Looking upwards by the river

New Trick with Cameras

I figured out a new strange way to take photos with my Sony A7r — actually this will work with any camera that has a flip out screen that points at least 90 degrees upwards.

As you may have tried before you know that looking straight up with a wide angle lens often produces really interesting results. The problem is actually the “looking straight up” bit! It always hurts my neck, especially when on a tripod. So now what I do is just aim the camera straight up and walk forward behind it, normally, but I keep the screen flipped up to 90 degrees so it is right in front of my eyes. It makes it super-easy to find the shots you might normally miss!

Daily Photo – Looking upwards by the river

These trees were the first to lose their leaves this season, but I wanted to see if I could still make an interesting photo from them. That trick above helped. The colors maybe came out a bit dull initially, but I do like the way everything turned out when I added some of my Lightroom Presets to them. These are from the latest edition of the package, and I'm secretly working on a few more… will let you know!

Looking upwards by the river

Photo Information

  • Date TakenApril 30, 2014 at 5:15pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/80
  • Aperture8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.7

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Man with Umbrella in Tokyo Rain

Setting up my new Mac Pro

I’m super excited about my new Mac, but I had kind of a tough time setting it up! I’ve set up lots of Macs and they are usually super-easy, but I could not get it to recognize my bluetooth trackpad and keyboard! It was so confusing… I finally had to go inside and get my other USB ones to plug them in the get the dang thing set up. I had to turn on and off the bluetooth system a few times in order to get it to recognize my devices. I felt so clueless — although this is a feeling I have quite a bit, so I’m used to it! :)

Daily Photo – Man with Umbrella in Tokyo Rain

This photo is one of my favorites from my street-series in Tokyo. It's so delightfully strange, I think! I felt lucky to get the focus right at f/1.4 with the 50mm when I took it. I had a general idea of exactly how far people need to be when I take these sorts of photos. It's all manual focus — and I generally find that I get much better street photography photos when I am in the manual focus mode.

Man with Umbrella in Tokyo Rain

Man with Umbrella in Tokyo Rain

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 20, 2014 at 5:18pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

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The View from the Barn at Lake Hayes

The Barn at Lake Hayes

Don’t forget that if you come to this area here in Queenstown and Arrowtown that you should totally stay at “The Barn at Lake Hayes” — it’s just incredible there as it backs onto the shore of this majestic lake. I took this photo from there!

Daily Photo – The View from the Barn at Lake Hayes

Doesn't this view make you want to go out and do some paddle-boarding? I still haven't done it, but it looks so fun. And whenever I see people do it, they make it look so easy. Maybe it is easy! I want to try, and it's super popular around here. A lot of people even have their own paddleboards… Maybe I will borrow one and give it a whirl. It would be really cool if I could get good enough where I could take my camera out with me.

Oh, there is this one curious thing about this photo I noticed when I was done with it. It looks like there is sort of one of those glass spheres, huge, right in the middle of the photo, eh?

The View from the Barn at Lake Hayes

Photo Information

  • Date TakenApril 30, 2014 at 3:21pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length37.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Lamp Shopping in Fes

Your Favorite Travel Collection?

I’ve started bringing back little goodies with me when I travel to places… and I wish I had started a long time ago. But anyway, better late than never… what’s your favorite “goodie” you collected on some travels then brought home?

Daily Photo – Lamp Shopping in Fes

I love Moroccan lamps! I love them so much that I bought nine of them while I was in Fes and had them shipped back here. Now that was a real fiasco because of customs. I think I paid about $500 for the lamps and $600 just to get them in the country! It's so maddening… I know that the name of this blog is Stuck In Customs, but that was meant to be a bit playful… now all that seems to be Stuck In Customs is my lamps and my money! :(

Lamp Shopping in Fes

Lamp Shopping in Fes

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 4, 2014 at 6:03am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.7
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-2

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High Above the Southern Alps and Tips for shooting from fast-moving vehicles

How to take photos from high-speed vehicles in the daytime

The photo below is a good example of this, seeing as it is from a helicopter! It’s best get out of Aperture Priority mode (which I contend is just fine when walkin’ around) and jump into Manual Mode. I amp up the shutter speed to at least 1/250s if not faster. This ensures there will a sharp photo, which is most important. I also drop down the F stop very low. This allows a lot of light in quickly and can get you through any dirt or spots on the window. You don’t have to worry about distant things being in-or-out of focus as long as you don’t have on some kind of a crazy 200mm+ lens.

Last, I let my ISO float (with Auto-ISO), so that I don’t have to constantly be adjusting it as the vehicle turns and there are bright bits and shadowy bits — I think it is smartest to let the computer inside the camera figure out the ISO!

