Stuck in Customs – Trey Ratcliff's Travel Photography blog with daily inspiration to motivate you!

Stuck In Customs

My daily travel blog to inspire and get you motivated!

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Camels In Africa

Daily Photo – Camels In Africa

I took this on our family trip to Egypt. We spent the day exploring the pyramids along with an amazing guide the Ritz-Carlton got us there. It was the first-time riding camels for some members of the family, and they were in for quite an experience! There’s nothing like your first time riding a camel, and especially the initial launch off the ground. It’s a very scary moment, even for the bravest people in the world!

Camels In Africa

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-02-02 16:29:32
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

The Dart River Delta

Daily Photo – The Dart River Delta

On a helicopter flight, we flew out over where the Dart River empties into the Wakatipu lake in Glenorchy. I don’t know about you, but I’m mesmerized by the patterns these deltas make. I’d love to see a time-lapse over the past 50,000 years of how it has changed. I wonder if there is a computer simulation out there that shows it.

The Dart River Delta

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-03-30 05:55:38
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/30
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

40 Street Photos From 4,000 years of Time Travel

I had a pretty interesting idea for a set of AI creations. I was working on some of my Great Wall of China photos, and I was thinking, gods this would be an interesting place to time-travel to and take photos! But then I thought, hey would if I could also go back to ancient Japan, Moscow in the 50s, Iran in the 70s (before Sharia law required women to cover their shameful and sinful bodies), India in the 1800s, all the way back to Cairo in 2000BC, etc. Anyway, that is the origin of this idea.

I did all sorts of locations and timelines. I also used different camera parameters, different lenses, different camera settings, all of which you can set in the AI. I’m really happy with the results!

Before I share these new AI creations, perhaps you’d like to see some of my recent AI thematic creations. Enjoy!

60 Stills from a Wes Anderson Sci-Fi Film That Doesn’t Exist
32 Nonexistent People At Burning Man
20 Entities I Encountered And Inspirations From DMT Reality
27 Tribes From Remote Villages In Papua New Guinea That No One Has Ever Seen
31 Burning Man art installations at Burning Man that do not exist

BTW, I started up a new AI Instagram @Trairatcliff account so I could keep my main Instagram more with traditional photography. Be one of the first to join! And tell your friends, but only the cool ones… not the energy vampire friends you are trying to get rid of. 🙂


Sample Prompt

I’m using Midjourney version 4 for these. It’s a command-line interface via Discord to communicate with the AI:

“street photography in the 1880s in London, 40mm, Extremely Detailed, professional photography –v 4 –ar 3:2”

Here are the 40 “Street Photos” below – I did add captions to each one so you can see the time period and the location. I don’t usually add captions because I am kinda lazy, so, enjoy! 🙂

There are also many little things to notice if you look closely. I’m especially impressed at the way the clothes fall and “wrinkle” around the bodies… amongst countless other details.

(All captions above photos) – Woman in 1950s Moscow

People outside of a cafe in 1820 Tokyo

London in the 1880s

Man contemplating life in Moscow early 1900s

Rome in 50BC

Kyoto in the late 1600s

Tehran in 1975

Jerusalem in 100AD

Los Angeles in 1985

San Francisco in the 70s

Austin in 1910

Delhi in 1930

Great Wall in 1200

Edinburgh in 1940

Osaka in 1810

LA in 1978

San Francisco in 1960

Chengdu in 1940

London in 1890

Mumbai in 1975

Cairo in 2000BC

Sydney in 1975 (looks pretty much the same today)

Beijing in 1965

St. Petersburg in 1965

Tokyo in 1955

Beijing in 1920

Los Angeles in 1951

London in 1860

Tokyo in 1935

Los Angeles in 1943

London in 1880

Tokyo in 1850

Chicago in 1930

Okinawa in 1910

Rome in 200BC

Queenstown, New Zealand in 2050

Osaka in 1960

London 1870

San Francisco in 1959

Chicago in 1965

Arriving in Antarctica

Daily Photo – Arriving in Antarctica

After a 10+ hour plane ride on that LC-130 on the right, we landed on those skis you see beneath the plane on the ice shelf. It wasn’t the smoothest landing in the world. We didn’t have windows by the seats (we were strapped into the walls like GIs about to parachute into France on D-Day), and the pilots later told me we landed so hard the tips of the wings almost hit the ground. Fun!
Anyway, after we got off, we boarded one of the largest land vehicles in existence. As you can see, it has the name “Ivan the Terra Bus.” Thank God it had a heater in there, because it was a little colder than I expected, and I expected a lot of cold.

