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 Taken
  • 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…

Chickens China Feeding

Feeding Chooks in Feng Huang

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • 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

Above the Wolves

DJI Quadcopter Review

Today’s photo is from one of them, so be sure to check out the DJI Phantom Review soon!

Big Arcanum Update!

Be sure to go update your Application at The Arcanum. We now have added a few new things to help future Masters find you. I know there is a HUGE number of people waiting, so the more on the ball you are, the more like you are to be chosen from the orphanage!

Here’s a screenshot of one of the new Application pages… you can see how incomplete my own application is! I’m going to update it now :)

Trey_Ratcliff___The_Arcanum

Release Notes (Thanks Tania Court!):

Grand Library – Filters

There’s two new filters in the Grand Library that are really exciting (mainly because it means some of us won’t lose that video we were watching at 3am on Saturday morning during a impromptu cohort hangout).

My History lets you see what videos you’ve watched in descending date order

My Liked Videos lets you see videos you’ve liked easily.

Grand Library – Tags

- When viewing a video, Masters and Apprentices can now edit the descriptive tags on ALL videos. We encourage you to help us add more tags / keywords to any video you watch. It will help others to find videos in the future!
- Also when viewing a video, you can now tag yourself if you appear in it (this works for both Masters and Apprentices), the new option is located just below the video on the right.
- Masters can now tag one or more Apprentices from their cohort in videos that they submit.

To make sure you’re comfortable with having videos of yourself in the Grand Library you can now choose to hide videos you’re tagged in. Go to your Profile and the new Settings tab. There you will find the a new option for the Grand Library. If you’re shy about having your critique shared then make sure you’re tagged in the videos and then choose the “No One” option under “Who can see videos I’m tagged in”.

Other Updates

We all love to spend so much time in the Grand Library that it’s easy to forget about the rest of the stuff that goes into The Arcanum process. Not so for Curtis and his team – they’re busy keeping the rest of The Arcanum processes up-to-date. Here are some of the updates to the other processes that make The Arcanum run…

– The new Settings tab also includes an option to control who can see your City/State/Country. We do not share your general location today. If we do, it will only be used to display where Apprentices are roughly located on a map, solely for members of The Arcanum
- Updates to the Application Process and Personal profile pages were made to encourage a fully complete profile. There are also new options to better define your Learning Goals as an Apprentice, or Teaching Goals as a Potential Master.

Keep in mind that all of theses updates have come as a direct response to feedback from you so please keep the comments coming and let us know other improvements you’d like to see!

Daily Photo – Above the Wolves

Here's a DJI Quadcopter shot over the amazing wolves here at The Hills near Arrowtown. It's so cool how they were distributed in this patten… this vortex of wolves. I got to meet the sculptor when I was in Beijing most recently. It was a great honor to spend time with him and share some tea! :)

Above the Wolves

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraHero3-Black Edition
  • Camera MakeGoPro
  • Exposure Time1/390
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length2.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

About Trey Ratcliff

“I’m a warm-hearted, old-school gentleman explorer with really cool toys.”

About Me:

I’m a Photographer, Artist, Writer & Adventurer

Follow me:
Newsletter

  • Speaking Engagements: Amie Yayor (ayahor@caa.com)
  • Advertising & sponsorships: advertising@stuckincustoms.com
  • Business ventures, partnerships, etc: business@stuckincustoms.com
  • Something unexpected and fun? wildcard@stuckincustoms.com


“Trey’s pictures are a daily source of inspiration for me. I can’t count the times that I’ve gotten stuck in my writing and, as I sit there staring at my computer screen desperately trying to think of the next idea, the screensaver kicks in with one of Trey’s images, and the shapes and colors triggered something in me that got me to the next note…”

Hans Zimmer, Composer,The Lion King, Gladiator, Batman, Inception, Sherlock Holmes


About the About Me page

Hello! :) I’m quite a humble person, really, but I know that people that come to this page want to know more about me. This page started out small, but people ask more and more questions, so the page grows and grows!

Briefly… a photography-centric bio

I’m best known for, well, I suppose, this site, StuckInCustoms.com, which has become the #1 Travel Photography Blog on the Internet. I started early with the sharing, and as you can see on the right, Google has tracked billions of views, which is mind-boggling to me! At least a few of those views are from my mom, who visits the site many times per day! My work first became popular after I had the honor of having the first HDR photo ever to hang in the Smithsonian. After that, I was fortunate enough to be represented by Getty (who I have since dumped because they take 80%), been featured on the BBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC, and have had numerous showings around the world. I am known generally for the unique way in which I capture and process the world around me. I have my own “take” on HDR Photography, and you can see my free HDR Tutorial right here.

