Stuck In Customs

The place your mind can go before you travel there

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Happy Girls in Guangxi and more great feedback on The Arcanum

More Great Feedback on The Arcanum!

First, The Arcanum hit #8 of the Top 51 Websites for Learning Online. Amazing! That’s a great tribute the the team, the Masters, and the Apprentices! Thanks everyone!

And here are two wonderful Apprentices who made some lovely posts about their thoughts and experiences! The first is from Rose Fredriksen and the second is from Marjorie McDonald.

Daily Photo – Happy Girls in Guangxi!

One night I went out in the rain to take photos while staying in the little town of Yangshao. It was great fun! I was using my Sony A7r and my Leica 35mm f/1.4 which requires manual focus. Naturally, this means I need both hands to take photos. Luckily I had my guide Andy with me to help hold the umbrella!

Happy Girls in Guangxi!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2014-06-05 00:00:00
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO4000
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Feeding Chooks in Feng Huang

Chook Update

In addition to our new dog, my wife has also found it necessary to get three chickens. We built a special coup and stuff. And then after we built it, she decided she wanted it on the other side of the house. The chooks did not help with that move. And here we are, about 15 weeks into it, and these chooks have only laid THREE eggs. She says it’s because their too young… I don’t know what to believe any more with these damned things.

Daily Photo – Feeding Chooks in Feng Huang

When in Feng Huang, I decided to go down to the river to take some photos. There was a direct way, but I thought it might be more interesting to zig-zag my way there through alleys. One of the most wonderful things about China is how safe it is. I never had any fear for my life or anything as I move around these places. It’s so safe, in fact, that it’s almost eerie! But, eerie in a good way, of course…

Feeding Chooks in Feng Huang

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-08-12 06:01:14
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/1.4
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Thanks for all the nice feedback on the new tutorial!

As regular visitors know, we get a lot of new traffic here via my two tutorials. I basically created them because I was getting literally dozens of emails per day asking how I do these photos. I always feel bad totally ignoring people, but I just don’t have time to email back everyone. Instead, I put together two tutorials. The first HDR Tutorial is a free and has helped thousands of people get into HDR Photography. The second, newer tutorial is on Texturing has over an hour-long video and includes 100 hi-res textures. I selected them from over 2,000 textures and refined them down to just the best!

Here is some feedback from tutorial dowloaders!

Jeff Clow: “This collection of textures is truly world class – and by that I mean not simply how brilliant they are, but the fact that they’ve been compiled from fascinating places around the world. The unique textures work superbly well as backgrounds and overlays, and I highly recommend them to any photographer who wants to improve and enhance their images. This texture package is ‘must have’ tool for any serious photographer.”

Scott Dungan: ” What a resource! Stuck in Customs World of Textures has provided me with textures that are difficult or impossible to produce in Photoshop. These textures allow me to produce images with the hand coated look of early photographic processes. Thank you for your World of Textures Stuck in Customs.”

Scotty Graham: “I just downloaded the premium package, and am very impressed with both the quality of the textures and the video tutorial. Trey’s video tutorial is worthwhile to the professional as well as the Photoshop beginner. As a professional photographer, I enjoyed watching Trey’s workflow and creative process unfold right before my eyes….(would be nice to see the same kind of thing with his HDR images). His textures are bar-none some of the best I have seen and/or used. They rival anything else you may see for sale on line, and for 100 textures, his price is very fair. If you are looking to move your photography style up one notch, don’t hesitate to purchase this package….you will not regret it.”

Chris Nowakowski: “All I have to say is WOW! These textures are amazing! They blow everything and anything that I have seen out the water! The video tutorial is so easy to use, even the pro that I am, I still learned a few new tricks! I still remember when I first heard about you and I used your tutorial on HDR to further develop my skills. That tutorial helped me make the art I do today. Now, with this tutorial not only am I not worried about getting my ROI out of it, but I also know that it will inspire me as an artist to further per sue my photography and take it to new heights. It’s hard to sum it all up. All I know is that this rocks as much as you do.”

Thelonius Gonzo: “Just viewed the tutorial. I know dollars are worth something (less and less everyday) but honestly, if you are interested at all in texture effects, and like me, are not already a Photoshop expert, then this tutorial is well worth the asking price. I swear I may need a few weeks to really ingest all of it. The only downside of this is that I feel like I’m cheating.”

