Landscape Photography Tutorial Series New Zealand by Trey Ratcliff – Full Review


Trey Ratcliff is arguably the most prolific and famous HDR photographer out there. He has influenced hundred thousands of photographers that strive to create photos like his. But if you ever wanted to participate in a live workshop from the man himself, you have to have really deep pockets. Such an adventure can easily cost you $5,000 or more (not including your trip to New Zealand). And it’s probably worth every penny.

But if you cannot spend this type of money, this workshop on video is for you. You will be there in the action with the other participants, as this was in large parts recorded during one of Trey’s New Zealend workshops. But make no mistake about it, this is not a cheap smartphone recording with crappy sound. Not at all! Everything about this video is high-quality, and you’re going to learn a ton of tips, tricks and techniques from the man himself.

Quick Facts

TypeLengthSkill levelRetail Price
Video6.5+ hoursBeginner – Intermediate$79

The Instructor

5DayDeal - Amazing Deals For A Limited Time! - Mozilla Firefox_2015-09-07_16-45-14Trey Ratcliff is probably the most famous photographer online. He is most well known for his HDR and travel photography. But he is also a great author, teacher and entrepreneur who offers books, video courses, workshops, apps and online services for photographers. The number of people following him online easily has 8 digits, and he influenced a whole generation of photographers.

Detailed Review

In the first part, Trey introduces you to a set of 30+ photos that he created on a photo workshop in New Zealand. This gives you a good impression of what to expect from this 6.5 hour long video. This is a nice way to start of such a long video course. Where other instructors give you the results piece by piece as you follow the video, Trey shows you what to expect right off the bat.

He gives you his thought process and creative approach for the most interesting photos. This really sets the stage for the rest of the video.

In the next 2 parts, Trey takes you (and the actual participants in the workshop) with him on his journey through the different locations. He talks about each scene, how to compose your shot, how to shoot it, and the technical side of things. Throughout these “Live Action” parts, you get a feeling of being there with the workshop group, which has a nice feel to it as opposed to most video courses where it’s just you and the instructor (on video). Sometimes, you may even feel like asking one of the other participants for advice. But you should resist that temptation. They’re not going to answer. 😉

In parts 4 and 5, Trey takes you through his post-processing workflow for a selected few of the images created throughout the workshop. Having watched parts 2 and 3 before, you get a feeling as if these where your own images, which creates a certain mood of being attached. This is really helpful for your learning experience.

Trey starts in Lightroom and explains every aspect of his workflow, taking the exposure series into Photomatix, tone mapping it and taking it into Photoshop. You’ll learn a ton about using Photomatix and how to set all the sliders to achieve a certain style. All along the way, Trey shows you what his thought process is, not only what the sliders do. This gives you a great insight into the creative side of the whole process in addition to the technical side of it.

He also gives you tips on using presets and on how to find out quickly which direction to take for a given image. Then he takes two different versions of the same image into Photoshop and blends them together to mix the best parts of both images.

Throughout the entire post-processing part, there’s only a slim chance of you feeling overwhelmed. Trey shows you some simple but very effective techniques, and when he uses any advanced tricks, he explains everything in simple terms so that you will always be able to follow along effortlessly.

The final part of the video series (part 7), is a Q&A section where 7 photographers (presumably participants in the workshop) ask Trey questions and get them answered. Trey also processes some images live in this recorded video conference session.

Other Things You’ll Learn

You will learn a lot about how to approach your photography, both in terms of actually creating the exposures and in terms of post-processing. In the “Live Action” parts, you’ll be able to pick up numerous tips and tricks. For example, Trey shows you how to deal with shots into the sun by blocking the sun with your hand. In post-production, when you merge everything together, you’ll have the sun itself and the shots with the blocked sun that are free of lens flare, and you can merge them to get the perfect image of that location.

