Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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Beautiful Puerto Rico and San Juan

Extended answers from Wired Interview

How do I preface this? Hmmm, well I did a phone interview with Wired magazine, and then they followed up with some more questions, which I answered via email. I’m sure that 90% will be cut, but a friend asked me to share the full answers here! So, here they are…

Each question was related to the photo above it:

Here's another photo from one of the many beautiful thermal Turkish bath houses from Budapest. This one was kept at a balmy 36C - as you walk from bath to bath through this underground labyrinth, you can tell the temperature of the water by seeing the numbers in the tiled mosaics on the wall. We know it was balmy because we made a lot of videos in here... probably one of our corniest videos yet where Rene Smith does a bit of synchronized swimming with us. Of course, he was the star!

Budapest

Question:
“When you’re relaxed and your guard is down, beautiful moments spring upon you.”

We’ve got the story of the Ritz-Carlton concierge who insightfully referred you to the spa, which worked great in the last text. For this, can you tell me a bit — just one paragraph is fine — about the specific incident of being relaxed, your guard down, and a beautiful moment you can recall springs on you, as it relates to the photo?

Answer:

I have a feeling that everyone feels a bit awkward in a bathing suit. I mean, unless you’re one of those Instagram hoochie girls, which 99.9% of us are not. Anyway, once you decide to rock around a Turkish bath with whatever body you happen to inhabit, then an acceptance sets in, and you just kinda let it all hang out, then you are quite vulnerable. But vulnerability is a great chance to really absorb the moment and it forces your guard to be down. Letting go of worry creates a presence. This presence allows you to be alert and see things you might not have seen before, when the mind was clouded by a fiction it created for itself.

Welcome to the biggest Volkswagen robot in the world! Wow, what a cool place. This is in Wolfsburg, Germany. There are countless floors in this cylindrical robot of fresh Volkswagens here waiting to be delivered to their new owners. Cars are always coming in and out of here on an average of every two days. A huge robot slides up and down the center picking up a car here, delivering a car there, all with perfect German precision. I actually drive a Volkswagen pickup truck in New Zealand (an Amarok) - yeah, who knew they made pickups? BTW, Volkswagen is not a sponsor or anything... just think this is a cool idea. I like it when companies do crazy stuff like this!

Wolfsburg

Question:
“If you open yourself up to the universe, cool stuff happens.”
“Comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Can you expand on how those attitudes specifically played out for you in Wolfsburg?

Answer:
Rolling along the train tracks into Wolfsburg, I had no idea what I would find. No matter how old you get, there are always firsts. The notion of “first” indicates a unique experience; there is no way to have an expectation of what will happen. This then leads to the idea that you should have no expectations at all. It doesn’t mean low expectations, but, theoretically, one should have no expectations of what will be a unique experience.

Once you make this intellectual decision to have no expectations, you embrace the universe itself and whatever comes at you. It’s not just that you have no expectations of what will happen with the universe, but you have no expectations about how you will react to it. Together, by releasing expectations of yourself and the universe, you may come to see these two seemingly discrete things as the same. This makes me feel very connected to any place I happen to be, and if you happen to be in a place, it might as well be around Wolfsburg taking photos of the auto mecca, because it’s pretty freaking awesome.

Moscow

Question:
“I used to worry that because I travel so much, I would run out of places to go. But the more I travel, the more I discover.”

We had a section about London, but The Ritz-Carlton asked that we stick to cities where they operate a hotel. For one of the others (my personal pick is Moscow, because the photo itself is surprising when one reads that it’s Moscow, but whatever feels best for you) is it possible that you had been there before, leading to new feelings there compared to a previous visit? The idea that traveling somewhere more than once leads to very different experiences is powerful.

Answer:

I think we all know how imperfect memory is. Even though I am now kind of a travel photographer, my degree is in Computer Science and Math. Our memory doesn’t work like a computer, and it is wonderfully imperfect. There are theories that we “chunk” the big bullet points of memory so that we can use those bits to simulate future scenarios.

So, when I got into Moscow for the first time, it was fun to “predict” what might happen. Whatever happens, happens, right? Well, it’s still fun to simulate a few possible futures. I was able to pull chunks from my first time to “strange” places (strange, meaning foreign/scary/challenging to me at various stages of my life). I thought about my the time I made my first trip to go to the subway in Tokyo, the time when I got stranded on Antarctica during a blizzard, the time I was arrested in Beijing for flying a drone over the Forbidden City, etc. These are all unusual things that happened to me, and everything turned out just fine.

Now, arriving in Moscow, I thought about all these edge-cases, and I simulated a hundred nutty things that might happen. After all, most of what I knew about Russia came from Reddit, so I was open to literally anything happening. And I wasn’t disappointed. Moscow itself is an amazing place, but what makes Russia so interesting to me is the people there, and the interesting Russian minds inside of them.

Project Loon in Puerto Rico

Here’s an interesting article about how Google is using its balloons to restore communications across the island. Pretty cool eh? I spent a few days with them here in New Zealand when they began testing the balloons… really cool tech!

Daily Photo – Beautiful Puerto Rico and San Juan

It's hard to believe I got this photo not too long before that bad hurricane hit. The whole island is so naturally beautiful that I'm sure it'll bounce back pretty fast… I guess the first step is to get their infrastructure back together… they are all so industrious down there that I bet it will be back faster than anyone thinks.

Beautiful Puerto Rico and San Juan

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-25 18:05:02
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Water Mill in Hobbiton

More Hobbiton Video Action from Behind the Scenes

Here’s the long version of the video we made with Air New Zealand. Enjoy!

Daily Photo – The Water Mill in Hobbiton

I was lucky to get permission to fly here on the Hobbiton Movie Set. They are pretty strict about drones nowadays, and they get more and more strict each year. It helps if you have a portfolio or a showreel you can share. It also helps if you offer to share the footage with the property.

