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

The Remarkables Across from Lake Johnson

New Luminar Tip – AI slider and Removing Color Cast

If you don’t have Luminar, grab it here! Today’s tip shows how to remove that color cast you may not know is there and how to use the AI-Accent slider.

Daily Photo – The Remarkables Across from Lake Johnson

Here's a photo I took on my three-hour hike around the lake. I think it only takes half that time, but I was really going slow and getting distracted. I didn't see another human soul the entire time, so it was sort of surreal. A lot of the Queenstown and Arrowtown area is overrun with tourists, so it's rare to spend times like this alone. I have a rough plan to come back here after a fresh snow, because I think it will look incredible!

The Remarkables Across from Lake Johnson

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-05-05 11:45:55
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/640
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length36.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Flying Into Auckland

Luminar Tip – Dehaze

Here’s another tip for one of my favorite editing programs, Luminar. This one has to do with De-haze!

Daily Photo – Flying Into Auckland

I've made the flight back and forth to Auckland probably 20 times now. It's a beautiful 1.5 hour flight where you get to sail across the top of New Zealand. About half of the way, you only see ocean, but it can make for some amazing clouds as they form on the coast. We get a warm wet wind that blows in from Australia across the Tasman Sea. When it collides with the NZ coastline, you get all kinds of fancy clouds like this.

Flying Into Auckland

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2012-08-13 03:01:09
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture5.3
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length98.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

Young Adventuress in Kuala Lumpur

Aurora HDR Tip – Reflections

This is a video that shows how I enhance reflections using Aurora HDR 2018. I took this photo at a cool outdoor shopping area in Singapore. Believe it or not, they air-condition the OUTSIDE, which seems like a ridiculous waste of money… but hey, Singapore is a pretty wealthy spot!

Daily Photo – Young Adventuress in Kuala Lumpur

It was fun to spend some time with Liz out of New Zealand! She joined me as part of the #80Stays tour in Kuala Lumpur. Boy, was it hot while we were there! It was probably over 90 degrees when we went into this mosque where we had to put on these heavy robes. Outside, there was a little bit of a breeze, at least. It had recently rained and left a thin layer of water on the marble… so it made for a nice reflection shot. Find out more about Liz's story from her visit on her blog.

Young Adventuress in Kuala Lumpur

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-03-31 23:16:39
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length26.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Fort Lauderdale Beaches

New Video Tip

Here’s another how-to video showing how to enhance details in your photos using Aurora HDR 2018. This particular tool, as you’ll see, can only be detected when you are zoomed into 100% or 200% on the image.

Daily Photo – Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Here's my friend Katie Ann out enjoying the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She came down with her boyfriend to meet me for the day and take some fun photos. I don't do a lot of this sort of thing, but I was getting a little bored of JUST taking photos of sand and water and clouds. Don't get me wrong, I love that sort of thing, but after several thousand, I wanted to mix it up a little. She's not a professional model or anything, just a cool gal with giant buns.

Fort Lauderdale Beaches

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-11 02:11:06
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Monks on a cruise ship

How to give your photos an artistic hand-drawn look using Aurora HDR 2018

If you don’t have it, you can grab Aurora HDR 2018 right here! In this video, I show how to take it to a bit more of an extreme to give a photo that almost crosses the line into an illustration.

Daily Photo – Monks on a cruise ship

Who knew Tibetan monks were into cruising? These two were all over the ship, monking it up. This was part of that Summit at Sea cruise I did. Think of it like a TED on the water. One thing that was pretty funny (well, to me) was what happened right when we launched the ship. I'm pretty apolitical, and I really don't get involved in either side, which is a nice benefit of living in New Zealand. But, as you can guess, these events draw a lot of extreme Left-leaning people. Well, the day we left the port in Miami was the same day Trump was elected. The next day there were all these announcements that some of the meeting rooms had been converted into “recuperation” rooms where people could go and weep and heal. You can't write this stuff. But, much like me, the monks didn't seem terribly bothered by any of this and just enjoyed looking at the ocean.

Monks on a cruise ship

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-11-11 06:30:20
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Why isn’t Windows outpacing Apple Mac in Aurora 2018 sales?

I thought I’d write a little analysis that has more questions than answers. So, I guess it’s not really an analysis; perhaps an analysis of good questions!

I’ve speculated (with all honesty and openness) about why the adoption rate has been slower with Windows users, especially when they were so vocally angry about it being a Mac-only product for years. It’s racked up over 3 million downloads, has been used to make over 150,000,000 images (data collected anonymously), and has been a huge success in our partnership with Skylum. It’s honestly the BEST photo processing software out there to create dynamic light images. Note, although you may know, I teamed up with them to make this product. Also, note they are no longer Macphun, but now Skylum, after changing their name to indicate they are not just a Mac company. I think it’s pronounced Skyloooom or something, but all that is beside the point.