Below are a few shots with the effect:

Icelandic Horse, Stuck in Textures

Frozen in Time

Ye Olde Pirate Shippe

New Plotagraph Pro pricing

See today’s photo ? I also made an animated version that turned out great! You can see it over here on Facebook – it should auto-loop!

And if you go over to the Plotagraph Pro page you’ll see they have new pricing including a monthly plan. Give it a whirl… very fun! If you check my Instagram Feed you’ll see I’ve been posting a lot lately 🙂

Daily Photo – Ye Olde Pirate Shippe

On my last night in San Juan, I went around to do a little exploratory fun walk with my friend Scott Jarvie. After moving around and through the town, we ended out by the docks. How pretty eh? It was a nice and moody night with all the clouds that made it even more romantic. I mean, I love a good romantic night with Jarvie.

Ye Olde Pirate Shippe

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-26 09:02:48
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.4
  • Aperture4
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Aurora HDR 2017 is here, get it now!

It’s been a long two weeks but the wait is finally over, the new Aurora HDR 2017 for Macs is finally here and ready to download! I developed this software along with Macphun, an amazing company that has already created many other stunning photography tools for the Mac. The idea that after 10 years I finally got to create my own High Dynamic Range photography software and jam-pack it with all my favorite tricks was absolutely intoxicating!

I’ve been using this software now for a short eternity and we’ve taken my experience plus some great feedback from other users to create this new version. You can head over to our Aurora HDR 2017 Page see all the long list of new and improved features.

 

 



 

Note: Aurora HDR 2017 is still for Macs only. Yes, we truly are working on a Windows version (harder than it sounds) and when it’s released you will be the first to know!

 



 

Current Users of Aurora HDR Pro can upgrade for $49. Click here to find out if you qualify for an upgrade.

New Customers can Order Now for only $89, (Extended Pre-Order price for one week only until October 6).

 

 

New software… and new HDR tutorial to go with it!

It is an hour long Video tutorial to show how I use Aurora HDR 2017 in practically every situation. From outdoors to indoors, mixes to architecture, moving objects to single photos, people photos and everything in between. You’ll see how I use the tool in slightly different ways for all these situations. As usual, I start out the tutorials very slowly, aimed at total beginners. But then we move on to intermediate and advanced techniques.

Trey’s Super Bundle

If you’re feeling a little adventurous you should check out the Super Bundle which includes both Aurora HDR 2017 AND my full-length HDR Video Tutorial for Macs all in one, for cheaper than it would be to buy them separately 🙂

 



Happy Aurora HDR 2017 Pre-Order Day!

At some magical point today, Aurora HDR 2017 will become available for Pre-Order! I’ve been working on this thing like crazy, and I can’t wait to get it in your hands. Below are two videos where I talk more about it. One is an overall preview and the next is a hot tip.

What do you get with the Pre-Order?

Pre-Order Bonus Items:

Trey Ratcliff Deep Dive video and RAW files
1 Year basic subscription to SmugMug
60-day KelbyOne membership
25 Square Prints from Parabo.press (free global shipping)

What’s the history and the deal with Aurora HDR 2017?

A few years ago, I called up MacPhun to see if they wanted to collaborate on the ultimate HDR program. They said yes, and we built the original one over a year ago. It went gangbusters and has over 650,000 downloads. Yes, it’s only Mac so far, but there is a Windows version in development. Anyway, we listened to all the feedback and ideas and made this new version. As usual, I’ve been testing it all along the way…

What are the updates?

There are over 20 updates, but here are the latest ones.

New Luminosity Masks controls
New Zone System allows selective masking of specific areas of an image; new controls provide extensive fine-tuning, allowing users to make brightness adjustments in more precise areas.

New tone-mapping engine
The improved algorithm is quicker, reduces noise, and handles tone, contrast and details in all areas of your photo for more realistic, sharp and natural tone-mapping results.

New batch processing
Automatically recognizes brackets, and adds support for sub-­folders and Batch preset – the single most requested feature since the launch of Aurora HDR.

New Polarizing filter
Emulating the polarisation filter added to a lens, this feature gives colours more depth with a single swipe, and cuts haze – perfect for landscape photographers.

New powerful one-click presets
Including Signature Pro presets by Trey Ratcliff, Captain Kimo and Serge Ramelli, to yield fantastic results instantly.

New ways to work with Layers
Support of different Blend modes for Layers and Textures, with new options for Darken, Color Burn and Lighten.

New enhanced Top & Bottom Adjustment panel
Top and Bottom Adjustment includes new contrast, vibrance, and warmth sliders, adding an extra level of selective control.