Daily Photo – High Above the Southern Alps

We recently had Choppy fly us over to an amazing campsite near the Greenstone river. Along the way, we flew over these breathtaking mountains. I was taking photos like a man possessed. In addition to the tips above, I also did one other thing. I set up auto-bracketing and had it step by 1 (so it was -1, 0, and +1). I didn't do this for HDR, but just so that I would have a bit of variety in the light levels in my shots. I'm glad I did it, because sometimes the darker one is better than the 0 exposure! For this one, I set the exposure compensation down a bit, so this is actually shot at EV -0.7. It was also SUPER bright outside, so I the aperture was F/10.

High Above the Southern Alps

High Above the Southern Alps

Photo Information

  • Date TakenNovember 5, 2013 at 5:31am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture10
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length38.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

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The Autumn Hillside Above Arrowtown

Changing Autumn Colors

Other than New England and down here, where else in the world is know for colorful and beautiful Autumns? There must be a ton of them, but I don’t hear about many of them… let us know! :)

Daily Photo – The Autumn Hillside Above Arrowtown

I took this in the middle of the Autumn Festival here in Arrowtown, which is about 10 minutes from my home. If you're looking to come to New Zealand in the Autumn (or perhaps will join one of our workshops), then this is a highly recommended festival. It goes for the full week and is a great family event. We go every year, so maybe we'll see you down there! :)

The Autumn Hillside Above Arrowtown

The Autumn Hillside Above Arrowtown

Photo Information

  • Date TakenApril 30, 2014 at 4:23pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length250.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Hay!

Third-World Crazy Vehicle Situations

Whenever I am in places that are far away and I see people doing insane things with vehicles, it never ceases to amaze. And most things I see seem to appear totally unsafe, and more or less like fraternity pranks! What’s the craziest thing you have seen?

Daily Photo – Hay!

I can't believe this thing has somehow evaded the principals of Newtonian physics! When I pulled into a small kasbah called Aït Benhaddou in the desert to take some photos, I saw this huge truck full of hay rumbling past. I barely kept my wits about me to take a photo just after it passed.

On the plus side, it must be very easy to get the hay off the truck!

Hay!

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 10, 2014 at 11:42pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture9
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1.3

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Chefchaouen from Above

SmugMug Review

Below on today’s photo, I talk about our Quadcopter getting temporarily shut down by the military police in Morocco — but when the final video comes out, it will replace my current “promo” video for SmugMug, which is at the bottom of the SmugMug Review page!

Quadcopter filming a Bungy Swing in New Zealand

I wanted to post this video first here on the blog! Pretty much 100% of what you are about to see is ill-advised, but the swing bit, and the quadcopter filming bit. It all worked out fine, but this will only encourage more bad decisions by us in the future! :) We used a DJI Phantom Vision over a crazy gorge in Skipper’s Canyon to get this footage… this is the long version of the behind-the-scenes from http://www.StuckInCustoms.com ! :)

Daily Photo – Chefchaouen from Above

Now, here is a place where the military police shut us down with our quadcopter! I came into town with Anton and Ana from SmugMug to work on this cool new promo piece. We had been already using Anton's quadcopter all over Morocco, but when we got here, the taxi driver alerted the local military police that we had some sort of a “plane”! This caused a lot of worry and consternation (and, I should add, a Significant amount of confusion). After we were there for half an hour, the military police descended on our hotel with a rather sour attitude. I've never had any success negotiating with the Moroccan military, and I had no success here either. I did put up a good intellectual fight, but I eventually acquiesced, mostly because of the size of their guns. Well, there was no gunplay… but I did see a lot of guns… which always helps one side win an argument.

Chefchaouen from Above

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMarch 5, 2014 at 6:59am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture16
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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Way above and behind Wanaka

A great flight with Choppy!

If you ever come to the Queenstown area and want an absolutely incredible helicopter ride, be sure to contact Choppy at Over The Top. She knows all the best spots, and she’s a photographer at heart too… so she’s always thinking in those directions!

Daily Photo – Way above and behind Wanaka

Choppy told me that in the winter, people get dropped off by a helicopter here and then ski all the way to the bottom. How awesome does that sound? I guess it also sounds a bit scary… I wish I was super-good on a snowboard so that I could take all my camera stuff along… even with traveling lighter, there are still several guaranteed crashes till I get to the bottom!

Way above and behind Wanaka

Way above and behind Wanaka

Photo Information

  • Date TakenMay 3, 2014 at 11:44am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture10
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length37.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

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