Stuck In Customs

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Stu near the Glacier Edge

Wanna see a photo of the family harvesting honey?

Here’s a great photo that Jim Pollard took of us not too long ago!

Daily Photo – Stu near the Glacier Edge

What was mega scary was when we would hear little bits of ice cracking and falling… we would very often freak ourselves out down here. Why would two grown up men get so close to the edge of a glacier? Because we're dumb guys… this is what dumb guys do, and, well, that's what we are.

Stu near the Glacier Edge

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture4
  • ISO80
  • Focal Length146.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Desert Rose Begins to Swim

The Desert Rose in a future video

I took this photo during a little tutorial video we were shooting while there… so you’ll see more of her soon!

Daily Photo – The Desert Rose Begins to Swim

This girl was amazing! She was working at the hotel when our whole photo adventure crew entered the Damaraland are of Namibia. She announced herself at lunch as “The Desert Rose” and she was a real piece of work… just hilarious and a total actress. She could also do the whole click-language thing which was a source of endless entertainment!

The Desert Rose Begins to Swim

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7S
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

London as Night Closes In

How long for light trails?

Experiment! There is no right answer… When there is a little bit of ambient light, you may need to go shorter or close down the aperture, as I did here. This one is F/14 at 5 seconds. Not that I knew that ahead of time… I had to experiment. When I did F/4 at 5 seconds, the whole thing was way too bright but the light trail was the right length, so I just darkened it up by increasing the F stop to F/14.

Daily Photo – London as Night Closes In

Here's one of those really fun long exposure shots that are readily available all over London. This is one of the great advantages of living in a big city is that you get all that crazy tail light action that I don't get here in Queenstown. It makes for a very fun way to be creative and try new ways to fill up the frame with unexpected light action.

I took this one during the big photowalk event — thanks again everyone!

London as Night Closes In

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture14
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

A little bit of penguin science

Hardcore HDR

The Complete HDR Tutorial is selling great, so thank you so much! There is part of it that includes some of the “Extreme HDR” that you can see in today’s photo below!

Daily Photo – A little bit of penguin science

Yes, this is a very strange photo; I agree! Remember Captain Scott's hut from a few days ago? This was found in one of the back corners. Parts of the team was there to do science experiments and things of this nature, which I assume included having dead penguins lying about. Everything has been perfectly preserved, and I'm not even sure if this is a real penguin or not. I think it is. It probably is. I was afraid to touch it, thinking it might pop up and scare the bejeezus out of me.

A little bit of penguin science

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.5
  • Aperture8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Checking into the Burj Al Arab

The Most Expensive Hotel – a Documentary

Here’s a documentary about the hotel I took a photo of below. What a place!

Daily Photo – Checking into the Burj Al Arab

Okay, I didn't actually check-in here, but maybe someday! This is the world's only 7-star hotel and it is absolutely majestic and crazy inside. I didn't even know what was happening with my eyes when I was in there… super-duper-overload! It was all I could do to settle myself to take a photo. This area is right after the revolving doors… I took this photo around 2 AM after Rene and I had spent the evening up in the top floor bar editing photos.

Checking into the Burj Al Arab

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/10
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO1250
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Dave full of Risk

A lot more Antarctica Photos Coming!

I took so many thousands of photos down there. I have a lot more coming this year… I hope you don’t feel overloaded by too much of one theme! Actually, as I blog about these, it gets me more excited all over again, and I can’t wait to go process more photos!

Daily Photo – Dave full of Risk

This guy's name is Dave Risk. What a completely awesome name! Can you imagine having such a badass name and then just doing stuff like this all over Antarctica? What a stud!

Haha this was a fun midnight-ish photowalk we did in Antarctica. I was out on the main continent with a group of scientists doing all kinds of work. The next day, Stu and I were supposed to be choppered out, and we had a TON of extra alcohol… I mean a ton. So we brought it all over to the camp of about 8 of us and we all listened to music and got totally confused. And then we decided to walk around a frozen lake for an hour and take photos! Haha what a fun night… and here's Dave looking pretty deft across the frozen lake.

(that bad news is that Stu and I got socked in with a blizzard the next day and we were running dry!)

Dave full of Risk

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture9.5
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length19.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Lightroom 6 and HDR? #WTFAdobeHDR

Update!

Since I originally published this article, there is news! Even though it’s a TREMENDOUS conflict of interest, haha, but I developed my own HDR Software with MacPhun called Aurora HDR Pro. It’s absolutely amazing and completely removes the need for Lightroom. But I’ll let you choose for yourself! 🙂

Lightroom 6 Unreview

This sensational blog post is brought to you by Trey’s Lightroom Presets, which are mega awesome and were made by Trey, the guy writing this in the third person that thinks these presets will bring you happiness and enlightenment on your deathbed.

I’m a huge fan of Lightroom, but this HDR addition is mega lame. Mega Lame Dot Com.

I’ll also talk about some of the other big additions, which everyone seems to rave about without hesitation. I’m actually fascinated by the internet and how Adobe can make the slightest little change or improvement that should have been there several years ago, and everyone goes nuts like Moses has found a third tablet with five new commandments. I think actually there may be a hidden Adobe commandment that says, “Thou shalt cripple Lightroom so more plebeians must buyeth Photoshop.”

