Review of “Landscape Photography Tutorial Series: New Zealand” by Trey Ratcliff

I am a big fan of Trey Ratcliff. In the last 6 years or so, he advanced modern photography more than anyone else in the world. What I like most about him is that he doesn’t stay still. He always finds new ways to push photography forward. Besides making HDR photography mainstream, he also discovered the new business model for modern photography, which does not rely on clients or sponsorships.

Right now he looks like an unreachable GOD with more than 10 million followers across social media platforms, with 34 billion (that’s right billion) views on Google Plus alone. He travels around the world, hangs with cool people and teaches others through his photography.

Since he is a public figure and every step of his professional life is documented in one place or another on the web, we can see the progression of his photography over time. If we review his photos from 2007 and 2008, we can see that most of them are far from being spectacular. This should serve as a source of motivation and understanding that people are not born outstanding photographers but  become them with time, dedication and hard work.

It gives all of us hope.

And who is the best person to show us the path of a photographer’s journey than Trey?

Trey’s most popular video tutorial is “Complete HDR Tutorial” but, I prefer his course entitled, “Landscape Photography Tutorial: New Zealand”, which provides the best educational value for aspiring photographers. In this tutorial, Trey does not concentrate on HDR photography but rather on the fundamentals of landscape and travel photography.

In my previous review, I featured the eBook by Christopher O’Donnell entitled, “Bokeh: Creating with Shallow Depths” that concentrates on very specific technique in landscape photography, Bokeh. Trey Ratcliff takes a completely different approach in his course; he covers the topic of landscape photography giving us the whole picture from the conceptual idea to the final, ready for publishing, photograph.

I believe this is the most useful piece of educational photography material that I’ve ever encountered.

A 4 hour video course almost evenly split between shooting techniques on location and post processing.

Shooting on location

Trey goes over different scenarios while traveling in New Zealand

Choosing the right lens

Here is the list of different topics he covers:

  • Shooting sunsets
  • Shooting sunrises, before and after sun appears over the horizon
  • Shooting at night
  • Choosing the right lens for different landscapes
  • Evaluating the scene before starting to shoot
  • Dealing with lens flares
  • Creating meaningful composition
  • Shooting into the sun
  • Selecting the right number of brackets when shooting for HDR
  • Dealing with the strong wind
  • Proper way to change lenses
  • How to photograph different types of clouds
  • Long exposure in daytime situations
  • Using lens hoods
  • Using lens converters
  • Different approaches to the composition when using landscape and portrait orientation
  • Shooting in the rain

Watch a preview of this unique digital photography tutorial

Also, in contrast to many educators, Trey simplifies the entire process of photography. I love his philosophy of “minimum equipment and more freedom.” All you need is a camera and a tripod; if you do not have tripod, you can learn to shoot without it.

Trey demonstrates technique to stabilize camera when dealing with the strong wind

Post Processing

Trey explores different scenarios of processing photos. He starts with the basic concepts of post processing in the first video and then introduces more advanced techniques as he progresses.

Topics covered:

  • Lightroom processing
  • Photomatix processing
  • Combining Lightroom and Photomatix processing in Photoshop
  • Eliminating HDR artifacts in Photoshop
  • Decision making when processing photos
  • Advanced Photoshop techniques

36 original RAW files are included in the course so you can follow along every step of the way.


If you are looking for the best opportunity to improve and advance your photography, I definitely suggest taking this course. It doesn’t matter at what level you are as a photographer, everyone will benefit in learning from Trey.


The tutorials are downloadable videos that you can watch at your own pace.

You can download them directly from Trey Ratcliff’s website.

Ice Skating In Old Montreal (Canada)

What I realized very soon after I moved to Canada is that Montreal has more ice arenas and skating rinks than soccer fields and swimming pools combined together. This is the reality of living in Canada.

The Old Montreal ice skating rink probably is the best and most popular outdoor rink in the city. It is refrigerated and it has its own Zamboni. The ice is always great there.

I know, refrigerated outdoor rink does not sound right when you refer to Canada but it helps to have perfect ice when it is still warm outside.

I took this photo couple of years ago when I was starting to experiment with HDR photography. That was the time when I was walking around the city taking bunch of bracketed shots trying to figure out how to shoot for HDR.

I re-processed it recently using modern tools and new Perfect Effects 9 from onOne Software helped me to enhance details and reflections in the ice surface.

Travel Photography Blog - Canada. Montreal. Old Port

Canada. Montreal. Old Port
Loc: 45.508459, -73.548568


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots from Old Montreal ( -2,  0, +2 ) [Read more...]

Garrapata State Park Shore (California)

Garrapata State Park is another iconic location along the California State Route 1 in the Big Sur area. It is easily accessible from the road with only a short hike to the shore. For some strange reason, there are no signs along Route 1 and it is easy to miss it if you are not looking for it.

