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People of Papua New Guinea Part 13

Christmas Gadgets?

Even though I’m actually not materialistic at all, I do like a good gadget now and then haha! Anyone know of anything slick and strange coming out this holiday season?

Daily Photo – People of Papua New Guinea Part 13

I never thought I'd be this deep in Papua New Guinea… never thought I'd see pygmies in real life… I wasn't even sure if they were real or not! And yes, that's a bow and arrow. It looked pretty authentic so I didn't take any chances.

People of Papua New Guinea Part 13

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-1.3

Exploring the Mount Aspiring Area

New Tip Video: Removing Noise!

Here’s my latest tip video for you… remember, you can go get the full Aurora HDR Tutorial For Mac right now!

Limitless Places to Explore

I don’t go up in helicopters that much, but every time I do, I’m blown away by the infinite number of places you can land and explore. There’s not a bad photo in any direction, and it’s totally mind-numbing in a way. We’re working on a “What to Do in New Zealand” page… since I get so many questions… but that will be coming soon, I hope… RIGHT RUBY!!??!?! 🙂

Daily Photo – Exploring the Mount Aspiring Area

Here's another photo from my amazing day up with Mount Aspiring Helicopters when we went to go visit their little chalet where you can overnight. What a romantic place! This is the view of the backside, away from Mt. Aspiring. I took this right before we re-boarded to the heli to take us on a loop around the mighty mountain before flying back to Wanaka.

Exploring the Mount Aspiring Area

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraONE
  • Camera MakeDxO
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length11.9 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Sneaking Back Behind the Hollywood Sign

Aurora HDR Playlist

I’m slowly growing my Aurora HDR Pro Playlist on Youtube. As time goes on, I’ll add more and more to it. Actually, I have a LOT of Youtube Playlists in which you might have an interest!

Daily Photo – Sneaking Back Behind the Hollywood Sign

I'll be forever grateful to my friend Caleb for getting me back here! Actually we didn't sneak in, as he has some insane level of connections… I was so impressed how he got us in here — really remarkable. And then being here was like a waking dream. I can't tell you how those LA lights sparkled like jewels under the sea…

And it was Really Steep and Dangerous too. I had no idea. Just trying to move around to get different angles was a trial in itself! But boy, it sure was fun… I'll never forget it!

Sneaking Back Behind the Hollywood Sign

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time6
  • Aperture4
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

People of Papua New Guinea Part 12

New Tips Page!

I decided to make an Aurora HDR Pro Tips page to house all my tip videos. Pop over to take a look — I just added the latest one, this one about Layers!

Daily Photo – People of Papua New Guinea Part 12

I haven't been sharing a lot of shots of multiple tribesmen at the same time, but this is a pretty good example of how they all adorn themselves in exactly the same way. This was one of the only tribes I found that was asking me for money. I don't know what they needed it for… maybe grooming equipment or somesuch. They were all very nice and I was happy to help out. This guy kind of reminded me of “Papua New Guinea's Most Interesting Man.” I wanted to hand him a Dos Equis and take a photo but I didn't have one handy.

People of Papua New Guinea Part 12

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-1

The Hippo of San Antonio

San Antonio Recap

If you missed the fun highlight video from our Photo Walk in San Antonio, here it is!

Daily Photo – The Hippo of San Antonio

I believe the special projection unit they use here is called The Hippo. From my basic understanding, they make a 3D projection-mapping of the surface upon which they are about to project, then make the appropriate extrapolations so they can project “flatly” onto it. There's some mondo math going on there, but the effect is absolutely sensational. I did my humble best to try to capture it with a photo, but you can see it in action (briefly) in the video above! 🙂

The Hippo of San Antonio

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

White Sands Missile Testing Range

New Tip Video!

Here’s a new video I made for Aurora HDR Pro. I’m glad so many people are enjoying it! 🙂

Thanks Ruby!

We have a new team member around here named Ruby. She’s helping me out a lot with these blog posts. It’s saving me a ton of time to work on other cool and secret projects for the future… always doing new stuff around here, we are! That was Yoda-sounding. If you wanna see Ruby in action, watch this live video we shot from a hanging of some of my art.

Live from New Zealand, hanging some of my art pieces at Aro Ha

Posted by Trey Ratcliff on Monday, 26 October 2015

Daily Photo – White Sands Missile Testing Range

Wow getting into this missile testing facility was Really Hard! I really amped up the level of difficulty though with my traveling party! Okay, so here's the deal. This was 2/3 of the way through our USA Tour and we decided to rent a car and go try to find this place I had heard so much about. We started out in El Paso in a big black SUV.

It was me, Troy, Stu, Jonatas, and Ollie. Here's the rub… I was the only American (the others were 2 New Zealanders, 1 Brazilian, and 1 Brit), and I didn't even have my passport and we're trying to get onto a US Military base to “Take Pictures.” Haha I had to do some fast-talkin'! But we eventually got in. We had to go to this special parking lot and Troy left the car in drive and we almost popped over the curb-thing. OMG we looked so suspicious… haha but we got in and got the shot!