Intro

But first, since everyone probably wants to know about the new HDR functionality, we’ll get started with that. I’ve been doing HDR stuff for about 8 years and used just about every product. Every day I put up a new image here on the blog… so that’s 365 images a year, most of which have some element of HDR in them. It all started a long time ago with the HDR Tutorial, which I continue to update.

About 3 or 4 years ago I switched from Aperture to Lightroom and I never looked back. I really do love Adobe Lightroom and even made an Organize Your Photos! video tutorial here to show how I use it.

Here’s five of my favorite HDR images so you can see the kind of work I like to do. My work is not for everyone, and if you don’t like it, what you don’t realize is that I’ve already ignored you even before you’ve thought about it.

Inception Reflection New York

Taking the Yacht for a Midnight Spin

Exploring New Zealand on the way to Antarctica

New HDR in Lightroom

In short, here are the three things I’ve found (I expand on each one below):

  • The results are a bit boring (often, quite boring)
  • LR HDR appears to be60-90% slower than Aurora HDR Pro for Mac
  • LR HDR appears to be 30-80% slower than Photomatix for Windows
  • There are absolutely no options for you to adjust the intensity of the HDR image. Even more surprising is the resulting new image has many siders pre-moved (including the highlight slider completely to the left), meaning there is little or no more recovery there.

Try This Yourself and try not to type #WTFAdobeHDR

It appears that you could save time by simply taking the middle exposure, dropping the highlights, and amping up the shadows. And by save time, I mean up to several minutes. I have a fast computer and using the HDR Merge on Lightroom is is pretty slow. If you just move THREE sliders on the middle exposure, you appear to get the exact same result in 2 seconds.

Tell me if I’m crazy; tell me if I’m wrong. I mean, I’m not, and I won’t listen to you anyway, but feel free.

Long_version

Here’s the new image that is created after merging in Lightroom HDR. You’ll see those three sliders on the right, each of which are automatically moved for you during the process. This took about 30 seconds on a Really Fast Computer.

3_second_version

Here’s one I made from the middle exposure in 2 seconds by simply moving those three sliders myself.

I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out why they made something so underwhelming. Personally, I don’t want to have to use another tool in the process… I know the people at Adobe are smart, but I’m actually confused how such a big team can take so long to make something so uninteresting. The team at Nik made a great HDR product in a small portion of the time. The team at Photomatix made something better than Adobe many years ago (and way way faster).

It’s actually surprising to me that a big company is so far behind these small companies. Why didn’t they just buy Photomatix and get their uber-fast and much-more-interesting algorithms? I don’t own any of Photomatix, btw… but just wondering about the decision processes of Adobe. They do a lot of strange stuff, but I figure this is because many decisions are made by committee, and this is why we never see a statue of a committee.

Lackluster HDR Results

When processing the photo, there is literally ONE option to adjust the look of your photo, which is “Auto-Tone.” That is basically ZERO options. And I don’t even know why it is an option, because if it is not selected, your photo does not get HDR’ed! It’s like having a Gaussian Blur dialog with a checkbox inside that says “Gaussian Blur.”

I’ve tried about 10 different images in there. I toggle on and of the “Auto-Tone” image and I haven’t been impressed once. Again, I can get the exact same result by just moving those three sliders on the middle image.

01

The Before Shot

02

The HDR Results from LR

03

One of 20 different results from Photomatix

Like, why not have Presets with lots of options? Pretty much all modern filter programs out there have presets now with little thumbnails. Maybe you’ve seen the awesome MacPhun Intensify stuff for example? Honestly, it’s not that hard to do, and Adobe could have made some Very Interesting HDR Presets that could give you a lot of different looks.

For example, here’s a screenshot of Photomatix featuring some of the Vaingloriously Named Trey Ratcliff’s Photomatix Presets. These are recommended by 2 out of 3 doctors.

Before Photomatix Photo

Before Shot

Trey_s_photomatix_Presets

How presets look in Photomatix

Slow HDR Boat to China

I’m not gonna write much about this other than to say that in my 10 tests, it was always quite slow. It averages 30-80% slower than Photomatix. Maybe I’m just used to speedy Photomatix or other fast tools like MacPhun.

I have a fast Macbook Pro and I have used Lightroom to HDR merge many times. On average, for 3 RAW photos (each one 36 megapixels), it took 17 seconds to get into the dialog and then an additional 10 seconds after clicking merge. For 5 RAW images, it took 44 seconds to get into the dialog and an additional whopping 104 seconds after clicking merge.

Compare that with Photomatix (see my Photomatix Review) with the exact same photos. For 3 photos, it took 10 seconds to get into the dialog and then 4 seconds to process. For 5 photos, it took 16 seconds to get into the dialog and 5 seconds to process. That’s an amazing savings of over two minutes. TWO MINUTES DOT COM. (sorry I’ve been doing robot-voice lately).

