Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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Shopping in Osaka

Common Tourist Scams

I usually waste a bit of time each day on Reddit, but it turns out that it’s not always a waste of time! I found this cool infographic that is full of common tourist scams. Since I travel a lot, I’m pretty aware of most of these, but some were even new to me!

Of course, this is not meant to make you scared of traveling or anything, just something to simply be aware of. And, I would say that most countries are perfectly safe, but some countries may use ALL of these scams! 🙂



Daily Photo – Shopping in Osaka

Wow Japanese people love to shop! There is nonstop shopping all over the place, but especially in this district here called Dotonbori. The exact area of Dotombori is hard to define, but it covers many city blocks. It's so big, in fact, that I didn't even find this vast area until my fourth visit here!

Shopping in Osaka

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-11 14:20:02
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/20
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length240.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Some Favorites from Paris!

A Special Paris video for Passport members!

You may remember I did another special Paris video a few months ago. Well, I decided to make another one, but this one is more inspirational. I hope you dig it. And if you’re not a Passport Member by now, why not?!? 🙂

Some Favorites from Paris!

So many great memories from Paris! Here are four of my favorite photos from the romantic city!


Windows in Paris – The Saint Chapelle I wish I could find a good wide-angle lens like this Nikon 14-24 for my Sony NEX-7. I think one is coming out in a month or so… and I’m thinking of trying out the Olympus 7-14mm (Adorama link). The NEX-7 has served me as a good camera while my D800 is getting repaired!(Edit, I’ve changed my mind and decided to wait on this new lens from Sony)- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Time Lasts Forever in Paris Oh Paris! Le sigh…These were not the ideal shooting conditions, as idyllic as the scene might appear. This is all handheld, btw, no tripod, and here’s the rest of the sad tripod story.To get to this spot, you have to walk to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. My first few times there, I did not even know you could get to the top! I felt quite dumb when I found out you can walk up about 20,000 stairs to get here.Once I got up there, I staked out a position with my tripod, and then Frenchy McFrenchface came over and told me I could not use my tripod. I explained that I was an arteeeest, and surely he would in the 19th century no one asked the impressionists to put their easels away. This was a losing argument, although I still think it’s a pretty good one. It will work one day, and I won’t give up this line of persuasion.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Walking about the Sorbonne in the evening

Another Summer Day in Paris I'm having an amazing time in Paris.  As usual, it's off-the-rails perfect.  The weather has been remarkable, the sunsets amazing, and the chocolate flows like mana from heaven.   I made it over to the Eiffel Tower for a big night of shooting, and arrived there just as the sun was setting.  I have a few little special spots I like to visit around the tower that are not full of tourists and the like.This shot looks much more delicate, perhaps, than I did while achieving it.  Unfortunately, this was one of those tricky ones where the tripod legs were splayed out like a flattened armadillo.  I looked beyond redonkulous while taking it...Read the rest here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Paris: The Flaneur

I hope you enjoy! 🙂 If you like these sorts of videos, let me know and I can do more.

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Security at the Cayman Cookout

Grand Cayman from Above

While there for the Grand Cayman Cookout, I made a fun drone video while testing out the new Mavic Pro Platinum. I love the way it turned out and it gives you a nice little taste of the island!

Daily Photo – Security at the Cayman Cookout

I was walking out of taking photos of one of the cooking classes on the beach and I saw these two gentlemen chilling out. There was this gauzy sheet behind them that made them look super-epic. So I just had to stop for a quick photo.

Security at the Cayman Cookout

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-01-13 09:15:18
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Shinjuku from the Movie Theater

How-to Video

Here is a video that shows how I used a little-known feature in Aurora HDR 2018 to produce this image. Enjoy!

Remember, if you are a Passport Member I release at least one new video like this a week! 🙂

Daily Photo – Shinjuku from the Movie Theater

Here's the final photo from the video above. If you want to get to this location, it's really easy! When you are in Shinjuku, go to the big movie theater there with the Godzilla on top. You can't miss it! When you go in, head up to the third floor with the elevator or escalator. There are huge windows here (clean windows) that give you this cool view right down one of the craziest streets in Tokyo. I shot this at about 70mm to give more of a compressed feel.

