of the inside and outside for him so he’d have some pretty shots for the website. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out… maybe I’ll go over there for some more parties and get a chance to get more photos at sunset before things get too crazy…hehe. The last party we had over there was catered by an amazing sushi chef here in town… I’ve never seen people actually drink one of those huge bottles of sake — I thought they were For Display Purposes Only.

In case you don’t know (most people not from here do not know) — Queenstown and Arrowtown are only about 20 minutes apart. In between them is this beautiful lake called Lake Hayes. So, if you’re looking for a unique, secret little spot nestled away, then this is a great one for you! πŸ™‚

Daily Photo – The Barn at Lake Hayes

I had jogged by this place many times before I figured out that my friend actually owns it! Whenever I run in a new place, I’m also kind of scouting for future photo-shoots… looking for locations and cool scenes and whatnot. This one certainly leapt out at me, so I was pleased to find out that taking a photo of it would be in my immediate future!

The Barn at Lake Hayes

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-02-14 00:00:00
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/20
  • Aperture10
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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