Trey’s Hike Along the Camino de Santiago, Part 1: Kevin Kelly

Introduction

Here is the short story of my 150-kilometer trek from Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Over 200,000 people hike each year on this pilgrimage. In the olden days when people were still stoned, this used to be a Christian pilgrimage to visit the grisly bones of Saint James. Nowadays many people make the hike and it’s no longer purely religious, although many people are still stoned.

Either way, it’s certainly a spiritual journey.

In terms of religious hikes, it doesn’t really compare in numbers to that of Mecca, where 15 million people walk each year. That walk mostly originates from Jeddah and clocks in at around 70 km. Either way, this epic Santiago hike I did has multiple routes. The full route is over 1200 km from France or a lighter version from Portugal at around 200 km. Mine was just 150 because we started right at the border in Tui, Spain. It’s also shorter because we are all kinda lazy and get the point after 150km.

I’ve decided to tell a multi-part story via conversations I had with my nine other walkers. This event was put together by Kevin Kelly and Craig Mod who have completed a few of these sorts of walks around the world. The idea is a bit of a “Walk n’ Talk” where we mostly philosophize about the world, make jokes, and engage in a stimulating amount of mutual mental masturbation. Everyone on this adventure was from different walks of life. We had everything from tech magnates to authors to photographers to entrepreneurs to DNA researchers, and well, you name it.

It was great, for me personally, to establish deep connections with each and every member of our hiking tribe. At least, I think I did! 🙂

Below is one of many 360 videos (link to subscribe to my YouTube channel) I made while on this hike. I’ll post them a bit out of order. I talked to Kevin about several disparate topics in different videos including AI, an enormous underground clock he is working on that lasts 10,000 years, a series of bottom-up libraries that are being built in a Nevada desert, Burning Man, and last, something that sounds a bit macabre: Death.

You can click the gear to amp it up to 4K. In this 360 video, I am walking with both Kevin Kelly and Hugh Howey. We talk about rituals, in particular, a special ritual he invented for his kids when they turned 21. After that, we talk about death, and our nefarious plans to split up Kevin’s body as a new idea for a death ritual to honor him. It all sounds a bit dour, but it certainly isn’t.   NOTE: If you have not seen a 360 video before, you can grab the screen and look in any direction you want!

By the way, I know a lot of geeks like me watch this, and you may want to know what equipment I use. Here are the kit links for my Insta 360 camera and the Zoom h1n recorder use for audio – also follow this link to see all my gear.

The overall idea was that we spend most of the day discussing philosophy, science, and other erudite matters. Each night at dinner we had a different discussion. World governance, urbanization, religion, and relationships just to name a few. We would record about three hours of these blatherings and they’re putting together all the transcripts now.

Anyway, that was the texture of the seven-day hike. I’ll get started with an overall paintbrush stroke of the trip then get into Story #1 with Kevin Kelly. In the next one, I’ll talk about my discussions with Hugh Howey, whom you may recognize as the author of Wool and the Silo series of books. I’m starting with those two because I knew a lot about them either in person or via their work before the trip. After, that, I’ll share stories from some of the other ne’er-do-wells that joined us.

We started on the edge of Portugal, and you’ll see a bridge below that links northern Portugal and Spain.

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This was a nice little surprise to find this bridge that connected the two countries. Strangely, even though we walked directly north after you touch the Spanish soil, you have to set your clocks back one hour.

This mini-bridge walk was technically before the whole hike even started after our motley crew assembled for an introductory dinner.

After dinner, I walked across this bridge around midnight with Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress and current CEO of Automattic. In a short time, we talked about a bit of everything from him changing my life by founding WordPress (my blog at www.StuckInCustoms.com) to doing recreational drugs at Burning Man. But I’ll save more of that for the Matt Mullenweg story day!

