New Zealand – Stuck in Customs

Passport Sunday Time!

Today for Passport Members you’ll get part 1 of 3 that show some cool processing tricks. If you’re not a member now, today is a good time to join up! You’ll get over 200 video tutorials plus a ton of other things.

Today is the first step on the way to showing how I get this sort of look that I got on my recent road trip to the north island.

What are the 7 Reasons why I moved to New Zealand?
And now on with the show…

HDR Processing before the Special Filter

On some of my photos, I use a variety of drastically different techniques. First, I’m going to push it hard in the HDR realm (as shown below), and then in next week’s video, you’ll see how I add a special custom filter that will reduce the contrast and give it a rather unique look!

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Daily Photo – Extreme Processing of a cool building in Dusseldorf

While on a random wander through the modern area of Dusseldorf, I came across this amazing building… I took shots from a few different angles, but this was my favorite. You can unlock the part below if you want to see the processing video!

Extreme Processing of a cool building in Dusseldorf

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-02-08 23:55:38
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture8
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

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Twin Horses

Daily Photo – Twin Horses

I saw this sort of photo the first time in a Nat Geo magazine of some camels crossing the desert at sunset. It was so disorienting at first… and then, when I figured it out, I got quite excited! Anyway, as we were about to land in the hot air balloon, I used the opportunity to grab one of my own… it’s quite rare to see white camels here in New Zealand.

Twin Horses

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2020-03-01 08:40:38
  • CameraILCE-7RM4
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture4
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length105.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Welcome to the Rejects

Passport Sunday

Today, for you awesome passport members you’ll get to see all the “rejects” from a recent art commission I did. At first, I did not think about sharing these, but I thought you may be interested in seeing the ones that didn’t make the cut. They’re not terrible photos or anything… but that final selection process is always a little difficult!

Welcome to the Rejects

I proposed a final 10 with 3 alternates to the clients, and they loved all of them. I just recently sent them all these “rejects” which I now share with you. There are definitely still some winners in here that I’ll be sharing soon on the blog and social media… but I hope you enjoy seeing them in the meantime!

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What are the 7 Reasons why I moved to New Zealand?

Before I get into the panoply of reasons, I can first tell you this is one of my favorite new photos I took a few weeks ago on a road trip through the North Island. Just looking at this photo, I remember the calmness and serenity in the natural Fibonacci rolling of the hills. It’s another one of those meaningful moments that sneaks up on you, and they mostly seem to happen in nature, at least for me. What a trip!

What are the 7 Reasons why I moved to New Zealand?

I saw, after the debate, some of the most popular Google searches were: ‘how to move to Canada’ and ‘how to move to New Zealand’ – yeah I get it! I’m not being political or anything by the way… but here are the reasons I moved here about ten years ago. Note I didn’t include benefits such as medical care (universal, free, etc), a sane legal system (no personal injury litigation, etc), and many more, as those aspects are well-known. These are my 7 personal reasons! 🙂

1) The people! Kiwis are some of the coolest and most laid-back people in the world. They don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, which fits into my chilled-out zen mentality.

2) It’s a safe, international place to raise kids. I am NOT anti-USA or anything… however, I do know the USA is a “bit” of a bubble. I knew that travel made me a more gentle and understanding person as I interacted with different cultures around the world, and I wanted the same for my family. Unfortunately, last year, Tina and the girls moved back to Austin, but Ethan is still here in NZ. We planned a lot more back-and-forths but Covid kinda shut that down, which mega sucks! But, at least the whole family are full NZ citizens so they can come back any time.

3)The scenery! Since I am mostly a landscape photographer, there is a lifetime of photos here. I think most people would think this would be my #1 reason, but you can see it is #3! I do look forward to traveling again, but I don’t have to. There’s always more to see and discover in the world, but there is a world of discovery in the beautiful natural environs here. It was initially Iceland that began to connect me with natural environments. I went there for four summers in a row when I was just getting started with photography when I turned 35. I’ll never forget the first time I was walking in nature alone for hours and I finally felt at ease. It’s a nice realization when you discover you’re not separate from the Earth but part of it. Like one of my favorite philosophers says, “A tree ‘apples’ and the Earth ‘peoples’” – genius… if you wanna know more, you can see some of my Alan Watts videos – just jump on YouTube and search for Alan Watts Trey Ratcliff.

4) All natural… well mostly! It’s not perfect, but the environment is very clean and it’s easy to eat all-natural food that is locally made. I remember one of the first pieces of fruit from a tree in a friend’s yard after I arrived… I was like, wow, THIS is what food is supposed to taste like! Yeah, people take pretty good care of the Earth here; there’s always room for improvement but we have a lot of smart, committed people converting it to a fully sustainable place of even more abundance. Burning Man and stuff has definitely made me more of a hippie in this way to live as part of the Earth… but I actually think that is becoming the “normal” way to be. A fun and approachable doco show to watch is The Biggest Little Farm on Netflix.

5) Business. New Zealand provides a great environment for running a business with plenty of clever people. I moved my fine art company ( www.treyratcliff.com – Plug #1) here almost immediately and recently started the Machine Elf company ( the-machine-elf.com/ – Plug #2) with my friend Sam here in the Queenstown/Arrowtown area. There is a great thirst for tech and creative startups and an excellent network of people that want to build cool shit here in NZ. Also, since lots of Silicon Valley people are retreating back here, the brain drain has been reversed and people that want to contribute are flocking back to NZ to build better business and better lives for everyone.

