The old town area of San Juan is perfect for capturing photos at night. I heard the area might be a bit dangerous, but I did not encounter any of that. Maybe I was lucky or something! Anyway, I spent a few hours one evening walking up and down most of the streets to explore the place while capturing a few photos like this one.
I really do almost zero shopping, being a minimalist and stuff. However, I do like to walk into quirky looking stores to be amused and take a few photos. Like this place, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for example. Seeing little things like this brighten my day with a little surprise here and there.
This is a video I made in San Juan just before the hurricane hit. I haven’t been back, but I may go later this year to see what it’s like now. I figure this area that I show is pretty much the same… the old town is a great area to for exploration and photography. I recommend it! 🙂
Daily Photo – Experimenting in Antarctica
When I visited the reconstructed huts across Antarctica, I was impressed by the amount of scientific work that they performed inside. If you click on this photo and zoom into 100%, you’ll see all sorts of beakers, chemicals, and other things you might find in a medieval apothecary. I can’t imagine what sorts of scientific experiments were going on because there’s not a huge amount of biological diversity down there. It’s 99% snow, ice, and water with an occasional penguin.
How do I preface this? Hmmm, well I did a phone interview with Wired magazine, and then they followed up with some more questions, which I answered via email. I’m sure that 90% will be cut, but a friend asked me to share the full answers here! So, here they are…
Each question was related to the photo above it:
“When you’re relaxed and your guard is down, beautiful moments spring upon you.”
We’ve got the story of the Ritz-Carlton concierge who insightfully referred you to the spa, which worked great in the last text. For this, can you tell me a bit — just one paragraph is fine — about the specific incident of being relaxed, your guard down, and a beautiful moment you can recall springs on you, as it relates to the photo?
I have a feeling that everyone feels a bit awkward in a bathing suit. I mean, unless you’re one of those Instagram hoochie girls, which 99.9% of us are not. Anyway, once you decide to rock around a Turkish bath with whatever body you happen to inhabit, then an acceptance sets in, and you just kinda let it all hang out, then you are quite vulnerable. But vulnerability is a great chance to really absorb the moment and it forces your guard to be down. Letting go of worry creates a presence. This presence allows you to be alert and see things you might not have seen before, when the mind was clouded by a fiction it created for itself.
“If you open yourself up to the universe, cool stuff happens.”
“Comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Can you expand on how those attitudes specifically played out for you in Wolfsburg?
Rolling along the train tracks into Wolfsburg, I had no idea what I would find. No matter how old you get, there are always firsts. The notion of “first” indicates a unique experience; there is no way to have an expectation of what will happen. This then leads to the idea that you should have no expectations at all. It doesn’t mean low expectations, but, theoretically, one should have no expectations of what will be a unique experience.
Once you make this intellectual decision to have no expectations, you embrace the universe itself and whatever comes at you. It’s not just that you have no expectations of what will happen with the universe, but you have no expectations about how you will react to it. Together, by releasing expectations of yourself and the universe, you may come to see these two seemingly discrete things as the same. This makes me feel very connected to any place I happen to be, and if you happen to be in a place, it might as well be around Wolfsburg taking photos of the auto mecca, because it’s pretty freaking awesome.
“I used to worry that because I travel so much, I would run out of places to go. But the more I travel, the more I discover.”
We had a section about London, but The Ritz-Carlton asked that we stick to cities where they operate a hotel. For one of the others (my personal pick is Moscow, because the photo itself is surprising when one reads that it’s Moscow, but whatever feels best for you) is it possible that you had been there before, leading to new feelings there compared to a previous visit? The idea that traveling somewhere more than once leads to very different experiences is powerful.
I think we all know how imperfect memory is. Even though I am now kind of a travel photographer, my degree is in Computer Science and Math. Our memory doesn’t work like a computer, and it is wonderfully imperfect. There are theories that we “chunk” the big bullet points of memory so that we can use those bits to simulate future scenarios.
