Chicago – Stuck in Customs

Ending the Chicago Photo Walk!

Chicago Recap!

Here’s a few videos from the photowalks. The first one is what happened in Chicago, and the second one is the overall highlight video! Check out the Trey’s Photo Walk Across the USA page for more! 🙂

Daily Photo – Ending the Chicago Photo Walk!

Wow… I’ve been to Chicago many times, but never even seen this amazing fountain! How is that possible? I don’t know… but I was really happy to be here this evening… what a perfect day and night in Chicago. And so many passionate photographers! We gotta do that again!

Ending the Chicago Photo Walk!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2015-09-10 13:33:22
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.6
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length41.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias


Chicago Forever

Uptick in Prints

We’ve added a new Limited Annum series of prints, and they have really picked up for the holiday season – so, thanks! You can buy most any photo here and have it customized to your desire. Just click on the photo and it will take you to SmugMug. Along the top, you buy the print and get all the info you need.

Daily Photo – Chicago Forever

I took this from on top of one of the highest buildings in Chicago. Everyone else was shooting in the other direction – towards all the big buildings. Well, I did too to be honest… but, then I came over here… looking out this way was strangely compelling, so I decided to give it a go! 🙂

Chicago ForeverI took this from on top of one of the highest buildings in Chicago.  Everyone else was shooting in the other direction - towards all the big buildings.  Well, I did too to be honest... but, then I came over here... looking out this way was strangely compelling, so I decided to give it a go! :)- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.


Photo Mystery – The Private Room

Four Hours in Helsinki

So, I am connecting from Ibiza to China through Helsinki, Finland.  Does anyone have any suggestions on what to see and photograph in that time?  Keep in mind that I’ll have to jump in a taxi (or train?) and get to-and-from these locations and get back in time to go through security again.

The Private Room

It was a dark and mysterious set of serpentine stairs that brought us to this room. Where could it be? Who can identify it? You all are so hard to trick… None of these has ever stayed mysterious for more than 24 hours… but maybe, just maybe, we can have this one stay a mystery!

And I know people zoom into 100% on these to look for clues… this one is a little messy at 100%, so I am a little embarrassed by that… I do figure that 98% of people look at it in the default “blog size”, where it looks okay.

HDR Photo


The Secret Church

Thinking Like Da Vinci

Have you all ever heard of a book called ‘How to think like Da Vinci’, authored by Michael Gelb?  I came across some info on the web and wanted to share it.  There are a few principles in the book that boil down to:

1) Curiosità – Quest for Curiosity, both in life and learning.

2) Dimostrazione – Commitment to Test knowledge through Experience and the willingness to learn from mistakes.

3) Sensazione – Continual Refinement of your senses.

4) Sfumato – Willingness to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty.

5) Arte/scienza – Maintenance of balance between science, art, logic and imagination.

6) Corporalità – Cultivation of ambidexterity, symmetry and to be fresh and alive.

7) Connessione – Recognition and appreciation of the interconnectedness in everything you see, hear, feel and touch.

I won’t re-analyze each of them, but I think they speak for themselves…  and they are quite nice.

Daily Photo – The Secret Church

Who would have ever guessed that this immense, classically architected church is in the middle of Chicago, Il? It’s quite amazing, isn’t it?

My friend Fiona took me here around the time of the Chicago book launch party. It is a great place place for all kinds of HDR photography. It’s a fun challenge to move around these environments and see how many interesting compositions you can make out of a structure like this.

HDR Photo


The Metal Moose & New eBooks from Friends

My Friends Have eBooks Too!

We’ve got a thriving community of photographers out there writing eBooks. I can’t possibly give everyone a link that asks, so I will do so randomly from time to time. A bit like a lottery!

Joseph’s Aperture eBook – Do you guys know of Joseph Linaschke? He’s a good friend that I first met when we co-hosted This Week in Photography. Anyway, he’s quite the Aperture expert. With Aperture 3 out, he’s got a nice eBook there that can help you get the most out of the software.