I think one reason it is slow is because it’s converting everything to DNG first. So maybe if you’re already DNG it will be faster… personally I don’t covert to DNG. This is another topic… people ask my why I don’t convert. My short answers are: 1) It takes quite a bit longer during import. 2) In practice.I don’t really see the size savings as being material. 3) I’m not worried about my RAW photos going obsolete, and just in case they do, I can convert to DNG in 5 years or whatever when my computer is 50x faster.

Crippled Sliders

Here’s another surprise (the hits keep on comin’!). After the photo has been HDR processed, you’ll notice that the sliders have been pre-slid for your pleasure.

Maybe some of you know about the Photoshop “Merge to HDR” functionality. Now, I’m not really a fan of that either. However, there is one good feature that I was SURE Lightroom would include. In Photoshop, when you drag in a bunch of images for HDR, you still get a lot more control over the shadows/highlights and this sort of thing. Yes, you can add some gradients and adjustment brushes in LR, but it’s not on the surface. Even when I do that, I’m not seeing any more recovery.

And when you compare the HDR functionality in Photoshop to Lightroom, again, there is no comparison. At least the Photoshop one gives you some options to tweak out the intensity or variety of the effect. The only options the LR version gives you is around the ghosting.

Good stuff about the New Lightroom

It seems generally faster. Their marketing speak is “up to 10 times faster” which could mean literally anything (like the Help dialog loads 10 times faster whereas the curves tool is 1.2 times faster). But I do notice one of my biggest pet peeves is way faster — the crop tool. Before, when I would make a lot of changes to a photo, it was extremely sluggish during the crop.

Also there is a panorama merge, so that is handy for quick panos or people that want to only live life in LR. I still use Autopano because it is more powerful and lets me do HDR panoramas.

There are other features that I don’t use like facial recognition and advanced video slideshows. There are also some updates to mobile, but I don’t use those much, if at all.

What I wish they had added

Even though I love Lightroom, I find Adobe to be a frustrating company. It’s so obviously that they purposefully cripple Lightroom so people will keep using Photoshop.

A really good example is the content-aware healing brush. It’s Really Amazing in PS, and the spot-removal tool in LR is just not good enough. It’s literally Very Easy to add into LR, but they don’t do it.

Another good example is layers. Layers would not be that difficult to add (especially with their team of engineers that are using their time instead by working on such killer features as “Advanced Video Slideshows”).

I’d also like to see better catalog control and organization. I have it figured out, but it’s inscrutable to many people. I can’t tell you how many people, especially beginners, are super-confused about how to manage your LR catalog, especially if you travel and you have too many photos for one computer or drive.

In Sum

Obviously the thing THEY were most excited about was the HDR functionality. All their marketing material and blog posts begin with this amazing announcement. But it’s by far one of the most underwhelming features. What do you think?

TL;DR

poopydiapers

Waiting on the London PhotoWalk

“Casual Photos”

See this photo below? It’s not usual that I publish them, but it actually represents MOST of the photos I snap… There are always interesting things here and there. These actually don’t take much time… and I know people generally don’t like it when I post “casual snaps” here and there on the blog, but here’s one anyway — hope you don’t mind! 🙂

Daily Photo – Waiting on the London PhotoWalk

I always try to arrive at the PhotoWalks around the world a little early so that I can meet people and say hello. We had a super-informal gathering here at the Milkbar before we headed over to the big event. That's my friend Lee sitting there in front… it was so crowded inside that we had to sit outside to enjoy our coffees. We can here to meet up with Gordon Laing from Cameralabs.com — was great to see him again!

Waiting on the London PhotoWalk

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7M2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture
  • ISO1250
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Spending the day inside Captain Scott’s Second Hut

Knowing your Scotts from your Shakletons

Before going to Antarctica (and since!), I’ve been reading up more on the great adventurers of the age… those were some tough dudes, I tell ya. Here’s a bit of information on Captain Robert Falcon Scott (what a cool name!). There’s also many amazing documentaries out there as well worth watching…

Daily Photo – Spending the day inside Captain Scott's Second Hut

Captain Scott has two huts in Antarctica and this is his “more recent” one. You can see a huge difference between this one and his first “Discovery” hut that I also visited. The other one was smaller, not very warm, and did not have room for many supplies. This one was quite huge and had a clever heating system where the oven could be used to heat up the whole place. Now, it wasn't exactly cozy, but you could see how much Captain Scott learned between his two expeditions.

Spending the day inside Captain Scott's Second Hut

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time8
  • Aperture9
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring the Reflections of Dubai

Quick Review of TEDxQueenstown

I had a great time there! Here’s a mega quick review of what happened! The video should be done in a few weeks 🙂

ND Filter?

I’m on the edge of getting a good ND Filter for my lenses so that I can do some long-exposure stuff during the daytime. But one problem is that I use so many different lenses, and they all have different filter-thread sizes. For example, I looked into getting one for my 21mm Leica F/1.4 — but the adapter+filter all together is over $500. It’s not the end of the world on cost, but then there is organizing everything… carrying around different ND filters and stuff. It just seems like a tremendous inconvenience for the very rare shot I would take… I think it is very difficult to fill up your bag with all the “edge-cases” for photography, so I’m just gonna keep it simple.