In part 3, you will also learn how Trey “extends his consciousness” to explore a scene from all possible angles without having to move his feet. Sounds like voodoo, but this really becomes possible if you practice photography long enough. In this part, he’ll also show you how to deal with really windy conditions and still come away with sharp images.

I could go on here, but there are so many tips to take from this video course that you’d have to do a lot of reading. It’s way better to just get the course and watch it for yourself.

Teaching Style

Trey is really a special person – not because he is a pioneer of HDR photography, but because of his attitude to life. He is always positive, friendly and very relaxed without being artificial. When he says he wants to take you on a tour through New Zealand, it really feels this way.

As I already stated above, large parts of the video give you the feeling of actually being there with the group. I could almost feel the early-morning sleepy-but-excited nervousness that is typical for these situations. Trey’s team did a professional job of capturing the workshop event. The video and the sound are of good quality.

You will see and hear Trey answering many questions from the participants, and in some sections throughout the video, Trey turns to the camera and talks directly to you, the viewer, to give you some more explanations and keep you in touch with what’s happening.

Summary and Verdict

If you want to learn how to shoot and process HDR like the master himself, this video course is for you. Even if you are not a big Trey fan, there’s tons of advice to take from the videos, both in terms of shooting and in terms of post-processing. Trey’s relaxed and authentic personality will easily carry you through the 6.5 hours without ever getting bored. One thing that will surprise you is the simplicity of the work that lets Trey create his master pieces. It does not always have to be complicated to be good.

  • The video feels like being on a workshop with Trey. It feels personal, authentic and it’s very informative.
  • You will learn everything from shooting the images (including countless tips) all the way to the finished image at the end of the post-processing workflow.
  • The package includes 35 original raw images shot during the live workshop event. So you can follow along with everything Trey does.
  • I could well have done without part 7 of the series. That part is a recorded Google+ hangout that did not do much for me. But even if you take part 7 out of the equation, you’re still left with about 5 hours of high-quality, very informative video.

Look Inside

In this video, Trey and the participants of the New Zealand workshop talk about the video course.

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4 replies
  1. Privat Bruger
    Privat Bruger says:

    Seems like everybody and his brother is touting this package. There’s just no way that a 96% rebate is going to make anything credible. If the package were worth $3000 then selling it off for $127 is ridiculous.

  2. Ely John
    Ely John says:

    I have seen several clips from this video and I have to say this material is very disappointing. I don’t know Privat Bruger. Whether his name is legit or not does not matter because he has a point. You won’t see a Jay Maisel photographs worth thousands turn $49.95. That would be an insult to the man. Anyhow if you want to learn real photography this is not the material for you. If you’re into over-processed images however, well by all means purchase this video. Ratcliff proclaimed to the world the DSLR’s demise yet he does not even know how to correctly frame his own images. C’mon now! Good photography is not all about Photoshop, Lightroom and cheap presets. Maybe he needs to go back to school before he can actually become a teacher to anyone. Nothing personal man, It’s just that bad. Take my advise. Go to the public library instead. You’ll be surprised what you can find there. Ciao.

    • Brendan Forward
      Brendan Forward says:

      I find this to be an incredibly uncharitable and curt way to assess an Trey Ratcliff’s teaching style and work. It is one thing to say that an artists interpretation of a scene doesn’t work for you and another all together to say that they do not know what they are doing. His work runs a gamut between extreme interpretations to more subtle tones. The fact that you can boil it all down to over-processed and bad framing is a disservice in my opinion.

      Some of the great artists of the past had just as much love for the dark room as they did for being out in the field camera. They saw that they were two sides of the same coin and that photography thrives when you embrace both critically and with a capacity for creative thought. What makes Trey’s Lightroom, and Photoshop methodology and less than that? Your argument seems merely a product of the impatience to make a statement rather than a strong, cogent argument.

      By all means go to the library, read the great material that is out there but don’t belittle the efforts and career of someone that by all means deserves more charity and thought than you have offered.


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