It was sort of unusual being thrown into a group of ten people who you don’t really know. I remember one of our fellow walkers, Chris Barclay said on the final night that he felt a bit intimidated in the beginning. You know, trying to figure out who the cool kids were and trying not to make a fool of one’s self. That’s a universal feeling everyone has when entering a new group. As we paired off in organic one-on-one situations, as I did on this first night with Matt, everyone could see there was nothing to worry about and this was a very cool, non-judgmental group. In a very short time, all that self-doubt disappeared like fog in the morning.

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Many mornings laid a cool moist blanket of fog on us.  Each day was usually 8-11 hours of hiking, and we wanted to get the bulk of it done before that brutal 2-4PM Spanish sun started to drill into us. Now I know why all Spaniards take a siesta between 2 and 4!

Above you see one of our typical mornings. We would often pair-up, but not always, and talk about a wide myriad of subjects. It made the countless hours of walking go by extremely quickly. I was so busy listening to other people that I barely even realized that 20km had already flown by.

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And here was our final destination at the mighty cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Not to skip ahead to the END of the story, but the photo above is where the journey ended 150km later, in Santiago de Compostela. The town itself was beautiful and the energy was palpable. I think, because so many people reach here every year in such a euphoric state, that it suffuses the town with positivity.

And here’s our awesome hiking group!

I’ll talk more about little things along the adventure here and there as I talk about each individual person… but, first, let’s start with the guy that invited me, and one of my only intellectual heroes: Kevin Kelly!

Part One: Walking & Talking with Kevin Kelly

I was glad to see that Kevin didn’t have ALL the answers to the universe. But he seemed to have most of them.

I only have a handful of heroes, and not many are alive! You all may have already read my story about another living hero, Hans Zimmer, but now this is my story of Kevin Kelly.

Kevin is best described (if possible) as a philosopher that ties together technology, history, and futurism into a central theme of optimism.

When I saw his first TED talk (now he has about four), it had a tremendous impact on how I approached life, the blog, my work, photography, and more. Even though Kevin himself is an accomplished photographer with countless crazy stories about traveling all around the east, most of the information he synthesizes is from a plethora of other subjects.

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All pilgrims on the trail wear one of these special scallop shells. It indicates to everyone in the region that you are on the Camino walk. People will go out of their way to help you when they see this special symbol.

What exactly did Kevin affect during my “formative blog years”? Even though he didn’t specifically speak to this, it confirmed my instincts to make almost everything free. I would upload full-rez photos every day to the blog. I would not use watermarks. I used Creative Commons Noncommercial as a means to drive traffic back to the site. I gave 110% to the very few early fans that seemed to enjoy the work. Kevin has a great essay called 1,000 true fans that really resonated with me very early in my arc.

I went on to read his books and watch more tech talks. He has a wonderful take on “What Technology Wants” and he sort of frames it in the way that tech, itself, grows in a not dissimilar path to other genus/species. Here is one of his TED talks about what technology wants.


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While passing by some vineyards near Portugal, a very nice lady came out and gave us more of the sweetest grapes than we could ever eat.

I first met Kevin about seven years ago when Thomas Hawk and I did that mammoth ~500 person photo walk in San Francisco. Kevin came up to introduce himself to me. I was like, “WHHAAAAAT! Kevin you don’t need to introduce yourself! I’m a mega fan!” And I was. I was just about as close as one can get to being a stalker without crossing the creepy line.

Since that time, we’ve been together on many occasions. We met in San Francisco and he even invited me over to his home in Pacifica, a Valhalla of sorts for me. That is when I first met his wife Gia-Miin, who also joined us on this walk.

Hugh Howey and Kevin Kelly taking a break on the walk

Last year he invited me to go eagle hunting in Mongolia with Tim Ferriss. I wanted to go, but it was right after Burning Man, and my wife would have killed me for being gone so long. So this year, when he invited me on the Santiago hike, I agreed! I had no idea what I was getting into, but I generally say yes to adventures then figure everything out later.

