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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The Egg

Here’s one of my favorite short stories in YouTube form! My friend Tim Chang sent this to me… and it’s one of my favorite stories about the fabric of reality that might actually be true!

Best Of…

Queenstown, New Zealand today! Enjoy!

The View From Above Here is a good example of a daily image. I went to the top of the gondola with Tom Anderson to look down on Queenstown, New Zealand from above.I want to sleep up here one night to get the sunrise… if anyone can hook me up with that, drop me a note! :) I’ll bring the hot chocolate!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Jack’s Point in Queenstown I went out with Eden Brackstone the other night to take some photos. After he decided to wade callously into this crystal clear water and ruin the placid reflection, I had about five minutes to contemplate life while the ripples settled down. And then I took this one!Man, I do love this Sony NEX-7. And no, Sony didn’t pay me to say that or give me my camera…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Tolkienesque Bridge I normally don't put two photos from the same city (or even country!) back-to-back in consecutive days, but I decided to award Queenstown this honor.  It is very high on my list of cities to move to!  I just need to check on a few things like broadband availability and a good spot to plop the family down, and I'll be in business!This is from the main park in Queenstown.  It was as quaint as could be.  The evening light made everything a little bit extra-colorful, and some clever little hobbit-engineer, found it fitting to put this nice little stone bridge across the pond.  It is all quite nice, no?- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Pond and the Sunset Stormclouds I had a wonderful evening with Eden Brackstone, even though he uses a Canon.  I can overlook these trifle matters, but I do not forget them lightly.We were in Gibbston, New Zealand, about 20 minutes from Queenstown.  After a wonderful dinner with his delightful family, I popped out onto his farm to shoot some HDR.  He started recording video on his aforementioned Canon-thing, and put together the little dealio at the link below.  Enjoy!Here is the final photo that was taken just before I we started recording the video.- Trey RatcliffSee the video here at Trey Ratcliff's travel photography blog, Stuck in Customs.

Moonlight Clouds – Queenstown at 7:30 AMThe winter in these southern places make the sunrise rather late! I took this about 7:30 AM in the morning while the moon was still out over the sparkling Queenstown. I set up the tripod on my balcony, and this is our amazing view! I’m renting a Bach here called “The Nest” – and it has incredible views all day long… and all night long too, as you can see! :)- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the entire post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Machine Elf 36 – Open Heart

Here’s the latest! Machine Elf 36 – Open Heart. I remember laying out in the white sands of the desert at Burning Man on my back in the middle of the afternoon, looking at the sun and blue sky. I was thinking about 1,000 different things and not thinking of them at the same time. Yes, I might have been on acid, but that’s beside the point. Well, not really, because, soon enough, I heard this song “Burning Sun” by Monolink playing about half a mile away from an art car… the sounds vibrated out the desert where I was hearing them… I remember what I saw and I’ve tried to recreate it here.

For more Machine Elf creations and to find out how to watch them in 360 VR, check out the website!

Best of: Austin!

And next up is the Best of Austin shots! Well, I’m not sure these are the absolute best, but there are few winners in here I haven’t thought about in a while.

trey-ratcliff-austin-photowalk (117 of 624)

The Wolfman Violinith Here’s my favorite photo from the Austin Photowalk … one of the many street performers howls into the streetlight moon… - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

A Sunset on a Texas Farm This photo was shot about two hours outside of Austin in a little town called Brady.  You'd like it.  They have a Sonic there.  This was a 5-exposure HDR shot at f/16.  This kept everything in focus and kept the shutter open long enough to let the clouds drag across the sensor.  In these conditions, you don’t have a lot of time to fool around because the sun is bookin’ it towards the horizon.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The State Capitol of Texas at Dusk I went down on Saturday evening to do some shooting around Austin and caught the capitol around sunset.  There are all kinds of interesting things about the Texas capitol, like this cool underground Illuminati chamber you can see here, but the one thing that all Texans seem to know is that our capitol is 14 feet taller than the one in D.C.  This is a source of pride for Texans, along with the cool and trivial fact that we maintain, in our state constitution, the right to secede from the Union.The capitol is made out of this pink granite, and it gets a little pinker at night at soon as they turn on the lights, especially against the blue sky.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Pennybacker Bridge This place is right by my house…. I really have no excuse for not going up here almost every night! It takes less than 10 minutes to drive and hike up here… sometimes I actually feel bad about my laziness in this area.It’s usually not too crowded up here. Maybe a couple or two will sit and watch the sunset. It’s a bit dangerous – a sharp cliff that drops off into the freeway on one side and the water on the other.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Great Alan Watts Video

I’ve seen this illustrator make a few videos like this… It’s very well done!

