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

A Rare Set Up Shot

2018 Looks Busy!

This year I’ll be on a plane a lot going to all sorts of places. My year is only half-booked, but I’ll tell you where I’m off to. The rest of the time, I expect to be back home in New Zealand, editing photos like a madman! Here’s the list: Hawaii, Denver, Dallas, Austin, LA, SF, Key Biscayne, Grand Cayman, Langkawi, Tokyo (again!), Hong Kong, Singapore, Burning Man, Koh Samui, plus 6 new places in China starting in Sanya, Beijing, and Shanghai!

Daily Photo – A Rare Set Up Shot

On the Osaka photo walk, we had a fellow photo walker that was also a model! She liked to pose, so we all made good use of this. I was having trouble finding a good spot for her until we came across this really techno-looking building here where the bridge was lit up from underneath. I had her strike a pose while the rest of the photo walk group took photos, well, like Japanese tourists! After this, we all went back to the Ritz-Carlton for a wine party in the garden – how fun!

A Rare Set Up Shot

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-11 10:15:11
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/6
  • Aperture4
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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.

Exclusive content for Passport members

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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

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

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

New SmugMug Porfolios – People!

I cannot emphasize how much I think you should put your favorite photos on Smugmug! It’s just the greatest… and even if you don’t consider yourself a professional, it’s still a great way to organize your favorite 10 or 100 or 100+ photos! Hopefully, every few months you update it and have some favorite new ones. Even better, you can turn on the shopping cart and maybe someone will buy your goodies!

Anyway, I now have four, count them 1-2-3-4 portfolios on there. One of the new ones is the People & Portraits portfolio. I’m adding the 7 photos below to it and will re-rank soon!


Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com
1/7 – I thought I’d share 7 kind of random people-photos I just took in the last three weeks in Japan. They are just fun shots of interesting people I saw here and there. Most of these are taken with the Sony A7RII with a manual 35mm f/1.4 lens. For this first one, these are just a few nutty new friends I made in the Shinsekai area of Osaka!


Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com
2/7 – While we were out by the river in Kyoto taking photos, lots of people were on their evening walks and enjoying nature. A lot of people ride around on bikes and put adorable dogs in the baskets. I mean, a lot. This nice lady stopped by when she saw we were quite taken with her doggie. She was giggling forever while we took photos of her dog and patted it.


Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com
3/7 – This was taken on “7-5-3 Day,” on November 15, a very special day in Japan. It’s called Shichi-Go-San (七五三) and is a right of passage for 3/5/7-year-olds. To celebrate the growth and well-being of children, parents dress them up and visit Shinto temples and go through the rituals. And they usually get a few snacks afterward, like any good kid-celebration!


Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com
4/7. Right before the photo walk in Kyoto (thanks again for coming out for that great walk around the secretive geisha-district!), we started at an old temple. Every now and then, we would see monks scurrying about on their business here and there. The sun was going down fast and making some nice shadows here and there.


Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com
5/7 – In each city in Japan, we met up with local Instagram photographers. It’s Autumn season there, and everything is burning red. This one from Kyoto, shows Hikari taking a photo of more red stuff, while wearing the local koyo colors. If you want to see more, just Google “Koyo Japan” and get ready for mind blowage!


Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com
6/7 – While in Osaka, we took a series of tubes to get to Sakai, an older part along the coast where they still make traditional samurai swords and knives in old blacksmithies. We watching this guy make a special knife specifically for cutting sashimi. He looks young doesn’t he? We asked him how old he was, and he said, “41”!


Trey Ratcliff - StuckInCustoms.com - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com
7/7 – We met this awesome guy while waiting for a train just outside of Osaka. He was standing on the corner and just generally being awesome. I don’t know why, but we all were drawn to his awesomeness, so we went over and started talking and taking photos. He was quite the showman, so we asked what he did (remember, hardly anyone outside of the service industry in Japan speaks English, and neither did he… but like in The Alchemist, there is really one language and you can communicate most anything to most anyone.) – Anyway, he said he plays the guitar and sings at the local zoo! He then opened up his phone and showed us a video of him rocking out to a bunch of kids. Then he started playing the air-guitar and ripping it… he was so funny. Then he got on the train from us. He sat across the way from me and I took this photo just as we pulled away from the station.

Shopping in Osaka

Reminder on Wired Artice

If you missed my interview in Wired, here is another chance to see it! Remember to try out the web version. It’s got a very slick interface!

Daily Photo – Shopping in Osaka

Wow, look at all those Chickens! This was my second time to Osaka, but my first time to see this. This scene is in the Dotombori area just after crossing one of the main bridges. It's a bit elevated here, so you can see down into this covered mall shopping area. There were so many people bustling this way and that. I zoomed all the way in to 240mm to get a bit of compression and give it this cool effect.

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

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