Faster RAW processing & DNG support
Time-saving image processing, and improved DNG handling.

Introducing Aurora HDR 2017

Here’s a fun video I made that shows some of the new features.

Tip Video: Batch Processing

Here’s one of three new tip videos that illustrates the new Batch feature. To see all the videos and more, pop over to my Youtube Channel!

Crossing the wooden bridge in Venice

The New Travel / Map Area

We’re still working to refine everything with the new map function on the site — please let me know if you have any feedback! 🙂

Daily Photo – Crossing the wooden bridge in Venice

There are three huge bridges that cross the grand canal in Venice, and this is one of the most famous views. I'm always impressed at these feats of engineering… I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during the original construction in the olden days. It occurs to me I don't even really have any idea how bridges are even built! I kind of have an idea, but I don't think I could actually build one, or, at least, not one I was willing to walk on myself.

Crossing the wooden bridge in Venice

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-02-04 10:35:47
  • CameraFC300X
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length3.6 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramUnknown (58655)
  • Exposure Bias-0.344

Plotagraphs – Trey Ratcliff

NEW NEWS Feb 2017!

Plotagraph Pro is now even more affordable. The team there have listened to your feedback and now you can subscribe to the software for $30 a month with no minimum contract. Cancel any time…not that you will, because it’s super awesome. Anyway, check out what you can do with the software below…

What is a Plotagraph?

It’s a moving photograph, kinda. I suppose that’s the best way to say it! Even better, it’s incredibly easy and fun! You can simply upload any photo you like and then use some really fun options to animate it. And no, it’s not a cinemagraph — all you need is a single JPG and no additional image or video files.

You can grab it on the Plotagraph Pro site.

Plotagraph

Pretty sweet eh?

That photo above is from Burning Man. It was made from a still photo that I shot during one of the burn nights. You can immediately see the amazing potential for this Plotagraph tool. The situations in which you can use these truly organic animations are limitless.

By the way, if you’d like to know more about Burning Man, here’s an extended article I wrote about it. I also have a portfolio of many “non-moving” Burning Man photographs in my portfolio.

This is a great way to breathe new life into any photo you’ve ever taken. It works great in so many conditions… clouds, moving water, grasses, hair, flowers, water, fire, etc. When you look at the new portfolio above, you’ll see how fun it is. Note that because these are all multi-framed, it may take a moment or two for the whole thing to load before you see it flow smoothly.

Works on any computer/OS

It’s completely web-based software, so it doesn’t matter if you are Mac / Windows / Linux, whatever. It’s also extremely fast because everything is happening on remote blazing servers.

How does it work?

You upload any photo then you use the online software to define the areas that you want to keep static and the parts you want to move. After that, you use cool directional arrows to describe where and how you want the motion to flow. There’s also options to set the speed, smoothness, and more. You can get a live preview in the web browser and then export it as an GIF, MOV, or MP4. Easy as pie and supa fun!

Easy to use

This is a good example of a JPG I uploaded. You can see how I masked out most of the tree and ground and added animation vectors to the sky. This one is very simple in that I have everything going in the same direction. As you can imagine, you don’t always have to make it this simple and you can have animations go in many directions and different speeds in various bits of the picture.
Plotagraph

Powerful

Here’s a bit more complex of an example with many vectors. This one may look a bit more complex because I turned on the “Mesh” layer that shows all the triangles and interconnectedness. I’m working on some tutorials now to talk more about how it works!
Plotagraph

Quick Tutorial Video

…is right here!

More of Trey’s Plotagraphs

I have a whole portfolio dedicated to Plotographs over on Squarespace. Remember, these sometimes take a little while to load because these are animated GIFs (you can also make MP4 or MOV files), but after they do, they will flow like Owen Wilson’s hair on a jog.

For now, here’s a handful more that I have made. If you think this kind of thing is cool, share with your family and friends!

Plotagraph

Here’s one of my favorite photos from Paris, brought to a new kind of animated life!

Plotagraph
This is a fun one from Mount Cook here in New Zealand. One of the smoothest things about this program is how you can barely see the animation “looping”. I don’t know about you, but I just kind of stare at it, mesmerized.

Again, more examples over on my animated Squarespace portfolio.

To see more, check out my Animated Photos on Squarespace. Remember, it takes a moment to load the whole flow based on the speed of your internet connection!

FAQ

Q: How do you get the GIF on Facebook?