SAFARI, A Monograph – I’ve talked about David here on the site before. He’s a great guy and a hardcore photographer. This is the 2nd book in his “Print & Process” series (I think!). He fills the book with beautiful photos and then gives exact specifics about equipment, tools, and techniques. His eBooks get raving reviews, and there are several there to choose from!

The Metal Moose

After the book party in Chicago (thanks again for all of you that showed up!), we had a little photowalk the next day. Along the way, we stopped outside an office building near Michigan Avenue that had this enormous metal moose. I’m not a big fan of taking photos of art, but this was an exception.

As usual, I enjoyed meeting everyone on that photowalk and sharing stories and tricks. I think the next one we do will be at Burning Man, followed by London. Those will be great fun too! 🙂


The Red Room, Revisited


For slow responses in comments and stuff.  I have very little internet connection time here in Iceland.  I’m out shooting constantly… seeing amazing things… just amazing.

Anyway, please accept my apologies… I still read all comments and will get to them soon.

Daily Photo – The Red Room, Revisited

Frequent visitors will recognize this amazing place in Chicago.

It is the Crimson Lounge, and this is where we had the big book party in Chicago.  Before the party, I brought my rig down here to take a few photos of this place when it was nice and empty.  I like it for many reasons…  a big part of me remembers it from David Lynch’s mind and those macabre scenes from Twin Peaks with the midget.  A midget that walks backwards and talks backwards and then is played back forwards is enough to unnerve the hardest man.



The Olde Organ, Guessing Game, and my Secret Music List

My Music Playlist – What are some of your favorites?

As I travel around the world, I’ve picked up an amazing collection of unique music. It’s not for everyone, but if you like eclectic stuff that gets you in a right-brain mode, I think it’s great.

This first list I am releasing is my “World Lounge Mix” – I made an iTunes iMix of it and added the mix to Trey’s Music List!

Coming soon are some of my favorite songs from other categories, like Ambient New Age, Spanish Guitar, World Music, and more.

What are some of your favorite songs? Share them with me – I’d like to know!

Daily photo – The Olde Organ

Okay, if you were in one of my workshops, you are not allowed to guess, because you heard the unexpected answer.

But, of the rest of you, who can guess where this photo of this ornate organ was taken?  Those in my workshop know because I worked on it during the festivities.  It’s so funny whenever I zoom into 100% and people ooh and ahh at the details.  It’s funny because I do the same thing!  I know a lot of people say that 24 megapixel is overkill, but… well… it’s just cool.

I plan for the future when many people have 70 inch wall displays at 10,000 pixels across.  I want to make sure my images are ready for them!

The Olde Organ


Belly Up to the Bar with me in Chicago!

Special Advance Notice for Special Communities

I know you all are BUSY. Also, I know you like to come here and hang out with the community since we enjoy finding some of the best stuff, sharing tricks, techniques, and art with you. However, some people go the extra mile. For each little sub-community within Stuck In Customs, I try to do something extra special:

  • Newsletter Subscribers – I gave out a $50 off coupon on something cool just to subscribers, and many acted on it!  Cool!   The Newsletter is free, so why not join?  Besides that, I try to give advance notice on all sorts of things.
  • Facebook Fans – I gave these fine people an advance link to a new review I am doing, so they can see it before anyone else.  The Fan page was started by a Dutch fan, and we are starting to do all sorts of things on it, including a fun discussion on Which Lens do you Want?
  • Twitter Followers – Many times throughout the week, I open it up for questions on the new book or anything in between.  I think it is cool that I can have direct contact with so many people — I really try my best to answer most everyone!  In addition, I sprinkle in all sorts of inspirational art finds and do my best to keep things fun and light – the way the internet should be!

If you are a member of one or more of these special sub-communities – let me know any other ideas you might have!

Chicago Party in a Few Days!

Woo!  This will be fun!  The New York and Austin parties were exciting and fun – I really enjoyed getting to meet people and the like.  Chicago is next.  You can either RSVP on the Facebook Event Page or see more info here on the site!