Best of: Toronoto

Continuing with the trend… here’s the Best of Toronto!

A Castle in Toronto! Casa Loma

Chair Hopping in Toronto

Sunset in Toronto

While walking around the top of the tower, I was taking photos with both cameras – the Sony NEX-7 and the Google Glass. Of course, I ended up getting better photos with the Sony, and here is one of them below.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Great Night in Toronto After a super-long day, I decided to make it super-longer by joining all the TBEX crew over at a party on Centre Island. I’m not a total expert of the-best-places-to-shoot-Toronto, but this area seems good enough!This was a three-photo HDR taken with the Sony NEX-7. I’m still working on that larger story where I compare the NEX-7 to the Nikon D800… that is coming soon…It was quite a rainy night, so between squalls I ran out there to take a bunch of photos. Since my tripod was lost, I had to borrow a tripod from good man Edgar Van Der Meer. Thanks again Edgar! - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Rulebreaker Interview

Here’s a very fun interview I recently finished… I just skimmed it and I had some pretty good quotes! 🙂

Daily Photo Dump

For today… how about some of the best of… Malaysia!

The Sky Bar in Kuala Lumpur with a View of Petronas This bar is up on top of the roof and it is all open air. There is a pool down there that is always available for use, and it is surrounded by a ultra-chic bar. It was raining when I took this… I am up on the 2nd level of the bar, where there is a spa… you can see the little massage rooms down the lefthand side there.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Copyright Trey Ratcliff

Across the Line I found this guy in the Batu Caves just outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Batu Caves are enormous caverns that hold various Hindu temples and plenty of fruit for monkeys. This was shot after a quarter-mile spelunk through the cave and an emergence into a geological oddity – a shaft of sunlight shining downwards through an open chamber that had been carved through the limestone after centuries of rainfall.The day was bright and sunny, and the monkey sat alone in front of the inky blackness of the cave entrance. This was shot as a single RAW photo. It only had minor HDR adjustments, to get the texture in the wall and the details in his fur.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Hindu Ascent This is a 94-year-old woman ascending the final stairs in the 272-step ascent in the Batu Caves, a pilgrimage site in Malaysia for over 800,000 Hindus per year.Her hair is 3 meters long (about 9 feet). She has never cut it her entire life. It is so long, she has to fold it back and forth a few times and wrap it to keep it from dragging behind.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

KLIA Airport

Welcome to Passport Sunday!

Today if you’re a Passport Member you’ll get to see a new behind-the-scenes video from one of my latest creations – enjoy!

Machine Elf 36 – Open Heart creation

Well, the whole creation is not finished yet, but you can at least see some of the important steps along the way! Oh, by the way, here is a link to the new Zach Bush video.

Exclusive content for Passport members

Unlock Now

Best of Hong Kong!

Going through my favorite photos of each location has been great fun! Here are some favorites from Hong Kong. Well, the first one is not really from Hong Kong… it’s from the Chicago airport during my first journey there.

The Underground Peoplemover to the International Terminal I found this on the way to Hong Kong… so I stopped for a quick shot while security eyed me with suspicion… But they have those cool TSA badges that makes them look all official and everything, but I just ignored them.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Hong Kong in the Fog

The Pullman in Hong Kong

Asian Blade Runner

Banking at HSBC in Hong Kong

Best Of: San Francisco

Continuing with the best-of situation, here are some of my favorite photos of San Francisco!

Exploring San Francisco from Above From on top of Twin Peaks in San Francisco, a good zoom lens when the fog rolls in can get a little crazy! The fog glows orange-red with all the lights and it feels a bit… apocalyptic. I took about 20 shots of this, and the fog would creep around this way and that. They all looked interesting, but in the end, I liked this one the best.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

A Dishonest Image of San Francisco And with this image, I am once again launching full-out-assault on the hallowed traditions of photography. You know what I did with this image? I post-processed it! Oh yes, I really did. And I had so much fun doing it… at least as much fun as Dexter in his kill room.I guess if I was to be really “honest” and take a photo of San Francisco and keep with the tradition of the greats of photography, it would have to be black and white photo, right? I mean, the world really is black and white, isn’t it? Oh wait, no… it’s in color. Wait, now I’m confused.Oh no, look what I’ve done now. I’ve gone and upset people that think one form of artistic expression is superior to another form of artistic expression. How could I be so callous and open with my thoughts and techniques?- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

