Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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Beautiful San Francisco

On Tony and Chelsea Northrup’s show

I was recently on their fun YouTube show and I critiqued a lot of different photos. We also got into all other sorts of topics as well… anyway, here it is for you to enjoy!

Daily Photo – Beautiful San Francisco

It's been quite a while since I have visited San Francisco, but I still have plenty of photos from previous visits. It's such a great city… if I were to move back to the USA, it's definitely one of those cities I would consider living in. I may stop by quickly when I come over for Burning Man… I need to get up to Napa to visit my mom and try to be a good son! 🙂

Beautiful San Francisco

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2012-02-22 09:38:21
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/6
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length70.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Friends in Beijing

Follow me on WeChat

My friend Ken Hong is gonna get my WeChat up to the next level! You can follow me there at “TreyRatcliffChina” if you wish! 🙂

Daily Photo – Friends in Beijing

We went out to visit the Song Museum in Beijing, but some of the best things to shoot were on the outside. There were a few dozen ladies outside wearing all kinds of outfits, all taking photos of one another. I've never seen anything quite like it. I get the feeling this happens most every day there. Most of the ladies didn't even seem interesting into actually entering the museum… instead spending hours outside posing this way and that. I saw these two taking photos of one another and asked if I could jump in the fun. After I took photos with their mobile phone, I took a few of my own and sent them along via WeChat (that's the most popular sharing app in China). As you can see, they were very friendly.

Friends in Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-10 20:37:33
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length43.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Hot Pot in Chengdu

Need Towing Advice!

Hey all you smart people out there – I need some advice! I’m going to Burning Man again this year with my bestie Rene and we are going to tow our 5th Wheel out there. It’s a “2017 KZ-DURANGO G380FLF” – anyway, my question is what kind of truck do I need to rent to tow it? A F-250? 150? I don’t know much about these sorts of things, so any advice is welcome! Also, I don’t actually have US Driver’s License (I have an NZ one), but I have a friend from my camp that can tow it in… I just need to be sure what kind of truck to rent!

Daily Photo – Hot Pot in Chengdu

One of the most popular things to do in Chengdu is to eat out at these hot pot places. They basically give you some giant boiling vats and lots of random raw stuff you dump inside until its disinfected. Then you douse it in some incredibly spicy sauce and swallow it before asking too many questions. It wasn't my favorite thing if you can't tell. It's quite communal… everyone's food and eating-sticks are all mixed together into a confusing food situation. I also spent about 10% of my time at the table and the other 90% roaming around to get photos of the place… I think the environs were much more interesting than the food!

Hot Pot in Chengdu

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-14 23:45:08
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.5
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Camping out on the Great Wall

Camp out overnight with a shady company!

Hey, everything did end up working out in the end… but if you also want to try to sleep overnight on the Great Wall, I recommend this website! We did end up making a few videos of the entire adventure… wait till you see! Remember, apparently it is illegal to camp out on the Great Wall, but I guess you can do it anyway. He gave us some great advice in case the military arrived. He said it’s best just to ignore them.

Daily Photo – Camping out on the Great Wall

I'll save the overnight story for another blog post, but first I can tell you about the mini-struggle to get this photo! So, we found this place online that looked fairly legit. This “company” can get you up on top of the wall for a hike and an overnight camping trip. This guy and his driver picked us up at the hotel and we spent most of the day together. He seemed pretty legit, but less so as the day got closer to night. It was close to sunset, and he really wanted us to come into his farmhouse to take a shower. We said we don't really want to shower, but we want to get a sunset photo from the wall. He was really angling for this shower business, which we thought was strange. Finally, he admitted that we can't go up onto the wall until the guards go home from duty. This was the first indication that we were involved with a shady operation. More on the story in a future post!

Camping out on the Great Wall

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-06 23:09:57
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture9
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length29.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Love Heart Island

New Luminar Tip Video

Grab the new Luminar here and get cracking with some of these hot tips! In today’s video, I show how to use “LUTs” which stands for “Look Up Tables” – I find this to be a very geeky acronym that mostly just confuses people. Despite its geekiness, it’s quite fun and powerful!

Daily Photo – Love Heart Island

Here's that little island that sits in the middle of Lake Wanaka. From the shore, it looks like a little perfect fairy island… a perfect little secret island to go have some adventures on. It also looks like you could swim out to it, except you'd defo die from hypothermia in transit. I think people are always surprised when they visit the South Island at how cold the water actually is. Some people are really into swimming in cold water, but I think those people might be kinda crazy.

There's another quirky thing about New Zealand (this might be the case in Aussie as well). Anyway, you know that “heart” shape that we use to describe the shape that is, well, a heart? Well the Kiwis call it a “love heart” shape. I think that's kind of a nice quirky thing about it… now my little girls say that, and sometimes even with a Kiwi accent!

Love Heart Island

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-05-12 14:11:30
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

High over Shanghai and a Studio Tour for Passport Members!

New today for Passport Members!

If you are one of our awesome Passport Members then today you get to see a 360 Video tour of my updated studio with seasonal art! It’s also the first 360 video I made since upgrading the firmware on this cool Insta360 camera. Before, it was honestly pretty bouncy, but now I find it to be quite smooth!