6) Outdoor activities. Most everyone here is super-outdoorsy and this has a really good cultural knock-on effect to keep people healthy. I see all these people out there hiking and skiing and biking and it makes me feel super lazy so I get out there and join in! Every day, I try to hike at least 2 hours and listen to podcasts or audiobooks. It’s really calming and good for your whole mind/body/spirit connection to spend time in nature… we’re not meant to live in boxes and look at screens all day. I am a very zen, chilled out dude anyway, but even when I feel low levels of anxiety creeping in, as it does to everyone, then a simple walk in nature cures all those indoor screen-induced ails. Do you use any good meditation apps? I have tried a ton and my favorite so far is the Sam Harris Waking Up app. He has a great introductory course that anyone can do that only takes 10 minutes a day. Sam also has one of my favorite podcasts… if you listen to his podcasts, you’ll level up as my friend! 🙂

7) WORLD PANDEMIC OR WAR. This was honestly one of my reasons for moving here a decade ago. I’m definitely not saying I’m Nostradamus or anything… and I’m not a conspiracy theorist… but, you know… JUST IN CASE, I thought. I told that to a few people before I came and they thought I was curazy. Well, I am definitely on the curazy scale, mostly in the good way I hope, but in this case I turned out to be right. As of the time of writing this, there are no active cases of COVID-19 here except for a few incoming international passengers who just arrived and are all forced quarantine in gov’t approved facilities. That means all 5 million of us can go do whatever! Restaurants, movies, raves (excited about the upcoming Kiwiburn… in fact I may just go do a rave every month on a road trip and take my camera – why not?), beaches, kids playing at school like normal kids should, shopping, flights, etc… it’s all back to 100% normal after the initial lockdown (thanks Jacinda!)! I was thinking before I moved here, just in case of a pandemic or war, it’s an island nation (no shared borders) that is completely self-sustaining. It’s all hydro power because we get bucketloads of rain. We can grow our own food in a soil-replenishing ecosystem. It’s doubtful anyone is gonna nuke New Zealand because everyone seems to like the Kiwis, except for the Aussies, but I don’t think they have nukes. Seven Gods, I hope not.

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Passport Sunday Over the Top Helicopter Video!

Today, if you’re a Passport member, then you’ll get to see some clips from the amazing 8K footage we captured for Over The Top Helicopters here in Queenstown, New Zealand for my friend Choppy! What kind of equipment did we use? We took up two helicopters, one of them had the first 8K flight setup anywhere in the world – specifically, the Shotover P1 MK ll dedicated 8K gimbal with a Red Monstro camera and Angenieux 36/435 zoom lens.

And here are a few of my favorite photos I captured on those amazing few days of shooting!

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

For those of you who missed it, here is the previous video on the project. A 360 vlog on location…including inside the helicopters. 🙂

Over the Top 5 min Trade Show Cut

Here are some of the best video shorts we got from helicopter to helicopter! They are going to be using these in HD at trade shows and stuff to run in the background and other edits will be used for different purposes. Thanks again to the whole team for helping out!

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The Blue Fog

Daily Photo – The Blue Fog

I don’t post a lot of photos like this, but I thought it was nice and moody. Sometimes when the cloud cover is rolling in the mountains of the South Island can look extra-epic.

The Blue Fog

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-05-08 14:10:00
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture4
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Driving to Milford Sound

Netflix Recco

If you haven’t seen “My Octopus Teacher” – then make sure you get it on your list… here’s a trailer for it.

Daily Photo – Driving to Milford Sound

As you exit the tunnel on the way to Milford Sound and Mitre Peak, this is the scene with which you are presented. I pulled over to the side and launched the quad to see the hypnotic scene from above.

Driving to Milford Sound

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-07-03 17:30:57
  • CameraFC330
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/5
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO840
  • Focal Length
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramUnknown (58655)
  • Exposure Bias

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The 13 selects

Passport Sunday!

If you are a Passport Member then today you’ll see some of my favorite shots from the past few weeks on the north island of New Zealand. You’ll see my 13 selects… and in a future week, I’ll show you my 71 rejects, some of which are actually pretty good.

The 13 selects

I went back and forth with Stu and the team about the best photos. It’s funny how everyone has a slightly different opinion… in the end, I chose these 13. I hope you like them too!

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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
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Updated the house website!

Thanks Stu for adding this page all about my home you can rent in New Zealand. We have one of them on Adobe Spark, but I thought it was a good idea to put here too!

Best of…Milford Sound!

In continuing the Best Of category… let’s go way down south the the fjordlands of New Zealand!

Reflections at Milford Sound

Morning Light Hits Milford

Two Dolphins in Love in Milford Sound While we took the boat out of Milford towards the Tasman Sea, a pod of bottle-nose dolphins came to visit. They turned and jumped and spiraled in a double helix, twisting endlessly like a playful cyclone.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Navigating Across the Rivers of New Zealand in the Morning Mists I woke up in the morning before everyone else to go on an extended scouting mission. I arrived around this river just as the morning mists were lifting enough to give me a view into the distance.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Bowen Falls in Milford Sound This is one of many sights we’ll be seeing together if you come down here to New Zealand. This place is quite the turkey shoot! There’s beautiful bits all around.The best way to get to this particular spot is to get off the walking path and work your way across the rocks. I prefer the view where you are looking across the water… The conditions change quite violently depending on the light and the amount of rain. Sometimes, after a fresh rain, that waterfall is absolutely insane! In this photo, it’s still pretty crazy, but only of average sanity.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Poems in the Moonlight in Milford Sound

Underearth

The Pink Milk Filled The Bay

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