On occasion, we would go on ancient stone pathways and you could still see where the wagon wheels had carved a rut.

The whole week was such a treat for me and I was honored to hang out with Kevin. I felt like a little kid around him, asking 1,000 questions. I was trying not to be annoying… well, at least that was my goal. By the way, I am not really an “interviewer” or anything. I’m just a curious guy.

I came up with this plan to ask Kevin a different question every day and record it. I wrote down six questions beforehand, but I changed most of them as the week went on. For example, I never thought about talking to him about death until I was having a one-on-one with Hugh Howey and we came up with an idea on how to divvy up Kelly upon his exit from the mortal coil. It was of course influenced by this stimulating walk he encouraged all of us to undertake. All that talk began as a side-conversation after Hugh told me he planned on killing himself at 40. That’s another video I’ll post. I mean, the video of the discussion, not the actual suicide.

After I got to know the other walkers, I decided to take this idea to many of them too. So now I have many of these 360 videos with most of the walkers. Time and data didn’t allow me to record all 100+ hours of our time together, so I kind of picked randomly. Once again, Kevin inspires me intentionally or unintentionally to try new things and just be authentic in your awkwardness. I mean that in the nicest way, of course. I can tell that Kevin is an introvert, like so many of us. This comes across in his speaking style, a style that is uniquely his own. He’s so authentic and real that he both believable and endearing. I am sure this comes with something else he encompasses, being comfortable in his own skin. So many people aren’t, and he also got me started on that path about ten years ago.

One thing we share in common is that we have spent a tremendous amount of time in the east (China, SE Asia, Japan etc) with local cultures and taking photos. It’s made us both very attentive and present, I believe. When you’re talking to him and vice-versa, it’s like you’re the only two people in the world. I’m lucky I didn’t fall into a river or fall off a cliff while we were talking because it was so engrossing. He’s adopted somewhat of an eastern philosophy that seems to inform all of his thoughts and actions.

It’s impossible to summarize our 20+ hours of one-on-one conversations. Impossible. But you’ll see a few highlights as we release videos.

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After a while, Kevin and I finally found the Internet.

I think his books and TED talks have influenced me so much that sometimes I don’t know where he begins and my brain ends. We were making obscure references to books, authors, tech, etc… at some point, I mentioned one of my favorite quotes. I asked him if it was Feynman that said it, and Kevin said, “Wait a minute, I said that!” I was laughing so much and apologized… I’m getting old.

See more of Kevin’s quotes here

Along the way, after we stopped in a town for the afternoon, Kevin and I went off on our own little adventure to record an episode of his “Cool Tools” podcast. He interviewed me then we walked around the park a bit after the recording. He turned to me and said something nice. “Trey, you surprise me!” I didn’t know what to say.

Here is one of the beautiful places we stayed along the walk. It was a family’s old farmhouse and our group was pretty much the only people in there!

One thing that I’ve noticed about Kevin that is not initially expected is how silly he is. He laughs a lot and says funny things. He is also very quick to laugh at jokes the rest of us make. It’s a wonderful thing because so many intellectuals can be so boring and self-serious.

My degree was in Computer Science and Math, so I’ve always been interested in tech and the future. This is a very strange time with the acceleration of everything from AI to Robots. I try to figure out where it’s going, but I get a lot of guidance (and optimism) from Kevin’s bullish outlook on these matters. See more about what he thinks about the future of AI in his TED Talk on AI or his latest book The Inevitable.

Of course, another typical question that comes up among geeks is: “Are we living in a simulation?” This question has been officially banned from Elon Musk’s hot tub conversations (for real) because Musk sees it as a “circular argument”. Kevin is a bit more practical with it, indicating it doesn’t really matter. He says the important thing is that we have a tangible effect on everything and everyone around us. That’s a pretty cool stance and helps get the mind out of that circular argument.

Kevin holds an umbrella over Gia-Miin to protect her from the hot Spanish sun.

