Exploring Shinjuku

Staying extra-safe in Japan

Japan is a wonderful and safe place with one exception. While in Tokyo, don’t take the advice or invitations of any Nigerians standing outside of clubs. There are less than there used to be, and they’re usually around Roppongi. The worst case scenario is not that you’ll get hurt or anything, but they’ll get you into some situation where they take a bunch of money or charge a lot on your credit card. It’s never happened to me, but I know it happens.

Daily Photo – Exploring Shinjuku

All of Tokyo is incredible to shoot, but if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the lights, neon, commercialism, then head over to Shinjuku. The whole area is great, but it's fun to get lost and zigzag down random streets and see what you can find. It's always on the must-visit list for me. This sub-area of Shinjuku called Kabuchiko is especially interesting. It's also kind of the “red light district” of Tokyo, but, as with all things in Japan, it's perfectly safe.

Exploring Shinjuku

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-02 05:58:40
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time0.5
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-1/3

Osaka Alive

Tip to get this Technique

To get this effect, make sure your exposure is somewhere between 1 and 5 seconds. Less or more of that is hard to make smooth. Let’s say it’s a 5-second shutter speed. Well, leave the camera alone for the first 2 seconds, then for the last 3 seconds, do a slow zoom out or zoom in to see what you get. It usually takes 10-15 tries, but you’ll get it!

Sony A7r III Unboxing!

Watch my clumsy and confused unboxing of the new beast! I’m excited by this thing! If you’re a Passport Member, you will see the video below…

This is NOT an inexpensive camera… I can tell you that for sure. Here are Amazon Links to the three things I’m unboxing: Sony A7r III Body, the 24-105mm G Series, and the 16-35mm G Series.

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Daily Photo – Osaka Alive

I have a ton of city-shots of Osaka. It definitely has that Blade-Runner feel, and I think the HDR treatment makes it even more intense. Speaking of the new Blade Runner, I really liked it! Maybe a bit long… some of the scenes played out longer than Melancholia, but still a very enjoyable flick! There's lots of interesting analysis of the movie online as well.

Osaka Alive

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-09 10:35:22
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time20
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

The Osaka Castle

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you from me and everyone at Stuck In Customs! 🙂

A Special Video on Christmas for…

Those of you that received the Stuck In Customs Passport for Christmas have unlocked a fun new video I made in Paris. There’s some of the behind-the-scenes and a bit of a travelogue around the city to give you some ideas. It’s a fun new style of video we are doing!

Most Impenetrable Castle?

I’m a big castlephile! I go to them all around the world, and this one is perhaps one of the most impregnable. You can’t really see it from this angle, but the moat around the outside with some sheer walls is just ridiculous. I don’t see how anyone could ever attack this place successfully back in the day.

Some fun from Paris…

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Daily Photo – The Osaka Castle

We spent a long morning meandering all around the gardens here at Osaka Castle. What an idyllic setting, eh? Actually, there are quite a few tourists, so I had to hunt around to find a place that had a good view. I had almost given up until I took a little side-path and found this perfect pond.

The Osaka Castle

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-11 04:56:18
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Ancient Swordsmith

Cool knife Set

If you’re looking for a cool set of Japanese knives, here are some I got on Kickstarter. They are really amazing, and the little “rack” thing you can get too makes it quite a piece of art, I think!

Daily Photo – The Ancient Swordsmith

Just outside of Osaka is an old city called Sakai. This area is well known for making samurai swords, and now, knives. Some of the most elite restaurants and sushi restaurants in Japan get their knives made here, using samurai sword techniques. We got to watch a master blacksmith make a sashimi knife from scratch. It was quite amazing!

The Ancient Swordsmith

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-10 07:37:42
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.8
  • Aperture9
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

High Above Tokyo

Random Fun from Japan

Here is a collection of RANDOM Instagram (follow me at @TreyRatcliff) stories I posted while in Japan. Thanks Stu for putting these together!


//Also make this Public on YouTube

De-Haze Tip

Sometimes if I’m working on a hazy photo, I’ll first do the “Dehaze” in Lightroom before exporting as a TIFF file. After that, I bring it into Aurora HDR as a single file then commence the HDR edit!

Daily Photo – High Above Tokyo

I took this from inside the SkyTree, which is an absolutely enormous tower in Tokyo. In all honesty, I think it's just a little toooooo tall! At least in the daytime when things are hazy, it's hard to get a good shot. I really had to run this one through Aurora to get any kind of pop out of it.

High Above Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-01 06:14:01
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Entering the Japanese cemetery

Meanwhile in Kyoto…

We had a film crew from Japan Daily with us at the Kyoto Photo Walk. Here is a link to their video and some photos for you.