I grew up blind in one eye and this might have changed the way I view the world. I don’t know. It’s hard to be objective about the way one’s brain was wired. My background is in computer science and math, so I bring an algorithm-like process to capturing the scene in such a way that it evokes memories in a palpable manner. Whatever that means. My promise to you: One New Photo Every Day. Probably.

Speaking at Google Zeitgeist

If you are extra curious about me and HDR photography, this video is a pretty good summation of the whole shootin’ match. The talk “The World We Design – Technology and Beauty in Photography” is from Google Zeitgeist Americas

What I look Like

Don’t most people click on an “About Me” page to see what the bloke looks like? I don’t like photos of me, and I can’t ever decide which one is representative of me. Anyway, I’ll post a few different ones here, but don’t think I’m one of those Instagram non-stop selfie people haha… (and if you simply MUST see more, here are a bunch of photos that other people have taken.)

Okay this is me

My mom thinks I look cute in this photo. Who am I to disagree with my mom? I don’t know what else to say here other than maybe you would like to subscribe to my YouTube Channel where we have all sorts of videos. I don’t know if you are a photographer who likes tutorials or simply a fan. Either way, I have lots of videos there.

 

Tech Talk at Google HQ

I’ve given two tech talks at Google, and this is the second one of them… I talk about “Artists and the Internet: Digitally Extending your Natural Self” — and maybe you will find it interesting, even if you are not an artist!

 

Exploring Namibia

My friend Curtis Simmons took this photo of me while giving a workshop in Namibia. We occasionally do these photo adventures around the world and this one was absolutely incredible! That’s a quiver tree to my right, used to make arrows by the locals… that little plant to my right has poison inside of it that they use on the tips of the quivers.

 

Tutorials and Reviews

I freely share my photos and many tutorials with everyone. I use the Creative Commons license, so people are free to use this stuff on their own, as long as it is not for commercial purposes. A lot of people come here the first time for the various tutorials or reviews. The first tutorial is about my style of photography which has a special little twist – the details are in my HDR Tutorial.  If you want know even more, we also offer a downloadable Complete HDR Tutorial. The Camera Reviews section has also been growing a lot lately with some good stuff. Perhaps you can get the inside scoop on cool things in there.

 

Coming Out of the Sandstorm

I was walking across the desert at Burning Man just after a massive sandstorm, and out of the dust emerged another photographer. His name was Luke Stephen Severn and he asked if he could take a photo, so while pulling up my brass goggles, he got this.

People always ask where I got those brass goggles. If you just jump on etsy.com and do a search for “Steampunk Googles” (or Steampunk anything), then you’ll see some cool results!

 

Categorical Breakdown of Me:

The Basics

  • Name: Trey Ratcliff
  • Gender: Dude
  • Primary Language: English
  • Place of Residence: New Zealand
  • Sign, although I’m not into this form of mysticism: Cancer
  • High School: Jesuit College Prep Dallas
  • University: Southern Methodist University (Computer Science and Math)

 

PhotoWalking Around the World

I’ve gotten into the habits of meeting you guys all over the world! Whenever I have an extra day or night in a city, I always try to make time for a free PhotoWalk. These are tremendously fun events! Here’s a photo of one we did in Melbourne, and they even get bigger than this! We’ve done them in Paris, London, Tokyo, Beijing, San Francisco, New York, Dallas, LA, Auckland, Christchurch, and many more places. Be sure to watch our Newsletter to find out when I might be coming to your city too!

 

In a Nutshell

Most people find me odd, and others have trouble finding me at all. I’m often busy doing something terribly important, but it seems hardly important to the other person once they have found me and asked me what the hell I am doing.