Shinjuku from the Movie Theater

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-01-30 02:43:03
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture4
  • ISO500
  • Focal Length59.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Girl in St. Petersburg

Grand Cayman from Above

Here are a few highlights of the trip to Grand Cayman taken from above. This was mostly done with the DJI Mavic Pro and a bit of the Phantom.

Daily Photo – Girl in St. Petersburg

As soon as our train rolled into the station in St. Petersburg, we got out and went to breakfast at a great place. Sitting near us was this interesting-looking girl who was a local. That got me started on a long day of taking photos of interesting people here and there. And they all seemed happy to have their photos taken, except for this one old lady at an ice cream machine.

Girl in St. Petersburg

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-06-05 10:47:18
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/40
  • Aperture
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Trey’s Mini-Rant About the New Star Wars Movie

Small Star Wars Rant

I really enjoyed Star Wars Episode: The Last Jedi. But, I’m such a geek that there are things that bother me… I could list 50 things I thought were awesome, but here are just a few silly things that I don’t understand. Maybe you can edumucate me.

  1. Vice Admiral Holdo. Overall, I found her to be a strange character. Especially when you have such an amazing female roles with Rey and Leia. I don’t mind yet another strong woman, but she was just a little strange for me. My biggest problem is she never really told anyone THE PLAN. Everyone was wondering what the heck her plan was. Because she refused to share her plan, it led to other side-missions and a mutiny. She could have said very clearly: “Look, our plan is to stay outside of their range for as long as possible, then send as many transports down to this planet with think is a safe base for us to call for more help.” Because she communicates no plan, a mass mutiny (a rebel rebellion) begins.

    Additionally, there were needless deaths during this plan. As the ships slowly got picked off behind her, all those people needlessly died. They could have taken a shuttle up to the cozy capital ship with Holdo. Surely they have an autopilot they can flip on for the last half hour of their flights so no humans have to die. Besides, the resistance needs as many pilots as they can get, so why let them die?

    Last, the idea to jump to light speed on a suicide mission was a pretty good idea, but it was really a last-second gambit. It should have been part of the plan from the beginning. And, if it was done right after the transport ships launched, those 10+ transport ships would not have been destroyed, saving even more lives.

    And, last, last, where did this mysterious fuel come from to jump to lightspeed? I thought they ran out and the final move was to launch the transports to the planet. The plot hole thickens.

  2. That whole Canto Bight side-mission was completely useless. In fact, it was deleterious. The whole point of the mission was for Finn and Rose to go locate a “Master Codebreaker” so they could sneak onto a ship and disable a tracking device, allowing the rebellion to jump to lightspeed and not be tracked. Well, that whole mission failed and it took up at least 30 minutes of screentime. Worse, not only did it fail, but it gave DJ (Benicio Del Toro) the chance to give insider information to the Empire when accelerated the Rebels’ demise.

    Continuing, why did they make it so hard to find this master codebreaker? I mean, he could have been anywhere, or even asleep. Why not arrange a meeting. When you are going to arrange a meeting, it involves a location and time. It could have easily been done because their mutual contact Maz Kanata could have set it up. Surely she doesn’t spend every waking hour jet-packing around with a blaster while Facetiming. She must have some downtime to send off an email or something to set up such an important meeting.

    Yeah, yeah it adds “tension” that they have to find this guy. And there was even more tension when they got arrested because they parked their spaceship in a bad parking space. Come on, Finn and Rose, can’t your writers advise that you go ahead and park your ship in a regular ship parking lot, so as to not arouse unneeded suspicion?

  3. Benicio Del Toro as DJ. That whole character was strange too. I think my biggest problem is that he wasn’t even playing a character, he was just being regular ol’ Benicio Del Toro. Hey, I love the guy, but he kind of took me out of the Star Wars universe and I was comparing his acting style to what he did in Usual Suspects (and most everything else). I thought it would have been cooler to have Lando Calrissian in that role.

  4. Rose. What is this character? I didn’t find her to be a compelling actor and I found her to be a bit annoying. It’s like they picked up some random fangirl at Comicon. “Hey, you’ll do,” thought the casting director while watching the audience at a Firefly panel on “How Handsome is Mal?”

    Rose’s job was to work on pipes or something, which is a fine job. So, how on the very next day does she go from being a Space Plumber to flying a fighter ship down on the planet with such skill that she can bop Finn’s ship to the ground without hurting either of them? I guarantee you those ships don’t have airbags. It reminded me a little of that Very Silly scene from Episode 1 where the 7-year-old Anakin takes a spaceship and uses it to blow up one of the Empire’s biggest ships.