A Great Day at the Google HQ! Wow that was a cool experience.  Those guys and gals over there are super-nice.  You never know...  I guess maybe Google seems somewhat intimidating from the outside, but after I met guys like Cliff, Brian, and Chip -- I felt right at home.I gave an hour-long talk in one of their theaters there.  It was super-packed and people were standing all around because seats were gone.  We were graced with the presence of one Sara Jane Todd from @Peachpit to help out selling books - and we sold out!  Also, my Brazilian friend Fabio, the editor of Abduzeedo was there too, so it was great to see him.The Authors@Google (video link) program has a neat deal where they subsidize books, so Googlers don't have to pay full price.  I saw all kinds of cool stuff and took a lot of pics.  I have to get most cleared with Google Corp Comms before I can release... but I nabbed shots of a spaceship, a new pseudo-holodeck, and more mysteries await!  We even got to eat lunch there in the Google cafeteria, which had some of the most excellent food I've ever had in such a setting... they even have a small organic farm on the campus... well, I could go on and on...  but I was very impressed and happy to meet so many enthusiastic people!The video should be done in the next 2-3 weeks or so.  We've got good-man Brian at Google slaving away on editing the whole thing together!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Beautiful San Francisco I just got back from a crazy three days in San Francisco. The trip included everything from visits to Google, YouTube, Facebook, breakfast with Scoble, Smugmug, Microsoft at a Calacanis event (where the upcoming app WON Audience Choice!), then finally a PhotoWalk in SF with Thomas Hawk. It was completely exhausting, but very fun. After the Facebook talk, I headed to downtown San Francisco with Tom Anderson to get this photo. It was a great night!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Inner Sanctum Here is a cool and relatively unknown place in San Francisco.  Can anyone figure out where this mysterious location is?I went in here with my dad while we were looking for cool photo-ops.  We weren't so sure we were allowed in this place, but we just busted in quickly for a shot before anybody said anything.- Trey Ratcliff Read more here at

...and the SF Giants!I was down on the field with the SF Giants before a recent game. I got down there because Tom Anderson sent out a tweet, and the marketing manager for the SF Giants responded and got us in! So, we were able to go anywhere and do anything before and during the game. It was great! I made full use of it.I had my giant D800 Camera out there (see the Nikon D800 Review for more baseball photos from that evening).After I left the field, I went to the very very very top part of the nosebleeds to take this shot...- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this entry at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Best of: Australia

And now let’s go across the Tasman Sea to Australia!

Downtown Sydney from the Rocks The Rocks is the oldest part of Sydney, and it’s down by the harbour. I have to make sure I get the “u” in there to appease local sensitivities. Anyway, it’s a cool area full of a lot of old-world charm. Now there are a lot of restaurants, bars, and little hotels that are sprinkled around the area.I took this one from the top of a 3-story salsa bar. I didn’t even really go into the bar, except for the way to find the top of it! I looked quite strange walking around the salsa dancefloor to get to the other side, dancing with my tripod!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Jane Fondle, the Light Dancer in Melbourne After hour THREE of the mega-photowalk, we came across this gal. She said her name was “Jane Fondle,” which I thought was kind of strange. And I thought it was even more strange when she gave me a brochure and it said that she does live performances in front of children so they stay in shape. Jane Fondle! hehe…Anyway, this was a tough shot… as you can probably tell… getting HDR with movement is especially tricky — and double-tricky when playing with light trails!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Awesome Ship in Sydney Harbor Tom and I walked down to the Rocks one night, which is one of the oldest parts of the Sydney Harbor. I was wondering, actually, if I should spell it “harbour” now that I live down thisaway. I do like the British spellings of things… they seem so much more… well, British and sophisticated. I guess I’ll just stick with “harbor” – I don’t want people thinking I’ve turned native so quickly.Anyway, the ship was moving a lot in the sea, so I had my ISO up pretty high to compensate. Usually, what I’ll do in this situation is take a normal set of brackets at a low ISO to get a nice HDR shot, and then I’ll take another at high ISO to freeze the movement… and then I do my best to Frankenstein it all together.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Sydney Opera House I’ve waited a very long time to see this famous building in Sydney! I’ve been meaning to come to Australia for a very long time, but this whole plan was delayed because of my move to New Zealand. Since I knew that I would be moving to NZ, I figured Australia would be a much more convenient trip. And now that I am here, it is! In fact, it’s just a 3 hour direct flight from Queenstown. But, since it took me longer than expected to get to NZ, then it took me much longer than expected to get to Australia! But now, I can make up for lost time, and spend more time across the Tasman… - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Rubber Duck by Florentijn Hofman I think it is a wonderful surreal work of art! Then again, I’m a huge fan of David Lynch and Twin Peaks. Anything surreal in my parallel universe gets a big thumbs up…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.Artist: Florentijn Hofman

Today we have… Best of San Juan!