 

At the afterparty

This photo was taken by a photographer friend in Tokyo named Takahiro-san. I’ve met So Many Wonderful people around the world thanks to this blo, and I don’t take any of it for granted. I first met Takahiro during a photowalk in Tokyo and then we really hit it off. We ended up trekking all over the city together. I saw him the next time I went back to give a speech at the Google HQ. In the little after-party, he grabbed this photo with one of his fancy cameras. Here are some photos I took of him :)

 

Hobbies

  • Photography
  • Philosophy
  • Genetics
  • Swarming
  • Computer & video games
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Writing fiction
  • Drawing
  • Raising kids (little RPG chars)

Sports

  • Soccer
  • Jogging with iPod on too loud
  • Snowboarding
  • Making up a lot of games if there is another guy and a ball involved
  • * above hobby sounded sketchy

Books (one from each genre…)

  • Patrick Rothfuss or George RR Martin
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Almost anything from Philip K. Dick
  • Eckhart Tolle books
  • His Dark Materials
  • Cryptonomicon
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Ender’s Game
  • Tale of Two Cities
  • Atlas Shrugged
  • Genome
  • The Journeyer
  • Winesburg, Ohio
  • Free to Choose
  • I don’t want to list a ton of books…  but anything about genetics, patterns, anthropology, history, come visit my library and I’ll have a big pile of books for you to borrow!

 

Having a drink near a glacier

This is a very typical photo of me getting off a chopper near my home in Queenstown, New Zealand. Thanks to Choppy for the ride and the martini! I got that jilaba while in Morocco… it’s so warm and cozy. I bought it in Fes and then in Marrakech had extra pockets sewn inside (like Kvothe) to hold all my lenses.

 

Movies

(I hate listing movies because it makes me sound like a My-Spacey 13-year-old-girl, but people seem to like reading this sort of thing because they feel like it gives them a cutting Freudian insight into my psyche, a notion I heartily dismiss.)

  • Amelie
  • Tombstone
  • Fantastical movies like The Fall, Big Fish, and Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Crouching Tiger
  • Office Space
  • Serenity
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Best in Show and that whole line of movies from Christopher Guest
  • The Big Labowski
  • Ron Fricke movies like Baraka
  • Obvious predictable adoration of LOTR, SW, Batman series
  • Anything with Christian Bale
  • Anything with Woody Allen
  • Nothing that stars both Christian Bale AND Woody Allen

 

Music

  • Ambient and world new age electronica
  • Gotan Project
  • Bel Canto & Anneli Drecker
  • Cesaria Evora
  • Tipper
  • Patrick O’Hearn
  • David Darling
  • Acoustic Guitar… Spanish Guitar
  • Listen to almost all genres though…weird stuff!

TV

  • Ricky Gervais shows…
  • 進撃の巨人, Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
  • Firefly (canceled, sadly)
  • Game of Thrones
  • Burn Notice
  • The Office (both)
  • All the Connections shows with the great James Burke
  • Good Eats
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Arrested Development
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Southpark
  • Blackadder
  • The Simpsons
  • A slide shade of evolution

    This was shot near the Batu Caves of Malaysiay.  Now, it might look like me and this Macaque are smiling at one another.  Well, I am smiling.  That monkey is showing aggression (they do so by baring their teeth). My jugular is a warm, salty half-second away.  But, right after this moment, I threw him a piece of fruit and made a hasty egress.

Food

  • Italian
  • Chocolate
  • Anything with carbs
  • Chocolate (did I say that already?)

Languages

  • Englsih (barely)
  • French (enough not to get sneered at by the French themselves)
  • Spanish (enough to order Texmex)

Quotes I like:

  • Homer: (screaming) “Why must I fail at every attempt at masonry?”
  • Winston Churchill:  ”Success is the ability to move from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.”

 

 

Sleeping in the Sahara

I went camel trekking across Morocco in the Sahara desert and approached the border of Algeria. I was with a group of Berbers, and I ended up staying in their camp for the night. The desert was so cold… I was taking a photo of the fire and decided to sit down in front if while I took a selfie of sorts. After the photo, I sat there for a long time, conjuring strange thoughts from the fire.

 

Drawing

Oh, also, I also like the to draw and I find it helps me quite a bit with the photography. I started teaching myself in an experiment to see if I could learn in April of 2008. Here is a compilation of some work I did between April and October of that year. I still don’t think I’m very good, but I look forward to improving.

If you would like to see more drawings and sketches, I’ve put them all in the Drawing category.

Learning to Draw by Candlelight (by Stuck in Customs)

Painting

Besides drawing, I also like digitally paint. I have done a few of these… none are for sale – just experiments. You can read more about it and see more on the Fire in Yellowstone page.

HDR-Photo

Huge Camera Gear Giveaway!


WE HAVE A WINNER!

Danielle Luker was randomly selected as the winner of the complete bundle of Peak Design products shown below! Congrats Danielle! Someone from Peak Design will contact you soon.