White Sands Missile Testing Range

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

People of Papua New Guinea Part 11

Version 1.1 is out! 🙂

Check it, Aurora HDR Pro 1.1 is out. Lots of improvements and exciting things!

Software_Update_and_Trey_Ratcliff_-_London_Splash_-_City_HDR__2_of_3__HDR

AWESOME update… My favorites are #3, #4 (!!), #8, #15 ! You may have your own personal El Guapos too that are improved or fixed! 🙂

1. New presets category “Realistic HDR”.
2. New option: Compare processed image to the middle image in the bracket set.
3. Improved Deghosting.
4. Improved Lightroom support. Easy way to use RAW files with Lightroom adjustments.
5. Improved Aperture plugin – added ability to open multiply images.
6. New option: Use original image as source for layer.
7. New option: Customize the amount (opacity) of the effect for the first layer.
8. New control: Super Smooth slider for HDR Denoise.
9. New option: Add new preset packs.
10. Added and improved support for new RAW files (from different cameras).
11. Improved Image Zoom (zoom in where you click, not only at the image center)
12. More options for Deghosting (select reference image).
13. Sharing to 500px.
14. New shortcut: Option+Click on the details mask slider to see this mask.
15. New shortcut – hold ‘M’ to show layer effect with 100% fill mask.
16. Variety of bug fixes.

Leica Lens Buying Guide

If you haven’t popped over to my Leica Lens Buying Guide now might be a good time to have a look! 🙂 I’m still learning more and more as time goes on… but really enjoying the sport of it all! I pretty much exclusively used Leica lenses when shooting in Papua New Guinea… it was a great chance to experiment.

Daily Photo – People of Papua New Guinea Part 11

Here's another view of the mysterious mudmen of Asaro. I shot this with the Leica 80mm f/2. What a lens! I had to “downgrade” A7r to shoot this because my Mark 2 got too sand-blasted at Burning Man the week before. The great thing about the Mark 2 is that it has a gimbal (floating) sensor that makes your shots more stable. But in the middle of the day like this, my shutter speed is so fast that it would not have affected the stabilization anyway.

By the way, if you want to find the Other photo of the mudmen of Asaro, just click on the “Papua New Guinea” category and have a look! 🙂

People of Papua New Guinea Part 11

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

The Edges of Dubai

Rooftop Bar Tip

Here’s a hot tip for Dubai or any other city for that matter. A great way to explore the city and get photos from multiple angles is to hit as many rooftop bars as possible. I call it Rooftop Bar Photo Hopping! It’s great… you can go in, have a wine, take some photos, then pop over to the next one! Three a night seems to be a good pace… what a fun way to pace yourself I say! 🙂

Daily Photo – The Edges of Dubai

This is the only city I've been to in the UAE. I really would also like to visit Abu Dhabi for sure! It's really big on my list. I have an upcoming trip to Italy for Carnivale and I was trying to get my travel agent to book me there for a night.. we'll see. But, either way, I feel very lucky I was able to go to Dubai twice and was fortunate enough to take some photos!

The Edges of Dubai

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length52.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

She watches…

The Greatness of Screenflow Pro

Screenflow Pro is not a sponsor anything, but I just wanted to say that it kicks ass! We’re using it a lot now for video editing… more than iMovie or Final Cut Pro. We still use those bigger programs like Premiere for some of our very high-end stuff, but for quick demos and everything, Screenflow seems to do the job! 🙂

Daily Photo – She watches…

At this point, I chose not to run around the outside of the tree and start calling the leopard names. This was one of my better decisions… We had tracked this gal for about a week and then she was finally spotted (no pun intended).

She watches…

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-6000
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length200.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

People of Papua New Guinea Part 10

Sheep

I live in New Zealand now, but I am not an expert on sheep. I only know a little and the little I know came in handy.

We have a big yard here —about 10 acres, and it cost a small fortune to mow it! So then we had the Bright Idea to get some sheep! They eat the grass for free and they look cute doing it… like little white clouds on a green sky…

Daily Photo – People of Papua New Guinea Part 10

Almost all the tribes there are pretty much addicted to this drug called betel nut. You chew it and it turns your mouth a deep blood red… so it's pretty easy to tell who is on it. It's pretty accepted everywhere and not illegal. Even some policemen and judges use it quite a bit (we had dinner with a judge and got the full scoop!). It's a green nut and you can buy it on any street corner for just a few cents. You also need to have a bag of lime powder and a bean-like green called mustard (daka). You mix all of them together in your mouth and have a full-on party in there.

