The Spring Mountains

XBox Fitness

Has anyone tried XBox Fitness on the new XBox One? It’s cool but there are many problems! Even though my bandwidth is totally incredible, I still get “Low Bandwidth” warnings and it pauses quite a bit. Many times, I’ve lost connection and my whole workout has gone down the tubes! It’s quite demotivating for some strange reason! I hope XBox fixes that soon, or at least lets me cache everything locally.

Daily Photo – The Spring Mountains

Choppy landed here on this remote lake for a bit while I jumped out to take photos with Curtis, Luke, Pete, and Scott. It was so fun, and I felt lucky there was a bit of snow up high to give some more colors to the scene. You can also hike to this point, but while we were sitting there in the chopper, all we could think was, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

The Spring Mountains

The Spring Mountains

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Trees on the Pond

Buying things when you travel

If you buy stuff when you travel, do you usually send it back via mail or take it back? I’ve taken to just getting things shipped. I’m so lazy and hate to carry stuff. If it is very small, of course, I’ll take it.

I’m thinking about getting a bunch of goodies in Morocco. It seems like it will be a nice, exotic place and I hope to find some things outside of the touristy areas… I figure shipping stuff back to New Zealand will be just as hard as expensive as shipping it anywhere else!

Daily Photo – Trees on the Pond

Here’s another delicate little spot we visited during the workshop. The pond was smooth without wind, and it made for hundreds of different shots. It was absolutely worth walking around the whole thing to see what shapes presented themselves. Even though I am pretty good at envisioning what the other side of the lake looked like, I didn’t see this until I actually got into position.

Trees on the Pond

Trees on the Pond

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length19.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring the Little Bay

Sailing a Boat

I feel like the only male in New Zealand that doesn’t know how to sail a boat. I swear to God… everywhere I go the conversation eventually turns to sailing at some point. And then people start talking about spinnakers and all kinds of crazy stuff, and I just slowly back out of the room…

I should look up what a spinnaker is so that I can say something clever before backing out of said room. Here I’ll look it up right now in fact. No time like the present. Back in a sec.

“first recorded use of the word was in 1866 in the August edition of Yachting Calendar and Review (p. 84). In addition, the term may have been influenced by the spanker, originally a gaff rigged fore-and-aft sail.” Okay… backing out of the room…

Daily Photo – Exploring the Little Bay

Here’s a new little bay that I had never visited before in Queenstown along Lake Wakatipu. I see all these amazing places from the air, and I wonder, “What would it look like if I stood THERE?!” I had never been to this exact spot before. Thanks to Todd & Sarah Sisson for bring us here! This is a spot we came during the New Zealand workshop and it was really perfect.

This shot is a single exposure. I did take multiple exposures while there, but this one came out so clean and dandy that no more were necessary!

Exploring the Little Bay

Exploring the Little Bay

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length27.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Visiting the Peregrine Winery in the Late Afternoon

Heading away to Morocco

I’m in the middle of planning a trip to Morocco in a few months! I’ve never been there, and I’ve got a few different places I plan to visit. But if you have any secret spots or must-sees, please pass them along! :)

Daily Photo – Visiting the Peregrine Winery in the Late Afternoon

This is one of the last places we visited on the wine tour. It was sunny all day long, and I never really took notice of it until I got here. I mean, when I’m out taking photos, I’m always generally aware of the sun and its relation to the landscape, but it started to have a different meaning with the architecture here. It made for much more interesting shots and this most amazing winery!

I need to come up with a list of my top 10 wineries to visit in this area. These are all less than half an hour from my house, so I have no excuse!

Peregrine Winery

Visiting the Peregrine Winery in the Late Afternoon

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture9
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Sony NEX Lenses on the Sony A7r?

The Sony NEX 10-18mm on the Sony A7r

I did a full comparison here of the two main wide-angle lenses that are currently available from Sony for the new Sony A7r (see my ever-growing Sony A7r Review here on the site). One of them is NEX 10-18mm (see the full Sony 10-18mm Lens Review) that worked so well on the cropped-sensor of my NEX system. The other is the full-frame Sony 16-35mm lens from their DSLR system. The latter needs an adapter to work on the Sony A7r.

As you can see in the video below, the NEX lens is my surprising favorite! I didn’t really expect it to be equal in sharpness and quality to its bigger full frame counterpart. The advantages to the bigger 16-35mm are that it can shoot all the way down to f/2.8. This would be valuable in low-light wide-angle handheld shooting (which I don’t do). It would also be valuable in astro-photography (which I rarely do).

But the advantages of the NEX 10-18mm are manifold! You basically get to move it between 12mm-17mm without seeing the ring around the outside. And yes, you get the full-frame goodness of the 36 megapixels of the Sony A7r! That’s much wider than the 16-35mm. The distortion is pretty much exactly the same on both cameras, as you can see in the video review. Even better, the NEX lens is over 2x lighter, 3x cheaper, and a fraction of the size. One last thing that my friend Gordon Laing from CameraLabs.com reminds me: this 10-18mm lens has built-in image stabilization. Amazing! I’m not seeing any difference in the sharpness of the lens.

So this was a pretty big decision for me — to switch to this lens when I fully anticipated using the 16-35mm until the new FE wide-angle lens for the Sony A7 launches later this year. I expect that will be a superior lens to both of these, although probably not as inexpensive as this NEX 10-18mm.

Daily Photo – My Fortress of Solitude

This is my studio! I walk out here every day from the main house to make art for you.