A shot of Tokyo, enhanced with Aurora HDR 2018

Two For Today For Tokyo!

Special Discount for Windows Photomatix Users

Of the various speculations below, maybe the best is #5 (in short, Windows peeps still use Photomatix because it is “good enough”) and they don’t want to spend the extra $99 on a new product. Well, let me tell you right away, that we are offering a 10% discount to existing Windows Photomatix users for Aurora HDR 2018 or my Bonus package that includes a full-length video tutorial and sample files. And, even better, if you don’t like it, you can have 100% of your money back. It’s literally a 0% downside / 100% upside deal. You don’t get those every day. So there, this is clearly logically unassailable, so go get it now!

Buy NowTry for Free


A Day At Mount Fuji

A pretty little scene in Japan with Mount Fuji in the background.

Now, before we get to the sales, let’s look at some hard stats.

On the blog, nearly twice as many people visit on Windows vs. Mac OS. Worldwide for desktop/laptop users, Windows has an 83% market share compared to 17% for Mac (

In the Stranger Things upside-down-world, Aurora 2018 is almost exactly flipped with 75% of sales for Mac and 25% for PC. Hmmm.

So I began to noodle my noodle and wonder… And I always remember on photo walks, online, and other events, people were begging me to pressure Skylum to make a Windows version. I wanted a Windows version too, since I used both operating systems.

Anyway, this led to some honest speculation. Note these are just ideas, so don’t take any offence, unless you are just one of those internet people that is sitting around waiting to be upset. If you’re one of those people, oh well.


This one is a fairly “extreme” example of the kind of dynamic light work you can do with Aurora HDR 2018. This is the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Speculations (or perhaps a combination of these reasons)

  • Mac people spend more $$ [on average] than Windows people on apps/software/hardware/phones, so the $99 is not as significant to them. I know this is the case with the Apple App Store for iOS, where the apps sell a lot better than apps for Android, per capita. (If anyone has more data on that, it would be interesting to examine, if not for simply mathematical-mental-masturbation).
  • Some Windows peeps are quicker to pirate software. I know it’s doing well in the pirate scene on BitTorrent, etc. Note that I’m not one of these anti-piracy guys… I get it. I’m the least judgmental guy in the world, just noting a natural force that is out there. Of course, the developers and I would prefer people pay for something they enjoy, but that decision is left to the individual (in my book).
  • Windows people still don’t know it’s available for Windows! I ran into a few people in photo walks in Asia that did not know this.
  • At launch, it did not have as many features as the Mac version, but it’s well on the way to feature parity now.
  • Windows people are happy enough with Photomatix, even though yours truly can objectively say that Aurora HDR is waaaay better, like totally, dude or dudette. Perhaps a bit afraid to shell out another $99, they chose to stay with what they know. I guess there’s a bit of fear-of-change which everyone has with a great number of things in life. Anyway, to combat this, in case this is the correct speculation, we wanted to offer a sweet 10% Discount for existing Photomatix users on the stand-alone Aurora HDR or my Bonus package that includes my video tutorial. And yes, if you still don’t like it, you can have all your money back. Truly all upside for you, my fellow HDR enthusiast! Aurora has so many tools in it… you’ll just love it. Get your Aurora HDR discount code now

Okay, did you decide to go for it? Need some help getting started? Here are two free tutorials I made to get you going. You can also get the whole package which includes the Aurora HDR 2018 software + tutorial + sample files.

Aurora HDR Tutorials and Tips

Click “PLAYLIST” in the upper left corner of the video to browse the entire playlist.

Anyway, maybe you fall outside of one of those speculations? I guess maybe you might just use Lightroom or something and consider that good enough. I agree Lightroom is good (I use it a lot), but I still use Aurora HDR to do about 10 things that LR can’t. Anyway, pour your heart out in the comments below and let us know! I’ll be sure to share with the development team at Skylum!

Who’d have thought this was Moscow???

Aurora HDR 2018 is coming to Macs and, yes… Windows!

Drum roll… 100,000,000 HDR photos (actual number!) have been made with Aurora HDR, and now… more dramatic drum roll… The NEWEST iteration of Aurora HDR is announced, and this time it’s launching for PC and Mac at the same time! Yes, finally, all of you Windows people (including me nowadays), can experience the greatness of this software!