Chicago Party

Daily Photo – Belly up to the Bar

Here is another shot from the ultra-cook Hotel Sax, where we are having the party mentioned above. The Hotel Sax has tons of these really swanky rooms that have a very nice feeling about them. Now, I don’t drink alcohol at all… which makes awesome bars like this a little disappointing… but not so disappointing if there is someone interesting to talk to!

I actually, on occasion, end up with people who spend half the time talking about previous drinking experiences while having a drinking experience. I suppose this becomes a recursive function at some point… and I guess it’s no different than going out with photographers and talking about other photography outings!

Belly Up to the Bar


My Top iPhone Apps for Christmas and Green Man in Chicago

Top iPhone Apps for Christmas

I use my iPhone a lot.  And I mean A LOT.  I’m a big gamer and app-user.  Besides playing games with my wife and friends, my 8-year-old is also uses it to play games… and he just may get an iTouch for Christmas.  Anyway, here are some great games and apps for you and/or your family!

DIGG this story here!

Fun Games

  • Labyrinth 2 Labyrinth 2 – This game has nothing to do with that awful movie with David Bowie from the 80’s. It is a very fun game for all ages where you have one of those little balls that you have to move through a wooden maze by balancing the iPhone. It’s very creative and there are tons of levels for all difficulties.
  • Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor Spider:  The Secret of Bryce Manor – A beautiful game in which you play a little spider that weaves webs to catch bugs. There is a lot of fun strategy to figuring out the best way to make bugs to catch the bugs… it’s very original and fun for all ages.
  • iBlast Moki iBlast Moki – A fun physics-based game for all ages. You have to get these little guys into a portal by placing bombs around the level. There is a lot of clever strategy to proper placement… and just nice physics fun!
  • I Dig it Expeditions I Dig It Expeditions – This is a very fun and addictive game for all ages.  I played the first one to death and the new one is even better.  It’s easy to understand, you dig up treasure, upgrade your treasure-findin’ craft, have fun in bite-sized amounts, great for collectors, and an amazing source of entertainment…  I’d find myself thinking about it while driving around!
  • Words with Friends Words With Friends – This is basically a slicker version of Scrabble that you can play with all your friends, barely-known-facebook-friends, or strangers. What is cool is that you can take your turn whenever you want, and then you send your triple-letter-score word off into the cloud. Your friend will have a little red 1 on their app letting them know there is a turn waiting for them!
  • Drop 7 Drop7 – A very simple to learn but addicting puzzle game. It’s better than Bejeweled by a mile — and you will just love it. Facebook friend me in the game and see if you can beat my score!
  • GeoDefense geoDefense – Do you like Tower Defense games? This one is the best, by far. I think I have played 20 of these types of games, and this one is the sharpest. If you like this, also go GeoDefense Swarm
  • Rogue Planet Rogue Planet – Do you like turn-based strategy war games? This is a great one!
  • Rolando 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid ROLANDO 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid – A fun platform game where you are a little ball-guy and you roll around creative levels with fun goals. It’s impressive in every way… fun for all ages!
  • Knights Onrush Knights Onrush – Very fun action game where you are keeping legions of knights from storming your castle. It starts out simple with throwing knights around then more strategy comes around once you start buying new things to help you fend off the hordes!
  • Tornado Mania! Tornado Mania! – A fun game where you get points for using a tornado to destroy a city. It sounds simple, but there is a nice game to it… you can either touch the screen or tilt it around to move the tornado.