A: First, I export the GIF at about 750 pixels across. That seems to be just about right for Facebook. Then, go to Giphy.com and upload it there. Then go to the Advanced tab and get the URL for the GIF. Paste that into Facebook.

Q: How do you get the Plotagraph on Instagram?

You have to take the video and get it on your mobile device where you have Instagram. Inside Plotagraph Pro, I currently export an MP4 with a loop of 20. This results in a video file that is 40-70 seconds long and loops the ~3 second animation multiple times. Make sense? Then, I download that then use Airplay to get the video to my iPad and then upload that with Instagram.

Q: How do you get the GIF on Twitter?

Oh that’s an easy one. You can upload the GIF right to Twitter like a JPG… no issues!

Q: How do you say “GIF” out loud when talking to other humans?

Hard G. The G in GIF is short for Graphics, which is a hard G, unlike, say, Giraffe or Gacking off to webcam jirls.

Q: Any other Social Media sharing tips?

Yes! Funny you should ask!

1) I’ve learned that Plotagraphs look “different” when smallish on Facebook/Insta/Twitter versus full-screen on your computer. Because they are smaller, the more subtle animations you create may not even be noticeable. So, to combat that, I go to the animation settings and speed up the animation (by dropping the default “3” to “2” or lower) so that it looks silly-fast full screen. But, when seen smaller, it looks good.

2) Export the social media GIF at 25 FPS. It looks the same and makes the file size smaller.

3) Hashtag #Plotagraph to help other plotagraphers discover you!

4) When I post on my WordPress blog at StuckInCustoms.com (example page), I upload a GIF that us under 15MB right into WP. I’ve found that hosting the GIF other places doesn’t really work.

The Dock Crumbles

Phantom 4 Video

We’re getting lots of good feedback on the new Phantom 4 review video! Thanks again everyone, and don’t miss the new updated Phantom 4 Review.

Daily Photo – The Dock Crumbles

You'll recognize this beach immediately if you saw the new quadcopter review above. I like everything about this photo except for ONE thing. Can you guess what it is before you read the next para?

It's a small thing… but a tiny thing that gets under my skin. You see the photographer down there by the broken dock? I should have moved the quad just a little bit so that his figure did not bleed into the pier.

The Dock Crumbles

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-08-12 05:33:51
  • CameraFC330
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/147
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length0.0 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramUnknown (58655)
  • Exposure Bias

The Ritz-Carlton, Phulay Bay, Thailand

A Thailand Recap!

Now that I’m back home from a the 50-day trip, I’m gonna do a little 5-day recap of the 5 countries we visited along the way! Wow, what a trip… I’m still getting my head around the whole thing. Now, some of you may know how I absolutely love staying at these amazing Ritz-Carlton locations all around the world. I feel so grateful for our partnership and everything…I know I gush about them all the time, but, I mean, comon, really! Check out how beautiful it is there… and the whole team is so nice. Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you! I never want to check out of any location…

Thailand Videos

Anyway, here’s a few favorite videos of Thailand.

Thailand Photos

Here’s a few favorite photos of Thailand this trip, both on the property and around the environs!


https://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Misc/RitzCarlton-Batch-2-PathArchAc/i-KGKSkZQ/A

Here’s the beautiful entryway where I would come to meditate. More on that below for the daily photo!

Exploring The Archipelago Around Krabi In Thailand

We had the most amazing boat ride around the archipelago. By the way, this is a pretty good example of the “type” of photo the Hasselblad takes.

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

My daughter feeds a baby elephant on the beach. How Cute Can You Get?

Isabella On The Path

Isabella pauses after dinner on a bridge before we return back to the room for the night. We were hoping the elephant would be there too, but he was not…

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

On one of our last nights here, we were treated to an amazing show from all the locals. The kids were enraptured and my camera was in a state of constant motion!

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

This was one of our nightly walks, from the bar to another beautiful restaurant for dinner. They had so many amazing restaurants on the property that our minds were in a state of constant-blowage!

 

Daily Photo – The Ritz-Carlton, Phulay Bay, Thailand

This is a pretty peaceful view on the way to morning meditation, wouldn't you say? By the time I walked through all these bamboo pathways and peaceful shapes, I was already in the right mindset. In fact, I think this is maybe my favorite memory of this place. It's not a specific moment, it's more that I felt like I was in a constant flow of meditation while there. And I can't wait to go back!

The Ritz-Carlton, Phulay Bay, Thailand

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-12-29 17:06:59
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time8
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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