Over the years I developed a system for my travels to ensure that sure I do not miss spots like Garrapata Beach. For every single trip, I create a custom Google Map and  set all the locations I plan to visit as the markers, including short description for each with information on what to look for and what to photograph, all of which I collect during my research phase. Plus, I duplicate the same information to Evernote in the event that I do not have access to my maps, and I save it locally to my Nexus 5.

Perfect Effects 9

I continue to discover new features in Perfect Effects 9 from onOne Software. So far I like it a lot. I think Perfect Effects 9 will be essential part of my post processing workflow.

Travel Photography Blog - California. Big Sur. Garrapata State Park

California. Big Sur. Garrapata State Park
Loc: 36.45381, -121.92597


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots ( -1,  0, +1 ) [Read more...]

Winter Reflective Symmetry (Montreal)

Yesterday, we had the first real snow in Montreal; today is the first time this season that the temperature has been below freezing the entire day. Winter is here even if it is only November.

I am looking through my Lightroom catalog, reflecting on last winter, which was probably the coldest and longest winter I’ve ever experienced in my life. I found a few interesting photos from last year that triggered some memories.

Because of the very cold weather, the rivers and lakes were frozen solid by the end of November. However, due to the complete lack of snow and wind, they looked more like ice rinks with their perfectly flat and reflective surfaces. I am not sure if it was safe to skate or not but with the clouds reflecting on the ice it looked quite unique and beautiful.

This view lasted only 2 or 3 days until we had our first snowfall and the river was then covered with snow until spring.

Experimenting with Perfect Effects 9

I am experimenting with the brand new Perfect Effects 9 from onOne Software and I really like what I see. There are some unique features that are brand new to version 9. So far my favorite one is the functionality where you can protect the highlights and/or shadows of the photo after applying various effects. I find it priceless.

Travel Photography Blog - Canada. Montreal. Lachine Marina

Canada. Montreal. Lachine Marina
Loc: 37.736900, -119.599979


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots ( -1,  0, +1 ) [Read more...]

Why Starting a Photography Blog is Crucial for any Photographer

I strongly believe that any photographer, or any artist for that matter, will benefit from starting a blog. The era of photography websites are over as no one needs a static online presence. Every artist needs a fluid and evolving organism that can reflect his or her personality while simultaneously working to promote his or her talent.

Blogging evolved from online diaries into large self-publishing platform that can be customized and molded depending on one’s goals (i.e. self-promotion, sales, clients, etc.) or activities (i.e. travel photography, wedding photography, photography education).

Regardless if you are a professional photographer, an aspiring novice or an enthusiast with a big dream, blogging is the best tool to assist in growing as an artist as well as establishing and promoting your personal brand.

Here are the main reasons why, as an artist, you need a blog.

Blogging will help you get discovered

Photographers communicate through a visual medium – photography. However, visual language is not enough to market our talents in the online world. Even I strongly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words but somehow Google was not informed of this fact. The simple truth is that you need a thousand words in order for people to find your art online. [Read more...]

Red Rocks of the Desert (Nevada)

Today I cannot pinpoint the exact location where I took this photo but it was somewhere in the deserts of Nevada between the Valley of Fire and the Hoover Dam. After visiting the Valley of Fire for a short while, I decided against taking Interstate 15 to Las Vegas. Instead, I took Route 167 that runs along Lake Mead and the Colorado River all the way to the Hoover Dam.

It was my first drive through the deserts of Nevada and I was not quite sure what to expect. I did not have any specific plans on what to photograph since that was the “transitional” day of my trip to the Southwest (US).  The only plan for that day was to drive from Zion National Park to Las Vegas and get ready for the last leg of my trip to Los Angeles.

While driving along Lake Mead, the landscape was changing constantly and, somewhere in the middle of my drive, I found myself in a valley full of rocks with unusual shapes and colors.

I spent at least an hour next to the red rock featured in my photo, resting and reflecting on my trip. I realized that only 24 hours earlier I was driving through the snow storm at Bryce Canyon and now I was having a picnic in the unbearable heat of the desert.

Travel Photography Blog - Nevada. Northshore Road

Nevada. Northshore Road
Loc: 36.233199, -114.566386

[Read more...]

Point Lobos Sea Lion Point Trail (California)

Productivity and personal efficiency are very popular topics these days. The Pareto Principle is the cornerstone in achieving maximum efficiency in your everyday life. The Pareto Principle states that 20% of your efforts create 80% of the result. The goal is to identify those 20% and concentrate your activities around it.

If I apply the Pareto Principle to my coastal drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the Point Lobos would represent the 20% that was responsible for the 80% of the results. The day I visited Point Lobos was the first time I managed to fill both of my 32 GB memory cards in one day and I had to hike back to my car to copy photos from the SD cards to my laptop and, only then, continued hiking and shooting.

The day I spent at Point Lobos was by far the most rewarding and successful day of my photography career. The number of “keepers” I had that day is astonishing.

Travel Photography Blog - California. Point Lobos State Reserve. Sea Lion Point Trail

California. Point Lobos State Reserve. Sea Lion Point Trail
Loc: 36.518433, -121.952518


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 4 Bracketed Shots (-2; -1;  0; +1 ) [Read more...]