Getting Permission to fly the quadcopter

I was really bummed out that I didn’t take the time to get permission to fly the quadcopter here. It’s probably completely impossible, but I should have given it a try, at least. Getting permission to get around the rules in Japan is almost impossible.

Daily Photo – Entering the Japanese cemetery

In this area that has these thousands of red gates in Kyoto, there are a few side-paths that go in mysterious directions. Personally, I love to be here at night because it makes everything even more mysterious. This is one of those side-paths that meanders down and eventually up into a remote bamboo forest filled with graves.

Entering the Japanese cemetery

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-07 06:21:20
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time11
  • Aperture6.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-2

Whisky Room!

Sony in Osaka

Even though I shoot quite a bit with the Hasselblad, I decided to exclusively use the Sony while in Osaka. For one thing, it has a much wider angle lens which I found very handy for the many wide-angle situations I encountered there. It’s also much faster for shooting street scenes… That Hasselblad seems to only do one frame every second or so!

Daily Photo – Whisky Room!

Here's another shot from the Yamazaki Suntory Whisky Distillery. This is the entrance to the whisky tasting room and the sort of place that is impossible NOT to take a photo at. I shot this with the Sony and the new wide-angle 12-24mm (at 12mm) lens at F/13. The barrelling on the edges wasn't so bad, but you can see there is a little bit of distortion. It doesn't bother me too much though… and you may not even see it if you're not looking for it. Photographers see these sorts of things, but hardly anyone else notices.

Whisky Room!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-09 06:27:26
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture13
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

For Relaxing Time it’s Suntory Time

Facebook Live Edit

Below is an embedded video of a live show I did on Facebook recently using Aurora HDR 2018. Enjoy! 🙂

Mac App of the Year!

Apple just named Aurora as Mac App of the Year! Join me for a live demo as I edit a single RAW photo and show off some of the new features of Aurora HDR 2018! Where are you watching from? Let us know in the comments… and let me know if you have any questions in the comments too! Grab Aurora now at https://store.stuckincustoms.com/collections/software

Posted by Trey Ratcliff on Sunday, December 10, 2017

Getting a place in Japan

My son is close to graduating high school, and he has a real interest in going to Tokyo to teach English. I think this sounds like a really fun first job, so I’ve been looking into what it takes to move there and make it happen. I have a few friends that have moved there and done the same sort of thing. We’ll probably make another exploratory trip soon to see everything that is involved!

Daily Photo – For Relaxing Time it's Suntory Time

This was taken in the amazing Yamazaki Suntory Distillery just outside of Osaka. We were invited there for a tasting and a tour. It's my second time here, and this time they let me use a tripod! Little things like this get me excited because it's really tough to get a photo like this with a handheld shot. It looks bright in here, but it's actually quite dark.

For Relaxing Time it's Suntory Time

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-09 06:46:52
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time15
  • Aperture10
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Two for Today for Tokyo!

Behind-the-Scenes for this shot

I give a handful of tips and settings info for this particular shot of Tokyo for Passport Members. Thanks again Passport Members! And don’t forget, this makes for a fabulous Christmas present for your photo friend!

The daily photo below is a detail from very close to this shot at:

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

I could have broken this into three different videos, but decided to cram a bunch of tips and ideas into one. Enjoy!

I have MORE photos coming from this experience as well in coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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Daily Photo – Two for Today for Tokyo!

I was inside an office-area of Mori Tower (not the observation deck) to get this shot. In the observation tower, they have a bar or restaurant or something that covers up this view! I never understood why observation towers, 100% as far as I can tell, occlude part of the view with such pedantic services. Put those in the MIDDLE PART people, the MIDDLE PART. We are not going to the observation deck to get a wine or a croissant, we are going to get a 360 view. I'm sure this was designed by a committee, and that is why you never see a statue of a committee

Two for Today for Tokyo!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-03 01:10:21
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time6
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length45.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-4/3

Under the Bridge in Osaka

Upcoming Photo Adventure!

Join me in New Zealand for our next workshop in April. Remmber, it’s opposite-land down here, so that is our Autumn. The colors are amazing. Jump over to our workshop page to sign up!

Daily Photo – Under the Bridge in Osaka

I got a hot tip to take this photo from my friend Rene. There is this one bridge in Osaka that has this cool circle light. I wish the water would have been smoother, but the reflection still turned out pretty well. This whole area is perfect for a night of photography with a tripod… what a fun evening!

Under the Bridge in Osaka

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-09 12:53:55
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.3
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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