We couldn’t be more excited when acclaimed New Zealand-based photographer, Stuck In Customs blogger, and “old-school gentleman explorer” Trey Ratcliff took over our Editor’s Choice page for a few days.

After all, for many years, we’ve been smitten with his stunning photographs, like the ones below:

His curatorial eye for spotting awe-inspiring images is just as great as his expert photography skills. When asked about what makes a photograph good, he explains:

“To me, what makes an interesting photo is one that is just a little bit confusing. One where there is a little bit of mystery. Today’s cameras are all so good that they can make everything quite literal. There’s often no mystery, and everything is laid out. But when you see something confusing in a photo, your mind starts to fill in the gap with your own experience or thoughts. And in doing so, the photo becomes as much theirs and yours.”

So from landscapes to portraits—scroll down to see the photos that made it to Trey Ratcliff’s top list:

Aside from stepping in as 500px’s Guest Editor the past week, we’re also buzzing over the launch of The Arcanum, a new educational movement in photography that recently opened its doors—thanks to Trey Ratcliff’s fresh vision and approach to teaching. Think of it as Hogwarts meets Photography school.

Watch the video below, and you’ll find yourself enthralled by this inventive, new way of learning the tricks and tools of the photography trade:

Curious to know more? We asked Trey a couple of questions about The Arcanum, and what it’s all about.

We love the quirky and inventive concept behind The Arcanum. For those photographers that don’t get the big world fantasy reference though, can you give us an overview on how The Arcanum works?
Yes! We’ve figured out a way to bring back the Master and Apprentice style of learning in a magical way. About six months ago, we launched a completely new kind of way to learn art where Masters go through our system and handpick 20 Apprentices from our list of applications from over 110 countries. Then, the Master has this little group of 20 in their “cohort.” All of those people start at lowly Level 1. Over time, they work with one another and their Master to level up to Level 20 by increasing their skills through challenges, critiques, and more. It’s terribly fun, and frankly, quite moving for people that are currently going through the experience.

We love that you’re bringing back the master/apprentice model of learning, and in this case, it applies to the art and discipline of photography. How does mentorship play a big role in a beginner photographer’s education? How effective is it?
It’s amazing how much an extended period of personal mentorship can have on any photographer—not just beginners. The Internet, in a way, has done a very lame job of educating photographers. There is a lot of learning and tutorial stuff out there—free and paid—but it’s incredibly impersonal. When you don’t just have a personal mentor or Master, but 19 other people going through the same thing together, and you realize that you’re all in there together—that changes everything. Having a Master point out your blind spots, follow up with you, assign you videos, and personal challenges is a game-changer. Even better, the system self-replicates, so that we can eventually service the tens—more like hundreds of thousands who want to experience this new way of unlocking their own personal style and creative awesomeness.

To apply for a spot or get more information, check out The Arcanum.
You can also connect with Trey and his millions of followers on Google+, Twitter, Facebook.
Follow his blog and 500px page to see more of his inspiring body of work.