Win the complete bundle of Peak Design Gear

We’re giving away a COMPLETE BUNDLE of Peak Design products to one lucky winner. Just drop a comment below if you want a chance to win! We’ll pick a random winner one week from today. The bundle includes:

 

I’m a big fan of Peak Design!

I’m a big fan of Peter Dering and the team at Peak Design. I supported their original Kickstarter campaign for the camera clip and now they’ve got a new Kickstarter campaign for two new camera straps designs, Slide and Clutch. Watch the video below for a full preview, I think it will really resonate if you’ve tried a lot of different straps.

Support the Peak Design Kickstarter and a portion goes to Charity

Stuck in Customs and Peak Design have agreed that 10% of all money raised today for their Kickstarter campaign will go to my favorite charity, Kiva.org. They help empower people all throughout the world via micro loans.

Sign up for the Newsletter to win a bonus strap!

We’ll give away one bonus “Slide” strap to a new newsletter subscriber! Just sign up on the Newsletter Page or right there on the right side of the website!

Slide Camera Strap

From the Peak Design Kickstarter pageSlide is a camera strap, but one that’s different from every other camera strap out there. Slide is more than just a neck strap, sling strap or shoulder strap. Slide is a new kind of camera strap that incorporates everything we love about existing straps, as well as feedback from thousands of photographers worldwide. In a nutshell, we think Slide is the most thoughtfully designed camera strap ever created.


Getting ready for the Wedding

Cheesy Wedding Photos

Do you know of any sites with crazy wedding photos? I’ve seen some crazy Russian ones… here, let me try to find it. Here’s a crazy one. Oh, and here’s another!

Daily Photo – Getting ready for the Wedding

We were on the outskirts of the Forbidden City then went into a temple area and there were about 20 couples taking their wedding photos. It was so funny to see everyone posing and all the photographers taking photos. They were all trying to find angles where they wouldn't see the other couples. The men wore the craziest tuxedos, but the girls mostly had on really pretty dresses. I took this one while she was moving from one position to the next.

Getting ready for the Wedding

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Fisherman and his Mindmelded Cormorant Bird

Leica Lens Buying Guide

I started a Leica Lens Buying Guide here on the site and linked to it from within the Sony A7r Review. It’s kind of version 0.9 — so I look forward to your feedback!

Now, btw, as of the writing of this, comments WORK fine on pages like those two above, but they don’t work here for daily blog posts :( We are working on that now, though!

Daily Photo – The Fisherman and his Mindmelded Cormorant Bird

This was the wildest thing I've ever seen. I got in close to this fisherman on the Li River, and he had his trusty bird-friend right behind him. No matter which way the fisherman turned his head, the bird looked the exact same way. It reminded me of the daemons from His Dark Materials. I have about 6 frames I shot where they are all looking in the same direction as they rotate their heads… I wish I had it on video!

This is a Cormorant Bird, and they have a little ring around their throats so they can't swallow the fish they catch… the fisherman takes the fish out of his mouth and puts it in a straw basket at the back of the bamboo boat. The ring is just wide enough to let little fishes go through…

(this was taken with the Sony A7r and the Leica 24mm at f/1.4 – processed with my Lightroom Presets – “Fire of the Chandrian” I think)

The Fisherman and his Mindmelded Cormorant Bird

The Fisherman and his Mindmelded Cormorant Bird

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO2500
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

On the way to Skipper’s Canyon

Pre-Leica Lens Buying Guide

I have this idea in my head that I need to put into action. I’m starting to learn a lot about Leica lenses, and I think I am close to recommending some. But, I think a good thing to know is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars. The Leica M-Lenses can be quite expensive, from $1,000 to $15,000 and well beyond! But the Leica R-Lenses are much more affordable. You can get some amazing deals with them, and they also work great on all camera systems. I know it can get confusing, so that is why I wanted to put together a little practical buying guide for people that want to experiment… I figure I could put something up, and then look at what advice and feedback you have, and then iterate.

Most likely, it would not be overkill and show all possible Leica combinations, but I would just hit on maybe 3-8 of my favorite lenses and give a few price points and options for all levels.

Daily Photo – On the way to Skipper's Canyon

We took a few people up Coronet Peak then around the bend towards the beginning of Skipper's Canyon. We didn't go all the way in, but we took a bit of time up top to explore just a little bit. These long grasses that come up here and there and tend to cluster around these old fences are usually good photo subjects. I shot this one wide open at f/1.4 on the Sony A7r with the 50mm Leica.

On the way to Skipper's Canyon

On the way to Skipper's Canyon

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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