Camera Gear – Stuck in Customs

Passport Member Update for Sunday!

Today, if you’re a Passport Member, I have a cool new video that shows some of my favorites that I’ve selected so far while working on a new photo project. Actually, I’ll show you some that I really like and others that I don’t like and explain why… a little self-critique time. In fact, one of them I think I hate!

Te Arai Selections so far

I’ve been taking photos at this epic golf course called Te Arai to make some prints for some members. I’m about halfway through the process but thought you would like to see the selects so far… I may make another video after I finish the next round of photos and show you where the project is at!

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Daily Photo – Te Arai as the sun sets

Here’s a new photo from my road trip around the North Island of New Zealand. This is one of the coolest golf courses in the world called Tara Iti. It runs right along the beach and when the sun gets low, you get some pretty incredible shadows along the fairways. I like shooting on golf courses, but I don’t always like making it obvious it’s a golf course. I like the idea that it’s a beautiful place that’s just convenient for playing golf if you want to.

Te Arai as the sun sets

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2020-08-05 00:00:50
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/640
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length86.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Best of… Shanghai!

Continuing our “Covid-fun” to get people excited to travel again… well, even though China may NOT be the first on your list, here are some favorites from Shanghai!

The Wormhole Shanghai has this incredible tunnel that goes under the river to the Bund.  It's just wild inside!  They have a series of robotic trains that shuttle people back and forth.  Robotic doors whir open then shut again.  The front of the capsule has a bubble-window that allows for a stunning view as you dip below the river and back up again.  Colored lights in every lighting configuration fly by in beautiful colors.  This is an amazing experience that I recommend if you ever get to Shanghai!  - Trey Ratcliff Read the rest here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Asian Blade Runner

Shanghai, China

Shanghai,, China

A Rainy Evening In Shanghai


Best of… Hawaii!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to Hawaii, so I thought it would be fun to do a little tour down memory lane of my favorite photos I took while there!

The Exploding Wave Oahu had a peaceful coast where the waves would silently roll up on the beach and other, violent areas where the water would smash against cliffs and rocks. I’ll let you guess which of those is happening here! - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Lost Cliffs of Oahu This is a very very very rare re-processing of a photo! I usually never go back to a work.. so, this is more the exception than the rule.But I started trying a few different things with Photomatix (that you can see in the Photomatix presets at the site), and I just like the overall feel of the photo better than the previous version. I don’t see myself going back to re-do whole swaths of photos… this one just grabbed me for some reason.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Temple in the Jungle Highlands - Byodo-In I would never have guessed that something as ornate and unique as this would be buried up in the deep jungled highlands of Oahu!It is a popular destination, and I guess people in Oahu know about it, but I had never heard of such a place.  This is the Byodo-In Temple, and I happened to arrive right when the sun came out.  This is a nice time because the morning fog and storms had left many layers of clouds and mist in the background, which gave everything a very unusual feel…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Fishing on Oahu The rugged coasts along Oahu make for some lay-up (as Tom calls them) photos. Everything is quite rugged and dramatic. But, even if it was not for the drama of the scene, I think this fisherman is extra-dramatic! I didn’t see anything actually caught, but I would think it would be some giant dramatic fish.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Paddleboard in HawaiiThe weather in Hawaii was rather dour and dismal for most of my trip. I only caught one sunset while there, so I decided to try to make the most of it.This lone paddleboarder was skating across the surface of the ocean while I was walking along the beach. Although this photo looks fairly serene and calm, I was not. You only get one chance for this shot, unless you are willing to take a shot, sprint, take a shot, sprint, take a shot, SPRINT, etc. I'm sure people on the beach thought I was a loon, but I couldn't think of any other way to get it done!- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.


Best of… Texas!

I was just listening to a new Joe Rogan podcast and it was cool to hear how he’s moving to Texas. I think he’s just sick of paying taxes to a state that doesn’t take care of itself very well… or maybe I’m just reading between the lines. Probably not, seeing how he just got a $100 mil deal from Spotify. I wish I could talk him into moving to New Zealand! Anyway, here are some of my favorite images of my home state.

Her Evening Elegance A Texas sunset settled on the farm as we patiently waited for the sky to repaint itself every few minutes.It was a very relaxing hour, watching the sun slowly descend through the clouds, interrupted on occasion by a stressful swapping of lenses. I hate to get dust in the chamber, so the changing of lenses is always a high-anxiety event! But the anxiety faded away pretty quick as we started watching the sunset again.My friend Leslie had invited me out to her parent's farm near Brady. She's an actress, a model, a photographer, and a bunch of other creative things... so I had told her I would spend equal amounts of time shooting the farm, her animals, and her. It's the old 33/33/33 rule of farm-shooting. Anyway, I am sure some of you would rather see photos of her... and still others of her animals... but I can't make everyone happy at once, so you'll just have to wait a few weeks for me to sprinkle those in! Until then, I hope you enjoy the sunset.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Fourth on Lake Austin

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 Dance RecitalI feel like I go to about 20 dance recitals a year!  If you have a daughter in dance, then you know what I mean.This was a cold one, and I mean supa-cold.  It was about 20 degrees outside, and then recital was, for some reason, outside.  I was going to go sit down and cover up, but the blanket was only big enough for the rest of the family.  So I decided to keep moving and take a lot of photos.  I went back behind the crowd to get this one just before the show began...- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post, including my thoughts about dance recital photography policies, at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Dallas, Texas


Along the Lagoon

Passport Sunday How-To Video

We must be up to about 200 great how-to and behind-the-scenes videos now for Passport Members. It’s another Sunday, and here’s one I recorded just recently for you.

