Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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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!

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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

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

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