Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

Read the Blog Photo Tips

The Swimmin’ Hole in Aruba

New “People” Portfolio

One of the new Portfolios I have over on Smugmug is all my favorite people and portrait photos. Jump in there and enjoy!

Daily Photo – The Swimmin' Hole in Aruba

Aruba is one of my favorite islands I've ever visited. It has all these secret little spots like this. Well, it's not that secret, but I guess it's kinda secret because we were pretty much the only ones there! Here is a Map Link to the location in case you go on an Aruban adventure!

The Swimmin' Hole in Aruba

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-20 15:38:32
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • 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!

Exclusive content for Passport members

Unlock Now

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

Walking in the White Sands

Categories on Stuck In Customs

Don’t forget you can click above on the White Sands category to see other photos from this particular spot.

Daily Photo – Walking in the White Sands

It was a great decision to spend the day on a journey to White Sands National Park. What an amazing place! I wish I had more time there, but I took all the photos I could during the three hours there. I actually don't even know if there is a hotel or inn nearby. I don't think so; it's quite remote. But, either way, this place is definitely worth a day-and-sunset-visit.

Walking in the White Sands

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-08-19 20:52:10
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length17.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.7

Hearst Castle Pool Party

New Kit Goodies

Be sure to check out my kit.com where I have a few new goodies in there. One of my favorite new upgrades is the JBL Pulse 3! I like it even better than the JBL Pulse 2, even though I have a few friends that still prefer the Pulse 2 design.

Daily Photo – Hearst Castle Pool Party

Can you imagine the pool parties here back in the day? I heard you can actually still rent this out and have your own pool party. I don't have enough fancy friends, but if I did, this would be on my to-do list. I visited this place probably about seven years ago, and I'm still processing photos from that trip. I just recently finished up this one.

Hearst Castle Pool Party

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2010-01-30 01:26:50
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time2
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • 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

The Whale Shark in Okinawa

Some goodies coming up for our awesome Passport Members!

I’m back from Japan and ready to share a whale-load of videos, photos, and special behind-the-scenes stuff. If you are a Passport Member then you’ll get to see a whole new video here about my crazy workflow, juggling different photos, HDRing, Lightroom, and more. It is a bit of a frenzied process, as I am trying to crank out as many photos as possible in a compressed time. Anyway, that’s today’s Passport video below that will be automatically unlocked if you are a member!

Here’s a video of my somewhat crazy (but amazingly efficient) workflow now that I am back in the saddle of my studio. Apologies for the sound getting strange around the 10-minute mark! I think my mic is broken… or something. I just can’t figure it out. I’m using a pro Samson mic. Anyway, I’ll try to figure it out or get a new one!

Exclusive content for Passport members

Unlock Now

Daily Photo – The Whale Shark in Okinawa

As much as I don't think any creatures should be in captivity, this was still pretty awe-inspiring. On the northern tip of Okinawa is a popular aquarium. I was asked to go take photos there even though I didn't really want to. Sometimes in life, you gotta do stuff you don't wanna do, right? Well, anyway, I showed up and tried to get the best photo I could. I wasn't going to half-ass it just because I didn't want to be there. So I put Tane and Olya up there right in front of the tank as the mighty beast swam past.

The Whale Shark in Okinawa

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-17 16:06:05
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/45
  • Aperture3.5
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-1

Autumn Colors at Night in Tokyo

A bit from the Tokyo Photo Walk!

What a great crowd we had out during the photo walk! I took this photo about 30 minutes after the photo walk after-party. My friends went ahead to dinner so I could wander for about an hour and take photos… I found myself here almost right away, having thought about this shot for a few days prior.

Daily Photo – Autumn Colors at Night in Tokyo

People look at you a bit strange in Tokyo when you walk down the middle of the street, but the wonderful Japanese people are so polite, they would never protest! But this was just a small street without much traffic. I find Japanese drivers to be extremely careful, anyway. These trees are beautiful in the daytime, but even better when properly lit at night.

Autumn Colors at Night in Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-04 04:48:53
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time16
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-1/3

A Day at Mount Fuji

Yours Truly Featured in a new Wired Article

I was honored to be interviewed about the “The Mystery of Memory” by Wired Magazine. The web interface is really cool… I’ve never seen an article displayed like that before. It’s fine on mobile, of course, but if you have a chance to see it on the web, please do! And I hope you enjoy the article.

Daily Photo – A Day at Mount Fuji

After our whirlwind Japanese photo walk and art talk tour, I decided to have some downtime at Mt. Fuji. It was a beautiful, clear autumn day. I walked here from my ryokan, and it took about 45 minutes around Lake Kawaguchiko. It was a beautiful morning… I took a few photos. Not many. But then I arrived at this strange place called the Musical Forest. I thought, I gotta go in there! After I was in and exploring a bit, I saw this charming scene with Mt. Fuji in the background.

A Day at Mount Fuji

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-19 23:07:08
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture3.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length45.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-1

Newsletter Sign Up

The most beautiful newsletter ever!