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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 not so long 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! You can see more from New Zealand at the end of this email...

The Coast of New Zealand's North Island

I saw, after the first Presidential 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) ...Check out the other reasons on the blog!


New Machine Elf Releases!

Yes, in addition to making more photos, I'm also on a bit of a fractal kick. I've now made 45 different ones. Well, that's not true... I've actually made about 300, but I can tell early on which ones won't work. About 45 of them have shown promise so I've been working those through to completion. I don't always release all of them, but I do release the ones that please me! These are great for relaxation and especially good in VR. If you have the TRIPP app with your Oculus system, be sure to check out the first three (of many) we are releasing. To find out more about the new Machine Elf company, check out our always-updating website!

Machine Elf 41 Video Cover

Other Random Stuff in My World

I'm playing with a few new toys at the moment which you may want to check out. The first is the cool new Peak Design Mobile kit which was recently announced on Kickstarter. Hikers, bikers, cyclers and um... those searching for likers are all catered for. Oh, and drivers too. If you're a Samsung S20 user, or someone with the latest iPhone they have cool cases. Everyone else gets a universal mount to go with all of the above activity specific items and more, like their mini tripod or wireless charger. I'll have more about my real-world experience with the kit in some upcoming content but for now I suggest checking out the details here.

P.S. They also have a great sale on loads of stuff at their store including a discount on the tripod for the first time. That's particularly surprising as they have tiny margins on it. Head over here for that.

Peak Design Mobile Ecosystem

The launch for Luminar AI is fast approaching. If, like me, you're not interested in software taking control of your images the good news is that you can completely ignore all the front loaded AI stuff. The traditional photo editing interface sits just past it and is just as powerful, if not more, than previous versions. Structure AI and SuperContrast are two sections I'm finding most interesting in early testing. More soon but you can check it out here where you'll also get the best price available.

Luminar AI Interface

Oh, and I just ordered a 3D printer so that's going to be a lot of fun to get creative with! And finally, here is another new Machine Elf for your viewing pleasure...

Machine Elf Video - The Hive 4K

StuckInCustoms.com is a personal blog where Trey puts up a new unique photo every day and writes about the art, the technology, and the story of the adventures. Actually, this is Trey writing about this in third person. Both Trey and I appreciate your support very much!

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Reminder: The Text HDR Tutorial is Always Free!

I keep a completely FREE HDR Tutorial on my website. It is a living document that continues to evolve over the years. It goes over everything you need to get started and is a great introduction to the basics of HDR photography and post processing.


Some of my recent favorites from New Zealand...

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