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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Alan Watts Discovers Zen and Enlightenment at Burning Man – 4 Different AIs in 1 

This technique combines four different AIs into one to create something entirely new. It’s all 100% AI-generated. One AI is for the photo of Alan. One is for the “speech” about finding zen at Burning Man, a place Alan has never been. Another is to emulate his voice, which I trained with dozens of his speeches. This turned out to be rather difficult because Alan has one of the strangest speech patterns since Elon Musk. The last is video animation that maps his voice to the photo to create a video where he blinks, moves his mouth, twists his face here and there, skin movement, etc.

This art project explores that “edge” between what the ersatz and the actual. Right now, as of the exact time of publishing, we’re right on the edge of creating something that is 100% convincing. Actually, many many people will think this is real as it passes their own semi-Turning test, whereas advanced people in the art/video/CG/AI world will be able to detect some of the little “peccadillos” that feel a little uncanny valley. But, soon enough, all of that will fade away and no one will be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is not. Does it matter? This is the same “veil” between what is real and what is not real that I’ve always explored with my photography and other art projects as well.

And Here’s the Creation

Enjoy!

As for the tools (and I will add more info and screenshots and failures here soon), it was Midjourney for the photo of Alan Watts, ChatGPT for the story about finding zen at Burning Man, Eleven for voice emulation, and Studio D-DI for the animation that brings them all into the final video.

Also, perhaps you’d like to see some of my recent AI thematic creations. Enjoy!

How Artificial Intelligence Interprets Bible Verses – 35 Holiest Of Holy Creations Of Artificial Intelligent Design
40 Street Photos From 4,000 Years of Time Travel
32 Nonexistent People At Burning Man
60 Stills from a Wes Anderson Sci-Fi Film That Doesn’t Exist
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. 🙂


The Water Wall

Daily Photo – The Water Wall

Here’s another one of the images from my 1000 Stories from 1000 Places NFT drop. It sold out in minutes, but they are now available to trade on OpenSea and X2Y2, etc so be sure to check them out.

It was my first time in Maui, and all I knew about it I got from Lost. I loved that show. Too bad it ended so badly. But I always loved this talk by JJ Abrams that he gave at the TED conference. He talked about having a “Magic Box” and you never really show people what is inside. I ended up speaking with him at a future Google TED-like conference. He went after me and said amazing things about my photography. God I was so… I don’t know the word. There may be some German word for what I was feeling.

The Water Wall

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2012-03-02 23:11:53
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO500
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Eclectic BBQ With Neal Stephenson

Daily Photo – Eclectic BBQ With Neal Stephenson

My plane arrived in the evening, and I went out immediately to start taking photos of the city. Just as I was getting into a groove, I received a text to come over to Neal Stephenson’s house to help build a unique steampunk BBQ Grill. To this, I cannot say no.

So I arrived and then spent about four hours with Neal, Chris Young (master chef who wrote Modernist Cuisine), Nels Peterson (paleontologist++), and a few other people to build a crazy BBQ setup. Neal has this crazy BBQ every year and they try to do something off-the-wall. For this one, instead of spinning the pig over the fire, it was decided that the fire should spin around the outside of the pig.

Many hours later, the creation was assembled, and we turned it on to watch the giant columns of metal begin to spin around the central base. It felt a little like a wormhole generator that would enable fully-cooked pigs to come into our world.

Then, the next day, when the BBQ officially started… here is a photo of the festivities. You can see Neal there in the middle, looking like his usual inscrutable self.

Eclectic BBQ With Neal Stephenson

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2011-08-06 17:29:48
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/90
  • Aperture4
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

A Wine and Sunset Adventure in Cape Town

Daily Photo – A Wine and Sunset Adventure in Cape Town

After massive immigration problems (and literally getting Stuck In Customs in Botswana), I finally made it to Cape Town. We had a ton of fun there together! On my first full day, my friend Neville had planned an amazing trip through the wine country. I went to probably one of the most awesome wineries in the world there… I’ve forgotten the name now. It was so good I forgot a lot, in fact. But, I didn’t forget to take this sunset photo as we were leaving.

A Wine and Sunset Adventure in Cape Town

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2014-10-09 04:57:54
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length70.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

When the Songs Were Forlorn

Daily Photo – When the Songs Were Forlorn

When you are surrounded by constant strange-light, everything feels like a waking dream. And when I reached this point, my iPod playlist started getting into the forlorn songs. It did nothing to help the reality of the situation if there was one to begin with…

When the Songs Were Forlorn

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2010-06-14 17:56:39
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/8
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length42.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

What the Ancient Seamariners Saw

Daily Photo – What the Ancient Seamariners Saw

Here’s another one of the images from my 1000 Stories from 1000 Places NFT drop. It sold out in minutes, but they are now available to trade on OpenSea and X2Y2, etc so be sure to check them out.

Imagine seeing this if you were one of the great sea explorers of yore!

This is the entrance to Milford Sound from the Tasman Sea. It would have been so amazing to come across this and wonder what it was like up inside the fjord. And then, the captain could just decide to sail up inside and land some boats on the shore. Maybe if they were a little hungry, they could even grab a few Moas and cook ‘em up. After a long sea voyage, nothing goes down smoother than a Moa.

What the Ancient Seamariners Saw

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2010-11-03 04:07:07
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/6000
  • Aperture5.3
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length105.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Lockdown Walk

Daily Photo – Lockdown Walk

Every day during the lockdown in New Zealand, which I think only lasted about four weeks, I would go on an afternoon hike. I found myself drawn to this area again and again… these tiny little perfect pools of water… I actually took these with my mobile phone, although I don’t think most people would guess that in 100 years.

Lockdown Walk

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2020-04-15 12:06:44
  • CameraPixel 4
  • Camera MakeGoogle
  • Exposure Time1/5900
  • Aperture1.7
  • ISO92
  • Focal Length4.4 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

Artist interview with Sam from the PROOF Collective

See the full project at: https://stuckincustoms.com/trey-ratcliffs-1k1k/
Thanks to Sam and Proof for this fun interview!

Machine Elf 52: The Strands of Serenity

A new Machine Elf for you all, in 360 and 8K… A visual journey that will take you places you need to go.

Ponte Dell ’Accademia at Sunrise

Daily Photo – Ponte Dell ’Accademia at Sunrise

Here’s another one of the images from my 1000 Stories from 1000 Places NFT drop. It sold out in minutes, but they are now available to trade on OpenSea and X2Y2, etc so be sure to check them out.

I was in Venice for about a month, out taking photos every morning at sunrise all the way through the sunset. Then there was always lots of heavy Italian food and bridge-wine on the way home with my friends. I’m not quite sure how I survived it or how I got up at every sunrise. I’m a trooper! But I guess we don’t want to miss any sunrises like this, do we?

I also made a video with this same scene in a meditative Alan Watts video that went viral and got over a million views. It’s one of my favorite videos I have ever made and I hope you enjoy it too. I actually made two Alan Watts videos and you can enjoy them if you jump on YouTube and search for “Trey Ratcliff Alan Watts.”

Ponte Dell ’Accademia at Sunrise

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-02-05 07:44:13
  • CameraFC300X
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length3.6 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramUnknown (58655)
  • Exposure Bias