Queenstown – Stuck in Customs

Shooting video with 8K cameras attached to helicopters in New Zealand!

Part 1 Behind the Scenes of our Helicopter ride!

I recorded some fun 360 behind-the-scenes videos while on a helicopter adventure with my friend Sofia Jin. We went up with Choppy and Over The Top Helicopters to make some new videos and get a ton of photos. We actually took up two helicopters because one of them had the first 8K setup – specifically, the Shotover P1 MK ll dedicated 8K gimbal with a Red Monstro camera and Angenieux 36/435 zoom lens. We used it for helicopter-to-helicopter shooting. Anyway, this Part 1 video is free… and today is “Passport Sunday,” which is the day where I always release a new video to Passport Members on the blog. So yeah, if you’ve joined up, then you can see Part 2 today also. I’ll put the link in the comments.

Click here to join Passport and get access to the 2nd part and 200 other behind the scenes and tip videos as well as all of my tutorials and more!

More 360 fun from the Southern Alps!

And here is Part 2 of the video where you can see more about all the specifics of the setup! 🙂 We’re still working on the final 8k video shot from the Shotover P1 MK ll dedicated 8K gimbal with a Red Monstro camera and Angenieux 36/435 zoom lens, and will share it first to Passport Members as soon as we have it!

If your connection can handle it, bump the resolution up to 4K using the cog icon and remember you can drag the video around to look in different directions. 🙂

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Lake Wakatipu

Daily Photo – Lake Wakatipu

Here’s a new photo from the lake that I live near – Lake Wakatipu. This is a 9-photo panorama, stitched together in Lightroom. It was shot with a drone, and the final image is even higher rez than my best Sony camera. This exact spot is about halfway between Glenorchy and Queenstown. Pretty soon, we’re gonna get some snow… so I’ll head back out here with all the mountains are icy white.

Lake Wakatipu

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-04-24 12:57:27
  • CameraFC2204
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture3.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.6 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias+1.3

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Hot Air Balloon Ride Across Queenstown

Daily Photo – Hot Air Balloon Ride Across Queenstown

Right before the lockdown, I was lucky enough to take one of these hot air balloon rides. We took off near Lake Hayes and then headed about halfway down Gibbston Valley. I asked the pilot how he knew where he was going to land, and he said he had no idea! It’s always different… I was a little worried but he seemed sublimely confident!

Hot Air Balloon Ride Across Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2020-03-01 08:50:18
  • CameraILCE-7RM4
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2500
  • Aperture4
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length34.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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The Dappled Pond

Passport Sunday Fun!

As I do every Sunday, if you’re one of the awesome Passport Members, you get a little “bonus” section in the blog post that allows you to see extra stuff. In today’s one, you’ll see the edit of this photo!

Processing The Dappled Pond

This week I really get hands-on with the vignette…

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Daily Photo – The Dappled Pond

Queenstown Gardens has a lifetime’s worth of photos every Autumn. I should actually go there more often, and not just in the Autumn. It’s not actually that far from me, but I tend to not drive into Queenstown very often…The parking is terrible down there and it’s barely worth the drive. However, since the tourism bust, it’s quite a bit easier to find a place!

The Dappled Pond

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-04-23 09:46:56
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length61.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Curvy Road and The Remarkables

New Zealand Highlights

Here’s a fun video that Stu edited together for me (thanks Stu!) of some of my recent quadcopter footage from around here. Enjoy!

Daily Photo – Curvy Road and The Remarkables

What a cool spot, eh? This is one of the many places we take our photo tours when they come to New Zealand. Naturally, we cancelled the previous one because of the outbreak, which was kind of a bummer. We haven’t put a new one up yet because I have NO IDEA what the travel landscape looks like for the next year!

Curvy Road and The Remarkables

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-04-25 08:09:46
  • CameraFC2204
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/120
  • Aperture3.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length8.6 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-1.3

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Sunrays through the gardens

Welcome to Passport Sunday!

If you’re a Passport member then you get to see today’s making-of!

Enhancing Sunrays

Here, you’ll see the way I use various tools to create today’s photo.

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Daily Photo – Sunrays through the gardens

Today’s photo exemplifies the idea of sunrays through the Autumn scene… Just another in a set of using Aurora and Luminar to create something amazing!

