Category Archives: Cuba

Cuba #9 – Peek-a-Boo

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Another example of patience.  I spent a fair amount of time getting to know this girl, her younger sister and Mom.  They were so polite, never asking for anything but very interested in what two americans were doing on their street.  After struggling with my sparse Spanish and lots of giggles, I decided to share some things I had. They were very grateful.  I then decided to photograph the wonderful wall next to their home when this young lady decided to play.  I had a tripod on this morning as we were out in early light.  I kept my finger on the shutter and fired of a series of images. Of course I was doing a happy dance with her and each of us laughing. She laughed even more when I showed her the images on the back of my camera.  I can’t wait to search her family out next year and bring them some pictures of this fun moment.  Below are a few more of the series.

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Cuba #8 – Lazaro’s Car in Havana

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Lazaro, the owner of this wonderful car is as tall or maybe even taller than me.  A very nice young man who first found a few of us in his garage photographing the car and came down to chat with us. I was worried he might be annoyed as we were a step or two inside of his garage.  Quite the opposite, he was thrilled to show off his car with its original engine. He then invited us back anytime and even asked if we wanted him to take the car out and park it on a specific street! The point of all of this is, if you are polite and engage, the Cuban people are wonderful and beyond accommodating.

My only regret is not taking a picture of Lazaro with his car. I’m just not tuned into those type of images like Mark Stevens is. Mark was one of our repeat participants and is doing a GREAT job on his blog. Be sure to take a look at his great work and read his wonderful stories.  

The lead image was shot as a square, in camera.  This is a great feature of the Fuji cameras. You can choose different formats and even shoot B&W at the same time if you want.  As long as you choose to shoot RAW and JPEG, it preserves the native format (2×3) along with the color data in the RAW file while creating a jpeg in the format you choose. This is especially useful for pre-visualizing your images in a different format or B&W or both, while still keeping all the data if you need it in the RAW file should you want to go back to color or the native 2×3 format.

I’m including a new shot below that is pretty close to the original from two years ago that I still love. Both images made with the Fuji X-Pro1 with the Fuji 14mm prime at f/11, ISO 400.

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Cuba #7 – Boy & Bike

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Fuji X-E2 – 35mm 1.4 @ f/4

You might recognize this young boy, he is the same boy that was in the triptych posted a few days ago.  After photographing him I wasn’t leaving, he was just too much fun and I wanted to see what else might happen.  As I stepped back to the other side of the street, a young woman rode up on a bicycle and parked it right here! I’m definitely not going anywhere now. I start making images of the bike and who comes out of the door? The boy!  Click,click,click. 

Once again, I’m conflicted about color or B&W.  Unlike the last time I asked where I really did like the color better, this time I could go either way. What say you? B&W version below.

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Cuba #6 – The Blue Car

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On our first day we stumbled upon this wonderful car on a great street in old Havana. The recent rain added just the right touch.

For processing, I used Alien Skin Exposure 5 and in this case was done!  I think the film look for images from Cuba is perfect and Exposure 5 rocks for ease of use.  And, you can customize the look right in their awesome interface too.  I have a video tutorial for Exposure 5 here.

A thought with regard to the process of image capture. When you stumble upon a scene as good as this or one the resonates with you for whatever reason, WORK THE SCENE!!  Do not just take one picture and walk away.  Below you’ll find two more takes. Two more right answers but ultimately I liked the lead image best. I took one at a different angle and the other without the wall on the right.  Notice the different color in the last one. Different film choice in Exposure 5.

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Cuba #5 – Working Hands

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We took the group back to a favorite location with a wonderful staircase (see detail shot below).  On the second floor where the stair shot is, we found this man working diligently to remove layers of paint from the old doors.  He worked relentlessly as a group photographed the stairs.  A few of us decided to photograph him but not until we had been on the floor for quite some time.  By the time we asked permission he was comfortable with us there and pretty much ignored us as we made our photographs.