People of Papua New Guinea Part 10

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Rice Paddies at Night at the Mandapa Reserve at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali

Amazing Bali

I just got back from just over a week in Bali and I stayed at the most amazing places… Not only is Bali itself great, but these two Ritz-Carlton resorts where I stayed were beyond my wildest expectations. It was like a waking dream. I went photo-crazy there and I’ll be sure to sprinkle in a bunch of the new Bali photos over coming days and weeks.

Daily Photo – Rice Paddies at Night at the Mandapa Reserve at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali

How beautiful is this place at night? I absolutely love all those lights reflecting through the rice grasses while that farmer's hut relaxes above in the night. This reserve is so massive that they even have their own functional stair-steppe rice paddies. I found myself out there most every day… taking photos at all times of night. Towering behind it, you can see the bulk of the Ritz-Carlton Mandapa Reserve. What a place, and I can't wait to go back! 🙂

Rice Paddies at Night at the Mandapa Reserve at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time25
  • Aperture8
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length34.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Sedona Storm

More Videos Coming

We’re getting into a groove a little bit when it comes to creating and editing videos… be sure to subscribe to the Stuck In Customs YouTube Channel to see all the latest ones!

Daily Photo – Sedona Storm

Wow I almost got stuck in a torrential downpour here! You don't want to be hiking around when these things hit… the clay on these mountains in Sedona gets super-slippery and it's a great recipe for going ass-over-teakettle. There's a little house up there on top of that mountain —don't know if you can see it or not, but it looks like the universe is about to suck up the house!

Sedona Storm

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

People of Papua New Guinea Part 9

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Daily Photo – People of Papua New Guinea Part 9

Who said smoking isn't cool if you're a kid? Hey, this pygmy has had a hard day, you know… just takin' it easy now. As you can tell from this comment and the previous People of Papua New Guinea post, I'm not a Photo Journalist or anything. But I do love to take photos of these kinds of scenes and I absolutely loved the people of Papua New Guinea… I'm already having thoughts of going back! 🙂

People of Papua New Guinea Part 9

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture
  • ISO640
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Photo Walk on Antarctica

New eBook getting in people’s hands!

I’m glad people are enjoying the new eBook “Light Falls Like Bits” It has over 200 pages of goodness and was an absolute joy to develop. It’s a bit of a different kind of a book, as there are four essays written by various people in the art field. There’s also an interview at the end you’ll enjoy! Anyway, it’s available now for you to go grab!

Daily Photo – Photo Walk on Antarctica

I announced this Photo Walk and hardly anyone showed up! It hurt my feelings a little hehe… but we did have a few people come… and we went out and had a ball! It was my first midnight Photo Walk in fact… you can see us all here in the beginning of it, trudging through the snow and ice on the main continent of Antarctica. Awesome!

Photo Walk on Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture9.5
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length23.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Bejana at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali

Trey’s Tips: Adding Glow!

How to add “Fairy Tale Glow” to your photos Tip Video!

This is a short tutorial on how I add Glow to my photos now, using the new Aurora HDR Pro – Enjoy! 🙂

Daily Photo – Bejana at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali

Wow what a restaurant! You can see me edit this photo above if you like… Not only did I love eating here, but I also loved editing the photo…haha yeah I'm weird like that, but it takes me right back there. Get this, I even took a cooking class with the head chef, who was an amazing dude. We spent a few hours driving all over Bali to visit local markets, get spices and food, then we came back right THERE in the middle of the kitchen to cook it all up together… wow the meal was so good I'll never forget it!

Bejana at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time13
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

People of Papua New Guinea Part 8

One of my favorite Spotify Playlists

Here’s one of my favorite playlists from Spotify. This is the one I listen to while taking photos and editing photos… hope you enjoy it!

Daily Photo – People of Papua New Guinea Part 8

This guy is really giving someone the side-eye. I wouldn't want this guy to give me the side-eye if I made a lie that belies his two eyes. I also would not want to get into a rhyming contest with him in his native language. But I would like to get into a def poetry slam with him. I went up to him to propose my amazing idea of a def poetry slam, and he gave me the side-eye.

People of Papua New Guinea Part 8

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

A Notable Burning Man

This was my sixth Burning Man in a row, and each one is special in its own way. Every one of them leaves you completely physically, spiritually, and emotionally spent. I think if you don’t come out of it with barely any wits holding you together, then you haven’t done it right!

What made me go in the first place?

I started my photography blog at StuckInCustoms.com about eight years ago, and I had more and more people stop by the blog and tell me that I MUST go to Burning Man. I was like, “Why would I want to go there? A bunch of hedonistic self-absorbed hippies getting dirty!” Finally, after enough trustworthy people told me it’s not like that, and, well, you just kinda gotta go to see what it’s like. And they were right! It wasn’t like that at all… and then it made me feel a little silly for being so judgmental.



What I thought was just pure hedonism or self-absorbed people were really people that were simply comfortable with their own sense of self-expression (or in the middle of creating and experimenting with different selves). There’s a big difference! Since I’m an artist myself, I’m really comfy with this idea of not finding yourself but creating yourself. It’s a scary but awesome thing… and this is the safest place in the world to dip your toe into those waters.

