Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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Chinese Junk Boat in Hong Kong Harbor

Earnslaw Burn Video 3

This is one of the many videos I shared with Passport Members last year about a 12-month commissioned project that took me out to this special area on many trips. Enjoy!

Game Recommendation!

I got really into this game called Subnautica. Man, it’s really well done. It was not on my radar when it first came out, but I heard so many good things about it that I decided to give it a run. It’s got a great story… usually I like strategy games, but this one fills one of my other favorite categories: surviving + building. Anyway, try it! I think it’s on pretty much every platform.

Daily Photo – Chinese Junk Boat in Hong Kong Harbor

There's a fun boat you can get on that goes back and forth across the harbor. It's really inexpensive and it leaves like every 15 minutes. In fact, you can just stay on it and ping pong back and forth between the Hong Kong and Kowloon side. We did this about three times and that seemed to be enough to see all the sites! Now, I was not actually on that Chinese junk boat… I decided to get on a different one so I could actually take photos of it.

Chinese Junk Boat in Hong Kong Harbor

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-03-14 02:00:17
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/80
  • Aperture4
  • ISO5000
  • Focal Length36.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

New Festival Presets Available!

Come grab my new presets

Get the new Festival Presets here.

I’m excited to release these 29 really fun and beautiful presets (“looks”) for you! I’ve been perfecting them for the last eight years as I shoot photos of people and art at festivals around the world. Plus these also work great in other environments too, as you’ll see in the sample photos and videos. And even better, you can get them for Lightroom or Luminar.

You’ll notice that my festival photos have a few different sorts of “looks” and now you can have them all. There are seven different filters that give you different sorts of sandstorm/Mad Max cinematic looks. There’s a handful of photos for with some gnarly black & white situations. Last, my favorite, there are a variety of desaturated, low-contrast looks that give the photos an amazing feeling.

Oh, also you’ll see Luminar in the video below, which I often prefer over Lightroom. Go get Luminar here.

Sample Photos

Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com

Here’s my bestie Rene Smith up atop Lord Snort! He was spinning quite fast, so it was a fun photo to take. We had early entry this year, so we were able to visit a lot of the art before it was covered with too many people. This is actually the site of a small tragedy, as one guy lost all of his fingers while trying to jump onto the head as it was spinning around.

The Phallic Rock + Edit

New Video today on Passport Sunday!

Today for Passport Members, you’ll get to see my decision process for choosing the composition of today’s photo as well as the edit. I still have so many “old” photos from Utah to edit, and I kind of randomly pulled this one off the pile.

Editing this photo from Utah

In this video, I’m with Harriett again as I go through about 20 photos I took of this rock to pick my favorite composition. You can see how I am sometimes indecisive on the scene, but then later when I get back in LR, I take my time and go through the options. After I choose my favorite one, I do some simple edits in Aurora HDR.

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Daily Photo – The Phallic Rock and Edit

This is some Wile E. Coyote kinda rocks going on here, eh? I'm still amazed that formations like this can exist. You know it gets so windy and stormy there. You'd think a big stiff wind would just topple that thing over, right? And there's another rock barely hanging on back there on the left as well. There were quite a few tourists around too… I was wondering how scary it would be if the rock chose a moment to topple over while there was a gaggle of selfie-taking tourists down below.

The Phallic Rock and Edit

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-08-20 10:35:18
  • CameraNEX-6
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1600
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length98.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

More from the Red Light District in Tokyo

New Videos on the Way!

While we have been all over Asia, we’ve been creating a ton of different videos for you. Some are instructional, but I’d say most are kind of inspirational. Little ideas to get your creative juices flowing! We’re just wrapping up a few more sponsors before we unleash them to you! 🙂

Daily Photo – More from the Red Light District in Tokyo

Now I'm not exactly sure what this place of business is offering since I can't read much Japanese. I see that it says “Peep Show” but all the imagery on the outside seems to be of a 3D animated character. It would not surprise me at all if you went inside and were watching Anime Manga Porn of not-real people. The Japanese people certainly have their kinks. Actually, thinking about it now, I really should have gone in to see exactly what was going on… but I was with my son Ethan, and it would be strange to say, “Hey dude, wait here for 2 hours while I go inside to investigate.”

More from the Red Light District in Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-01-30 02:38:13
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture4
  • ISO500
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Before the Opera

Ordering Birth Certificates

I’ll go on a little rant here about how hard it is for me to get my birth certificate. This is the only missing piece for me to get my New Zealand citizenship and new passport (I’ll be a dual citizen in NZ and the USA). Well, firstly, I don’t really understand why NZ needs my US birth certificate, as I already provided it to them when I applied for residency. It’s gotten lost in the move, I guess. Anyway, they need it again.

I was born in Texas, and after spending hours navigating their 1998 tech web page, I learned I cannot do it online because I don’t have a Texas driver’s license. What does that have to do with anything? And I can’t send a friend, because it has to be a family member. So, I guess I have to FLY TO TEXAS to get a copy of a piece of paper that proves that I was born, a fact which I believe is more than self-evident. Oh, governments… It would be a lot better if you just got out of the way instead of slowing down an otherwise productive life.

