Standing Guard at the Tomb

Aurora HDR Pro 1.2 is here!

Check it out, Aurora HDR Pro 1.2 has been released with a whole lotta improvements and some sparking new features! :)

Here’s one of my favourite recent photos from my family trip that was done in Aurora HDR Pro! Look at all that glow action!

NEW FEATURES:
1.Photos for Mac editing extensions support
2.Leica M Monochrome (type 246) RAW file support
3.Open/Save for .HDR and .EXR image formats

IMPROVEMENTS:
1.Better RAW file handling for Panasonic, Olympus and Fuji images
2.Updates to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop plug-ins
3.Enhanced masking brush
4.Improved clipping results for overall HDR effect
5.Improved chromatic aberration reduction
6.Better UI support for 11″ and 13″ displays
7.Improved performance and various bug fixes

Well, this day started out great

You’ll read more about it below, but about 30 minutes after this I was in a car crash! My taxi hit another car in downtown Rabat that had run a red light. We t-boned it and I had on no seat belt! Half of me ended up in the front seat with a super-bruised right knee! Everyone jumped out of their cars and it was like a crazy Moroccan street fight. I was thinking I GOTTA GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE! So I jumped out very clumsily, pulled my suitcase from the trunk and limped away for about half a km till I was way out of that area… jumped in another cab, then hit the train station to exit stage left!

Daily Photo – Standing Guard at the Tomb

I was only briefly in Casablanca before moving on here to Rabat, Morocco. The first place I visited here was the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. I arrived way too early and it was closed. So I kind of loitered around… it was my first real day in Morocco so I was just wandering like a babe in the woods… it was so awesome. I made friends with the other guards that were waiting to get in, then I was able to be first and get a few choice shots while everyone set up for the day of guarding the tomb!

Standing Guard at the Tomb

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Burj Khalifa at Night

6 HDR Shooting Tips

I recently wrote an article for a photography magazine with 6 tips. I thought I’d repeat them here! :) You’ll see I make a few references to Aurora HDR Pro — so grab that if you don’t already have it! :)

1) Get your camera into Auto-bracketing mode. I take just 3 exposures most of the time at -2, 0, and +2. I also shoot in RAW mode so you’ve got a little more juice in the light to play with later in post.

2) Collect Auto-bracketed shots everywhere, even if you don’t think it’s an HDR situation. If your camera has Auto-bracketing, go ahead and keep it on most of the time. When you drag a series of photos into Aurora HDR Pro (or most HDR programs), you’ll be surprised at some of the textures and colors that come out of the woodwork.

3) If you’re shooting in the bright sun, go ahead and set your Exposure Compensation to -1. That means your three exposures will be at -3, -1, and +1. I find that the +2 on a bright day is just TOO bright and has no positive effect on the final creation.

4) Also, if you’re shooting in the middle of the day, don’t bother with a tripod. Just go handheld. All these programs nowadays are so good at auto-aligning that you don’t have to worry about it. Just save the tripod for sunset and night shots!

5) If you find that processing the photos is going a bit slow on your computer, just use JPGs (or export to JPGs) before bringing the shots into Aurora HDR Pro or any other program. Honestly, I can’t see a big difference in bringing in the RAW files at all. And I really pay attention to these things!

6) When processing, be sure to use layers to make different parts of your photo look unique. For example, you may not want the “whole thing HDR’ed” — maybe you just want the buildings to be highly textured with an HDR look, but not so much for the trees or skies. A common mistake most people make is they try to give the entire photo the same look… I think it’s great to make some parts smooth, some parts glowy, some parts texturey, other parts saturated… Each photo will come out very unique, much like you… think of yourself like a chef, organically creating a reflection of you and the scene at the time.

Daily Photo – The Burj Khalifa at Night

There's no way to take a bad photo of this thing! Actually, I did notice a bunch of people with mobile phones having a heck of a time trying to fit the whole thing into frame. They would be taking photos of their friends and in almost every case, they had to lay on the 100 degree concrete and aim up to get the whole thing in… it was actually funny, walking around and watching everyone laying on the ground with their phones!

The Burj Khalifa at Night

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length11.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Traveling Ratcliff Photo Circus Around The World!





Day 21 – A visit to the amazing Qatar and Doha

Qatar was a tough place for us, with the Ratcliff Family hitting an all-time low. I was pretty sick, and actually still am while editing this together on the 6-hour flight to Rome. Ethan was quite sick and spent over 24 hours in bed eating soup and smelling like old soup. He’s a bit better now, so that is good… my cough and runny nose lingers like the memory of mounting a camel. That sounds bad…

We started out with a morning desert safari that included some awkward moments on both camels and trucks. The dunes here were, even more, extreme than Oman, so the girls were, at least, ready for it. You can see more in the video for sure. Tina sure was screaming when she got on that camel… all of them were. Ethan had quite a grumpy camel, which did nothing to help his mood.