Great Apps and More Fun

  • Tweetie 2 Tweetie 2 – The best Twitter app in the iPhone
  • Best Camera Best Camera – This is a cool app by the photographer Chase Jarvis. I’ve yet to meet the guy, but I think we’d really get along. Anyway, it’s a simple app that lets you put nice filters on your photos. Better yet, you can quickly share that photo in email, Twitter, Facebook, and more. It’s smart, cheap, and fun. It’s amazing what a little filter will do to a crappy iPhone shot! See one I took in Carmel here.
  • Pano Pano – A fun camera app that lets you take several photos that partially overlap — then it builds them into a huge panorama! As you have probably figured out, you can’t fit a whole scene into the default zoom of that lens.
  • Pandora Pandora Radio – You know Pandora, right? It’s a great free music service that will play you songs based on what you like! I use it on my computer too and am a subscriber.
  • RedLaser RedLaser – I use this to scan barcodes everywhere to find the cheapest prices. I rarely buy anything in stores any more because the prices are too high – RedLaser will tell you the cost on Amazon and a ton of other places, and even let you order. If you don’t have to have it immediately, it’s nice just to get it shipped to your place!
  • SmackTalk! SmackTalk! – I don’t even know how to describe this. You talk into the phone and then a hamster, cute cat, cute dog, or something else will repeat what you said in a funny voice. There is nothing better with family or at a party where people don’t mind being silly.
  • GoWalla Gowalla – The BEST geo-location game. Walk or drive around your city collecting stamps, finding cool virtual geocached goodies, and compare your virtual passport stamps with friends. I think it’s so much better than Four Square.

Why not more Photography apps? Frankly, I’ve tried a lot and most are little gadgets that I only use once or twice then never use again. I don’t want to waste your time with useless stuff you’ll just use once then throw away.

I’ll stop there for now – that’s a lot! What are some of your favorites?

Trey’s Book List!

I figure as long as I am listing out great iPhone Apps, maybe some people also got a Kindle or some Amazon gift cards. I have a FULL “Trey’s Book List” here on the site. Here are a few:

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Richard Feynman, 1981
A Nobel-winning physicist, inveterate prankster and gifted teacher, Feynman (1918-1988) charmed plenty of contemporary and future scientists with accounts of his misadventures in the bestselling Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! more…

Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks

Mark Buchanan, reprint Jan. 2000
Will a network science emerge that helps us understand a variety of complex organizational systems by describing the puzzles of human behavior and connections in mathematical terms? So argues Buchanan, former editor of Nature and New Scientist. Buchanan, who holds a Ph.D. in physics…. more…

Aztec – Gary Jennings

A great historical fiction novel about an unconventional hero. Garry Jennings is one of those guys that you just know was born to write…

Live Random Q&A!

I popped into Twitter tonight and took two hours of random questions and answers — sounds like the HDR Book is finally starting to arrive! Cool! I’ll continue to be on Twitter a lot to help you guys out… if I have a spare few hours to dedicate to Q&A, I will do so at random times… but, as always, feel free to ask questions and I’ll attend to them if humanly possible.

Daily Photo – Green Man in Chicago

This is the famous “Bean” sculpture in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.  It was an extremely busy day around there, so there was no hope of getting the bean sans tourists… generally, I don’t like people around in my photos, but if there are going to be people, I want them to be interesting!  Well I was lucky that Green Man was there…  Now, I’m sure MOST of you don’t know who Green Man is… you sort of have to be a mindless disciple of a rather edgy TV show called “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”  Like the apps above, I do recommend it… although, it can be a little offensive, to say the least!

Green Man in Chicago


Chicago from a Chopper

Upcoming Chicago Party

On January 2nd, we have our Chicago Book Party.  You can see more information there or sign up on the Facebook Event Page.

Free talk in New York on Dec 15th at B&H Photo – A Firehose of HDR

See the photo below? One of the most common questions I get is “How do you make an HDR out of a single photo?” Well, I’ll go over that and more on Dec 15th at noon at the Incredible B&H Photo in New York. You can get more New York B&H event info here.

Also, you may know that B&H is a partner of Stuck in Customs — I recommend you buy from them on my Digital SLR recommendations page.

Daily Photo – Chicago from a Chopper

Chicago is an awesome city and I always have a good time there.  This time of year, it gets a bit cold… and if you don’t have a good coat pre-buttoned before you go outside, well, that’s a big mistake.

I have a good friend there that arranged a helicopter for me in Chicago and took the door off!  I hung out for a few hours battling the backwash as we circled the city and flew in and out of the buildings.  This is one of the shots from that series, and I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I did shooting it!

Chicago from a Chopper