Kevin’s super-IQ wife joined us on the walk too, Gia-Miin. She was the only female on the walk, so she was able to keep things fairly classy. You don’t want 10 guys together for a long period of time or else it can spiral down to nonstop tales of ribaldry. Anyway, Gia-Miin works at 23 and Me as a genetics researcher in the cancer area. She told me all about it one afternoon. I could immediately tell I was out of my depth when we started comparing the progress of genetic therapy and whether that would outpace tech innovation when it actually comes to helping humans get better. But they’re doing all sorts of amazing things over there, and it looks like they are going to figure out a lot of the “bad code” that makes humans have bugs.

Kevin and Gia-Miin have a really interesting origin story to their relationship. I won’t tell the long version, but it really seems to work and they are best friends. How wonderful! I know their daughter Ting from a few times when we have been at the E.G. Conference together. I need to send her a note that says, “Hey, Ting, you know… your parents are kinda weird.” I can’t wait to see her response. But, of course, I mean weird in the best possible way.

I’ll end the story of Kevin on the final night’s dinner after we all finally arrived in Santiago de Compostela. We again had a round-table discussion. At the end of dinner, everyone was a little bit teary. Kevin turned his chair to me as we were all getting up to leave. He put his hand on my knee and said, again, smiling “Trey, you know, you really surprise me.” Even getting more teary-eyed, I playfully pushed at his shoulder. “Hey man, that’s what friends do. They surprise each other.”

Here’s a photo that was taken by Craig Mod on the final hiking day of around 30 kilometers as we approached our goal.

Trey Ratcliff’s 30 Favorite Photos from Burning Man

BULLETIN: I have a few Burning Man pieces going up at an auction soon to raise money for other artists. 100% of the money goes to Burning Man artists (not me, even though I am technically a Burning Man artist). You can attend the event in San Francisco via the Artumnal Gathering website. Remote bidding will be available too, and more info on that to come.

My 30 Top Photos from 2018’s Burning Man – I Robot

This was year number eight in a row for me, but every year feels like the first. This was a very cruizey year for me. No problems… smooth as silk all around, which is something I never really expect. Rene and Jonatas were two awesome roommates with great energy the whole time. I swear to god we have never laughed so much in our lives!

Also, I had many personal revelations and artistic breakthroughs. It sounds a bit too solipsistic to describe these in detail, but, they were amazing! I’m already a high-energy positive guy, but the event really takes me to the next level. And everything I see inspires me for the other 51 weeks a year. I’m so humbled by all the incredible art and all the awesome people out there.

I took over 8,000 photos this year and wanted to share my favorite 30! Feel free to share with friends and loved ones. We had another great photo walk and over 280 signed up for the Facebook event. But only half were able to stumble out there after doing god-knows-what. But it was still an amazing event that even included a proposal while thousands of photos were being taken!

Anyway, if you like what you see, you can see my Burning Man Album of favorites for the last 8 years.

Or you can see 200+ more photos from Burning Man 2018.

If you or your art is in any of the photos, feel free to email [email protected] for the full-sized file. 🙂 I do not currently sell prints for Burning Man, but there are other options over at TreyRatcliff.com.

Enjoy!

#30: “Embracing while we let go as the temple burns”

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A crystalline hug at Burning Man , 2018.

#29: “Black Witch of the Desert”

Black Witch of the Desert

Everyone at Burning Man is in costume all week long while the event is going on. I remember in his first year, my friend Rene was wearing just like regular clothes from The Gap when he went to Center Camp. Let’s just say that it didn’t go smoothly for him, but it rarely does anyway. This is my friend Linnea Berzen, she puts in a little more effort than Rene for sure.

#28: “Two Days before the Great Train Wreck”

Two Days before the Great Train Wreck

This is called the “Great Train Wreck” and on Thursday night, the two trains smashed together in quite the spectacle.