It’s a great place for me to experiment with my camera too. I get weird ideas and try different styles. There are so many amazing things to see every year, and you never know what you’ll see next! There are basically 50,000 people there in amazing costumes all week long, and 99.9% of them are cool with their photo being taken. The only ones that say no are people like school teachers and stuff that want to stay super-off-the-grid, which is cool too. Anyway, I could talk about it forever…

Favorite Photos and Burning Man Blog?

First, I’ll share some photos from this year’s burn in 2015, then I’ll share some favorites from previous burns. 🙂 I’ve thought about starting up a “Burning Man only” blog, actually… let me know if you’d like to see one!
from Trey Ratcliff at http://www.StuckInCustoms.com

Here’s one of my favorite places from Burning Man 2015 called the Totem of Confessions. Susan Sarandon helped with this art project and it held Timothy Leary’s ashes inside. After it burned, there was a little ceremony where she drank the ashes! Stuff like this happens all the time out in the playa.

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

Another amazing art piece here. Okay I’m gonna stop saying that. This is R-Evolution by the great Marco Cochrane who always delivers! One of the most amazing things about this giant statue is that when you get up close, you can see that she’s slowly breathing… her chest moves in and out in the smallest way.

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

This year had crazy sandstorms. It was almost two days straight and it really sucked the life out of me and my camera. Of course I had to go out and shoot in the sandstorm! Here, you can see The Man on the left and in the middle is a huge articulating monkey-thing with ropes that anyone can pull to make it have a ghastly dance.

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

Sometimes the sandstorms get so bad you can’t even see your front bike tire. Here, the storm let up just enough so I could launch my DJI Phantom up to get a shot of the man from above.

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

On Saturday night, the man burns, and all 50,000+ people come out for big show. At one point, these HUGE gas bombs blow up (you can see them up high) and the force of the blasts shakes all our skeletons.

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

Here’s another aerial quad shot of the line to get in… this is the point when you’re wondering if it’s really worth it… and then, once you’re there, you promise yourself you’ll come again next year no matter what.

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

There’s usually about 50 people on stilts around the playa. There’s even a special place called the Stilt Bar that’s super tall and you can only drink there if you have on stilts. Everything is free once you get into Burning Man, btw. It’s a wonderful gift-based week of happiness!

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

One of countless pieces out in the desert… they look different in the day, night, and in the storms… it’s worth visiting all of them multiple times to see how the light changes.

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

Every day features 500+ events, all wonderfully random and inclusive. In this one, about 3,000 people dressed up as bunnies and did a march to protest humanity. They are very upset because humans are much too tall and don’t hop enough.

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

Ahhh, off in the distance there on the right, you can see one of my favorite vehicles… I was riding through another storm, and it cleared suddenly and I saw this scene.

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

And here it is up close. El Pulpo Mechanico. It’s a huge vehicle in the form of a steampunk octopus that shoots fire from it’s eight excitable arms! Awesome.

This year, they dramatically reduced the number of drones you could fly. I think they only allowed 30 licenses or something. I can’t figure out if that is a good or bad thing… I love getting up there and taking photos in new and interesting ways. Well, I hope they ease up the restrictions a little… I felt very lucky to get one!

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

On the final night, the temple burns and all the art car vehicles light up and surround the temple.

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

And here is the beautiful temple from this year. People walk inside and leave notes on the walls, add pictures of loved ones who are sick or dying, write down stuff they want to forget or remember, and all sorts of meditations. It’s hard to believe they burn the whole thing down, but it’s a very peaceful time as opposed to the Bacchanalia of the Man burning.

Some of my favorite photos from previous Burning Mans!

Here’s “Bliss” another amazing statue from Marco Cochrane. One of the most amazing things is there are no “wires” or anything to hold it up. It’s massive and never blows down in the storms.

Coming Soon...

Here’s one of the temples from a previous year in the background. Every year they look different. In the foreground is Eden Muse, who I happened to find randomly walking around the temple one morning.

There in the gypsy’s creation.  It pulsed around us like a thick red vein; a timeless conduit that promised to hold a time machine between worlds.  And, I’d have it no other way, as every time machine should come appointed with the comforts of the sultans as they slowly wind throughout the edges of the Orient.  The colored lights cast new tones and shadows upon the rich, supple textures.  Small windows around the edges gave outward portal-glances to worlds and times that whizzed by, each one inviting a new pause to the story.  The light, I noticed, did something unexpected as it tumbled and flowed and rolled across the skin, drifting over small sinuous shapes as the crimson rays slid up and over the flowing curves of a dune in the middle of a faraway desert.  The lines would only stay a moment before the wind blew them into a new form.  The light tore time away from the shapes, and I could not figure out what was happening until much later in the story.