And then we had an incredible cooking class from an amazing chef at our hotel at The Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village named Evangelos Liakouris. He was like a Greek Vic Gundotra that can cook. It was over two hours long and the girls went nuts, especially with the “Deconstructed Black Forest Cake.” From there, we went to another epic dinner at the other Ritz-Carlton in Doha at an Italian restaurant called Porcini where the kids got to make some pizzas. Once again, another day of non-stop eating!

The city of Doha glistens in wild colors at night. Most of the buildings cycle through various LED color states.

It’s a huge city and Tina was surprised at the size of a city she had never heard of before a few months ago.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Here’s an incredible restaurant we found in the souq called Parisa.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The last call to prayer for the evening at a mosque.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Photogenic camels in the desert.

Here’s one of the three pools from the Sharq Village that had no sharks, thank goodness.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

A gentleman at the camp were we got the camels.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The family gets their first feel for how strange it is to get on a camel for a ride.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

I join them, but have great trouble holding both the Osmo and the camel.

This is a place the falcons, the National Bird of Qatar, would come and perch.

A beautiful amphiteatre at night.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Intense dune-bashing!.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Two ladies go in a different entrance on the left.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

After the dune bashing it was time for dune-sliding!.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

I hope this captures the massive size of the dunes that we slid down then climbed up.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Here we are on the border of Saudi Arabia, which was about half a kilometer away at one point.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Scarlett walks through a portal to explore the sea on the other side.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The family with another camel friend.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Isabella loves all animals, and she came to visit Jamilla here at the Sharq Village about seven times!.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

A pair of Muslim women walk home for the evening across the entrance to The Pearl.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The beginning of an amazing 2-hour cooking class.

Daily Photo – Artificial Islands keep growing out into the sea as Doha expands to every horizon.

Artificial Islands keep growing out into the sea as Doha expands to every horizon.

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length41.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1.3

My new eBook – Light Falls Like Bits!

Now available for download in the store… and I think you’ll really love it.

In case you didn’t already know, I’ve got a new eBook! It’s called “Light Falls Like Bits”. I’ve been working with Goff books for two years to create it, and I’m super excited for you guys to read it!

I’ve thrown a curve ball out there in the E-book world, in which the articles about me… aren’t actually written by me. Some of these essays are by Maura Reilly, Michelle Bogre, and Erik Davis. There’s also an interview by Jordan Crandall in there that you will enjoy.

AND it’s filled with a whole lot of my photos (over 100!), all the captions for those photos I did personally write, which was a lot of fun getting going back and re-living all of those amazing moments / bizarre situations that went into capturing the images. I’ve also recorded a whole lot of audio captions that you can listen to if you get the iOS version, which people seem to be enjoying.

It’s over 200 pages of goodness, and it is available over on the Stuck In Customs store.

Flying home between Wanaka and Queenstown

Photo Tip – Shooting from Planes or the Air in the Daytime

My technique for shooting from the air is pretty simple. It actually took me a while to arrive at this formula, but it always seems to work. I go into Manual mode and then force my shutter speed to be extra-fast… maybe 1/1000th of a second. This ensures there is absolutely no blur. And then I let my ISO float and auto-adjust… I’ll often get my F-Stop as low as possible too so all the dirt and smudges on the window disappear. It works like 98% of the time! And, well, like the title says, this method only works in the daytime… night is a different beast.

Daily Photo – Flying home between Wanaka and Queenstown

The flight into Queenstown is maybe one of the most beautiful flights in the world. This is the Crown Range here, and you can't quite see it, but there is a road there that connects Wanaka and Queenstown. It's actually the highest road in New Zealand! It gets A LITTLE icy sometimes in the winter, and they often close it down… but when it's open, the view there is as pretty as the view from this plane window!

Flying home between Wanaka and Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraDSC-RX100M3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture4
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length12.1 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Pretty Colors in Queenstown Park

Oamaru

I got a nice invite to visit an incredible looking Lodge in Oamaru called Pen-y-bryn — It turns out the owner is a fan and really into photography! Sounds like its a must-visit!

Daily Photo – Pretty Colors in Queenstown Park

I have joked before about starting a second blog where I just put up the “other” photos that I never publish. I honestly actually produce over 2,000 photos a year that are, at least I think, somewhat interesting. They're not all winners by any means, but sometimes there's a little bit of awesomeness in there! Anyway, since I only publish 365 a year here on the blog in the daily post, that means I have thousands of rejects! This is one of those “rejects” that I still kinda like. I don't know what to do with all the others… maybe I'll make a Tumblr or something that is called “Trey's Rejected Photos!”

Pretty Colors in Queenstown Park

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Traveling Ratcliff Photo Circus Around The World!





Day 18 – Adventuring in the deserts and seas of Oman.

Wow, Oman is a secret treasure in the world!

Everyone was warm, kind, and inviting. The landscapes are like nothing I’ve ever seen, from curious canyons to sharp-ridged mountains, to huge epic mountain ranges, and everything in between. Parts are green and other parts are 150km of nonstop desert where it takes 6 days by camel to cross.