I don’t know why I’ve never taken a photo of it before now, but this seemed like a good occasion. I’m so in love with my new camera, and I’m super-enamoured since I discovered that my “old” NEX wide-angle lens works so well on the camera! No need to lug around that giant thing any more…

If you watch the video above, you’ll see the view when I walk out the front of my little cottage. If I had filmed this a few weeks before, you’d see those cherry trees blooming over with pink blossoms… it’s my little slice of Japan down here in the Southern Hemisphere. As you can see, the roses are now in full bloom… it’s the middle of summer here. The mornings are very early and the nights stay well lit. It doesn’t even get fully dark until around midnight… it makes for a very long and beautiful day of shooting!

My Fortress of Solitude

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a great Christmas and holiday season! Thanks so much for being with me and my family for the whole year — I appreciate you very much!

Daily Photo – Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family!

This was a fun photo to make, although a little challenging! The most challenging part was not chopping down the tree — it was not decorating the tree with lights — it was not convincing Tina to lay under the tree to spin it — it was not positioning the tree and getting the camera settings right (35mm at f/8 for at 1000 ISO for 3 seconds btw — I know you are wondering) — the most difficult part WAS getting the three kids to sit still for THREE SECONDS. haha man we did everything to get them to stand still. This is position 1 by the way, and position 1 was always interrupted by a lot of rolling and laughing and nonsense on the floor. I had to keep saying, “Okay everyone stop having fun so we can take this damned photo!” haha…

Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family

Merry Christmas from the Ratcliff Family!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time3
  • Aperture8
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

New Video: Learning the new Sony while learning to Paraglide

This was kinda scary, I’ll be honest!

I happened to get my new Sony as the same time I was learning to paraglide solo over the Southern Alps! So I decided to combine the two into a video. This is a sneak peak inside www.TheArcanum.com too for you. :)

You might also be interested in the full new Sony A7r Review in case you missed it!

Chris before the jump

Here’s my neighbor and friend Chris Madison (who just started Aro-Ha here between Queenstown and Glenorchy) just before the jump. We were checking out the wind and getting our equipment ready. This was taken with the 35mm at f/3.5.

Chris Madison Before Jump

Daily Photo – Ready to Jump

What an amazing time I had! I was overwhelmed with both the new camera and the new experience of learning to fly solo. I can’t believe that I ended up jumping off one of the highest peaks in the Southern Alps. It seems totally insane and scary, but it turned out to be amazing.

This is a shot with the Sony Alpha DSLR lens – the 16-35mm. I used the adaptor with the new Sony A7r so that I could attach it. It’s one of my go-to lenses now for wide-angle work like this.

Infinity Paragliding

Ready to Jump

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Forever Light Over The Remarkables

Last Chance to Register for the Quadcopter!

We’ll announce the winner in the live show later today! So don’t forget to go leave a comment to win the $1200 Quadcopter with a 14 megapixel camera — so cool!

Daily Photo – Forever Light Over The Remarkables

One morning during one of the events here, we all gathered out on the shore. You can imagine our surprise when the sun came out to play in this rather spectacular fashion! The sun always comes up in this direction (of course), but it so rarely makes these shapes in the sky. We were all in awe and barely managed to find time to take photos of the phenomenon!

Forever Light Over The Remarkables

Forever Light Over The Remarkables

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length72.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

Sydney from Above

Queenstown from Above

I did it! My first solo flight in a paraglider was successful! I also got a video of the thing I will share soon, but here is a quick shot I just took from the air over Queenstown with Google Glass:

HDR Photo

Daily Photo – Sydney from Above

I love these models of cities! I should make it a point to visit models of cities whenever I am in the city itself. It’s often impressive and gives you a very nice feel for the organism of the whole city. This one was in Sydney, and it was Alexia Sinclair who first showed me this awesome place! She had an exhibit here about a year prior, and it was a spectacular venue for it!

Sydney from Above

Sydney from Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/4
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

A Peaceful morning in Bendemeer

Going Paragliding

I was invited to Paragliding tomorrow. I’ve never done this before… and sorry mom, I know you read the blog. If you see a blog entry the NEXT day, then you’ll know I made it!

I’ll be up in the air, sailing over the photo you see below.

Huge Live Show with Jeremy Cowart, Lisa Bettany, and Thomas Hawk

Join me for the huge G+ Hangout show #88 with Jeremy, Lisa, and Thomas. The topic is new photo apps and more… Check your time on the event page here or mark down Thursday, 7 PM PT, 10 PM ET. The video will be live here on the blog at that time!

We’ll start out the show with the HUGE giveaway of the $1200 Quadcopter with a 14 megapixel camera that we started last week — be sure to leave a comment at on the link above to enter.

Then, during the show, we’ll talk about Jeremy’s new app, OKDOTHIS, and other photo apps and that whole space in general. Since Lisa did Camera+, well she’s kind of an expert! We’ll also all catch up, share some new photos, and, well, just kinda hangout. And, as usual, we’ll be taking live questions! These are three great photographers, and it’s always fun just to sit around and talk about photography with people like this, so I’m mega excited.

The four of us are also starting The Arcanum together, so we may touch on that too… There are applications flying in from all over the world not only to be Apprentices, but also Masters. One guy that just applied to be a Master is Benjamin Von Wong ! He’s amazing and just one example. Perhaps during the show, his name will come up and we can show his amazing portfolio at http://www.vonwong.com/

See all event info and time here. And thanks again to Peter Giordano for being our awesome host and to Dave Veffer for being our awesome beardededed producer!

Daily Photo – A Peaceful morning in Bendemeer

We headed out into the valley between the mountains of Arrowtown and Queenstown one morning. The air was crisp and clean. There was not even the slightest breeze to move the water around, so that made a countless array of perfect mirrors all over the estates. This was one of the final photos I got before a hasty exodus.

A Peaceful morning in Bendemeer Estates

A Peaceful morning in Bendemeer

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length41.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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