The Spa at Aro-Ha

Cold Dip and Hot Dip

I got into doing this cold-dip thing. You dunk your whole body in water that is just above freezing for one minute, and then you get into a hot tub or a Finnish sauna, then rinse and repeat three times. It’s kind of a sweet torture, but you sure do feel better inside after. But I’m not sure if it is just in your brain or not… it reminds me of that joke by Stephen Wright: “I love hitting myself repeatedly in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when I stop.”

Daily Photo – The Spa at Aro-Ha

Hey, that rhymes! And it's one of my favorite places after a long day of working my body and mind. This is an absolute gem of a place, by the way. It's a spa and wellness retreat in New Zealand called Aro-Ha, and it gets my absolute highest recommendation. The hiking trails are amazing, the food is super-tasty (and healthy!), and even better, you get a massage every single day. Maybe I should capitalize that. Massage Every Single Day.

In fact, right there in the hot-tub on the left (you can't quite see him) is Michel. He's was one of my favorite masseurs. He's French and his hands were like Jean-Claude Van Damme in his prime. Well, probably twice as strong. And no, he did not massage me in the hot tub, although now that I think about it, I should have asked him to! Haha oh yeah! :)

The Spa at Aro-Ha

The Spa at Aro-Ha

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJanuary 13, 2014 at 8:54pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture13
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

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Tasting Wines at Mt Difficulty Wines

New Photomatix Release

In a world of auto-updating software, sometimes we miss little revisions, like THIS one! You can go grab the new Photomatix Pro release that lets you use your Sony A7(r) RAW photos directly. There’s a bunch of other changes I will list below too. If you don’t know much about it, see the Photomatix Review here on the site.

- Added support for RAW files of recent camera models such as the Nikon Df, Pentax K-3, and Sony A7 and A7R.
- On Batch Bracketed Photos, added a “Previous Session (non-batch)” item to the list of the Preset pop-up menu.
- Changed the item selected by default on the File Format combo-box for saving tonemapped/fused images from TIFF to JPEG (selected item is “sticky”, so change only affects first use).
- Bug fixed: When using the Lightroom Plugin to export to Photomatix Pro on Mac OS 10.9, Photomatix Pro would sometimes not open when the OS is set to a language other than English.
- Bug fixed: Alignment for the “taken on tripod” option did not support 64-bit addressing, which resulted in a crash when aligning a bracketed set composed of a very high number of bracketed photos.
- Bug fixed: On Batch Bracketed Photos, separators disappeared from the list of the Preset pop-up menu when the Filter was used.
- Bug fixed: On Batch Bracketed Photos, the dialog for entering custom settings or multiple presets referred to custom settings as “User Preset” in the ‘Settings Type’ column of the Preset list box.

Your Favorite Winery?

Do you have a favorite winery that you’ve toured somewhere in the world? Where is it? Do tell! :)

Daily Photo – Tasting at Mt Difficulty Wines

Out in Bannockburn, which is basically in Cromwell, about an hour from Queenstown, is a hotbed of wineries. There's many great ones around here! One of the only ones that serves lunch is Mt. Difficulty Wines, and they have a beautiful wine-tasting as well. It's fairly well-known around the world, and they have a wide variety of wines. I've now had two meals here and two wine tastings – both have been amazing. Anyway, I highly recommend this place.

Tasting Wines at Mount Difficulty Winery

Tasting at Mt Difficulty Wines

Photo Information

  • Date TakenFebruary 1, 2014 at 2:33pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

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Amazing New eBook on Flatbooks – Highly Recommended

Creative Landscape Photography II – A Must Get!

Pop over now to get Creative Landscape Photography II! You’ll absolutely love it.

This data-packed book is filled with 95 pages of first hand knowledge. You can get an idea of the scope of the whole thing from one of the preview shots below! This book has been lovingly written by two amazing photographers and friends, Mike Langford and Jackie Renken. They’ve won all kinds of awards and stuff… anyway, it’s a real treat to get to hang out with their brains for a bit in this eBook. Enjoy!

Above: See one of Jackie’s amazing award-winning photos. Her photos alone will give you inspiration to take new sorts of photos!

Above: Look at all the stuff that is in this book! I carry a copy around on my iPad all the time!

Above: Better yet, see how all these photos were made. These two are true Masters, and I am glad they are willing to share their knowledge!

Daily Photo – Path to the Nethermountains

I wish I had read the book above before I started taking all my landscape photos! Anyway, here is a photo not too far from where Mike and Jackie live! :)

Path to the Nethermountains

Path to the Nethermountains

Photo Information

  • Date TakenNovember 2, 2012 at 11:49pm
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length41.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

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My 7 Favorite Disney Photos

I wanted to share some of my favorite Disney photos with you, all in one place. Enjoy! :)

The Magic of Disney If you want to see how I made this (and how you can too!), visit my HDR Tutorial. I hope it gives you some new tricks!This was taken this evening at MGM Studios in Disney World before we went to go see the big fireworks show. The only problem with making your family and 6-year-old son (he is now 8) stand around while you set up your tripod and take a bunch of shots is that it gives them ample opportunity to see little toys they cannot live without.I took so long to nail this shot that we ended up buying two things that lit up in garish colors and made a lot of racket.This is a 5 exposure HDR shot at 100 ISO. Whenever there is anything like streaming lights, sun rays, search lights, and the like, the HDR process always makes them pop a bit.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: Mickey’s magical hat glows under and between the lights one evening.