Daily Photo – Exploring the Reflections of Dubai

I absolutely love exploring Dubai at night. I can't get enough of it. The ironic thing is I stopped in Dubai for a few days to rest and recuperate, but what ended up happening was I stayed up almost every night until dawn with Rene! He and I had so much fun walking around here and taking a ton of photos. I haven't even come close to processing all of them, but here is one of my favorite reflection shots!

Exploring the Reflections of Dubai

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2
  • Aperture
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.7

Landing in Antarctica

Crazy Vehicles in Antarctica

I’ve never seen so many different kinds of vehicles. One day I went over to explore the US base — it was really impressive how many types and styles of vehicles were there. I took a ton of photos (naturally)… I need to process them!

Daily Photo – Landing in Antarctica

Right after getting off the plane, we headed over to this enormous bus — it's called Ivan The Terrabus. I think it's one of the biggest busses in the world… one of the best things about it is that it's fully heated inside. In fact, it was so hot that I had to remove a few layers!

Landing in Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/8000
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length17.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-2

Driving in Hong Kong

Cosmos

This is truly a great series, and I recommend you pick it up and enjoy it with the family. The kids here love it and Tina and I are always impressed at the production quality and the clever way in which they are able to easily explain complex concepts.

Daily Photo – Driving in Hong Kong

Getting shots from above in cities is quickly becoming one of my new favorite things! Getting this one with the DJI Inspire was very difficult, actually, because the buildings blocked the GPS. There were fairly random winds gusting through the buildings, so it was very challenging to keep it centered!

Driving in Hong Kong

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraFC350
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/50
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO191
  • Focal Length3.6 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Organize Your Photos Live event!

Organize Your Photos Live event! (This video and the special deal will only last 1 more day!)

I know some of you have enjoyed the “Organize Your Photos!” tutorial and even if you already have it, you’ll enjoy seeing this, as I’ve added a bit of stuff! Some of it has to do with merging photos I take “on the road” back with the mother lode.  I’m also putting together a strategy around the new all-encompassing Photos app for the Mac.

It’s also on sale for the next ONE days at $19 instead of $29 — so be sure to grab it!

As always, there will be a live Q&A.  I’ll also be looking at questions in the Stuck In Customs community at http://goo.gl/u5rkIl — it’s always great to watch the activity in there!

Lion Brothers in the Wild

Upcoming events

I’m really looking forward to our big event that starts this week! It’s all sold out, but we do have some future ones coming, including a combo yoga/photography adventure here in New Zealand as well as an unannounced Venice one… but watch The Events Page here to see what is coming up soon!

Daily Photo – Lion Brothers in the Wild

We sat here and watch a pride of lions for several hours. They were so interesting… these are slightly older brothers, and you can see one of them is starting to get his mane. Nearby, their mom was sleeping on her side while cute little cubs were feeding. It was great to watch! At one point the mom got frustrated by some of the over-suckling, and she growled at them in the way only a mom can!

Lion Brothers in the Wild

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/750
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO2000
  • Focal Length500.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring New Zealand on the way to Antarctica

More from Lake Tekapo

See this church below? Here’s another video that I shot in this area a few years ago when I was using the Sony NEX system… of course, now I’ve moved to the Sony A7 system! You can read more about these and more on the Reviews page here on the site.

Daily Photo – Exploring New Zealand on the way to Antarctica

Stu and I had a really fun road trip on the way to Christchurch, where we took a flight down to Antarctica. Along the way, we had a fun night here in Tekapo. There's actually an AMAZING sushi restaurant right by here… we stayed there a LONG time and ate a lot of sushi and had a lot of sake, then stumbled over to take this photo during an amazing sunset!

Exploring New Zealand on the way to Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.4
  • Aperture9
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Spreading out across Antarctica

Panorama Software: Autopano

I’ve been experimenting with a new panorama software. It’s called AutoPano and it’s super cool! I find it to be way better than the Photoshop tool. It also does HDR Panos, and I have an example of that below!

Ratcliff Family Photos during the Honey Harvest

Here are a ton of great photos from the great Jim Pollard. Be sure to click on his name to check out his website too! I’ll get more photos up soon! 🙂

Those Ratcliffs-022

Those Ratcliffs-012

Those Ratcliffs-028

Daily Photo – Spreading out across Antarctica

Here's a massive panorama I took of one of the most amazing glaciers on the main continent of Antarctica. It's hard to explain how big this is, but I have my friend Stu there on the left for scale. Can you see him over there? You may have to squint!

Spreading out across Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

London during the PhotoWalk

Upcoming Walks

Even though our Events page lists walks, be sure to also sign up for our Newsletter to see when one is coming to your area!

Live Event Tomorrow

Don’t forget about the live “Organize Your Photos!” event tomorrow. Click here for details!

Daily Photo – London during the PhotoWalk

This area behind Westminster Abbey was under all sorts of construction, so it was very hard to shoot. They had this wall here that was blocking some of the construction, and it turned out to be very shiny… so I got extremely close to try to get creative and make this kind of a shot. I think everyone on the photowalk thought I was crazy while I was leaning up against the wall in a Very Strange Pose!

London during the PhotoWalk

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.5
  • Aperture9
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Upcoming Live “Organize Your Photos” Event!

Come Watch Live on Thursday!