  5. No JJ Abrams. I felt something in the force of this movie… that JJ Abrams was not involved enough. I always feel like I get a certain “feeling” with a JJ Abrams film that was missing here. I understand he gave full control to the director, and that’s probably a good thing because you can’t be second-guessing the director all the time, but it all felt a bit off.

Final Thoughts

All that being said, I still really liked the movie! I would have liked it even more if Holdo would have just explained the fucking plan.

Daily Photo – Airport on Hoth

Speaking of Star Wars, my time in Antarctica was a little bit like Hoth. I didn't have a tauntaun to crawl inside when I got cold, but I did have Stu Robertson. He made many of the same sounds as a tauntaun, in fact. Anyway, one day we snowmobiled out to the “airport” to see this scene. It's technically an airport, I guess, insofar as you land somewhere on this ice and can refuel for the flight back to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Airport on Hoth

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-01-21 07:39:26
  • CameraILCE-7M2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

Little Girl in Okinawa

A Quick Edit of a Drone Photo

Here’s a video I made showing an edit of a drone photo from Waiheke. I edited it using Aurora HDR 2018 and you can see a few little tricks in the video below!

Daily Photo – Little Girl in Okinawa

We didn't get much beach time on Okinawa, even though the place is packed with beaches! Most of our time was spent in the inside parts of the island. Most Japanese think of the mountains and hills for vacation and not-so-much the beach. Anyway, as soon as we made it out here, I saw this cute little girl playing in the sand.

Little Girl in Okinawa

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-15 18:57:12
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture13
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length45.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Matrix

Morning Edits

I have a slightly new morning routine. After I get my coffee, I begin to edit photos right away before I do email or anything. It’s good because my head is pretty clear and not distracted by silly things that appear in my email to distract me! 🙂

Passport Bonus!

Hello awesome Passport Member! Below is an early look at a how-to video for you.

Aurora HDR Deep Dive – Beginner to Intermediate Level Editing

Here is a fairly in-depth how-to for you awesome Passport people. It covers making extremely reflective looking grounds and some panorama techniques that I’ve been using recently.

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Daily Photo – The Matrix

This is kind of a crazy photo, eh? I had an idea to find some of the most technically-crazy buildings in London and get tight photos of them. The instinct is often to try to capture the entire building, but I thought it might be fun to make something more abstract. I like the way this turned out, and I'll have to make a reminder to myself to do this to more buildings!

The Matrix

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-02-17 06:27:03
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4
  • Aperture4
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Baths from Above

A Vote for Labradoodles

I don’t know if I spelled that right. But, anyway, these are really great dogs! We’ve had Blueberry (the kids named her) for about 4 years now and she’s a really good dog. And doesn’t shed! Great with the kids… never barks… always a great disposition. She likes to play fetch A LITTLE TOO MUCH and is always bringing us stuff to throw for her.

Daily Photo – The Baths from Above

Birds have it so lucky! They can get this view anytime they want. I wonder if they have any kind of aesthetic sense. They probably do, in a way, prefer to live in beautiful places, since those places often have lots of diversity of food supplies and fresh water. I don't know what made me wonder what birds think. Maybe they spend very little time thinking at all… just sort of “being” in the bird-Om sense.

The Baths from Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-30 11:02:57
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Near the Mayor’s Office in London in the Rain

Tip: Getting Extra-Shiny Streets

Streets are already pretty shiny in the rain at night, but here’s a way to make them extra-crazy. You have a lot of lee-way to do this artistically because night-shots with long exposure are, in their very nature, much more “fantastical” than normal shots. Anyway, go give it some extra ooomph, start a new layer in Aurora HDR 2018, then really crank up the Image Radiance Amount, then jam up the Image Radiance Shadows, and, last, unless things are already too colorful, dial up the Image Radiance Vividness.

Daily Photo – Near the Mayor's Office in London in the Rain

I recently went on a London-in-the-rain editing kick! I was going back through my Lightroom and looking at older photos to edit that I had never even touched yet. I found this whole grouping and went for it. I edited all these with Aurora HDR 2018 as well!

Near the Mayor's Office in London in the Rain

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-02-17 08:23:15
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time3.2
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length19.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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