Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

Read the Blog Photo Tips

Meandering Through Life

These rivers always seem to have a nice sense about them. Meandering about the meadow by day and then heading into the narrow canyons at night. It seems like a peaceful existence…

This comes from my textures tutorial located right here.

Meandering Through Life (by Stuck in Customs)

Spending Time Inside My Head

I do tend to distract myself, rather than have ample time to sit around and think about things. Why I drive myself to distraction is another matter altogether, but one that usually has delicious complications. And then I come across men like this one, several hundreds of miles north of Delhi in India. He has nothing but time to sit around and think about things. I wonder if he is able to better figure things out.

Spending Time Inside My Head

Alone at the Beach

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent mornings and evenings on the beach by myself. I think it’s quite alright, and I don’t entirely mind it at the time.

For me, it is even more strange, I think. Because I always have my camera with me, I suppose I’m not really alone because you are there too, along with the tens of thousands of others. We’re there at slightly different times, but still there together with the moment frozen. I’m not sure I can be good company to everyone at the same time, but there are always certain people with whom bare toes on the beach would be more than welcome.

Alone at the Beach

Learning to Draw by Candlelight

I’m writing an article for Smashing Magazine entitled “10 Principles of Beautiful Photography”, and, in so doing, I am making one of the notions therein that it helps if you can learn to draw. Now, last year, I could barely draw a bath and my portraits looked worse than my 7-year-old’s!

But get this… I have a very good friend at work named Gustaf with whom I made a bet. Now, the guy is brilliant and a great designer, but he is absolutely terrible at Photoshop. I thought that was unacceptable, and I also thought my complete lack of drawing skills was unacceptable. Since I am mega-competitive, I made a bet with him that I could teach myself to be passable at drawing before he could teach himself to be passable at photoshop. I won the competition, as it should be, but he still has time to learn (he got a girlfriend and it kind of threw a wrench into the whole competition).

I’ve always admired people that can draw. “Man, I always wanted to do that!” I thought, remorsefully… But after practicing in secret for many months, I feel like I am a little bit better. I’m not great, by any means. Before getting into it, I knew there were natural savants out there that can naturally draw from birth. I knew I could not ever get to that level, but I wanted to get to a point where I felt better about my ability to capture a scene or feeling with just charcoal and paper.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite drawings over the past six months or so. They are in chronological order with the most recent ones on top.

Learning to Draw by Candlelight (by Stuck in Customs)

The Guardian of Enlightenment

It was my second day in the wats of Angkor and I was back to explore the edges of the vast complex. One turn and another, a room within a room, I quickly became lost, which is altogether a great thing in these sorts of situations. Even better, as those of you that know me already understand, there was not a single tourist around to ruin the mood out deep in hidden recesses.

I came upon this meditating pilgrim, who had created her own little shrine area where the unexpected Hindu god statues had been absconded from the altar. She continued on, chanting in her particular Brahmanistic offshoot meme that seemed to bring her enough peace to allow me to pass after careful examination.

The Guardian of Enlightenment

The second shot below is after I finally made it back outside, I sat down for a rest, and then decided to set up for a timed shot. My mom and sister always like to see more shots of me on the blog… so here you go! 🙂

Adventuring in Cambodia (by Stuck in Customs)

Dragon Boats of Commoners on a Lonely Stream near Hangzhou

On the weekend while in Shanghai, I was in the mood for an adventure, so I went down to the train station to buy a ticket to Hangzhou. This was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty in the 12th century and it was in the middle of the Yangtze river delta. The royalty established a number of temples around West Lake, the dozens of tiny freshwater lakes that were created for the emperor.

As I explored around, there were many beautiful things to be seen. Here is one of many more I have to bring you.

Dragon Boats of Commoners on a Lonely Stream near Hangzhou (by Stuck in Customs)

Admiring Shanghai from the Bund

Shanghai looks huge and amazing no matter what side of the river you are visiting! I think I went back and forth 8 times to see it from one angle then the next as the sun was setting. There is this electric train that goes in a tube under the water that is surrounded with enough flashing neon to send the average Japanese kid into seizures. It’s all fantastic and electric — and both banks were covered every night with people admiring the view… Normally I don’t like tourists in my shots, but this one was kind of about the viewers of the city viewing the city.

Admiring Shanghai from the Bund (by Stuck in Customs)

After the Yellowstone Fires

I’ve probably been to Yellowstone almost 10 times in the last 10 years. After the mega fires, some areas have been quick to rebound while others have not. This is one of the burned black trunks that remains, defiant.

One thing that was news to me, that I found out recently from a ranger, was that certain pinecones only spread their seeds once they burn and explode. This means, of course, that fires are necessary for the forest to grow; quite fascinating eh?

After the Yellowstone Fires

Newsletter Sign Up

The most beautiful newsletter ever!