Working on the Lagoon Photo

I took about 300-400 photos of this lagoon at various times of the morning, day, evening, and night. It was always quite beautiful. Because so many photos came out strong, it gave me the chance to process them in a variety of ways. I think you’ll like the final treatment I gave this one…

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Daily Photo – Along the Lagoon

I was recently working on an art piece and I ended up with over 100 photos that I really liked… I spent a long time working on this one, even though it ultimately ended up in my “rejects” pile. That’s okay… even though it fell into that pile, I still like it quite a bit. You can see some of the “Making Of” in today’s video.

Along the Lagoon

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2020-07-24 16:59:26
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length26.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias


Best of… Japan!

Maybe at the end of this, if I’m still in Lockdown, I’ll do an ALL JAPAN week! But we’ll get started with these five…

How fun is this little display? This was a piece of art in the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. After you look at it for a while, maybe you can figure out how it is done. These are all real people in these shots. It was great fun to park here for a little while and see fun stuff like this happening… chaos!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Getting Candy in Tokyo

The Infinity of Tokyo

Finding Dinner in the Alleys of Kyoto After exploring an area (and era!) of ancient temples in Kyoto, I was absolutely starving.  I tend to get in a "shooting mode" where I do not undertake basic human necessities like eating, sleeping, and making regular bathroom breaks.  In fact, Nikon makes this great set of diapers you should try.  They're Japanese so there are little buttons that dispose of everything and leave you fresh as a daisy.  Anyway, after shooting, I headed down into the old part of Kyoto to find a traditional Japanese dinner.  I sat there for a long time, enjoying myself thoroughly.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

In the Rain in Tokyo Most of my walks around the city streets had me carrying two cameras.  I keep the D3X on my tripod, and have that ready to go for serious HDR work.  But over my right shoulder, I carry the D3S with a fast lens.  In this case, I was using the 50mm prime (see my Nikon 50mm Review) to capture quick scenes in the streets.I carry two cameras because it takes much too long to change lenses.  Also, it's a real pain to do that sort of thing in the rain. There are often questions about how I go about taking photos of strangers.  I have a post coming up in the future with five great tips for this sort of thing... I'll try to get everything into one spot for you, since I know we all want to be able to better capture interesting people here and there as they pass through our worlds.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.


Best of…Turkey Today!

Interesting Insect Behavior

Check out how these termites and ants are using the same pathways by using a row of guards to peacefully mark their territory.

Truce between termites(top) and ants(bottom) with each side having their own line of guards. from nextfuckinglevel

Best of…Turkey Today!

Each day for the next 20 days, I’ll be sharing my best photos from different countries. Turkey is a bit of a strange one, since I’ve only been to Istanbul so far, but I look forward to seeing more of the country!

Istanbul Wedding Crasher

Exploring Istanbul

The Roman Cistern In Istanbul

Grabbing A Snack In Istanbul

A Remastering Of The Hagia Sofia


Best of: Italy!

I feel lucky to have had a few trips there… it’s a big country and I look forward to going back when all the Covid stuff is over! 🙂

Vertical Venice
The Best Venice Shooting Time
Leaving Saint Mark’s Square in Venice
Japanese Pavilion 2015 – Key in Hand
Ouissal in Venice

Best Of Series! Starting with Best of Morocco!

Over the next 20 days of Covid Lockdown, I thought I would share some highlights so that we can all dream of traveling again! Let’s get started with some favorites from Morocco!

Crossing the Sahara
Berber Man In Morocco
Marrakech, Morocco at Sunset
Amazing Castle On The Edge Of The Desert Gorge In Morocco
An Amazing City Of Blue

Machine Elf 34 and a Fun Day at Pinterest

Machine Elf 34

Sam and I are excited to release our newest creation: Machine Elf 34: Master Owl.

The owl knows everything and is often the one who allows you to see it. Graced by the owls presence, Machine Elf 34 takes us on an unpredictable adventure that delves inside the alien mind to see what hides within. This is our most mathematically complex fractal so far and is a combination of the Xenodreambuie in a hybrid with Atan2Power 2. As with all the others, watch in full screen with the volume up and allow yourself to fall away into the world.

These are also available in 360 for a cool VR app called TRIPP. If you have an Oculus Quest, Go or Rift, you can download TRIPP which features guiding experiences to make you happier, calmer and more focused. Grab that here:

For more Machine Elf creations, including physical installations, check out the website:

Made in the Mountains of Queenstown, New Zealand.

Fun Day at Pinterest

Here’s a fun trip down memory lane when I spent an entire day at the Pinterest HQ in San Francisco. This is just when they are getting started so everyone looks a bit younger! 🙂

Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest, is just as nice of a guy as that smile would indicate...

One of the Pinterest employees works away, after seemingly emerging from a shampoo commercial.

This is what you see upon entrance to the Pinterest offices in the trendy SOMA area of San Francisco.

Ben Silberman is not only the CEO of Pinterest, but he's also a serious photographer.  Before we got down to the meat of our meeting, we spent about half an hour geeking out about photography equipment!

Chinese globes decorate the skyspace in the upper atmosphere of Pinterest...


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