So, when I got into Moscow for the first time, it was fun to “predict” what might happen. Whatever happens, happens, right? Well, it’s still fun to simulate a few possible futures. I was able to pull chunks from my first time to “strange” places (strange, meaning foreign/scary/challenging to me at various stages of my life). I thought about my the time I made my first trip to go to the subway in Tokyo, the time when I got stranded on Antarctica during a blizzard, the time I was arrested in Beijing for flying a drone over the Forbidden City, etc. These are all unusual things that happened to me, and everything turned out just fine.
Now, arriving in Moscow, I thought about all these edge-cases, and I simulated a hundred nutty things that might happen. After all, most of what I knew about Russia came from Reddit, so I was open to literally anything happening. And I wasn’t disappointed. Moscow itself is an amazing place, but what makes Russia so interesting to me is the people there, and the interesting Russian minds inside of them.
It’s hard to believe I got this photo not too long before that bad hurricane hit. The whole island is so naturally beautiful that I’m sure it’ll bounce back pretty fast… I guess the first step is to get their infrastructure back together… they are all so industrious down there that I bet it will be back faster than anyone thinks.
Amsterdam took us into the second half of the European tour and was a return to one of the places I first worked on HDR. A great chance to think about reinventing the images with my current style.
Find out more about the tour at 80stays.treyratcliff.com
Daily Photo – The Streets of Old San Juan at night
I went out here with my friend Scott Jarvie for sunset and more… we had the best time roaming around the streets and seeing what we could find! I’ve heard this area could be a bit dangerous, but we certainly didn’t see anything at all. Besides, Scott is a black belt with his witty responses, so no assailant would have ever stood a chance.
I did a Live Facebook Show where I was walking around Old San Juan a bit… it’s embedded below!
Daily Photo – The Fortress from Above
I’ve been a fan of fortresses and castles ever since I was a kid. When I found out there was a big castle here just past the old-city, I had to go! And if you stay tuned for tomorrow’s photo here on the blog, you’ll see the Old City of San Juan at night… I walked over there after I took this photo. I think it’s cool when two such diverse places are so close together.
This is made from a Phantom 4 Pro and about 5 different photos. I stitched them all together in Lightroom and then ran them through sweet sweet Aurora HDR to give it a little HDR love! 🙂
Daily Photo – Above Puerto Rico
Here’s the fortress in San Juan, which I never realized was practically an island. Or actually, it MIGHT be an island where you have to take a bridge. I should know these things. But I seem to remember being on a bridge… wait let me look at a map because now I am very curious. Oh yes, it is an island, as you can plainly see from this map. I took this photo just off the northern edge looking back to the southwest as the sun was setting. So what you’re seeing here is the very tip of the island.
Even though it’s my 2nd time in Puerto Rico, I never had the chance to go to this great old place in the city. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and an evening… the food and drinks are amazing to grab in between photo shooting sessions!
Travel Photography Thoughts from San Juan
Here’s a little tip video I made while there. Now that you see the video, you might see me drop in a few more “detail” shots over coming weeks and years from this place.
See today’s photo ? I also made an animated version that turned out great! You can see it over here on Facebook – it should auto-loop!
And if you go over to the Plotagraph Pro page you’ll see they have new pricing including a monthly plan. Give it a whirl… very fun! If you check my Instagram Feed you’ll see I’ve been posting a lot lately 🙂
Daily Photo – Ye Olde Pirate Shippe
On my last night in San Juan, I went around to do a little exploratory fun walk with my friend Scott Jarvie. After moving around and through the town, we ended out by the docks. How pretty eh? It was a nice and moody night with all the clouds that made it even more romantic. I mean, I love a good romantic night with Jarvie.
We had an awesome time in San Juan. The beaches and hotel, like the rest of the trip, were great but in this location we had the added bonus of some historic architecture and an overall unique character for the whole place. Thank’s again to The Ritz-Carlton for making this all happen!