This is one of my favorite smaller vehicles — a little gypsy train. You can get on any art car any time… it rolls around the playa randomly and then you can get off, stumble around, then get on another art car and see where you go next!

Another random scene… I was riding my bike and happened to catch her shadow on the umbrella. I forgot her name but I asked her what she did in real life. She said she ran an online dating website! I was like okay whoa!

Embrace 2014

This is a favorite sculpture from last year. It’s called Embrace. It cost over $250,000 to build and stood for four days before it was burned (on purpose). Some people think this is crazy… that’s okay. I think it’s all part of the art, in that it shows how ephemeral everything is. There on the right are two of the people that made it, embracing.

Another one of Black Rock City’s 50,000 inhabitants, just hanging out in the deep playa.

Most everyone on the playa has bikes to get from place to place. If you look at the ground, you’ll see it’s like a hard-packed white powder, so it’s not really like beach sand. This white color also gives everything a nice glow from the bottom… we photographers like to call it the perfect reflector, because it just lights up people in unusual and surprising ways.

Japanese Tea in a Sandstorm

A Japanese tea ceremony in a sandstorm… I came upon this totally randomly. After I took the photo, I was invited to sit down and partake. It was beautiful. There was a five-minute ceremony, and he even put some gold leaf into my tea. Also, I’m pretty sure the tea had some vodka in it.

And, to bring this photo party to a close, here’s what Burning Man looks like from above. I took this from a small plane when a friend gave me a ride. About this time, I looked up above the window and saw the sign, “This plane is not approved by the FAA. It was built by a hobbiest.” I got a little nervous at that stage and thought this might be my last photo ever!

The Textures of Antarctica

Homemade Chicken Broth

At home, we’ve gotten into the habit of making homemade chicken broth. We had a friend named Rani come over from Aro-Ha (he’s the head chef there) to give a few cooking lessons… he showed how easy it was to make with some special recipes… we keep it going for 3 days at a time now and all the kids come over and get refills all the time because they like it so much. It’s actually cut down a lot on how much soda my teenager Ethan consumes, so that’s a good thing!

Daily Photo – The textures of Antarctica

What a wonderfully desolate place. In many ways, it was perfect for someone like me, who spends so much time alone and is very comfortable with it. I don't feel lonely or anything… and Antarctica IS only an “alone” place. Even if you happened to be near someone, it's still a place were everyone feels alone, but, strangely, together. And when you get out here on the main continent, camping for a few days, you really feel the isolation of everything.

The textures of Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7S
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2500
  • Aperture9
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

People of Papua New Guinea Part 7

Dramatic Time Change for the Blog

We’ve made a dramatic time zone shift! Now the blog is based on PST… I bet you couldn’t tell the difference could ya? haha yeah… every day there’s a new post that comes up at midnight. Maybe I should make it midnight New Zealand time. Okay now I’m getting confused… let me think about this! 🙂

Daily Photo – People of Papua New Guinea Part 7

We visited a coastal village where many of the women have fully tattooed faces. It starts at an early age. Here, you can see a little girl laying in her mom's lap while she gets her tattoo. It was very cute!

People of Papua New Guinea Part 7

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Aurora HDR Pro is Live!

It’s been 10 long days, now it’s here!

Want to see what the new Aurora HDR Pro is all about? Here’s a Deep Dive video that shows how fun and amazing the software is!

It’s really just incredible… I use it to make all my HDR images. It has layers, curves, special glows, and more! I think you’re gonna love it. Here it is in our store!

And here’s a list of all the features! 🙂

  • Revolutionary tone-mapping technology (less noise, realistic results).
  • Advanced high quality image processing engine.
  • JPEG, PNG, TIFF support
  • Adobe RGB wide color profile support.
  • ProPhoto wide color profile support.
  • Built-in sample photos.
  • Native RAW files support (Aurora HDR Pro)
  • Real-time image processing.
  • 38 HDR presets in 5 categories.
  • Signature presets by Trey Ratcliff (Aurora HDR Pro)
  • Custom presets import and export.
  • Layers & Masking.
  • Support of different Blend modes for Layers.
  • Custom texture overlays
  • Luminosity masking.
  • Custom brush for selective editing.
  • Gradient masking tool.
  • Layer source changing.
  • Masking with brackets.
  • Color clipping preview.
  • Duplicate layer.
  • Advanced Tone Mapping controls.
  • Smart Tone technology
  • Highlights / Midtones / Shadows adjusters.
  • Whites & Blacks.
  • Advanced Structure & Clarity technology.
  • HDR denoise.
  • Image Radiance effect.
  • Color contrast tool.
  • Image Details enhancer tool.
  • Glow effect.
  • Graduated ND filter emulation (“Top & Bottom Lighting”).
  • Tone curve tool.
  • Color filter tool – Selective coloring.
  • Color toning.
  • Vignette.
  • Automatic Alignment
  • Automatic Deghosting
  • Automatic Chromatic aberration reduction.
  • Histogram.
  • Crop tool.
  • Align image.
  • Quick compare
  • Side by side comparison.
  • Image navigator window.
  • Full Screen preview mode.
  • Facebook sharing.
  • Flickr sharing.
  • SmugMug sharing.
  • Export to email.
  • Export to iMessage.
  • Export to other apps.
  • Export to Photos for Mac.
  • Export to Creative Kit apps.
  • Photoshop plug-in (Aurora HDR Pro)
  • Lightroom plug-in (Aurora HDR Pro)
  • Aperture plug-in (Aurora HDR Pro)

Some of my favorite Aurora HDR Pro Images!