We’re on a good pace to put up 60 new pieces of content per year for Passport Members, so at least once a week, I’ll be bringing you something fresh and new!

Stabilizing My Studio

It’s a new season around here, and time for another art hanging at my studio! I’ve been making one of these every three months or so to celebrate the turning of the season and a new set of art to hang! You’ll see it’s a bit snowy outside as I make my way over the studio… oh, and notice how mega-smooth the upgraded firmware is on this Insta360 camera!

Exclusive content for Passport members

Unlock Now

Daily Photo – High over Shanghai

I was really excited to return to Shanghai with all my new photo skills! I'm not saying I have all the skills in the world or anything, but I certainly have a lot more than my first trip there almost ten years ago. I look back on those older photos and I don't even like them that much. Since I was here for a solid week or so, I decided to shoot my heart out and see what I could achieve. This spot was one of my favorites because it made for a perfect vantage point in Pudong. This is shot from the rooftop bar at the Ritz-Carlton there. We actually took over the whole venue one day for one of my art talks about the 80 Stays tour. On that particular day, it was quite cloudy, but our first night here made for the perfect view!

High over Shanghai

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-18 23:32:42
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4
  • Aperture4
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Sun is Rising or Setting in Sydney

Helping my Son with his Resume

My son Ethan is trying to get his first job and he really has no job experience except when the cops got him to go try to bust a few local bars. So I decided to help him write a more colorful version of the episode:

Undercover Cop (said in Cartman’s voice)
New Zealand Police Department

The NZ Police employed me to infiltrate dins of iniquity and use my cunning guile to expose lackadaisical standards of serving minors in local drinking holes. In disguise as my pre-drinking-age self, I surreptitiously entered pubs in Queenstown and Wanaka to beguile the local glasswipe with a bit of witty repartee before ordering a simple beer, a pilsner, a varied spirit, or a perhaps, on a whim, a rather complex girly drink. Despite my stage training, I was never able to bring any drinking establishment to its knees, a result that I entrust is an accidental benefit to my future employer after they leave work, tired of my musings, and “need a drink.”

Daily Photo – The Sun is Rising or Setting in Sydney

When I initially posted this, I thought for sure it was a sunset. But then my clever Aussie friends told me I was facing towards the East here, which means I was definitely 100% wrong. It's so strange, though, because I don't remember waking up for the sunrise there. But, clearly, I did. This just once again reminds me of how my memory is a slippery slope slipping more all the time.

The Sun is Rising or Setting in Sydney

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2012-09-25 16:50:09
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Two Girls Wander Through a Bamboo Forest in China

Editing Fireworks Quick Tip

Two days in a row for a Luminar Tip! Don’t forget you can download it here. This is a quick n’ dirty video that shows you how to edit fireworks and give them a bit more pop!

Daily Photo – Two Girls Wander Through a Bamboo Forest in China

This was my first trip to Chengdu, China, and I was surprised to find they had this giant bamboo forest near a temple complex. There are these cool red-walled tunnels that weave all around and through the forest. This area is also known for their giant pandas. I was kind of hoping to see one swinging around the trees, but no such luck. But there were a lot of festive people out walking around, like these two girls.

Two Girls Wander Through a Bamboo Forest in China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-15 19:01:02
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Magical Castle at Night

Luminar Quick Tip

If you don’t have this amazing tool, be sure to get Luminar on Skylum’s website. It’s really a great tool! In this video, I show a bit about how to enhance foliage with one of their cool tools. I also briefly mention my new drone tutorial in this video, which is now available in the store.

Daily Photo – The Magical Castle at Night

Many hardcore people get angry when I call this a castle because it's actually more of a monastery on top of a medieval village. But I'm not much for semantics and the form largely ticks the “castle” pattern-recognition part of my brain. This is Mont St. Michel in the Normandy area of France. I still recommend this as an amazing destination, even if you are not into photography. It's kind of touristy in the daytime, but it really clears out in the evening. If you're looking for a “lively” place with lots of cool bars and restaurants, it's definitely not that kind of place. But if you're looking for a place where you can play real-life Assassin's Creed, well it's much more that kinda place.

The Magical Castle at Night

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2012-11-13 22:50:04
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time15
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length250.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+3

Shanghai, The Bund, and Beyond

Working on a new China Video

While in China over the past year, I’ve done quite a few drone flights. I used the Mavic Pro almost exclusively, and it held up perfectly. I’m currently in the middle of a longer project where I’m putting together my favorite aerial footage into an all-China from the air video. I hope to have it ready within a week or so! I’m having my friend Stephan Bollinger put some finishing touches on the titling and credits area.

Daily Photo – Shanghai, The Bund, and Beyond

This might be one of my favorite new photos! I took this from the Sky Lounge around the 50th floor of the Ritz-Carlton on the Pudong side of Shanghai. These cool ships sail up and down the river and right in front of the warmly-lit Bund area. Those old colonial buildings have hardly changed in over 100 years while the rest of the city has built up behind it. Along the riverfront there, you can see a bunch of people walking around – that is the same place we had our awesome photo walk a few weeks ago. Thanks again everyone for coming out for the event!

Shanghai, The Bund, and Beyond

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-20 23:04:10
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/10
  • Aperture4
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length91.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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