Sunrays through the gardens

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-04-23 09:50:05
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/8
  • Aperture22
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Autumn Colors in Dalefield

Daily Photo – Autumn Colors in Dalefield

Every Autumn I try to go on at least 20-30 walks to areas where I have never visited here in Dalefield. This is the hilly area between Arrowtown and Queenstown and there are countless hidden gems. I’m still finding new places tucked in behind little hills here and there. Sure, sometimes I do a little bit of light trespassing, but people are really chill about that here.

Autumn Colors in Dalefield

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-04-30 11:51:39
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture9
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Taking Photos around New Zealand with Brandin Cooks

New Zealand in lockdown Video

Here’s a nice video from here in New Zealand.

Daily Photo – Taking Photos around New Zealand with Brandin Cooks

My friend Brandin blew into town for a few days with his lovely wife. He was able to get a hall pass to come spend the day with me taking photos all around the Queenstown area. This is one must-stop location. The clouds were not super-amazing, but they were still good enough for us to take a few panoramas. I think this one was made out of about six vertical shots.

Taking Photos around New Zealand with Brandin Cooks

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2020-01-05 01:16:24
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2500
  • Aperture4
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length61.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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Special Message for Those of You Living Alone in Isolation – Suicide – Getting Through the Day, etc.

This video is probably only for people like me that are in true self-isolation during the pandemic. It may help you understand what is going on inside, which is a great step in coming to terms with things. The video ends with a variety of tools you can add to your toolbox to not just get through the days and weeks, but to thrive!

Sadly, I predict during this time, most suicides will come from people like me that are not allowed to have normal human interactions for extended weeks in forced solitary confinement. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME – I am not suicidal! Don’t call the black helicopters on me, but I can see many people out there fraying at the edges. If you ARE having these thoughts, visit Wikipedia’s list of suicide crisis lines or if here in New Zealand, call 0800 543 354. It’s ok to ask for help, in fact it is an admirable quality.

Most people are not close to that stage but if living alone, you may notice yourself feeling SUPER WEIRD, even if you’re used to having a lot of alone time. Understanding your psyche and analyzing what is happening will help. I’ll begin by telling you my story!

I am currently surprised here, on day 16 of lockdown experience, at my high level of loneliness. I know the difference between being alone and being lonely. I’m a travel photographer. I spend the vast majority of my life being alone, but I do have a close circle of friends that understand me (I’m hard to understand) and I know they are around when I want to connect. I go down to the pub. I see Dave Gent. We have a bro hug and he says something mean about me but I think he means the opposite, but at least I hope he does, and that strangely makes me feel better about everything. And then we talk about books or sci-fi shows or whatever. That’s a very natural way of human connection that is now not allowed.

When I travel for photography, I’m always meeting random people whom I chat up! The Uber driver, another tourist on a trail, the waiter at a restaurant, whatever. I am an introvert for sure, so I don’t have an over-the-top craving for having human moments with other humans, but I do have some. When you get absolutely zero after an extended period of time, you may begin to think there is something wrong with you. But it’s not you… It’s just the circumstances.

It’s proven that happiness is directly correlated to social connections. Here’s a link to Sam Harris’ latest ( podcast about Happiness ) that you’ll find interesting. Social cohesion and connections are directly related to health and how long you live. Many of you out there are at least with a family or roommates. Even if you don’t get along 100%, you know that, at base-level, they are there to care for you and love you. Those of us living alone are completely deprived of all human interaction, which is something that perhaps others can’t understand.

The government does a great job of making people understand the physical reasons for being apart, but they do ZERO for helping with your mental situation… and maybe that’s why people like me make videos like this.

Again, this video is built for people that are completely alone in a box of walls with no other human souls around. But, maybe if you feel alone even with other humans around, then it’s kinda for you too. 🙂

Or maybe you at least have a dog or cat or something. I don’t… If anyone has an extra dog laying around, let me know!

If you’re alone, you may not feel worthy of love or being with someone or whatever… hey – look at me, I’m totally alone. I walk around the neighborhood… no one is allowed to really connect or give a hug or whatever – it’s like racism and I’m a black guy in the 1930s or whatever. And I’m like, I’m here in the whitest area of the world and like, hey where’re all the white women at? (Blazing Saddles joke there that might have missed a few people).