Thar She Glows

Slack

Have you ever heard of Slack? It’s a really cool tool for teams to communicate… they don’t sponsor the site or anything… but we all use it here at Stuck In Customs to keep the team communicating since many of us are far apart… all over the world!

Daily Photo – Thar She Glows

Here's a new favorite shot from down here in New Zealand near Glenorchy. We took our photo group out one morning for a hike, and we pulled off the side of the road when we saw these beautiful lighting conditions. It's very unusual, and I don't often get to see this kind of morning light coming in under a heavy blanket of clouds…

Thar She Glows

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/80
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length89.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Boating Around Venice

The Blue Hour

This is my favorite time to take photos. I’m not always in amazing places like Venice, but when I am, it’s A VERY EXCITING TIME. The city looks amazing all the time, but things go gangbusters at the blue hour. And it’s a fun kind of nervousness inside too since you want to see as much as possible in a short time!

Daily Photo – Boating Around Venice

Whenever I get in one of these boats, I probably literally take at least 500 if not 1000 photos. Everything looks so awesome, and you're moving so fast, so the stimulation is at an extreme factor. Normally, you are kind of used to a walking-pace, so stuff appears very slowly, and you have a moment to get used to it. But these boats go about 10x that speed… and 10x the visual excitement!

Boating Around Venice

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

People of Papua New Guinea Part 6

Only 3 days Left!

Don’t forget to grab the pre-order of Aurora HDR Pro to get all the extra goodies right now! 🙂

Daily Photo – People of New Guinea Part 6

This was a pretty intimidating tribe for sure… did a little dance of wits with them a few days ago here. They totally won and were way more intimidating, but was happy to have the chance to get a few photos. There are hundreds of tribes here that adorn themselves in different ways. This one is known for painting half their body white and half their body black…

People of New Guinea Part 6

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Before the Aurora!

A recap of San Francisco

Wow that San Francisco Photowalk was amazing! Here’s our recapped video for you of all the highlights.

Daily Photo – Before the Aurora!

I know I keep talkin' about the new Aurora HDR Pro, but I'm so darned excited about it! I was especially just thinking about it because of today's photo from San Francisco. I processed this one with Photomatix, and I got that strange banding and chunky noise in the sky. I don't have those problems with noise in Aurora HDR Pro because there are two ways to get rid of it, using HDR Denoise and a tricky Clarity slider

Before the Aurora!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time13
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length43.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Intense Canterbury

Trello

I have a hot tip for you if you work with small (or big!) teams to help keep track of all the projects. We use “Trello” here at Stuck In Customs to figure out what projects are happening where! It’s a web app, and it’s pretty fun. I’ve actually never been so organized! 🙂

Daily Photo – Intense Canterbury

This is a rather intense and colorful photo today, eh? I tell ya, it was a pretty golden light there… it was so unusual that I pulled over on the way to Tekapo to take this photo… and I was an even more colorful mood when I processed it!

Intense Canterbury

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Hiking along the Lake at Aro-Ha

Live from Bali!

Amazing Screensaver!

If you have a Mac, Go Get This All-Aerial Screensaver now! 🙂 If you’ve never installed 3rd party “things” on your Mac before, you may have to change some security settings, but that’s pretty easy. Check here to see those steps.

Daily Photo – Hiking along the Lake at Aro-Ha

We had an amazing workshop at Aro-Ha — that was our combination Yoga + Photography + Hiking thing. And this was on one of the hikes along the incredible Lake Wakatipu. We stopped at one point and decided to launch the DJI Phantom up into the air and see what it looked like from above!

Hiking along the Lake at Aro-Ha

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraFC300X
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/310
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length3.6 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramUnknown (58655)
  • Exposure Bias

A fire Sunset over Venice

Getting to the top!

I’ve never done any of the basic touristy things in Venice. Why? I don’t know! But I’ll get there early with my family before the Photo Adventure Workshop and do all of them. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover something cool! Like, for example, I’ve never been to the top of that tower you see there in this photo below in St. Mark’s Square.

Daily Photo – A fire Sunset over Venice

I can’t wait to get back to Venice! We took this during the amazing photo walk while there. It was really wonderful, but next time, I think we need a wine sherpa. It was SUCH a long walk and I started to get quite tired…. Even after I took this, it was another 3km until our final destination! Now I’m making all photo walks quite short… with a high probability of a wine sherpa!