We did a ton of stuff just in our short time here… enjoy the video! :)

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

A beautiful sunset.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

A beautiful sunset along the beach in Muscat.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

About to board two catamarans for a sunset sail.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Hardcore Souk Shopping.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Beautiful colors in the mosque.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Inside the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Al Bustan Palace.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Ladies walking on the beach.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

My friend in the desert.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

My new friends exchange Instagram information at the mosque.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The family visits the Grand Mosque.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Scarlett is constantly throwing sand for no reason I can discern.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Here’s the chandelier in the Grand Mosque from below.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The Girls Take a Rest after a long walk in the desert.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The end of the Mosque where the colors glowed.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The Grand Mosque around midnight.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Visiting the Bedouin home.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

The girls walk through the massive desert — if you look in the middle, you can see a group of people about 5km away.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Oman fun.

Daily Photo – The incredible interior of the Grand Mosque

The incredible interior of the Grand Mosque

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1.4
  • Aperture9.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

More Explorations in the Ghost Town

The Last Sighting of My Quadcopter

I had my Phantom repaired just before this trip because one of the rotors was a little wonky. Well, I guess it wasn’t fixed too well because the whole thing went haywire on a flight over by the ocean here in Namibia. I got it about 100 meters off the ground and then it did a SEVERE tilt and started heading to sea. There was nothing I could do to stop it! And it must have been going 150km/h when it hit the water… so crazy and dangerous! It makes me not to want to get them repaired again… if it has a bad rotor, better just to throw it away, I think.

Daily Photo – More Explorations in the Ghost Town

I know yesterday's post was about how cold Namibia was, but this area here on the coast was much warmer. Thank goodness! Here's another one of the amazing ruined houses from that ghost town where sand dunes invaded. They said that back in the day, when this area was discovered, that people could just bend over and pick up diamonds off the top of the sand. Crazy!

More Explorations in the Ghost Town

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture20
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Traveling Ratcliff Photo Circus Around The World!





Day 16 – Quadcopter Crashing in Kerala and Farewell India

A lot of Quadcopter drama as we leave India! But I’ll get to that. BTW, check out my DJI Phantom 3 Review here on the site to see more about what I fly.

We started out in Kerala, a beautiful area of India that has thousands of little canals. We stayed on a houseboat for a while, drifting around like houseboat people. This is where Quada, which Scarlet calls the Quadacopter, had its last journey. We had countless successful flights with it… and you can see how Ethan launches it from the front of the boat… no problems there. But one time, a rotor would not turn. We got a “Rotor Obstructed” error message. Strange, because I couldn’t see anything. I did notice one rotor would make strange noises at startup, but when it started spinning, it was fine. Then it asked me to do the old 10-minute IMU calibration, which I did and was successful. We had 2 great flights, launching from the front of the boat and Ethan catching it on landing… no problems and we were smooth as silk. Then, on the next flight, It got up to about 40 meters and was only 20 meters from us and I saw the rotor lock up in the air! It tumbled down into the water for a major splashdown right by the boat. Everyone screamed and it was very dramatic! There was no recovery… it sank to the bitter depths… and all that awesome footage is lost foreva! It’s okay… the universe decided it was time for Quada to move on… So that meant I had to go to the camera store to buy another one… I just hope they let me take it to Oman next!

Okay, well, what else happened towards the end of our India trip. You can see more in the video here of course, but here’s a few things. We ended our train trip and went into the India Asha Niketan foundation, a special place here built for people with intellectual disabilities. The whole family spent some time here with the team helping out. It was especially great for the kids! Ethan played the guitar and we spent some time there together.

After that, we went back to Rivas at The Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore for an Indian cooking class from a Michelin star chef. Amazing! And not only that, but then we ate everything that we cooked… we are eating so much it is crazy… but Ethan and Isabella have really gotten into Indian food, which is great. Scarlett, not so much.

And then it was time to cap off our India experience by going full Bollywood! I actually love Bollywood movies from the first one I saw in Mumbai about 8 years ago when I saw Om Shanti Om! I had a small crush on the gal that was in that movie, and it turns out she’s in the hot new movie everyone demanded that we go see, Bajiao Mastani — so we headed off to the shopping mall in Bangalore to see if we could find it… we did and it was great, even though the whole thing was in Hindi. Scarlett and Isabella loved it. Ethan, not so much.

Anyway, a fantastic trip to India… the whole family is now boarding the plane to spend time in Oman and Qatar!

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

A strange sight to see these two symbols side by side.

A Final dinner on the coast of India.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Beautiful colors in Cochin.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

A woman washes herself in a canal in Karela.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Five Indian Dudes that may have been a boy band.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Communist Propoganda can still be seen all over Kerala India.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Indian Beach from Above.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Houseboats in Kerala.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Last day to be on the Golden Chariot.

The awesome bar on top of the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore called Bang.

Pulling into the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore.

from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Visiting the West End hote.

Daily Photo – One of the last nights on our moving hotel

One of the last nights on our moving hotel

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time23
  • Aperture9.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length40.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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