And here are a few of my favorites from Puerto Rico!

The Blue Cobblestone Streets Of Old San Juan
The Fortress From Above
The Streets Of Old San Juan At Night
Ye Olde Pirate Shippe

Best of… Argentina!

Here are a few of my favorite photos of Argentina in continuing the “Can’t-wait-to-get-out-there-and-travel-again” series! 🙂

I've Made it to the Edge of the World This was shot in the final hours of daylight, near the southern tip of Argentina and the edge of Chile, just a glacier's throw from Antarctica.In the morning, we woke up at 4:30 AM in -7 degree cold. I hardly slept 30 minutes the whole night. I was in a tiny 2-man tent with Yuri. The noxious fumes of our tiny prison reminded me, if you will, of the inside of a tauntaun that had spent its life consuming cognac and cigarettes. Furthermore, his snore had the sonorous bass and carrying power of a humpback whale with none of the beauty.I started on one edge of these rugged peaks and moved around to this side, to get the view from the glacial lake. The spiked mountains there are Cerro Torre, and I was very lucky to see them without cloud cover. I understand they are covered up 90% of the time, so to have crystal clear air was fortunate. The glacier there, which presents on the right but really goes back behind many more mountains, is called "glacier grande".I did a lot of other things this day too, including a 45-minute 1500-foot ascent up an icy trail that was not really a trail at all. Dima and Vulva (Vulva is one of the other Russian gentleman who joined us on the trip -- it's hard to pronounce with a strange V-W sound, but he seemed to respond when I called him "Vulva") went up the mountain with me in the pitch black, using only headlamps. I'll have more on that story later because it was pretty sketchy. But, alas, we were able to see Fitz Roy as the sun turned the tips pink. After that, we began the long additional 10km hike that brought us to this location. I stayed here watching icebergs float by until the last morsels of dusk remained.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.
The River Runs Through the Andes Getting to this position was not as long a hike as the others around Patagonia, but it was no cakewalk! It was one of those strange river-rock strewn areas where the rocks seemed to be the perfect size for spraining your ankles. I had the tripod extended to act like a walking stick, although it's not the most handy walking stick with a giant Nikon on one end of it!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.
Adventuring Deeper into Patagonia After a four-hour plane ride deeper into the Andes, we started to get further into the wilds of Patagonia. Perhaps I should explain that I was on this trip with a very good Russian friend named Dima, who is also a photographer. He brought four other Russians with him. Despite our friendship, he had given me a non-English-speaking roommate named Yuri that never ceased to amaze.  Within five minutes of dropping him off in my room, Yuri was in his underwear and I noticed his approximate size to be that of a smallish beluga whale.  This ended up propagating many other problems  For example, on the flight to El Calafate, our small plane had a bit of a hard landing because I was not sure the pilot was fully informed of Yuri's weight.After setting up camp in El Calafate, we went out to the edge of Lago Argentino tonight to shoot the sunset to shoot the Perito Moreno glacier. Every few minutes, you could hear giant shards of ice cleave off and drop into the lake below.See all of the dark bits of ice floating in the water?  Those are actually the clear bottoms that were once underwater, but recently flipped over.  In the midst of all this, and from out of nowhere, Yuri produced a giant bottle of cognac, which seemed to keep the Russians happy in the freezing cold. When I posted this photo on the blog and across the various social networks, many of my Facebook and Twitter friends requested a photo of Yuri. That night, while he slumbered, I endeavored to take a panorama of him. I considered the glacier as practice, since it was also big, white, and cracked.This was shot with the Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 lens.  The second of the five exposures (the -1 EV shot) was at f/8.0 with a shutter speed of 0.033 secs and a 250 ISO.  As for the coal length, I think I had it cranked all the way to 14mm to take this shot.  I'm always flummoxed as to whether or not I should take a panorama of these places, which essentially means I'd have to map out an invisible grid and then take a photo in each cell for later stitching using post-processing software.  For this photo, I did use a Nikon D3X, which already has a 24 megapixel sensor, making the final product a fairly detailed 6000 pixels across or so.  There is some invisible point when enough is enough, and I never quite know what it is.  One limiting factor is time-of-processing.  Panos take a long time to both shoot and post-process, so that comes into the decision making tree fairly early on.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.
The Robot Flower Followed the White Sun
The Secret Crystal LakeThis remote lake was so icy cold.  You would think it's about 33 degrees or something, right?  It felt like absolute zero.  I dropped a little piece of my tripod in here and my hand almost froze off trying to retrieve it.In the distance you can see where the glacier comes into contact with the glassy lake; it gives a sense of the epic scale here.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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