The Water Mill in Hobbiton

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-05-25 09:19:48
  • CameraFC330
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramUnknown (58655)
  • Exposure Bias

Super Plastic Man

Fun Interview

This is a rather in-depth interview I did about a particular shot from Paris. Enjoy!

Photo Walk Fun!

I hope you’re enjoying the photo walks across Japan! We’ve got about 15 more coming up all over China and the rest of Asia. Exciting stuff! 🙂

Daily Photo – Super Plastic Man

I saw this guy on the Summit cruise. He was sitting on this couch extremely still. In fact, he was SO still that I thought he was a waxen statue. So I got up to go take his photo and he started to move! It freaked me out… I told him I thought he was a fake person… that made him laugh and then I asked him to re-assume his pose from before then I took this photo.

Super Plastic Man

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-11-11 07:36:17
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO1250
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

High Above the Baths

Snacking Advice

This is horrible advice for grownups themselves, but great advice for the kids! Anyway, whenever we travel with the kids, I just get them as many snacks as possible, whenever they want them. It’s amazing how much food just keeps them happy and cooperative. My wife completely disagrees, of course, and she thinks it will teach them bad habits. I keep telling her that the bad habits are totally the best, and they can change those bad habits later. In the meantime, at least they are happy and cooperative!

Daily Photo – High Above the Baths

After we finished our hike through the Baths, we went up to a little restaurant on the top. And since the kids never turn down the chance to get a snack, they went snacking crazy while I stepped out on the balcony to take this flight. I didn't get too risky… I could have gone a lot farther, but I was very happy with this shot.

High Above the Baths

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-01-30 12:18:33
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Rolling Green Spring of Queenstown

Twin Peaks

I’m a huge Twin Peaks fan, so I am really excited about the new season. I’ve heard David Lynch is really heavily involved, so that makes me happy… I think that dude is a genius. If you are also a David Lynch fan and want to see the first movie he ever made, be sure to check out Eraserhead. It’s something else…

Daily Photo – The Rolling Green Spring of Queenstown

Ahhhh… It's Spring here! When I lived in Texas, we didn't really have what I read about in books as “seasons.” It was either cold or hot. But here, we have four distinct seasons. Each one is just about exactly three months long. And now, here we are in full Spring. Obviously, it's the opposite of the USA and anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. But, yeah, anyway, you can see the pretty green springing forth.

The Rolling Green Spring of Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-11-28 18:25:16
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Flow of Tokyo at Night

45 Minutes in Shibuya

Speaking of this amazing intersection, here is a 45-minute video of a random walk around this area.

Daily Photo – The Flow of Tokyo at Night

On our last night in Tokyo, we started roaming around Shibuya to see what we could find. I ended up on one of the busiest streets then set up for a long exposure. Luckily, my family was more than patient enough to wait around for me to get these photos… but everyone was getting a bit hungry, so we headed off to find some burgers!

The Flow of Tokyo at Night

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-07-16 14:06:55
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time2
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Sitting at the Lake at Sunset

Interview Around the World

You all may know one of our partners is the Ritz-Carlton. I often do interviews and share photos about their various destinations. Here’s a new article where I talk about 10 different fun destinations!

Daily Photo – Sitting at the Lake at Sunset

I'm not sure there are any bad sunsets in Iceland. I've heard it's “overrrun” with tourists now, but I don't really think that could be the case. It's a big country and there are so many isolated spots that you can be alone as you want to be. I suppose there are a few well-known waterfalls and whatnot that may be crowded, but that is not really what Iceland is about to me. It's more about being alone with nature and light.

Sitting at the Lake at Sunset

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2010-06-13 01:26:33
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/45
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length45.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Dinner In Venice

Italian Food in Italy

Of course they don’t call it Italian food there. They just call it food. But one thing I have definitely noticed throughout Italy is that they don’t have a huge desire for foreign food. It’s hard to find Mexican/Japanese/etc sort of food… they just really like Italian food, I guess. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t?

Daily Photo – Dinner In Venice

It's hard to pass by these restaurants and NOT picture yourself sitting outside to have dinner by the canal. That's kind of what it's all about here, eh? Whenever I walk by a cafe or restaurant and see people sitting outside, eating, and enjoying themselves, I am thinking, hey, that looks pretty awesome, that should be future me, or maybe even me right now.

Dinner In Venice

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-05-01 02:34:20
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.3
  • Aperture5
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Along Highway 1 in California

New Drone?

I’m expecting to hear some news from DJI any time now… for a while there, they had an announcement about new quads every few months or so… We must be getting close to a new version.

Daily Photo – Along Highway 1 in California

As far as road trips go, I figure this is one of the best in the world. Highway 1 hugs the coast for hundreds of miles and there are not any bad photos, anywhere! In fact, there are so many great places to pull over and take photos, it can be a little overwhelming. I took this one with the quadcopter… just getting up in the air a few hundred feet gives yet another great view.

Along Highway 1 in California

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-12-17 15:34:47
  • CameraFC6310
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Tina Guo Playing a Quadcopter

Follow Tina on Instagram

She’s got all kinds of interesting stuff going on… I guess that is what it is like when you an actual cello rock star. I wouldn’t know! Anyway, follow her here @TinaGuo.

Daily Photo – Tina Guo Playing a Quadcopter

Well, I don't think it's actually a quadcopter, but I'm sure she could play one. I saw her in concert twice with Hans Zimmer, and she always trashes apart her bow-thing. It's called a bow, right? This is a good indication of how little I know about playing music… And how cool is that cello?

Tina Guo Playing a Quadcopter

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-06-09 22:40:28
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length39.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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