When you live alone in isolation and then you walk out in public and people automatically shun you, it makes you feel even weirder! It might reinforce a lot of those strange nascent triggers from childhood… maybe you’re kind of self-hating or don’t feel worthy of love or friendship or whatevs. So you return from being publicly shunned back to your little cave to spend the rest of the day and evening totally alone. It may reinforce some of these negative ideas that are not true at all, but they appear to be obviously true because it’s apparently your lot in life.

Remember that it’s not about you even though it may appear to be since you are the central view for your whole life. Most other people are much more concerned about themselves than YOUR wellbeing. So, you can always zig when they zag and do your best to be focused on other people. I mentioned this in the anxiety video earlier as well. A great way to get out of your own head is to help other people. This is also a proven way to increase your own happiness.

Scientists have done many experiments where they isolate rats in boxes. Starved of any interaction, they can go a litttttle crazy. The government is unintentionally doing an experiment and putting billions of people in cages at once. It’s never been done in the history of the world and they may discover it’s a rather reckless idea.

This sounds terrible… and it may be an accidental mass experiment gone awry because governments now realize they don’t have the hospital bed capacity, but It may be better for some people to die than for millions of humans not to be allowed to connect and be regular humans. It also wreaks havoc on the economy, causes people to lose jobs, and causes many suicides for people that can no longer financially support their family or company. It will be interesting to see what happens in Sweden, where everything is normal if you are under 70. The infection rate is extremely high but perhaps other factors like mental well-being and the economy are doing well. We don’t have the data yet, but putting the tragic deaths to one side, it will be good to analyze after the storm.

Anyway, when the government forces an intelligent rat into a box, it’s mind can spin out of control, thinking it is not a worthy rat. That other rats don’t want to hang out with it and talk about the hamster wheel or whatever. I’m crossing species but you get the idea.

And it’s NOT a conspiracy against government. They didn’t anticipate this. They realize they don’t have enough hospital beds with oxygen gear for the small percentage of people that need to be intubated. They decided to sacrifice the economy with a lockdown but they did not anticipate what it does for those of us that live totally alone.

It’s not a conspiracy. It’s not about you. Just because you’re alone it doesn’t mean you are meant to be alone. Don’t let the silly government drum up thoughts from your childhood that you are unworthy of being loved and supposed to be alone until you die blah blah blah… you’re just in a weird glass cage on social media – it’ll be fine and ALMOST everything will go back to normal soon!

One nice thing to remember is that you were probably a fairly functional member of society before this thing, right? So it stands to reason that you will be after it passes as well. Just hang in there, yo!

OKAY. SO. How do you get through the next X weeks or days?

Teaching yourself meditation and mindfulness is pretty tough. If you’re new to it, it’s often best to go through it with a group at a retreat or something. But, I’ll put resources like Sam Harris’ Waking Up app here: https://wakingup.com/

Since most people won’t do that, here are some ideas for you to stay in a mostly positive frame of mind. These are written from my own perspective… feel free to adopt one or all of them!

1) Wake up and think of 5 things you’re grateful for
2) Eat healthy… forcing veggies into your gut will do wonders for your attitude.
3) Exercise. I do 2 things a day, but maybe I’m an overachiever. I do yoga for 15-60 minutes depending on how lazy I feel and walk for at least an hour.
4) Help other people in whatever way you can – this has a huge impact on your own personal happiness
5) Have meals on Zoom with some remote friends or family members. People normally only use video conferencing for WORK, but you can use it for fun too!
6) Make plans for AFTER the local lockdown and after the larger world gets back to normal. Plan a family trip, even though you may not have the exact dates.
7) [Forgot to put this in the video] Try to do a LITTLE work or SOME creativity every day. It doesn’t have to be some huge project, but this will give you a feeling of agency and control. It’s actually not just a feeling – it’s actual agency and control.
8) Stop watching or reading the news around 5 PM. Not much will change before you check it again in the morning.
9) If you are the type that will have beer or wine, the evening is a good time to start. Don’t drink all day or you’ll just feel extra sorry for yourself and it will mess with your gut/brain balance and stress you out even more.
10) At night, I only watch funny or entertaining stuff… play games… goof around.
11) HOT SLEEP TIP! This one applies to sleep and is only valid for you if you don’t have regular work hours from home during isolation. If you can’t sleep, don’t worry. Get up and distract yourself. If you don’t fall asleep hard until 5 AM – that’s fine – sleep till noon. Who cares? Get your 8 hours in… that will make your brain feel most normal and least frazzled.