Here’s the event (Click!) and where you can watch Live!

Live Photo Event – Organize Your Photos! – Thursday 6 PM PST, 9 PM EST (or check your local time on the event page)

Join me as we do a live Google+ Hangout soon. It’s a free event and I’ll be talking about how I organize my photos —I have a pretty good system I think that I believe would work for anyone because there are a few levels of “extremity” depending on how organized you want to be!

I know some of you have enjoyed the “Organize Your Photos!” tutorial and even if you already have it, you’ll enjoy seeing this, as I’ve added a bit of stuff! Some of it has to do with merging photos I take “on the road” back with the mother lode. I’m also putting together a strategy around the new all-encompassing Photos app for the Mac.

As always, there will be a live Q&A. I’ll also be looking at questions in the Stuck In Customs community — it’s always great to watch the activity in there!

Here’s a little video that shows what we’ll be talking about a bit!

Daily Photo – Late Night in Beijing

This place is always mega-crowded and a place most everyone visits when they come to China. It's hard not to ignore with that huge photo of Chairman Mao floating up there. It's amazing, actually, how popular Mao has become once again, especially with young people…I've heard many talk about what a great man he was, apparently not knowing he killed an estimated 40-70 million people during the revolution. Many carry his photo or come here to pay homage. Can you imagine huge photos of Stalin in Moscow or Hitler in Berlin? My goodness…

Late Night in Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

Snowflakes Up Close

My Goodie Bag

Even though I could see these with the naked eye, I used a few extension tubes! They are super-cheap, like under $20 I believe. I have that stuff and more on an Amazon list – just click Trey’s Favorite Things and you’re set!

For this photo, I just held out my black woolen glove and the little flakes would catch on the fibers… amazing!

Daily Photo – Snowflakes Up Close

The snow flakes in Antarctica are huge! You can actually see this with your naked eye. I've never seen anything like it… and I was freaking out the whole time. Maybe some of you live in places where you can see these kinds of shapes with out any special lenses or anything?

Snowflakes Up Close

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring the New London at Night

Behind the Scenes in London

Don’t forget to check out the DJI Inspire Review!

Stu and I shot this video while in London and flying the quad about! He put on the Google Glass and recorded the various adventures we had that day — thanks again Stu! I got to know Stu through The Arcanum, which you should check out if you haven’t yet!

Daily Photo – Exploring the New London at Night

It's hard to believe how much this building (The Shard in the distance) has changed the skyline of London. I feel like it had not been that long since I was away (maybe three years?), but now, upon return, it's fun to re-shoot the city and get this incredible piece of architecture in the skyline.

In the video above, I was right by this area… very close to City Hall…

Exploring the New London at Night

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

In the cockpit of a CL-130 over Antarctica

Many Videos from Antarctica

We shot A LOT of video down in Antarctica. When will we release them? Who knows! Actually I gotta get on that… the editing takes forever, but we’re gonna get on it! 🙂

Daily Photo – In the cockpit of a CL-130 over Antarctica

I feel very lucky that my friend Randy got Stu and I up into the cockpit as much as we wanted during our flight to Antarctica. This is a major flight crew up there! Here, you see the Commander in the back with the co-pilot and pilot in front of him. Over to my right, which you can't see, sits the Navigator, who is looking at maps and keeping track of all sorts of stuff. It's amazing how busy everyone is all the time. I don't even know what they are all doing… and I feel like I know a little bit about flying! But they're constantly fiddling with stuff and clicking things. They are busier than I am in a Photoshop session!

In the cockpit of a CL-130 over Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7M2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

TEDx Queenstown and Beautiful London at Sunset

TEDx Queenstown

I’m very much looking forward to the big event in about 9 days here in Queenstown. I know we have a few people flying in for it… be sure to come over and see me during one of the in-between events — don’t be shy… just come on over; I am very nice! 🙂

HDR Photo

Here’s the press release:

Trey Ratcliff, author of the number one travel photography blog ‘Stuck in Customs’ will be speaking at the TEDxQueenstown event on Sunday April 19.

Ratcliff is the latest to be announced in a plethora of speakers descending upon Queenstown later this month at the independently organised version of the TED (Technology Entertainment Design) talks, another phenomenon to have taken the internet by storm.

Speakers have less than 18 minutes to wow their audience – something which could prove tricky for the adventurous photographer who has travelled and snapped Antarctica to Zurich and most places in between.

TEDxQueenstown organiser Trent Yeo said he was ‘excited’ to announce Ratcliff as part of the line-up.

“There’s a great range of speakers and performers at this year’s event and Trey is a wonderful addition.

“Queenstown somehow attracts very purposeful and influential people so it’s great we can invite a local to address what he shares to his global community, but in person,” said Mr Yeo.

Ratcliff is also well known as a pioneer in High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, a technique whereby multiple levels of light are captured of a single scene and then combined into a single photograph. The resulting image is richly detailed and more closely resembles how you’d recall a scene in your mind.

Ratcliff spent three weeks photographing Antarctica earlier this year, capturing the continent’s icy wilderness. The trip included survival training, carving an ice cave and overcoming the daily challenge of living in such a harsh and unforgiving environment.