It’s now gone through 10 iterations. I can’t spill all the new features yet, but I can say the HDR algorithms are at least twice as fast, there’s a fresh new user interface, lens corrections, and a whole lot more. The Mac and PC versions will be available for pre-order in the Stuck in Customs store on September 12!

Subscribe to my newsletter to be notified first when Aurora HDR 2018 is available for pre-order!

Watch this awesome (and silly) video about Aurora HDR 2018!

Mark your calendar for September 12!

Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-order in my store on Sep 12, and released on Sep 28. Current users of Aurora HDR may upgrade at a special pre-order price of $49. New users can pre-order Aurora HDR 2018 for just $89.

Aurora HDR’s Key Features

If you’re new to Aurora HDR, here’s some of the best features!

  • Total HDR editing experience with the most complete set of tools available
  • Fast, powerful RAW processing engine
  • Tone-mapping algorithm to achieve both realistic and dramatic HDR images
  • Over 70 presets that give photos an amazing HDR look in just one click
  • Luminosity masking that automatically makes advanced selections within HDR images based on the Zone System
  • Unique layer system that supports blend modes, custom textures and using original exposures as source images
  • Image Radiance, brushes, masks, lighting, vignettes and much more help users achieve their artistic vision
  • Highly versatile batch processing
  • Works as a standalone app, or a plug-in to Photoshop and Lightroom

A sneak peek into what’s new in Aurora HDR 2018

  • Lens Correction Tool – The new Lens correction filter easily fixes all kinds of lens distortion, from barrel to pincushion, to chromatic aberration and vignetting.
  • New User Interface – Redesigned from scratch, the modern and responsive user interface brings a powerful, yet joyful experience to HDR photo editing.
  • Cross-platform version – Aurora HDR 2018 will be available both for Mac and PC users. Files are interchangeable and mixed-computer households can share the same product key.
  • Speed Improvements – Up to 4x improvement in RAW image processing, and up to 200% faster merging and masking performance means that Aurora HDR 2018 is dramatically faster than the last version.

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There’s Parliament Again

New Luminar Review!

When the new Luminar came out with the cool AI Slider, I decided to update my Luminar Review.

Here’s a little snippit from it

See that slider up in the top right – “Accent – AI Filter”? That’s where all the action is at! The first time you load up a photo, you will not see this slider. You have to first select the Quick and Awesome Workspace just above it. This one slider is so handy; in most cases, it’s all you’ll need!

Photowalk Highlights from Budapest!

This was an especially great photo walk! I was surprised when my friend Hans Zimmer and his band came out to join us for the entire event! He’s also on tour in Europe at Hans Zimmer Live and as you can tell from his schedule, he’s working much harder than I am! Anyway, you’ll see a bit of footage from Hans in these clips below.

Daily Photo – There's Parliament Again

Wow, I'm really loading up the blog with Budapest photos this week. Sorry gang. I don't know why I went so photo-crazy there. Maybe it was because the tour had ended and I had some spare time to wander and be a true flaneur! Who knows… well the case is probably that the city is so beautiful that you just can't go wrong… I can't wait to go back here and have more wanders (and more amazing food that costs 10% what it does anywhere else in the world!).

There's Parliament Again

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-06-08 21:06:15
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length240.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Recap of Paris from another perspective and mini-Luminar Review

Trey and Photo Serge in Paris!

Just by chance, my friend Serge Ramelli was in Paris while we were there on tour. Here’s a video he made while there… always good to see Serge, and even better to hang out with his extended family a bit! You’ll see his daughter Marin in the video below as well.

More about Luminar

Go grab the new Luminar now at the Skylum website. It’s a great improvement over the last one. I’ll talk about one feature in particular here: the “AI Slider”.

When Dima (the head programmer) told me about this in Amsterdam, he was so excited… this idea that ONE slider can make your photo look better, with AI! I was skeptical, of course… but after playing with it, I get it! 🙂

I’m working on a full review of Luminar, but, in the meantime, here are two quick screenshots with caption descriptions:


After you load an image into Luminar, go up to that drop down on the top right and select “Quick & Awesome” – inside there is that ONE slider you need “Accent – AI Filter.” You can see the split screen here… that is literally the only slider I moved! This was taken in Monet’s garden in Giverny, a place I had always wanted to visit. I bet Monet wishes he had this slider himself.


Here’s a slightly more complex screenshot to show you just a few of the other things you can do in Luminar. Here, I tried a different workspace – the “Landscape” workspace. When I selected this, it opened up a ton of filters on the right side. It still has that “Accent – AI Filter”, but it also has a whole host of the other filters that can really give your landscape a bit more attitude. You can’t see it all in this screenshot, but you can scroll down quite a ways and make all sorts of adjustments.

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