Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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Cold War Listening Station Near Berlin

Star Trek Discovery

It’s a pretty good show, I must say. I can say it’s probably the most BEAUTIFUL show on right now for sure. Everything is really interesting to watch, from the special effects to the incredible Klingon vessels and interiors. I’m not sure about all the characters yet. And I usually really question a lot of the decisions the crew makes. But, if I can just let that go, it’s a pretty good show.

Daily Photo – Cold War Listening Station Near Berlin

When I heard about this place near Berlin, I knew we had to go! And yes, it even looks like a giant penis; I wonder if they did that on purpose. Anyway, now it's filled with all kinds of cool graffiti and street art. It's a bit dangerous maybe, with broken staircases, no guard rails, broken windows, and this sort of thing. I believe I had to buy a ticket to get inside, but it was totally worth it.

Cold War Listening Station Near Berlin

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-23 21:05:29
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

A Balloon in the Morning Fog

DJI Mavic

I’m slowly working on the Mavic review now that I have one in hand. I paid full price for this thing, and I am very excited! Getting new toys is always fun. I plan on doing a few side-by-side flights of the Mavic and the Phantom and comparing the video and photos between the two.

A message from Denver

Thank you Passport Members! Here’s a quick video to show behind-the-scenes of the charity you’re helping to fund!

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Daily Photo – A Balloon in the Morning Fog

If I was more of a morning person, I'd definitely head over here to Lake Hayes for a morning walk much more. Maybe when I get older, I'll be more of a morning person. Or maybe I should just to bed earlier and stop watching Netflix till midnight! I can only blame myself.

A Balloon in the Morning Fog

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-10-21 01:58:33
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length39.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

High above Budapest

Kobe Japan Video

I made a few special videos for passport members while I was in Kobe, Japan. I’ll put up the first video now and the second one soon, along with the final photo from Kobe!

Here’s part 1 of my settings and some tips while waiting on the sunset in a very cold place! 🙂

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Daily Photo – High above Budapest

On our recent trip to Europe, this was one of my top three cities. I'd love to come back here and explore even more. The sights are beautiful and the food is not only fantastic, but it's incredibly inexpensive. The Ritz-Carlton here was nice enough to let me up on the roof. We did some filming up here and then launched the Phantom 4 quad for a spin. I'm still using the same quad for almost two years now and it's great! I've never had such a long stint without crashing the quad! I hope I didn't jinx it! 🙂

High above Budapest

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-05-30 20:26:08
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO120
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Mosque in Cairo

Some Passport Content!

Here’s a video we first released to Passport Members about a year ago or so, but I wanted to share it with everyone. It’s sort of a little behind-the-scenes video of a gentleman singing in this very mosque.

Daily Photo – Mosque in Cairo

What a beautiful mosque, eh? I didn't visit the middle east much until the last five years ago, but I really enjoy shooting inside mosques. The variety between them is amazing. It does often require getting special permission, but that is not so difficult to get. Everyone inside the mosques has been quite nice as well. In this one, I was with my wife and two daughters the whole time as well.

Mosque in Cairo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-02-03 16:16:51
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture5
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

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

Walking around Phoenix City at night

Bulletproof Coffee

I’ve become quite the fan of Bulletproof Coffee. I have it almost every day and it really seems to work wonders!

Daily Photo – Walking around Phoenix City at night

My usual routine when I visit a new city is to wander all over in the afternoon, then find a good place for sunset, then wander and take photos through dusk, then go have a dinner and a wine, then wander around as late as my energy will carry me. That last bit is what brought me to this place! I'd really like to get back here to Fenghuang and do some more night-wandering!

Walking around Phoenix City at night

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2010-10-07 10:42:29
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time3
  • Aperture4.8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length20.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Another Amazing Hut on Antarctica

A creative way for getting rid of noise

Today, I thought I’d share something special. We released this to Passport Members first last year. I wanted to share it with everyone now as sort of a promotion for the passport! Last year I released about 50 videos like these in the membership area.

So this video shows a creative way I came up with for getting rid of noise. It’s beautiful and not very time-consuming. It’s always quite a bit of fun!

And here is the final photo:

A Panorama Of The Valley

Today’s photo is from Antarctica (you’ll see it below). We released 3 videos from Antarctica last month for Passport Members so be sure to go check those out!

Daily Photo – Another Amazing Hut on Antarctica

These shots are definitely worth a zoom-in if you have the time. Click through to go to the Smugmug site. When there, down in the lower right-hand corner you can see there are little piled up rectangles. If you click on those, you can go see the original and scroll around the see all the nifty details!

Another Amazing Hut on Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-01-09 12:40:13
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time8
  • Aperture9.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea

Going to Papua New Guinea

Sometimes I’m a fan of getting a local guide, and sometimes I am not. In the case of Papua New Guinea, you should DEFINITELY get a local guide. Otherwise, you may literally get killed.

Here’s a really cool map I found on Etsy. This is a link to Conquest Maps on Etsy.

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Daily Photo – Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea

All kids like to dress up a bit, eh? And a bit of face painting? It comes with the territory, so to speak, down here in Papua New Guinea. All members of the tribe paint and festoon themselves in the exact same manner, from child to adult. There may be a few variations in the decorations for the adults, but I could not see them.

Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-10-13 12:02:16
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2000
  • Aperture
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Getting the New Year off to a Bang with a special Paris Inspirational Video!

Yesterday, on the first, we did the big article analyzing Mac vs. Windows sales and the conundrum there. I’m still going through all the comments! Thanks for those!

Today, for Passport Members (thanks for all of you that got these a new Christmas gifts for family members and friends!), we have a radically new video from Paris. I’ve never done anything like this… It’s an inspirational video about taking photos and why we do such a strange thing. You’ll see it’s professionally captured, edited, and more. We have about 20 of these in the hopper right now in fact, from different cities around the world. I’m excited to bring you the first one now.

Here are a few favorite photos from Paris to get you in the mood before the video!

Walking about the Sorbonne in the evening

Where Jules Verne would perform experiments on animalkind

Young girl on a bridge in Paris After a shooting a set of shots with the sun rising over Notre Dame, I saw a few girls on the bridge with me.  It was a little cold this morning, and they were in coats, laughing and playing with their own camera.  With my tripod still set up, I grabbed my D3S and 50 prime on my sling.  I pulled it up quickly to grab a shot of one of the girls as she covered her face from the cool wind of the morning. - Trey Ratcliff Read the rest of the entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Tiny House in FranceSo, Versailles is a monstrously huge place.  I'm not sure how you could see everything in a day.  I chose to concentrate this trip out in the royal gardens, and a confusing walk got me into this place.  It's not exactly secret, but I didn't know about it until I walked up upon it!It is called "The Hameau de la Reine", and is generally known as the Queen's Hamlet.  It was built for Marie Antoinette between 1785 and 1792.  It is lovely, and this is only one of the many little places I captured there... more soon!- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of this entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

And here’s the first video that talks about the word “Flaneur.” Note that we wanted to share these with Passport Members first before we spread around to the world. Our business team is currently putting together a series of sponsors to help fund these things. As you might suspect, videos of this quality are a bit more expensive to produce. So, for now, you can enjoy this version Sponsor-Free! 🙂 I look forward to your feedback! I’m always trying new stuff ’round these parts.

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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!

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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 (gs.statcounter.com)

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 Macphun 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.


Shinjuku!

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. Also, they still think “Macphun” made it, which confuses them because clearly no one with the name Macphun would make a Windows product.
  • 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.

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 Macphun!


Who’d have thought this was Moscow???

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