He has over 60 Billion views on Google along with over 13 million followers cumulative across Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Originally from Texas, US, but now living in Queenstown with his family, Ratcliff said that he believed it was ‘the greatest place on the planet’ and was supportive of the TED mission.

“Queenstown seems to be a vortex of interesting people and the TEDxQueenstown event will take that to the next level,” Mr Ratcliff said.

“Preparation for the event has been a lot of fun, my talk will be unexpected and full of surprises and a secret that people might just figure out in the first 17 minutes…”

Ratcliff joins fellow adventurer Jamie Fitzgerald who holds the world record for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, archaeologist Leslie Van Gelder and well-known Wellington musician Graeme James among others.

Trey Ratcliff is the final speaker to be announced out of the 11 who will participate in this year’s event at Queenstown’s Memorial Centre.

Mr Yeo said tickets were almost sold out.

“I love this town, the depth of people that live here, the amazing influence of the person next door.

“So I’m really excited to welcome Trey to the TEDxQueenstown stage, a chance to meet a person that thinks constantly about how to positively influence the world”

TEDxQueenstown ticket details:
www.tedxqueenstown.com

Daily Photo – Beautiful London at Sunset

I love this city so much! And even better, the photographers there in London are unbelievably nice and welcoming! The photowalks we have there are always a treat, not just for photography, but in getting to meet so many amazing people. Photographers are always among the nicest people in the world, I find, but in London especially so!

I think I took this the day after the photowalk… seeing London from above really gives a wonderful perspective on the whole place.

Beautiful London at Sunset

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.5
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

A Special Event in Wanaka and…a Panorama of Hong Kong

Upcoming PhotoWalks and events including the Venice Photowalk

We’re about to announce a whole new slew of photowalks and events! Be sure to check the Events page for more!

Follow me on Instagram

Here’s me, @TreyRatcliff ! And we also started a live-feed Instagram page here on the site!

DJI Inspire Review

We now have two quad reviews up! The newer one is the DJI Inspire Review, but we also have up the DJI Phantom Review.

An Instameet in Wanaka on Saturday!

I’m gonna pop over to Wanaka on Saturday to meet with a bunch of Instagrammers and have a fun day/evening of photos!

It sounds like a good group of people going, and it’s led by Liz Carlson, also known as Young Adventuress! People coming include Chris Burkard, Folk Magazine, Hello Emilie, Elizabeth Gadd, Matt Glastonbury, Johan Le Backpacker, Steen Jones, Matt Vandeputte, and Shaun Jeffers. We’ll all meet down by the famous tree in the lake at 4PM. I think any camera including mobile phones are cool. She tells me tags at #LoveWanaka and #InstameetWanaka and tagging @lakewanakanz. You can see more on Liz’s blog here!

Even though we’re meeting at the tree at 4PM, I’ll be at Gin and Raspberry a few hours beforehand having a wine! 🙂

P.S. This is the tree I’m talkin’ about, just ask any local if you’re driving in! 🙂

Peaceful Evening in Wanaka I had a peaceful evening in Wanaka. There is this tree that sits out in the middle of the lake. It’s so unusual. I love the way it reflects back on itself in the smooth water. I was by myself, listening to music on my iPod, and just watching the water as it would calm down then get excited, then calm down again. I swapped out lenses a few times and kept moving around to admire it from different angles. This one was one of my favorites. - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Daily Photo – A Panorama of Hong Kong

I think this is still called Hong Kong even though it's across the bay in the Kowloon area. I was looking at some old photos of Hong Kong from about seven years ago, and I could see this building just in its beginning stages. Now it's complete, and quite magnificent as you can see! This was a panorama made from about four shots with the DJI Inspire.

A Panorama of Hong Kong

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraFC350
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/351
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length3.6 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Midnight Pizza in Queenstown

Photography and Neuroscience

Here’s a very cool article called When Photographers Are Neuroscientists from Nautilus.

Outdoor pizza oven

I’ve never wanted an outdoor pizza oven so bad! This bad boy made a pizza in, and I am not kidding, 1.5 minutes!

Daily Photo – Midnight Pizza in Queenstown

This is one of the best pizza nights of my life! We had a mini-get-together with me, Curtis, Rene, and Stu and made about 9 pizzas in this pizza oven right there… we ate pizza out under the stars and watched movies projected on the side of a wall. We had blankets and were cozy and everything. It sounds like the perfect date night, except it was just 4 dudes! haha… anyway, we were all so bloated and moaning from pizza pain… it was a weird scene but mega awesome!

Midnight Pizza in Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time3.2
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Camels in the New City and Venice PhotoWalk!

Testing out BlogLovin’

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Venice PhotoWalk Announced! May 3, 6 PM!

Hey everyone, I’m coming to Venice for the Biennale and I’m super-excited. Let’s do a photowalk while there. These events are free and just a fun way to give back to all of you that have given so much internet-love. It’s a great celebration of photography and all skill levels, ages, etc are welcome to join. It doesn’t matter if you take mobile photos or giant DSLR photos… come along! Bring a friend or bring the family… it’s all good! 🙂

Day: Sunday May 3
Time: 6 PM
Starting Location: St Mark’s Campanile in St. Mark’s Square
Google Map: http://goo.gl/M1ISUr
Ending Location: ?? We’ll find some pub or something — actually I could use a local helper to help plan the route and stuff — let me know!