#27: “Blind Yoga”

Blind Yoga

Here is Kate Swarm, one of the yoga teachers at the camp. This year she brought her 9 and 10-year-olds. That’s a great age to bring kids out here… I think in eight years of going, I never have seen a teenager (14-20 or so). I’ve always kind of wondered why that is… but I think that age is such a crazy time for the ego to develop that most are embarrassed and overly consumed with what everyone else is thinking about them (hey, it’s the same way with a lot of adults… see Instagram). Anyway, Kate here is wearing this awesome mask (like a one-way mirror where you can only see out) that was made by my friend at CrypticNine.

#26: “Ambulances arrive at the Thunderdome”

Ambulances arrive at the Thunderdome

There are fights every night in the Thunderdome at Death Guild. My neighbor, Julie, is actually part of Death Guild and she would come back every night with the grisly injury reports. Ambulances are common. Cleanly broken wrists, eye gouges, man, you name it.

#25: “Watch Out!”

Watch Out!

Ride… RIDE!!!

#24: “Makeup”

Makeup

A lady puts on her makeup outside on a dusty mirror outside her tent before burn night.

#23: “Our camp’s art cars”

Our camp's art cars

Here’s a collection of cars from our camp, Camp Walter. We’re in line here for the DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles). My friend George says there are over 800 cars that go through the DMV every year to get clearance to drive around the playa. There’s a huge history behind each of the vehicles in this photo. Much of it centers around the big VW bus, Walter, as a material instantiation symbolizing the concept of second chances.

#22: “Carrots should be afraid”

Carrots should be afraid

At the Billion Bunny March, some of these carrots are smart to be afraid of some of these bunnies.

#21: “A Lonely Walk to the Airport”

A Lonely Walk to the Airport

One day I went out to the airport at Burning Man to try to register my drone. It was a really windy day and a lot of people were hunkered down. The airport is quite a long way away, so it’s always a bit of a fun mission. There’s sort of a desolate place in between Black Rock City and the airport where I saw this guy.

#20: “I Have Dust”

I Have Dust

There were a lot of awesome windstorms at Burning Man this year that kicked up all sorts of interesting scenes. Some people chose to stay inside during the storms, but I almost always jumped on my bike to see what clever stuff I could find.

#19: “The Temple”

The Temple

The beautiful temple from above. Every year it is a new design… this one was one of my favorites.

#18: “Trees grow out of air”

Trees grow out of air

On Saturday night, the party and the fire keep going all night long. This was taken about 15 minutes after the man fell down and was being consumed. The burning reminds me of this wonderful little physics nugget from Richard Feynman. This might be from his book The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. Anyway, he makes a nice description that trees don’t grow out of the ground, but they mostly grow out of the air. They get a few nutrients and some water and stuff from the ground, but 99% of the meat of the tree is made from carbon. The leaves grab the carbon dioxide and then use the sun to slice off the C from the O2. It hangs on to the carbon and it becomes the wood. The tree then gets rid of the O2 because it is waste. Later, we take that wood and make it super-hot with fire, which makes the carbon re-connect with the oxygen, creating carbon dioxide once again. And then the cycle starts all over as it floats over to a nearby tree to go through it all again. All that fire, then, can be seen as stored sunlight. Anyhoo… that’s the kind of stuff I read! Haha… you can probably search on YouTube for “Feynman Tree Growing out of Air” and see more. He has so many great little physics thoughts like that. Wow, I really end up boring whoever sits by me on burn night.

#17: “The Mirror Ball at Night”

The Mirror Ball at Night

The Orb at Night. Me, Rene, and Jô would end up here almost every night, just staring at the spherical reflection of the unreal world around us.

#16: “A Walk in the Park”

A Walk in the Park

Out of the 8,000 photos I took, I’ll probably only publish 20-30 on social media. I end up adding the rest to my overall Burning Man portfolio. By the way, most of those 8,000 photos are complete garbage! I usually try a lot of different things until something works… so 98% of those are utter failures!