A fire Sunset over Venice

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length49.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

People of Papua New Guinea Part 5

Top Questions Answered!

So, we’ve been looking at the comments about the New HDR Software from all different networks, newsletter, blog, and more! I thought I’d take a moment to answer some of the most common!

1) Does Aurora HDR do Luminosity Masking?
YES! Like, totally.

2) Is there a Windows Version Coming?
We’re talking to the team about it, so, yeah based on your outspoken feedback PROBABLY! haha… Look, I get it. This new software was released the same day as Fallout 4, and I bought that on Steam before I realized it was Windows ONLY! OMG I was gutted… I’m a huge gamer. I’m thinking about getting a Windows laptop JUST to play that game, which seems ridiculous, but I’m actually really thinking of it!

3) Can I do “Milder” HDRs?
Of course! You can set the opacity to whatever you wish. Everyone has their own tastes, and that’s supa cool. All the samples I show you on the webpage at http://www.stuckincustoms.com/aurora-hdr-software-for-mac/ are my “style” but you don’t have to go that extreme… or you can go MORE extreme. It’s all good… it’s creativity! 🙂

4) I don’t need Lightroom or Photoshop?
Nope! I still use Lightroom to organize my photos and to process some of them that don’t call for HDR, but I JUST use Aurora HDR Pro now. Also, thanks for all the suggestions… I’ve dropped lame Adobe Bridge and now using OnOne Perfect Browse for moving my photos around my computer and getting them ready for processing/sharing!

5) Is there a trial version?
NO! haha… BUT, if you’re not happy, you can have all your money paid back… we’re not worried about it! 🙂

Live on Facebook Video

Recently I went out to Glenorchy to Aro-Ha to see the hanging of one of my pieces. We did a little video while there and you can click here to see it!

Daily Photo – People of New Guinea Part 5

Well, this was an exciting moment. I didn't quite catch this chap's name, but it wasn't the first thing on my mind. Actually, I don't know why the first thing on my mind was to take a photo instead of run! Part of my nature, I guess.

Here's the full story… I was walking near the western coast of Papua New Guinea near a place called Tufi. Here's a map — it's a sinking volcano that makes a bunch of crazy jungled fjords. It's kind of a unique area for many reasons… one is that many of the local women permanently tattoo their entire face, starting from a very young age. I'll have a photo of that coming up soon…

I was there with my friend Rene and four other friends from Queenstown. We got a hot tip that we could take some canoes down one of the rivers with some natives that we knew through a connection. We all went and our plan was to visit a local village and drink in some of the local action.

After our canoe trip, which was quite beautiful and serene (you could sometimes see natives darting this was and that through the jungly bits), we came to a stop and disembarked. We had about three canoes and two locals with us. They spoke English pretty well and we started to head down a path to their village. At one point, they warned us that some of their tribe may come out with a show of force, so that added a tinge of excitement. And within a few minutes, these two guys with spears blasted out of the jungle with the same force that I blasted into my undies.

I couldn't totally figure out if they would follow through on the threat… I got the impression it was just the PNG equivalent of a Larry David staredown, which I find to be a more comical situation and highly preferable. Also I couldn't figure out if they just wanted to give us a tour of their village, or if they saw as a 6 creamy Twinkies.

Well, I figured, I could not beat this guy in single-hand combat since he was holding a Spear of +2 to Cannibalism. Since I was holding a Camera of +1 to Autofocus, I decided I'll try just to properly compose this, which could have been my last photo ever.

People of New Guinea Part 5

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture5
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length25.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Inside the Burj Al Arab

More Aurora HDR Action

Today’s photo was also processed in Aurora HDR Pro! Be sure to grab that pre-order now get all the extra goodies. Only 9 days to go! 🙂

Pano Advice

One of the most common questions I received during our little Q&A sessions in the 13 cities across the US tour was, “What pano software do you use?” I use Autopano Giga. It has an absolutely bewildering interface, but it’s much better than Photoshop.

Daily Photo – Inside the Burj Al Arab

The reason I brought up panoramas is because this is a verti-rama. I don't know if that's a word… but this is three photos stacked vertically. They are actually quite hard to stitch together. Anyway, besides all that, how incredible and colorful is this hotel? It's off the charts!!

Inside the Burj Al Arab

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1.3
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Holy Aurora Batman! I made my own HDR Software for Macs and it’s available now!

Aurora HDR Pro Pre-order Now Available

Grab the Pre-order for Aurora HDR Pro now! I’m so excited! This is the only software I use now for my photos that I edit on my Macs — it’s just incredible. It will be released in just 10 days, but you can grab get the pre-order package now.