Arriving in Antarctica

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-01-06 17:23:51
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/8000
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length17.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-2

Autumn Gardens in Kyoto

Daily Photo – Autumn Gardens in Kyoto

This came from a single RAW file, which was actually the case with over half my HDRs I processed from Japan. Changed times from the old Nikon 7 exposure days!

Autumn Gardens in Kyoto

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-11-07 17:27:46
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/750
  • Aperture3.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-2/3

20 Entities I Encountered and Inspirations from DMT reality

Well this is a larger topic that I’ll touch on in an upcoming podcast, and most people will have no idea wtf I am talking about, but that’s okay, because you’ll perhaps enjoy the art anyway. The TL;DR is that when you are experiencing a DMT rush, either via Ayahuasca or Changa, you often encounter and interact with entities. Weird, right? That doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Anyhoo, the entities by and large are female. They are sometimes insectoid or alien-like. Some are “Machine Elves” (which inspired my Machine Elf fractal creations). I get a lot of “jesters” or clowns, which only happens about 6% of the time according to this scientific study. See, I’m not crazy. Or am I? I’ll ask the entities next time.

Also, if you didn’t click that 6% link above – I HIGHLY recommend it. You may be skeptical, but scroll down and read some of the commonality of experiences.

What do you “chat” about with these entities, you wonder? Well, whatever you want! It’s mostly them appearing and talking to you telepathically. They’ll often tell you things you’re clearly doing wrong in your life, help you solve problems, or sometimes they just fuck around with you and have fun. It can be jarring to some people, especially if you’re kind of a high-anxiety person with a lot of fear in your life. But that is not me. I do have the jester/clowns goof around a lot with me which can be hilarious. Overall, though, you get a message that is very serene as they tell you, “Everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be.” I suppose that is reassuring as a clown is laughing in your face with cartoon fangs.

Before I share these new AI creations, perhaps you’d like to see some of my recent AI thematic creations. Enjoy!

60 Stills from a Wes Anderson Sci-Fi Film That Doesn’t Exist
32 Nonexistent People At Burning Man
27 Tribes From Remote Villages In Papua New Guinea That No One Has Ever Seen
31 Burning Man art installations at Burning Man that do not exist

BTW, I started up a new AI Instagram @Trairatcliff account so I could keep my main Instagram more with traditional photography. Be one of the first to join! And tell your friends, but only the cool ones… not the energy vampire friends you are trying to get rid of. 🙂


Sample Prompt

I’m using Midjourney version 4 for these (recently upgraded with new aspect ratios – yay!), although I play with all the AI tools. It’s a command-line interface via Discord to communicate with the AI:

“A symmetrical unexpected female Indian goddess entity I encountered on DMT, full body, DMT-inspired psychedelic background –v 4 –ar 2:3”

These images below are mostly entities I’ve seen or slight inspirations thereof. Dude, it’s really hard to describe. If you’ve been in here with me, I can tell you are smiling right now.. Well, grab your popcorn and enjoy the trip!

Luminar Neo Review (My New Workflow)

Here’s a quick and fun review of Luminar Neo! You can use the code TREY10 to get $10 off the yearly or lifetime plans. For those of you who are existing Aurora HDR users, that entitles you to grab the HDR extension for Neo with special pricing, depending on the version you have and for some of you that might even mean free! Just be sure to sign up for Neo with the same email you used to register Aurora HDR to get access to the best pricing. 🙂

Before we begin, here’s an image I’ve produced with Neo to get you in the mood…



And now on with the review (click here)

60 Stills from a Wes Anderson Sci-Fi Film That Doesn’t Exist

I’ve been having a little too much fun with AI lately. I decided to combine it with my love for Wes Anderson films!

This is another quirky setting. Wes has never done a Science Fiction movie before, so I thought this would be an interesting territory to explore. This is a fun futuristic (and retro) world that is run by adorable Bonobo monkeys as they establish a dominant matriarchy in space.