Oh and by the way, in the last post I loved the color version too.  I was just curious as to what others thought.  :)

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Cuba #4 – Morning Chores

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Fuji X-E2 – 18-55mm at 31, f/8 ISO 800 1/340

This image was made on our last day in Trinidad.  Matt and I went out together, just the two of us.  It really is a good idea to go out in small groups as it allows for scenes like these to unfold.  Large groups feel like the paparazzi has arrived and the mood changes.  Matt and I were on this street for quite a long time as it was rich with opportunities. Like the shoe shine scene, the woman acknowledged me as soon as she saw me, however, she was busy doing her morning chores.  The Cuba people take great pride in what they have and are constantly cleaning.  I was in love with all that was going on in this scene, so I kept pressing the shutter as she cleaned the wall, the window, the bars around the window, etc, etc…. and then….. the neighbor stuck his head out for just a few seconds, THANK YOU!

So the final question was, would it work better as a monochrome image or do I leave it in color?  I still can’t decide.  B&W included below.

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Cuba #3 – Shoe Shine

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Fuji X-E2 – 35mm at f/8

This street scene feels more organic to me.  I was on the other side of the street hangin’ out.  I’m sure they were aware of my presence, however, I did not jump in and start taking pictures.  Rather, I hung back looking at other things knowing full well I wanted this shot.  Eventually after they forgot about me, I was able to raise my camera in their direction and make this image.

I found having a small camera is indeed a benefit for street photography.  People do not seem to mind near as much as those having the big guns. I also learned having a fixed focal length is not a hindrance at all, in fact I would say 80% of my shooting on this trip was with prime lenses.  Having the 1.4 f/stop on the 35mm and 23mm lenses is great for many situations.  

Cuba #2

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I said before I left for this trip, that I wanted to focus more on the people of Cuba. I believe I did this, however, I’m not sure I succeeded.  Sure, I made some nice images I like, but when I look at others work, I feel I am falling short.  “Street” photography is not easy, it takes patience and timing. And then there is the idea of capturing the moment unaware versus engaging the subject.  I tend to want to get permission which means engaging with the people.  What I do know is, I will get better at this type of photography over time and with much practice. 

This triptych was created on the first day.  A happy moment to be sure!  Remember to click on the image to view it bigger.

More thoughts on “street photography” and the people of Cuba as I continue to post over the coming weeks.

Back from Cuba

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Fuji X-E2 – 14mm prime ISO 3200 handheld f/11

I just arrived back home today from another successful trip to Cuba.  Tony Sweet and I brought group to visit Havana and Trinidad to meet the people and make photographs.   I’ll have much to blog about over the coming weeks, but for now, I wanted to share a favorite from Trinidad.  

On this evening, we were able to watch and outdoor wedding in the late day light. The golden glow was magical to say the least.  This was the car that either brought them or was waiting to take them away. When I opened the image in ACR, I didn’t make one adjustment. In Photoshop, I used Perfectly Clear for a very minor adjustment and then Nik Viveza to darken the sky just a touch.  With it being handheld at ISO 3200 I did use Nik Define to remove the little bit of noise.  Very little processing on this. Its good to be home!

Warmer Weather Ahead!

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I’m excited to be leaving today to co-lead another group to Cuba with Tony Sweet.   One of the best parts of Cuba is its warm friendly people, like this lovely woman who was gracious to pose for a quick snap last year.  

I am excited about traveling light with just Fuji Cameras and lenses this year.  And, I’ll be carrying it all in an ONA BAG  that my wife got me as a Christmas gift.  I’ve been lusting after an Ona Bag for sometime, they are works of art! The bag filled with a camera  body, 5 lenses, extra batteries, filters and such, weighed in at a whopping 11 lbs!!  And the bag itself weighs 3.7 lbs.  

While I am attracted to the many great cars and architecture, this year I will to be focusing on the people in hopes that I can hone my street photograph/people skills.

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