Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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More Katie-Ann Action

New Photo of KA

Here’s a photo I put on the blog a while ago of Katie-Ann getting into the hot tub you see below…
Katie-Ann and the Hot Tub

Daily Photo – More Katie-Ann Action

I have a funny story for you.

So, I was staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale, and I was in the elevator with my camera. This couple got on the elevator with me and they excitedly said, “Are you a photographer?!?”

I said I was.

Then they said, “Will you take photos of our baby? Our baby is so amazing! We just got married and we're Jews! And this baby is the best thing ever!”

I said, “No, I don't really take photos of babies or people or anything.”

Then they started begging, telling me how amazing their baby was and it got super-awkward really quickly.

Let me back up a second… So, the female half of the couple is Definitely not the girl in this photo. I'll get to that in a moment. They were both veryshort and dressed in these all-black robe-things. The girl was particularly tiny, but she had a giant head and face like a full-grown woman. They were probably about 20 years old, but something about them totally freaked me out. When this large-plate-faced woman would stare at me, she would never blink. She was kind of like a living doll in the horror-movie style of doll.

Okay, fast forward to the next day. There's a huge ruckus out in the hallway. I go outside, and hotel security is trying to force open the door. A manager is there, and then I realize I hear a baby crying. It's just wailing away inside. Total chaos. They can't get the door open all the way because of that hotel-chain thing…

The manager yells, “Ma'am you must let us inside! This baby is crying and is obviously in distress!” No one comes to the door and things are getting dicey. I go back into my room, which is right across the hall, and look out the balcony. I'm right above the pool, and I look down, and see the mom and dad laying out at the pool, still wearing these giant black smocks. I think, WTF? Did the baby chain itself into the room? Is there someone else in there?

So I go back to the hallway to talk to the manager and security, and everyone is gone. I'm still thinking WTF. I still hear the baby crying.

Fast forward to next day. I leave the room and this strange tiny couple is outside my door, waiting on me.

They say, “Oh the photographer! Will you please take photos of our baby! I'll pay you anything you want! How much do you charge?”

I'm super-creeped out now and say, “Listen, I really don't take photos of people or babies or anything. I do mostly landscape and travel photography.”

They keep insisting, so I just go back into my room to hide.

Fast-forward to later in the day. I leave the room, and I see another young woman come out of their room. She's maybe 19. We walk down the hallway together and get on the elevator.

“Are you with those people in that room?” I ask her.

“Oh no, they found me on the internet,” she says, then happily pushes the lobby button.

“What do you mean, they found you on the internet?” I ask, obviously.

“I was babysitting,” she offered.

“Aha,” I said. “I've heard that baby is absolutely amazing.”

She gave me a quizzical look then ran off the elevator at the bottom.

Fast-forward to the next day. I'm trying to get some photos of Fort Lauderdale that are interesting. I know this girl Katie-Ann and her boyfriend Pascha through a charity event. She's kind of a model, and I asked if she wanted to spend a few hours to get fun photos on the beach and at the pool. They say sure, and come out to meet me at the pool.

I start posing Katie-Ann, tell her to go this way and that… we're having lots of fun and taking photos for quite a while. Then, all of the sudden, that tiny girlwoman with the black smock and the giant head walks over to me very seriously.

She stares me down and says, “I thought you didn't take photos of people!!!”

“Well,” I cowered, “she's just a friend and I'm taking photos for fun.”

“Why won't you take photos of our baby? Our baby is very beautiful.”

And at this point, I'm starting to think they kidnapped this baby and they're on the run or something. I just could not figure it out. Finally, I had enough.

“Listen, lady. I'm sure your baby is amazing. It sounds like you gave birth to Jesus or something even though you don't believe in him. For now, I'm going to take photos of my friend – why don't you go have a pina colada and relax a bit.”

And that was the last I heard from them.

More Katie-Ann Action

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-11 02:58:15
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5000
  • Aperture
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

4 Tips for Taking Surprising Mobile Photos

It doesn’t matter if you use an iPhone or an Android there are a few things you can do to get your mobile photography to the next level. All of the photos included with the tips were taken with my Google Pixel phone. I normally shoot with a big Hasselblad camera, but sometimes I have with me is my phone. I’ve come up with some great tricks to make them look as surprising and incredible as possible.

1) Don’t hit that big circle on the screen to take the photo. Use the Vol Up button on the side! One, when you jab the screen with your finger, you’re causing camera-shake and it will make your photo more blurry. Two, using the volume up button allows you to hold the camera much more steady with one or two hands.

Image 1

This was taken an underground Turkish bath in Budapest, Hungary. This is Olya, my crazy Russian videographer, who traveled through Europe with us to make some inspirational and tutorial videos.

2) Experiment with the mobile app Snapseed! It’s free and available for Android and iOS. This is, by far, the best app for editing your photos on your phone. There are many tools in there and many different filters. One great thing about Snapseed is you can layer many different filters together to really give your photo a unique look. People will wonder how you did it!

Image 2

Here’s a fun family photo from a few months ago when we rode camels near the pyramids in Egypt. I used Snapseed filters to give it this “look.”

3) Take some cheeky street photos. If you’re like me, as you walk around the streets, you often see interesting people, crazy outfits, or just kooky things you find interesting. It can sometimes be embarrassing to blatantly aim your phone at these things, so get used to using the Volume Up button to take the photos. On the Pixel phone, for example, I can turn on the camera by double-clicking the power button. Then I move my finger to volume-up to take the photo. Your horizon will probably be off, but you can fix that later.

Image 3

Here’s a cheeky street photo I took in Budapest, Hungary. This is my assistant Tane. He’s not posing; this is literally how he looks all the time.