Most people don’t know about the Bonobos, but it is the only monkey species that is run by females. So, the monkey troupes don’t even fight against one another. It’s usually settled through sex. I stayed away from monkey-orgies in this one (I did think about it), but there are a few other species competing for power in space. Hmmm… which one should Owen Wilson be? How about Ed Norton and Anjelica Houston? I’ve modeled a bunch of different Bonobos and they look really cool… will share those soon.

Anyway, before we get into the “stills” from the film, here are three other recent AI posts that are quite a bit different that you may enjoy.

32 Nonexistent People At Burning Man
27 Tribes From Remote Villages In Papua New Guinea That No One Has Ever Seen
31 Burning Man art installations at Burning Man that do not exist

BTW, I started up a new AI Instagram @Trairatcliff account so I could keep my main Instagram more with traditional photography. Be one of the first to join! And tell your friends, but only the cool ones… not the energy vampire friends you are trying to get rid of. 🙂


More about this Wes Anderson Project

I notice in responses on Instagram and Facebook that people are really curious about how I make these. I’ll do a tutorial at some point when I’m not imagining Bill Murray as a beaten-down cuck-monkey, but for now I can give you a little bit of background.

I generated about 1,000 different movie stills using many series of prompts (mostly failing ones) to communicate with the AI. Out of those 1,000, I chose my favorites and upscaled about 60 of them. How long did this whole thing take? Just about a day. I mean, I work really fast and I kind of have this stuff figured out, but it still didn’t take that long at all.

There was difficulty in getting EXACTLY the shots and angles I wanted, but many were close enough. For example, I had trouble getting a bunch of good shots of the spaceships traveling in deep space. I finally kind of ran out of steam around midnight. I’m sure if I had more time I could get them right, but perfection is the enemy of progress. Or something like that. Besides, I’m just playing around and experimenting.

It took about 2-3 hours to generate about a thousand frames and create new AI command combinations to get the sorts of shots I wanted.

End of Traditional Concept Artists?

Errr, well, yes, I suppose. Actually, I see a future where existing concept artists “rough out” a scene then use it as a reference JPG for the AI. And then they can use a series of words (see below) to communicate with the AI to get all sorts of different results. This will be one of the biggest “professions” to be dismantled by AI, which is too bad, because I LOVE good concept artists. I follow so many from Star Wars to LOTR – well – you name it. All hardcore geeks LOVE concept artists. But, you know, what are you gonna do? Sure, maybe AI right now can’t do as good of a job as some of the greats, but it’s pretty goddamned creative and it’s only gonna get better.

Sample Prompt

I’m using Midjourney version 4 for these, although I play with all the AI tools. It’s a command-line interface via Discord to communicate with the AI:

“A Wes Anderson Science Fiction stop-motion film inside a spaceship’s medical bay with characters as cute bonobo monkeys + 40mm anamorphic + cinematic shot + symmetry + tonal colors + cross-processing + childish friendly feel + the feel of a dollhouse feel + soothing + playful –ar: 2:1”

Well, grab your popcorn and enjoy the movie!


Walking Home Again

Daily Photo – Walking Home Again

I probably stayed at least four weeks at the amazing Hotel O’lorogio in Venice. It’s a great place and the team there is amazing. Wow, what a fun time! Anyway, there was basically only one way back to the hotel, and it was over a small bridge that gave this view. One evening, I stopped to take my time and capture this scene.

Walking Home Again

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-01-27 19:16:18
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time8
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length70.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

1 AM In Golden Gai

Daily Photo – 1 AM In Golden Gai

I think this is my new favorite area of Tokyo! It’s close to Shinjuku and it’s composed of about 3 small streets (almost alleys), and each one has about 30 bars jammed into it. But most of the bars only seat like 7-9 people. It’s so cool! Some disappear up into dark stairs and the great unknown. Some bars are quite old, and you can go there if you’re a regular, and buy a big bottle of sake and they will just label it and leave it there for you, every time you come back. I’ve only visited two bars here, but I’m about to up those numbers when I go back.

Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

1 AM In Golden Gai

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-07-16 16:50:17
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/10
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias