Trey Ratcliff

Bamboo Forest in Kyoto

Today's daily photo was taken while exploring the wilds outside of Kyoto a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful place! The walk took me into this giant bamboo forest. After strolling through it for a short eternity, I set up for shot. This is a standard 5-exposure HDR; it was shot with a 14-24mm lens. For those of you new to the site, you can find out more about my process in the HDR Tutorial at . ...from the blog

The Morning Fisherman

Now, getting to this place was not easy! I arrived about 1 AM at a tiny family-run inn by the river. I was meeting a local guide (see Jack's website) at 5 AM, so I didn't get a lot of what I would call "quality sleep". Anyway, I got up very early and went downstairs in pitch black. There seemed to be a big white cloth box I had to go around to find the front door. My guide was outside. The door was locked and we could not figure out how to get it open. Everyone at the little inn was sound asleep and I was totally confused. Then, from inside the big white box, a body flew out of it! There was a 60-year-old Chinese guy inside that was sleeping until I woke him up with all my lock-manipulations. His naked limbs in the white sheets scared the bejeezus out of me and woke me right up! And then we were on the river about 5:15. It was still completely dark outside. And I mean COMPLETELY DARK. It was a thin bamboo raft with an outboard motor. I turned around to ask my guide, "How the heck does the boat driver know where he is going?!?" He calmly said, "Oh, no worry. The river is very wide." I not-calmly said, "Well, that's great and everything, but I can't even see the edge to the river!" He calmly said, "But it is so wide." This line of questioning was not getting me anywhere, so I just decided to sit back and enjoy my possible last moments on Earth. Then the sun started to rise, and we moved the boat over to the best bank for the angle. Want to hear something amazing about these fishermen? You won't believe it... but maybe others can confirm this! The fishermen use these two trained cormorant birds that have their throats tied. The birds dive into the water, eat a fish, but then can't swallow it because of the rope. The fisherman rudely pulls the fish from the bird's throat and drops it into that basket behind him. The bird then goes over to a tiny keyboard and sends out the tweet, "WTF". from Trey Ratcliff at

The Taj Mahal in India

Farewell India..I had a great time in you! That sounds strange.... But I am very thankful to my various hosts for showing me such a good time. Besides a weekend trip to the Taj Mahal, I was also treated to a full immersion into Bollywood here in Mumbai, the center of the movie world here in India. It started with a 3-hour viewing of Om Shanti Om, complete with a pre-show standing for the Indian national anthem. Afterwards, we ate dinner at Olive's, which is a trendy place where many of the Bollywood stars go to see and be seen by the Page 3 newspapers. My host was leaning over to me telling me who was the sister-in-law of whom and which directors were entering while escorting which starlets. ...from my daily photo blog at

Fourth on Lake Austin

As for the process, it was a tough night because I was on the edge of a bridge that was rumbling as cars went across. The evening was very windy, and there was a light driving rain right into my lens. I had to wipe down the lens after every few exposures and try to cup my hands over the top during the shot. from my daily photo blog at

Sunset in Ibiza

Ibiza is a fabulous island off the coast of Spain that is the "in" destination for all the Euros that like to get trashed, party, dress in white, do medium-level-drugs, and stay on the beach without many clothes. I saw this girl bouncing around and very happy about something, so I went over and said hello, introducing myself. She didn't speak much English, but I managed to ask her if I could take a photo of her. She enthusiastically said yes, and I explained the sitch as we walked over to the water, mostly using interpretive dance to span the language gap. She was Italian and her name was Wendy. I think that is a strange name for an Italian, but I didn't question it. Anyway, I asked her just to walk off into the ocean and I would take a photo. She did just that, and I grabbed this shot just as the sun was dipping below the horizon. from Trey Ratcliff at

The Horse of Sagas

I was in the middle of a beautiful drive in Northern Iceland just past midnight. The sun was about to dip below the horizon, and I was in the last hour of a five-hour sunset. Unbelievable! I passed a perfect grassy farm filled with perfect Icelandic horses ... Read the rest at the

The Chinese Mothership

Look at this magical place in Beijing... it's on the edge of belief. I could hardly fathom the nature of this place. I expected the lights to appear on the grid with melodic tones a mystical, alien language, like in Close Encounters. But none of that happened... So I just stood there for a long time, thinking about how incredible this place was... and took my time, setting up my system for a fitting photograph. Remember when we were kids, and we never finished our food, even under the threat of starving children in China? Now, I say to my kids, you better eat your food, or else Chinese children will grow up and create an economic powerhouse. Well too late for that! This is the amazing National Centre for the Performing Arts, or as I like to say, the 国家大剧院 -- I find that rolls of the tongue a bit easier. from the blog

Sunset on a Texas Farm

As for this photo, it was shot about two hours outside of Austin in a little town called Brady. You'd like it. They have a Sonic there. This was a 5-exposure HDR shot at f/16. This kept everything in focus and kept the shutter open long enough to let the clouds drag across the sensor. In these conditions, you don’t have a lot of time to fool around because the sun is bookin’ it towards the horizon From Trey Ratcliff at

The Open Road

If you want to see how I made this (and how you can too!), visit my HDR Tutorial. I hope it gives you some new tricks! I had a long lonely weekend in Iceland, so I took my rental Jeep out into the wild. I drove all over the country from dawn till dusk seeing what I could find. The sky and landscape was an ever changing palette of colors and clouds. The sun is so low on the horizon during the winter that it is almost like a 5-hour sunrise followed by a 5-hour sunset. I drove up and down one of these highways to the next, listening to all kinds of strange and eclectic music on my iPod, occasionally jumping out to take a shot of something like this... it was a perfect weekend. In the distance, you can see the snowy mountains which always seem to be just a few songs away. from my daily photo blog at

The Icy Pit to Hell

f you want to see how I made this (and how you can too!), visit my HDR Tutorial. I hope it gives you some new tricks! This is Gulfoss, the frozen waterfall in Iceland. Dark age theologians used to believe this was the entrance to hell, which was originally a cold place; the innermost circle of Dante's version was frozen. True believers would come here and cast themselves down into the chasm to try to rescue souls they were told had gone to hell. It's hard to describe how slippery this place is. I guess I could say it's slippery as hell. The ground is already solid ice, and then there is a fine mist from the waterfall that forms tiny little perfect spheres on top that somehow take friction into a negative physics impossibility. from my daily photo blog at

Secret Passageway to the Treasure

After the crowds of Angkor Wat, it was nice to go find a remote temple in the jungle and be alone. This temple laid under the jungle, completely undiscovered for centuries. The hallway and mysterious chambers seemed to go on forever. from my daily photo blog at

Unholy Bloom of the Space Shuttle after Launch

Staying awake for two days before getting this shot made my nerves a little frayed. As the countdown got inside the final two hours, I could feel myself in a strange mix of extreme fatigue and excitement. It’s a very strange feeling! And since this is the first launch I had ever seen, all my spidey-senses were tingling. This was also the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, so there was an extra layer of meaning on top of everything else. I arrived right at 3 AM to set up my tripod (which, surprisingly, I did not use for this shot, but I’ll get to that in a minute). I then went into the press room to get everything organized for the upcoming event. I was also still spending time editing together the video for the webinar, since I know a lot of people miss the live version and like to download it after the event. So by the time the actual event rolled around, I was really starting to feel tired. And here is the 50mm lens I actually used to get the shot. /me lurves it. This photo is from maestropastelero (click photo for link), creative commons, on Flickr Even though I had my Nikon D3X set up on a tripod with my 28-300 lens, I actually shot this picture with my 50mm prime lens on my Nikon D3S! Everything did go according to plan, and I had run through the routine a few times before the launch. The plan was to fire away on my main body during the first 15 seconds or so. At that point, the D3X starts to have bufferring problems, so I switched to my Chewbacca-bandolier D3S. I pulled it up into a vertical orientation and rapid-fired just as the shuttle tore into the clouds. As soon as the Endeavour worm-holed into the cloud layer, the strange staccato-bass of torn air came skipping across the water into the press area. The sound was not at all what I expected, but it was awesome dot com.

The ancient Chinese town of Lijiang at night

This is the old town of Lijiang, China, where I spent the week with Tom Anderson (the MySpace guy). I think I mentioned him before. Anyway, we got to be friends over the past several months, and we ended up spending a week together here in the south of China. Tom had first been here many years ago when he was setting up the MySpace office in Beijing. He had great memories, and he thought it would be great for a big return now that he is getting more into photography. So, it was definitely a week full of non-stop photography action. One late night after the sun had set, we weaved through the old streets until we found this place. Looking up, I knew it would be a wonderful place to take a photo, so I set up for this one.