4) Try combining your phone with an iPad or tablet to edit your photos to the next level. Professional photographers know that a photo reads differently on a larger screen. Next time you’re at a coffee shop, why not zap your photo over to your tablet (via Google Photos or Airdrop), then use Snapseed to edit it there. A good photo always looks better bigger on a tablet, so don’t feel like you’re forced to use that tiny little screen.

Image 4

This a photo I took in Aruba. I was jogging on the beach, and of course I had my mobile phone with me. I was able to cover a lot of ground quickly, and there’s no way I would go on a jog and carry a Hasselblad! But it’s nice to always have the phone with me and take a ton of photos, picking out the best after I sit down to relax.

Image 5

Here’s a panorama of three different photos I took while on a walk here near my home in New Zealand. Since I have an Android, I use Google photos. One great thing about Google Photos is there’s a little AI assistant that will “gift” you a panorama if it senses you took a lot of photos close together.

Image 6

Near my home on the south island of New Zealand, there is this amazing place to watch the sunset called Lake Hayes. I forgot my big Hasselblad camera, so all I had was my phone. There’s a saying that the Best Camera is the one you have with you!

Rainy Day in Milford Sound

Bad Memory

I took this less than a year ago, but I had no memory of what lens or camera I used. I had to go look at the EXIF! I was 90% sure it was the Hasselblad, but I had no clue on the focal length. It looked quite zoomed in, but then I realized the waterfalls are so massive, you really can’t tell. Anyway, it was the 35-90mm, shot at 60mm. I wish there was a zoom lens, but in everyone’s life, a little waterfall must fall.

Daily Photo – Rainy Day in Milford Sound

In Milford, when it rains, the mountains pour. I tell most people when they go that rain is probably one of the best weather situations down there… literally THOUSANDS of waterfalls. I believe I took this one right by the tunnel that leads from one side of these massive mountains to the other. Waterfalls are crazy on both sides… mind-blowing, really. Whoever built that tunnel and road to Milford Sound, THANK YOU!

Rainy Day in Milford Sound

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-12-21 09:13:11
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length60.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

A little more from the Italian Coast

More from Cinque Terre

I wonder what it would be like to live in a place like this? Would you get tired of it, or would you get tired of it after a few months or years? I don’t know how you could get tired of it (well,me, not being a city-guy)! Plus, every day italian food? I mean, it’s all they have, so that really takes away the guilt factor.

Daily Photo – A little more from the Italian Coast

How much fun are quadcopters in places like this? Too much fun! It's almost like you can't take a bad shot. I was wishing I had those new goggles from DJI you can wear so I could do everything from a first-person perspective. I normally fly with a spotter beside me while I stare at the screen. It works great except daytime flying often has a massive glare on the screen. I think those goggles are going to be radical!

A little more from the Italian Coast

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-02 18:30:40
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Breakfast Mimosas in Nice

New Technique!

I used kind of a new experimental technique with this photo… still trying to come up with something repeatable. When I do, I’ll be sure to share it here 🙂

Daily Photo – Breakfast Mimosas in Nice

This photo is kind of like yesterday's, eh? It's actually on the same coast, and the place we stopped just after leaving Barcelona. This is Nice, France. Our bus pulled in and stopped for breakfast. So I jumped on the net at Googled “Rooftop Restaurants in Nice” – always a great search! I do this in every city to find great places to take photos… Google is really smart now too because it tells you whether or not the place is open or not.

Breakfast Mimosas in Nice

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-01 11:18:44
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Down the coast of Barcelona

Reminder on the Burning Man Photo Walk

I always do the Burning Man photo walk at sunset on Tuesday there in Black Rock City. As with all photo walks, it’s a free event! Well, everything is free at Burning Man… so it kind of goes without saying. See more about it at the BM Photo Walk Announcement Post. Bring a friend or three! 🙂

Daily Photo – Down the coast of Barcelona

What an awesome city! The first time I was here with my wife, I was sick as a dog. I still went out and took photos because I'm a real trooper, but it was very difficult to get into the flow-state. This time, since our #80stays Tour took us there, I was able to take more time. This is the view from the top floor of the Ritz-Carlton. This is where we had my little after-party art talk at the end of the photo walk. Pretty much everyone went out on the balcony to take a photo or three! 🙂

Down the coast of Barcelona

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-04-29 19:53:25
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/4
  • Aperture3.2
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length90.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

New Interview from the Ritz-Carlton

Here’s a link in the Ritz-Carlton Journeys magazine that talks more about the nature of the tour we just did in Europe. I hope you enjoy the photos, if nothing else! 🙂

Today’s photo of Milan doesn’t really match up with the top article because there is no Ritz-Carlton here, but there is an amazing Bvlgari hotel where we stayed. I’ll have to attach a photo of the pool soon!

Daily Photo – The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

I took this one on our photo walk. It's funny because a lot of times on the photo walk, I am too rushed to get a decent shot. But it worked out well in this situation! This is actually two different shots, stacked vertically in a vertirama. I have a new video coming up for Passport Members that shows a new technique for stacking photos! 🙂

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-05 19:29:48
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Volkswagen Plant in Wolfsburg, Germany

More from Wolfsburg

In case you missed this photo from last week, this is the huge car-delivery robot right by the pool below!

The Giant Car Robot

Daily Photo – The Volkswagen Plant in Wolfsburg, Germany

This is a crazy little scene, eh? Yeah, this is the view from the pool at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, Germany. I didn't have enough time to stay at the hotel, but I did run around this whole area and take a bunch of photos. For true Volkswagen aficionado, this is kind of a mecca. New owners come here from all over the world to pick up their new cars (from the photo above) and drive them back home.

The Volkswagen Plant in Wolfsburg, Germany

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-22 11:49:09
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

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