Hashtag: #TRVenice2015

Who can come: Anyway, all skill levels and cameras from Mobile to DSLR are welcome.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/362960580561857/

Google+ Event: https://plus.google.com/events/cbo3enena96k5orkh4l4horfru8

What happens on my PhotoWalks? I usually start out and give a little talk or something… some ideas and lessons, etc. Then we start on the walk, all together taking photos of stuff and people and things. I’ll stop 3+ times along the way and set up or a formal shot… talk through my settings, let you look through my camera, etc etc. All the while, I’m there to answer your questions and have fun with y’all!

Grand Prize: An unlimited digital shopping spree in the Stuck In Customs store! I will announce the criteria to win on location, but you can share your photos anywhere from G+ to Instagram to FB to Pinterest to Flickr to 500px… you know them all… I’ll search across all of them to find my favorite!

Thanks again for the Dubai PhotoWalk!

What an incredible photowalk that was… thanks again everyone… just amazing!

We were walking along the main marina when it was recommended we pop over to the beach area. On the walk down to the beach, we saw this scene below — amazing!

Daily Photo – Camels in the New City

I gotta get back to Dubai! Man there is so much to shoot there. I could probably spend 6 months there and find new things to shoot every single day. It's an absolute and total playground for photographers. Every day, Rene and I would find more and more amazing subjects for photography.

Camels in the New City

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture4
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Gehry Building in Dusseldorf

New Article in the Daily Telegraph

Here’s an article that came out yesterday. It talks a bit about me, the blog, and everything! It features a few different “Online Influencers.”

Correcting Alignments in Architecture

I tried doing the automatic adjustments in Photoshop to send all the lines back to vertical. The look was okay, but it was a bit boring on this image, so I kept it with the wacky verts… which I generally like better anyway, but especially for crazy architecture like this!

Daily Photo – Gehry Building in Dusseldorf

How cool is this building? Gehry actually has three buildings here in this “Media Center” area of Dusseldorf that are grouped together. All the buildings are awesome, but this one definitely stands out. The three are very similar in design, but this is the one with the crazy mirrored outside. The “look” and feel of it change dramatically throughout the day and night, but around this time, I felt like it was an entrance to the Matrix!

Gehry Building in Dusseldorf

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time30
  • Aperture4
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length21.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Approaching Mos Eisley Spaceport on Tatooine

Yoga with Adriene

A few months ago you guys gave me some suggestions for yoga shows on YouTube. Anyway, here’s one of my favorites – Yoga with Adriene. I like her… she’s really chill and doesn’t take it too seriously. She also has a fun 30-days-of-Yoga program that I recommend. Also, she’s from my old hometown of Austin!

Daily Photo – Approaching Mos Eisley Spaceport on Tatooine

I was on a helicopter over the Persian Gulf and saw Dubai from a distance. It's amazing how much the sand can give the city sort of an epic haze. At first I thought it was pollution, but my friend Sebastian told me it was sand. It absolutely reminded me of the spaceport from Star Wars.

Approaching Mos Eisley Spaceport on Tatooine

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture4
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Running Through Glenorchy

Best app for finding hiking trails?

Does anyone know a good app for this? I’ve mostly been using Google Maps, but I know there are a lot of hardcore hikers out there, so I thought maybe someone has made the “ultimate” app.

Daily Photo – Running Through Glenorchy

One day we went out for a little family walk through Glenorchy. As usual, my two little girls ran around everywhere like wild animals… and, as usual, I had my camera. It was a good day… one of those that starts out a bit cold but everything warms up as you start walking around!

If you come out this way, be sure to go on this walk in Glenorchy… everyone knows about it… a super small one-horse town and the walk is easy to find… just ask anyone you see wandering the streets!

Running Through Glenorchy

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/8000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Two Chinas Together and Workshop Update

Upcoming Photography & Yoga retreat in New Zealand!

New Events:

*New Zealand Autumn 2015* – Sold out
*New Zealand Photo & Yoga Adventure*http://www.stuckincustoms.com/photography-workshop-yoga-retreat/
*Venice* – Not yet announced, watch our Newsletter at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com/news

Here’s a video that talks more about our workshops!

Daily Photo – Two Chinas Together

I found this old monastic area of Beijing that was right in the middle of the city. Inside there was really no one but monks. If you look close here, you can see that it is “resupply day” and the monks were carrying goods from the entrance back towards their living quarters. I looked inside one of the boxes, and I'm not kidding you, it was full of Red Bull!

Two Chinas Together

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1600
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length25.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Having Drinks in The Shard

DJI Inspire Review

It’s now up on the DJI Inspire Review page. One of the videos in there was even shot right down below where Stu and I were having drinks! 🙂

Nice YouTube Playlist

I’m listening to music on YouTube more and more now… I kind of have it running on a second computer while I’m editing photos. Anyway, here’s my cool playlist that starts with Jon Hopkins! There’s some crazy videos on there too…not all are safe for children (or for adults!).