Finally, before a whole load of resources below…Hang in there – If I can do anything for you, lemme know. All of us loners are in this together. Love you guys and I got your back! 🙂

Many are on [Netflix – as indicated]. Others are not… It turns out it’s very hard to make a list like this! I’ll continue to add to this list as time goes on… time, hey? 🙂

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TV SHOWS – FUN or FUNNY
=================

FleaBag – If you don’t watch this, our nascent friendship is over – there is also a new performance where she does a one woman show in the National Theatre in London that you can watch online.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Probably my favorite show of all time.

Curb Your Enthusiasm – From the creator of Seinfeld. No need to watch in order… start with any season as they are all great. I recommend season 6 and beyond

Rick & Morty [on Netflix] – Too funny whether you are sober, drunk, or high

Sex Education [on Netflix] – Hilarious British show about a sex therapist mom and son

The Good Place [on Netflix] – Clever show about people in “heaven”

Flight of the Conchords – Musical comedy from New Zealand

Life’s Too Short – Ricky Gervais comedy

Schitt’s Creek [on Netflix] – stick through the first season it gets hilarious or start season 2

7 Days in Hell – Tennis mockumentary with Andy Samberg

Extras – Ricky Gervais Comedy

Twin Peaks – the old and new series from David Lynch

Conan without Borders [on Netflix] – Hilarious travel show

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee [on Netflix]- Seinfeld gets a coffee with a new comedian every episode

The Eliza Slesinger Comedy Sketch Show [on Netflix] – This lady is hilarious

Travels with Father [on Netflix] – Funny show about a comedian that travels with his grumpy conservative father. Some scenes are a bit “set up” but still entertaining…

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DUMB Funny Shows that keep me entertained
=================

Brooklyn Nine-Nine [on Netflix] – More funny Andy Samberg

Toast of London [on Netflix] – Funny show about a voice actor

Last Man on Earth – Like it sounds

What We do in Shadows – TV show based on the vampire mockumentary

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DOCUMENTARIES
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Samsara – While not technically a documentary, it’s one of the most beautiful and interesting things you’ll ever see

Exit Through the Gift Shop – Surprise doco about Banksy

Tales from the Tour Bus – Hilarious animated real stories of touring rock bands

Struggle [on Netflix] – A doco about an amazing artist you’ve never heard of

Inside Bill’s Brain [on Netflix]- 3 part interesting doco about Bill Gates

Chef’s Table [on Netflix]- The most beautiful food show you’ll ever see
Abstract [on Netflix] – Incredible doco about creativity

Fantastic Fungi – About the magic of mushrooms – Download here

Abstract [on Netflix] – Each episode shows a different creative process.

Tiger King; Murder Mayhem Madness [on Netflix] – Crazy doco about a guy that collects big cats

ZZ Top Texas [on Netflix] – Cool doco about the band

Goop Lab [on Netflix] – Only episode 1 about mushrooms is good. The rest are dumb.

Behind the Curve [on Netflix] – Debunks those silly flat-Earthers

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TV SHOWS – DRAMAS
=================

Chernobyl – Amazing gripping drama

Ozark [on Netflix] – Intense show with Jason Bateman

House of Cards [on Netflix] – Presidential drama… Spacey is great.

After Life [on Netflix] – Funny/Sad show with Ricky Gervais

Season 1 of Fargo [on Netflix] – Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman in a murder drama

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TV SHOWS – SCI-FI / FANTASY
=================

Black Mirror [on Netflix]- Watch every one! The first one may be too intense but stick with it… each episode stands alone

West World – Great Sci-Fi show. A bit tough to follow but that makes it interesting in a way.

The Mandalorian – Even if you don’t like Star Wars, you’ll like this series.