Daily Photo – Before the Opera

This is one of my favorite little photos from the time I spent behind the scenes the opera. All the men and ladies were getting ready, and they take quite a long time putting on all the make up. These to ladies were sitting on opposite sides of a mirror, doing very similar but very different things.

Before the Opera

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-15 21:38:20
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture4
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length105.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Photo Friendsies at the Song Museum

What’s a Friendsie?

A Friendsie is when you would gladly take a selfie, but you have your friend do it because they can get better angles. I noticed this in spades all over China. While I did see a lot of selfies, I saw an equal number, or greater, of Friendsies. They would go out in groups of two or three and just take photos of one another all day long. Note that the word Friendsie doesn’t exactly exist yet, but I’m kinda inventing a new “name” for it. Elodin would be proud.

Daily Photo – Photo Friendsies at the Song Museum

We visited the Song Museum north of Beijing one day. It's a very contemporary and modern museum with clean white lines and elegant shapes. Inside the museum was the usual fair, but the outside of the museum was teeming with a hoard of girls taking photos of one another. Groups of two or three would all spend hours just taking photos outside the museum of one another in different poses. They were all stylishly dressed and quite avant-garde. Of course, I got into the fun and started taking photos of the whole scene as well, then sharing the photos back with them on WeChat (the most popular social network there).

Photo Friendsies at the Song Museum

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-10 20:11:50
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length70.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Update on Workshops

New Goodies for Workshop attendees

For our upcoming Photography Workshops in New Zealand and Africa, I’ve decided to throw in a Peak Design Goodie Kit! It will include a Peak Design bag and lots of other goodies. I think you’ll have a great time on the workshop anyway, but even better if you’re sporting some flash new gear!

Daily Photo – Beautiful Arrowtown in the Autumn

And this is one of the things you'll definitely see on the Autumn New Zealand workshop. We always spend at least a day here in Arrowtown to see the incredible colors while receiving photography instruction. One of my favorite parts after a long day of shooting and post-processing is ending up at one of my favorite restaurants for a group dinner. Everything is included with the price, and we always want to over-deliver, so I take you to the best places… the best foods, best wines, best photography… what else could you ask for!?!

Beautiful Arrowtown in the Autumn

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-05-01 13:43:02
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO6400
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Sphinx Across Time

I’m constantly Updating my Kits!

If you head over to my Kit.com, you’ll see I’m constantly updating it with everything from books to gadgets to photography gear. I hope you find something cool in there you just can’t live without!

The Sphinx Across Time

While in Egypt, we were lucky enough to get up close and personal with the mighty Sphinx himself! It was pretty crazy standing there… right in front of one of the most iconic places on Earth. It wasn't quite as big as I expected, but it was still very impressive. I even managed to do a Facebook Live from this location while an Egyptologist showed us around… and even showed us a secret tunnel underneath.

The Sphinx Across Time

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-02-02 14:49:18
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

An Old Tea House Near Chengdu

Updated Burning Man Camera Survival Guide

I’ve committed to updating my Burning Man Guide every year. Now it’s got a bunch of new stuff in there, also updated with some of the latest gear I’m taking with me.

Daily Photo – An Old Tea House Near Chengdu

Check out this old-timer. We drove about an hour outside of Chengdu to see some of the “old ways” since a lot of that has been swept away in the urban growth of China. We came to this old tea house were people were just sitting around having tea and smoking some rather insane looking pipes. That is literally all they did… all… day… long… But it was really interesting and great for photography. I even sat down and had a little tea for myself!

An Old Tea House Near Chengdu

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-15 15:06:00
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture
  • ISO640
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Incredible London from Above

Passport Sunday!

In today’s video for Passport Members, you’ll see me and Harriett sit down together and edit this photo. It was actually a pretty easy edit and I had to perform a few tricks to get rid of the glare because I didn’t have my lens skirt with me at the time.

Editing London from Above with Aurora HDR and Photoshop

Here’s another one of these videos I recorded with my friend Harriett. She doesn’t do a lot of photography like this, so she asked if she could come down and sit in on a few processing sessions. I told her of course, but then I decided to make some Passport videos at the same time. She was kinda nervous on camera, but I think she did okay!

In today’s photo, I take three original photos and use Aurora HDR to give it some serious punch. And then I played around a bit with the temperature sliders to give different parts of the city different treatments. Finally, I get into Photoshop and clean up a bit of the glare mess. Enjoy!

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Daily Photo – Incredible London from Above

If you want to get up high and get this same view, it's not too difficult. Just get up to the sky bar in the London Shard and find a good view out of any of the windows. They might have cracked down on photographers now, but maybe not. I think you probably have to at least by a coffee or a drink so that the staff there does not glare at you too much. Speaking of glare, don't forget to get a lens skirt or something. I have that gizmo and others on my Kit.com page if you want to see more.

Incredible London from Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-02-18 01:47:20
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.5
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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