Black Friday Deals for Travel and Landscape Photographers


Topaz Photography Collection

TopazLabs heavily discounted Topaz Photography Collection (all 15 products).

$249.00 (original price $429.00)

Use discount code BLACKFRIDAY2014

I use different Topaz Labs tools on daily basis when processing my photos. I even put together review on my blog a while ago TopazLabs DeNoise – My Favorite Digital Noise Fighting Superhero

Valid until December 1, 2014


Landscape Photography Tutorial Series: New Zealand from Trey Ratcliff

The best Landscape and Travel Photography Video Tutorial around.

Save 35% on video tutorial

What’s included:

- 2.5 hours of post-processing techniques
- 1.5 hours of live-action shots in New Zealand
- Trey’s RAW image files so you can follow along
- BONUS 2 hours of Q&A with Trey Ratcliff
- Access to the private Stuck In Customs clubhouse

Read review on my blog Landscape Photography Tutorial Series: New Zealand by Trey Ratcliff

Valid until December 1, 2014


Trey Ratcliff’s Complete HDR Tutorial

Save 35% on famous HDR tutorial

What’s included:

10+ hours of video instuction
- Trey’s RAW image files
- Stuck in Customs Clubhouse
- Recording of Q&A and Critique session

Valid until December 1, 2014



Bokeh – Shallow Depth of Field in Landscape Photography by Christopher O’Donnell

This book is an amazing opportunity for us to learn something very unique. By reading and learning from Chris, we can incorporate his techniques into our own style, making it more distinctive and original.

$6.46 (original price $19.00)


Read review on my blog Bokeh – Shallow Depth of Field in Landscape Photography



Sony Alpha A7II


This is not exactly a Black Friday deal but probably the most interesting announcement in the past 6 months. Sony introduced brand new Alpha A7II camera. It is mirrorless, full frame camera with the 5 axis image stabilization and weather sealing.

Originally it was supposed to be shipped in the beginning of the next year but now all major retailers accept pre-orders and there is strong indication that they might deliver it before Christmas. It would be awesome present.

Inspirations: PATAGONIA – 34 Best of Travel and Landscape Photographs

Today’s theme for inspiration is PATAGONIA. I’ve been fantasizing about visiting Patagonia since I was a child while reading novels by Jules Verne and imagining myself having an adventure with the children of captain Grant. Now I have real opportunity to fulfill my childhood dreams by traveling to Patagonia as a photographer. These days Patagonia, Iceland and Norway are at the top of my personal list of locations to visit.



[Read more...]

Review: Bokeh – Shallow Depth of Field in Landscape Photography

Today starts a new series inspired by an article I recently came across entitled, “If I had $1000-ish To Spend on Improving My Landscape Photography, I’d Get…” Then,  I found a list of photography equipment items that you can purchase for $1000.

I am not sure if “inspired” is the right word here because the article, in fact, made me sad and, my idea was actually born in spite of it. It made me sad because it goes against my approach to photography where I believe that equipment is secondary and the photographer, his vision and skills come first. Not to mention, there are much better ways to improve your photography than buying a new piece of hardware.

The slogan for new series is “Invest in yourself not in the equipment.”

In order to prove my point, I am challenging myself to learn something new, something incredible, each month. My goal is to find extremely useful educational resources (eBooks, tutorials, e-courses) and review it on my blog.

Here is an alternate title for today’s post: “If I had less than $20 to spend to drastically improve my landscape photography without buying any equipment, I’d Get…”


Bokeh: Creating with Shallow Depths

My first review is an eBook by Christopher O’Donnell entitled, Bokeh: Creating with Shallow Depths. O’Donnell is a landscape photographer from New England and his 120+ page eBook is part of his “The Art of Landscape Photography” series.

I have followed Chris’ photography for a while but it was not until last summer that I had the chance to connect with him after featuring his work on my blog in the post, “Top Travel Photographers Reveal Their Favorite Photo Locations Around The World – Part 2.”

In total, I featured 24 photographers, in 2 part series ( Part 1, Part 2 ), from all over the world and every one of them, without exception, is an amazing artist. However, Chris has the most unique and distinguished style as it is impossible to mistake his photography for another artist’s work.

Before I read his book, I assumed that his unique style and his approach to landscape photography were simply part of his natural talent. This, in fact, is far from reality. I discovered that his style took a long time to develop through the extensive process of studying the work of others and experimenting on his own.

The take-away point here is that you can find a happy balance between following the instructions of other photographers and developing your own style – it’s part of the learning process. Often, the road taken by those you idolize paves the way for you to a certain point. Which direction you take your work once that road ends is up to you. Christopher O’Donnell

I thought the fact that he worked diligently to develop his personal style was inspiring.  It offers us a blueprint on how to develop our own unique styles using the art of others as inspiration.


What I like most about this book is how Chris managed to strike the perfect balance between the theory behind his technique and practical, actionable teachings.

[Read more...]