The Platform [on Netflix] – Dark weird movie that is quite gripping

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MOVIES
=================

All Wes Anderson Movies: Any order is fine… I recommend: “Moonrise Kingdom” then “The Darjeeling Limited” then “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” then “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Tarantino Movies: “Pulp Fiction” then “Django Unchained” then “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” then “Inglorious Basterds”

Woody Allen Movies: “Midnight in Paris” then “Vicky Christina Barcelona”

Chris Nolan movies with Hans Zimmer Soundtracks: “Inception” + “Interstellar” + “Momento” + “The Dark Night”

Taika movies: “Jojo Rabbit” and “Thor: Ragnorak” and “What We Do in Shadows”

Ed Norton Movies: “Fight Club” + “American History X”

Leo DiCap movies: “The Revenant” + “The Wolf of Wallstreet” + “Titanic” + “The Aviator” + “Catch Me if you Can”

Joaquin Phoenix movies: “Her” + “Joker” + “Walk the Line”

Christian Bale Movies: “American Psycho” + “The Machinist” + “The Prestige”

Kevin Spacey Movies: “American Beauty” + “The Usual Suspects”

Will Farrell movies: “Anchorman” + “Blades of Glory” + “Step brothers” + “Talladega Nights”

DDL Movies: “There Will be Blood” + “My Left Foot” + “Gangs of New York”

Sacha Baron Cohen vehicles: “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” + “The Dictator”

“Tropic Thunder” – Hilarious Vietnam War movie with Robert Downey Jr and Ben Stiller

“Team America: World Police”: Hilarious movie from the South Park creators

“Gladiator” – when I first fell in love with Hans’ music

“Unforgiven” – Clint’s best!

“The Social Network” – About the founding of Facebook

“Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” – beautiful movie

“Lost in Translation” – Bill Murray + Scarlett Johannson

“Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” – some of the best art in a decade

“Mad Max: Fury Road” – genius cinematography

“A Star is Born” – that Bradley Cooper can do anything

“Yesterday” – Fun movie about a world that has never heard of The Beatles

“Chinatown” – Genius Roman Polanski Movie

…more to come…

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BOOKS
=================

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

“The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer

“A New Earth” by Eckhardt Tolle

“Sapiens” (and his other books) by Yuval Noah Hurari

…more to come…

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PODCASTS
=================

Sam Harris “Making Sense” – Everything from science to consciousness. He’s the dude.

“The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos”

/Reply-All – Entertaining and funny show around tech investigations…start with “The Snapchat Thief” to get an idea of what it’s about

“The Dream” – Start with Season 1 Episode 1… just great storytelling and journalism.

“Naval” – very smart 1-2 minute podcast episodes, often business or consciousness-related

“Ron Burgundy Podcast” – You know you want it

Joe Rogan has some good episodes… skip the MMA ones if you’re not into that.

Tim Ferris has some good ones…

“Revisionist History” with Malcolm Gladwell

“The Kevin Rose Show” – Always interesting guests, except for the one when I was a guest.

“Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” – funny stuff

“Stuff that will Blow Your Mind” – get some fun science in…

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MEDITATION AND YOGA
=================

Sam Harris Waking Up App – It costs $$ but if you can’t afford it, contact them and they’ll make it FREE for you because Sam’s a dude! Get it at wakingup.com.

Yoga With Adriene – She’s a fun gal in Austin with a lot of beginner-focused yoga.

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MASTERCLASS.COM – My Favorite classes
=================

Kevin Spacey teaches acting

Warner Herzog teaches documentary making

Hans Zimmer teaches film music

Chris Voss teaches Negotiation

David Lynch teaches directing

And finally… People asked about my shirt – it’s from Mount Edward Winery and they have a cool DJ thing going on – join us!.

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Patagonia in my Hallway

Daily Photo – Patagonia in my Hallway

Since I recently converted one of my homes into an AirBnB, I decided to also make it a bit of an art gallery. I hung up about 10 photos all over the home and it was pretty fun deciding what goes where! Back in this long hallway that goes to four of the bedrooms, I decided to put up this panorama. I’m always a bit scared to get things printed because I don’t want to see any mistakes! Sometimes that happens! But, this time, it came out perfect and I’m quite happy with it.

Patagonia in my Hallway

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-12-17 03:55:43
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1.6
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO64
  • Focal Length22.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias+2

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