#15: “The Dissolution of the Ego”

The Dissolution of the Ego

On Day 6 of Burning Man (always a Saturday night), we burn down the man himself. Everyone kind of takes their own meaning into it, or perhaps no meaning at all. For me, it’s a reminder that the dissolution of the ego is the greatest creative gift one can give oneself.

#14: “Book Club”

Book Club

Here’s Baba Yagas Book Club by Jessi Sprocket Janusee. You can’t have a book club in the desert without some robotic chicken legs holding it up!

#13: “She Flies”

She Flies

Flying in the wind… One of the cool things about the flat, dried out lakebed at Burning Man is the sizeable mountains that surround it on all sides. They form a really nice background for certain kinds of shots like these.

#12: “Boring”

Boring

#Boring

#11: “Burning Man Hugs are the Best”

Burning Man Hugs are Best

This is called, “In every lifetime, I will find you”.

#10: “Dinner Time”

Dinner Time

This reminds me that some of the best ideas for art out there are the most simple: Giant Human Puppets, Enormous Mirror Ball, Green Tree, Dock… Moon.

#9: “Our Female Overlords”

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I finally got these Japanese robots to stand still in formation.

#8: “Temple Sunrise”

Temple Sunrise

Higher up this page I shared a photo of the beautiful temple from above. Here’s what it looks like from the ground during sunrise.

#7: “Henry Chang’s Supercar”

Henry Chang's Supercar

There are about one hundred different art cars rolling around at Burning Man after they are approved by the DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles). This one is absolutely incredible, made by Henry Chang. I didn’t even need to ask if he’s a fan of H.R. Giger. Sometimes, you’ll go an entire week without seeing certain cars… they appear like unicorns… but I got lucky on night number eight at the propane burn off.

#6: “On 9 o’clock at noon”

On 9 o'clock at noon

Another random happening I found while pedaling on my own bike down 9 o’clock on the way to 3 o’clock.

#5: “Time to Get a Brazilian”

Time to Get a Brazilian

A Brazilian lady visits the statue called “In every lifetime I will find you”. Luckily, I had Jô Eridani (he does all the web development for us here), who is also from Brazil, to do all the translation. I first made Jônatas stand like that to show her… I didn’t take a photo of him because he looked absolutely ridiculous. But he quite likes that as you can see in his Barbie photo on his social media.

#4: “Good, Clean Family Fun”

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After the photo walk ar Burning Man (thanks again everyone for coming!), I went out on a mission to rescue my broken bike that became a bit addled halfway through the walk. I had to abandon it to keep the Lawrence of Arabia mission moving forward! Anyway, it was pitch black when I went to go find it, but it was a good mission. It’s fun to have missions out there, even if they are silly ones. Anyway, I finally found it and was returning to camp when I saw this awesome family. I dug out my camera and took a quick one for them. Every year there are over 1,000 kids that come out with their parents… I did this about seven years ago when I brought out Ethan and Tina, but I don’t think we could have talked Ethan into wearing angel wings… but we probably could talk Isabella and Scarlett into it quite easily!

#3: “The Mayan Warrior Tractor Beam”

The Mayan Warrior Tractor Beam

Here’s an alien tractor beam at the mighty Mayan Warrior melting down the mirror orb. I went up top and met the awesome Pablo Gonzalez Vargas who gave me a little tour and some wonderful, special gifts. We got to play with all the lasers and the flames and do all kinds of fun stuff. We’re all just big kids up there!

#2: “A White Witch in the Desert”

A White Witch in the Desert

Randomly, by chance, I saw my friend Linnea Berzen twice out in the desert. It’s almost impossible to have a set meeting anywhere out there because mobile phones don’t really work. This year we were smart and left a little whiteboard outside the RV so people could leave messages. Some anonymous girl wrote how attractive Rene was, and he took about 100 mobile phone photos of that, having reached peak-Rene. I take a LOT of people photos there, and for this year, this one might be my favorite.