Over the past year I’ve been slaving away on this with our partners at Macphun. You probably know many of the other Macphun products… I’ve been using their plugins for years and I think they are an amazing company. Well, about a year ago, we decided to combine forces to build the ultimate HDR Software.

Some of my favorite features of the new software

Not only are the HDR results simply amazing, but this tool is so jam-packed with features and bells and whistles that it’s all you need. Some of you that have been watching my other HDR Tutorials know how I used MANY tools including Lightroom, Photoshop, and other plugins. Well now I don’t use ANY of those —just this!

Aurora HDR Pro has LAYERS, HDR de-noise, that special “glow” effect you see in my photos sometimes that give them that fairy-tale look, curves, adjustments for the “HDRness” of the Top or Bottom of the photo, color filters, and, well, 100 other little things!

What’s going on with the Pre-order?

Many things! The actual release date is November 19th — but if you’re as excited as me and ready to get it now then you’ll get some special bonuses! The Pre-Order includes:

  • Aurora HDR Pro for Mac (Available for download Nov 19th)
  • 20 minute Aurora HDR tutorial video by me
  • Bonus presets to get you started
  • 11 HD wallpapers I made with Aurora HDR
  • 11 sets of my bracketed images you can use for practice


Pre-Order Aurora HDR Pro for just $89! Includes exclusive bonuses!
Offer ends November 18th

Pre-Order Now

Here’s some sample images!

I made all of these with ONLY Aurora HDR Pro. Some of these literally only took a few minutes. It’s SO fast!

People of Papua New Guinea Part 4

Any Good Receipt Trackers?

I’m an Android kinda guy… any of you know about a good receipt tracker? I asked these guys in Papua New Guinea, but they were absolutely no help at all.

Daily Photo – People of New Guinea Part 4

This is another inventive tribe when it comes to personal decoration. They paint one half of their bodies in a stark white. It gives a very striking visage when the sun is out and pounding down because the white pops against the black skin. What makes it even more intense is everyone was really sweaty, so it gave for an extra shine soul-glo.

People of New Guinea Part 4

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Oh Venice!

New Video – It’s a GREAT recap of our 13 photo walks across the USA!

Thanks again everyone for coming out! If you wanna join me on the next Photo Walk (these are always free), sign up at our newsletter — Where will the next one be? Only the shadow knows! Oh, and so do people on the newsletter. 🙂

Daily Photo – Oh Venice!

It's really getting close now for arrival in Venice for our photo adventure! I already have my plane tickets and everythang… it's gonna be so epic. I never get tired of taking photos here. I have to remember to stop even more when crossing bridges to try to find more scenes like this.

Oh Venice!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length77.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1.7

Happy little girls in China

My silly Chinese Photo Editor

I think I can safely say this since my blog is banned in China after I flew a quadcopter over the Forbidden City. But while I was there, I was taking photos as part of a team. There was some SUPER LAME photo editor that demanded I send him RAW photos. I told him no. He then asked again, and I stopped talking to him since I already gave him the answer. And then he said he didn’t want me to take photos of people, but, you see, I had stopped talking to him quite a long time ago.

This group that invited me had always been super-cool before. But they had some self-important guy there that didn’t know jack… once I figured that out, I just ignored him. Ignoring people is one of my greatest skills.

Daily Photo – Happy little girls in China

When I was here it made me realize that little girls are the same all around the world. They like to wear pretty dresses that are kinda fancy and strut around in them. It’s totally a girl thing… super cute. Since I have two girls, I completely understand. It’s one of those little gentle threads that ties the whole human race together.

Happy little girls in China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5000
  • Aperture
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramShutter speed priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.7

People of Papua New Guinea Part 3

Tony Horton P90x3

Anyone else do Tony? I’m a big fan actually… I end up doing one of these a day. I did all the previous P90 stuff the best, but I like these because they are all just 30 minutes long. Plus I like that Tony is such a nut haha… he cracks me up.

Daily Photo – People of New Guinea Part 3

It's hard to believe that all the paints that the tribes use to adorn themselves come from the local plant products. If I was in the middle of a jungle, I think all I could do is maybe the color green if I smashed some leaves into my face. I could probably do brown too if I rubbed mud all over myself. I'd pretty much have the lamest tribe ever.

People of New Guinea Part 3

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO500
  • Focal Length198.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

White Sands at Sunset

Interview on CBS in Miami

Here’s an interview I did on CBS… These news people always crack me up… I like how they call me “Trey RAPEcliff” haha — and then a little later when they show “my” photos they are actually pictures that I never took! Except for the last one of Miami! Anyway, here it is 🙂

Daily Photo – White Sands at Sunset

How incredible is this spot? I had always wanted to go to White Sands in New Mexico, but it was never that easy to get there. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere! Well, our bus tour was passing through El Paso and we decided to park for a while and rent a car to get out here for a spell. The sand was so white and soft… like warm gentle snow that never melts.

White Sands at Sunset

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture16
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length106.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

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