Ancient China No it isn’t! This was shot at Disneyworld at Epcot center. Want to know a great Disney shooting trick? They won’t like me telling you this… but I’ll tell you anyway. The Disney people are very nice to me, but that won’t stop me from being totally honest with tricky advice!The advice is this. Stay at a resort (this gives you extra hours), and be sure to go to Epcot on their extra-hours night. While there, get the the point as far away from possible as the exit gate at close time. Then you can slowly take your time and work your way back. You’ll see no tourists or anyone! I saw this place almost totally alone… so cool!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: Epcot is full of beautiful places like this, where the lights change dramatically after the sun sets.

The Disney Fantasy Cruise ShipI am here on the maiden voyage of the Disney Fantasy.  It's an amazing ship (50% bigger than the other ships) and a great playground for photographers!  Forget the kids!  In fact, I almost did a few times… but they are having fun in all the kids' clubs…  Well… I have a ton to talk about and show… but busy busy busy with photos and not much internet!  Anyway, debate away on whether or not this is HDR…  Either I'm tricking you, I double-tricking you, or something unknowable... I look forward to coming back and seeing what you think!- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: This is the main lobby inside Disney’s newest cruise ship.

Abandoned Chinese DisneyworldSo, outside of Beijing, to the north, is a huge abandoned Disneyland. It was partially built, and now just the husk of it just remains. While driving around, I could have sworn I saw the top of the spires of Cinderella's castle, so I tried to figure out a way to get in closer. After I finally got inside, well, it was as awesome as an abandoned, fake Disneyland sounds!The official name and location is the Wonderland Amusement Park Chenzhuang Village, Nankou Town, Changping district. 昌平区南口镇陈- Trey RatcliffRead more and see a video from this strange spot here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: This is a tricky one! It is from a fake-abandoned Disneyworld in China that has now been taken over by farmers.

The Tori Gate What a perfect post-storm dusk!  I was going photo-crazy.This is a replica of the exact same place I have been near Nikko, Japan.  The Nikko one is quite hard to shoot!  There are many things in the way, and setting up for the ideal shot is no easy matter.  Plus, when I was in Japan, the sky was not so great that evening.  It's the luck of the cards sometimes!But this evening in Disney World was ultra-perfect.  Epcot is the park that has all the little international areas.  Japan, Germany, France, etc etc.  It's all a little silly and fake -- but it's also very cool and scenic!  I don't know how it can be both... but it is.  Those Disney imagineers do an incredible job of making things look dreamy.  I do the best I can to capture the magic as I saw it.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: I set up here on the lake at Epcot to take fireworks photos.

Beautiful Disney World at Sunset Hey, you know... I can't stay mad at Disney for too long.  I think those issues are just at Downtown Disney.This photo below, from Epcot, is one of the reasons I keep coming back again and again.  It's such an amazing place, and Epcot may be my favorite new spot for photography at Disney.This is the "France" area of the World Showcase, which is a huge lake that is circumnavigated by about 10 different countries or so.  Each one has a cluster of buildings set in the theme of the country.  They are all quite authentic, and the areas are staffed with people from the countries.  The Norway area has authentic-looking and -sounding Norwegians.  The Germany area is filled with Germans in postcard-German-clothes.  The Canada area has people that look and sound like Americans.The afternoon had ripped open a wicked thunderstorm on the whole park.  It was subsiding around sunset, so the clouds were swirling about with these wonderful tempestuous formations.  I set up to take this shot before moving over to the Japanese area to watch the big fireworks show on the lake.  While I was taking these shots, by the way, I had sent my family into one of the pastry shoppes here in the France area to load up on wonderful little morsels to keep us fully loaded during the fireworks show!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: This is the French area of Epcot that had amazing skies swirling overhead one evening while the shrubbery swirled beneath.

Where the Princess Dwells at Night…I called for a little PhotoWalk at Disney! It was really really really fun - and getting this shot was tough! I think +William Beem +Gilmar Smith +Keith Barrett or perhaps +Ali Elhajj got a video of me trying to convince half a dozen Disney workers to "sweep water" in front of my camera, which was splayed on the ground. At first, one guy didn't want to do it because he might get in trouble... then the other acquiesced... and then, before they knew it, they were all being controlled like crystal farmers in Starcraft... we eventually got all the water in the right place!I had to go over and whip out my sweet Android phone to show them some photos from Google+ -- I found the one from Paris with the puddle - I said I needed a puddle about thiiiiis big … and eventually we got it all engineered out. They were all very helpful and nice… I convinced them all to come onto Google+ to see the final result -- so I hope they are here! Hi guys - Y muchas gracias!- Trey RatcliffRead the rest at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Above: And we’ll end with this one. Here is Cinderella’s castle just before deep night sets in…

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Heading back to Tokyo

Strange worlds!

This will be a strange turn-around for me. I’ll be spending a lot of time in the deserts of Morocco, away from civilization, and then I’ll be going straight into Tokyo here. I’m super-excited about the transition, actually. To me, Morocco and Japan are two true parallel universes that have not become generic in any way yet… so it will be a bit of a portal-between-worlds.

Daily Photo – Heading back to Tokyo

Here's a scene from the fun photowalk we did in Tokyo last time I was there. A bunch of girls in costume showed up and started playing with my Google Glass. They made the funniest faces of shock and surprise when they put them on. In this shot, you can see Vic Gundotra in the background taking his own photos of the festivities!

Heading back to Tokyo

Heading back to Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date TakenOctober 2, 2013 at 8:18pm
  • CameraNEX-6
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO1250
  • Focal Length56.0 mm
  • FlashAuto, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

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