#1: “In every lifetime I will find you.”

In every lifetime, I will find you

Who will you find in every lifetime? This is the last photo I took at Burning Man this year. You probably won’t believe me, but I had a transcendent vision of this four nights prior, two days before I even discovered this place. If I were to try to describe either what I saw or how I was in a state to envision it, you would probably think I am crazy. But I told my roommates the next morning what I saw, and then I emailed them this photo a few days later and they were like HOLY CRAP. If I ever meet you in person, I can try to describe the whole experience. I’m not sure I can, but I know it was real.

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Hong Kong Party

Hong Kong from Above

In the video below, you’ll be seeing a little bit of Hong Kong action. My favorite scene is that one shot of the yacht that’s been abandoned in the middle of government housing.

Daily Photo – Hong Kong Party

This was taken on our first night in Hong Kong when they threw a big party for us at the Ritz-Carlton there. It was the beginning of our Asia-Pacific leg and all the wonderful ladies from that location put together a really nice soiree there in the bar on top of the hotel. The funny thing was, they did it right at sunset, so I kept leaving the party for 5-10 minute stints to go take photos!

Hong Kong Party

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-03-12 23:47:37
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

A 360 Video from the Tianjin Library

A Cool Video for Passport Sunday!

Today, exclusively for Passport Members, you get to see me carry around this 360 video cam and talk about the sort of shot I’m trying to create. I ended up going a slightly different direction, but it was nice to come back with so much raw material to work with. A funny story about this little 360 camera… when I walked in, they made it very clear no cameras other than mobile phones are allowed. I assured them this was not a camera and simply a small “starter” vibrator.

Copyright Trey Ratcliff www.StuckInCustoms.com

Copyright Trey Ratcliff www.StuckInCustoms.com

A 360 of the Tianjin Library

There is a secret thing about this library that I can barely bring myself to tell you. But, that’s not actually what this video is about. This talks a lot about the photo that I am attempting to accomplish in this library without it being so far away that you don’t even realize you are looking at a library.

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A Romantic Bath for One

Fifth Wheel Power Conversion

Rene and I got a fifth wheel that we take to Burning Man each year. I have a good idea to get one of those Tesla Power Wall batteries and install it, replacing the current electrical system. But I have NO IDEA how to actually do that. Clever people are more than welcome to send me some advice!

Daily Photo – A Romantic Bath for One

Look at my very romantic bath here in Phulay Bay, Thailand! I felt very strange getting in here by myself while all my friends were off watching World Cup. I sat in here and read some Patrick Rothfuss…So it was kind of like I was in the bath with Pat. Kinda. It was all very surreal. I don't even really take baths, so I wasn't exactly sure what to do. I guess you just lie there. It took a lot of effort not to burn myself with those floating candles. Although I liked that part of the bath because it added a certain sense of danger and adventure. And no, I didn't take photos of myself in the bath. No one wants to see that.

A Romantic Bath for One

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-28 02:39:50
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length21.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • 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

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

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

Burning Man Photo Editing

This Week on Passport

Today’s how-to video for Passport Members is a bit longer than usual. I usually try to keep them under 5 minutes, but this one clocks in at over 15 minutes to edit a single photo. You’ll see everything from alpha to omega. I do a lot of detailed work on this one… probably a bit overkill, but I hope you enjoy!

Some favorite Burning Man Photos

Speaking of Burning Man, I thought I’d add a few from my //Burning Man Portfolio// over on SmugMug!


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


Here’s how I edited a photo of the Black Rock Lighthouse. You’ll see me begin with Aurora HDR to make adjustments then end up in Photoshop to align and create some margins for artistic purposes. You’ll also see a lot of content-aware + clone-stamp action to clean up some of the mess!

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