Daily Photo – Having Drinks in The Shard

I reckon this is just about the most awesome place to have drinks in London. This is inside the Shangri-La hotel, and even though this bar is not on the very top, it's plenty high enough! There's also a restaurant here, but I did not eat there. I did walk over there to take a few photos out the window, but the restaurant staff was not too keen on that. I had to turn my charm up to 11 to get over there, but I did end up getting a cracking sunset shot that I will post soon!

Having Drinks in The Shard

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture4
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Camera Bag Stolen in Germany and… New April Lightroom Presets, Live!

April Lightroom Presets, only $2.50 instead of $5

The monthly tradition continues with my Lightroom Presets! I hope you have enjoyed the previous month packs, and here comes a funky-fresh one!

Daily Photo – Amazing Cologne

I loved everything about Cologne… except for my train ride back to Dusseldorf.

My whole camera bag was stolen! Can you believe it? I was distracted and before I knew it, my whole camera bag was swiped in a grab n' run! What a bummer! I still was holding my tripod and A7r, so I didn't lose those, luckily. But I did lost an A7ii, two Leica lenses, and a Sony lens. Ouch! Oh well, it's just stuff… But kind of inconvenient now, you know? Ah well…

I filed out a police report and everything. We're checking on insurance now to see what was covered… fingers crossed but I have low expectations!

Amazing Cologne

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1.6
  • Aperture4
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length69.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Approaching another Glacier in Antarctica

The Big Lightroom Preset Sale is Tomorrow!

24 hour away, set your browsers for stun! Okay, that was dumb… but yes, set your calendars (for fun). Check the Lightroom Presets page for more!

Daily Photo – Approaching another Glacier in Antarctica

It's hard to get a sense of scale here, but let me just tell you that it is huge. It's the kind of huge that makes me feel as insignificant as I know I am in my heart of hearts! The whiteness and towering nature of it all just makes me dizzy, even thinking back on being there. Each of those ice-boulders you see is way too big to climb over and the effort of walking up to touch the face of the glacier is an excursion in itself. Thank god it didn't crack apart and fall on me when I was there. I'm not so sure I could have escaped it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I couldn't!

Approaching another Glacier in Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture16
  • ISO64
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

April’s Lightroom Presets coming in 2 days!

Set your Cal!

They are only half price for 24 hours! Here’s the Lightroom Presets page that will tell you more about them… and here’s a little video!

Daily Photo – And the Lights Spiral Down

This is one of my favorite photos from Dubai, I must say! I keep coming back to it over and over again, and it gives me great pleasure!

I would love to live in a home surrounded by these. Or at least have one or two rooms absolutely full of them. I've only seen a few of these stores around the world, and they have such a plethora of them in these locations that I picture getting ALL of them just for one room. That would either be insane or awesome, but probably awesome.

And the Lights Spiral Down

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5
  • Aperture8
  • ISO80
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

A windy day at the Forbidden City

Beijing From Above

Today’s photo is related to this video I made below! 🙂 You can read the whole story about the incarceration here on the blog!

Daily Photo – A windy day at the Forbidden City

Here's my assistant in China, getting wind-blown and umbrella-inverted at the Forbidden City. As much as I like to tease her for being a rather useless assistant who could carry little more than an African swallow, she did get me out of incarceration with her fast-Chinese-talkin'. It wasn't too long after this that we ended up behind lock & key for flying the quadcopter in the video above…

A windy day at the Forbidden City

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture9
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1.3

Periscope Up! Join me for Wine, Cheese, and Photo Questions Tonight!

Experimenting with Periscope

Time/Date:
– 9 PM Friday PT, 11 PM Friday CT, Midnight New York and EST!
– (5 PM New Zealand Time Saturday)

You guys know I’m an early-adopter of sorts. I had a GREAT experiment with this new app for iPhone/iPad called Periscope, which is connected to Twitter and allows me to broadcast live any time.

Download Periscope for Free here.

Basically, any time I choose, I can choose to broadcast live and share what I see, ask questions, or answer questions. I’m gonna experiment again tonight, so come join me and help me explore this! Right now, it’s only iOS, but I hear the Android version is coming soon. Either way, you can watch live on the web and still ask me questions through Twitter.

Quick Preview?

Here’s a Periscope I did last night on a whim. If you get the app, then you can just add me then scroll down and watch the “replay” — warning, it’s not high-production quality or anything… just raw and straight to me. Here is the link.

What happened in the live event? (look, this is really random and unplanned… sort of raw and whatever!

[Update: According to my friend Sara Haider at Periscope, the replay did not upload/save! So that is too bad… but here is what you missed!]

– I started answering questions about Sony cameras
– I opened a bottle of “Wrath”
– I had some cheese and crackers
– Old friends popped into the live broadcast and I said hello!
– I threw a toy to my dog, Blueberry
– I answered some more questions about Sony camera models and which you should get
– My 5-year-old daughter appeared and did a Maori dance
– I answered more questions and had wine and cheese and crackers
– My daughter stole one of the grown-up crackers
– My friend Tatorandtots from Ireland arrived and I gave her a toast from my wife and I.
– I got in trouble from my wife for not helping with our dinner party so I shut down the broadcast

there were three moons that day that cut the sky

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