Category Archives: Cuba

Cuba is all about the music

In Cuba, everywhere you turn, infectious Latin rhythms can be heard. The music is one of the best things about Cuba. I am impressed with the way the Cubans take their less than adequate instruments and make amazing music with them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high quality guitar being play on any of my trips. I do hope the renewed relations will eventually bring quality instruments to the Cubans. These talented musicians deserve them! I can’t help but make a photography point here. What a great example they are in cementing the idea that it is not the gear that makes a great image, its the person behind the gear. In this case, better quality instruments will stay in tune better, sound so much richer and be easier to play. That still does not take away from my point. You can feel the soul of these musicians as they play, regardless of the quality of the instrument.

As a guitar player, I am particularly drawn to fellow players, but of course I am a former trumpet player too! You’ll notice in one picture a yellow guitar pick. On this trip, I brought 100 picks and gave them to any and every guitar player I ran into. I also brought 6 sets of strings. The reaction to these simple gifts was heart warming. So glad I did this and would suggest you do too, if you travel to Cuba.

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Cuba Through Their Eyes

It is an honor to associate with the photographers who come on a tour or workshop. I am inspired by their vision and talent. As such, I asked the participants who traveled with Tony Sweet and me on our recent trip to Cuba to share a favorite image from the trip. I wanted you to see Cuba through their eyes and introduce you to their excellent work. If you see a highlighted link, please click on it to see more of their work.

Carla Geyer - Cheryl and I stumbled into this potter’s workshop and we were entranced. The artist sitting at his wheel smiled at us and continued his work. We were in no hurry, so we took our time and looked around. Then a large and somewhat rude German tourist group bustled in; Cheryl and I sat down and decided to wait them out! Our patience did not go unrewarded. The artist took his time to talk with us: to tell us about the 6 generations of artists before him, to introduce us to his son and grandson, to show us his kiln and tools. Such generosity of spirit.

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Gayle Biggs –  “Giggles” – She did not speak English and I did not speak Spanish.  We communicated with giggles!

 

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Greg Hockel –  Hope springs eternal…..

 

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Pam Davis – I love this image because it was the first day back in Havana with the lighthouse in the background and the light on this man he never seemed to notice me as I snapped multiple images of him cutting up his bait.  I feel like I could have watched for hours, my only regret is that I did not try to interact.  I was afraid of changing the mood even when I was done creating images.

 

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Linda Harding -  (Linda’s website will be live shortly, check back later this month)  I loved the intimacy of Cuba.  The people….their connection with one another.  I loved their gifts for art, music, and the stamina  to get up and keep going everyday, even when that going is tough.  So, I share the image of  early morning in the streets of Cuba.  I was in awe of the magic of this country.

 

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Mark Stevens –  Three Hands (Mark has a number of excellent blog post from this trip)

I really enjoyed the music on this trip to Cuba. Maybe it was better or maybe I was more relaxed because I was not trying to photograph everything.
Cuba is a sensory overload for a photographer like me. I know all about slowing down and seeing when it comes to photography, but it took me three tours to slow down and enjoy more of the other beauty of Cuba.
 
This image was shot in very low light with a Canon 6D and a 35mm f2 lens. Even at high ISO I could not get a shutter speed of more than 1/40 th sec.
The musicians were playing in this formation, but I had to combine three of the less blurry images into one composite.
The image was processed in PS CS6 using Nik Software and Topaz Impression.
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Early Morning – Trinidad Cuba

 I find early morning the best time to photograph the streets of Trinidad. You’ll hear the vendors on their bikes announcing their arrival with things like bread or vegetables. And then you see folks peek out of their home to flag them down. Of course there will be cars parked overnight adding to the flavor of the scene and the early morning light too.

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Looking

This year while in Trinidad, I worked on my “people” photography skills.  For this image, I spotted the blue wall, interesting doors and lone bike. I suspected I might have added interest if I just hung out for awhile.  Sure enough, in about five minutes, this young man came out along with a dog. I waited until the gesture of both made sense and tripped the shutter.

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Trinidad Cuba

One of my favorite scenes in the beautiful town of Trinidad Cuba.

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Three

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Three – Havana Cuba

Early Light on the Malecon – Havana Cuba

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The Malecon is a wide 5 mile road with a sea wall that runs along the coastline in Havana. Again, you can see Morro Castle in the background. It took four years to get a worthy sky to include in this scene. 

Strawberry and Chocolate

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Strawberry and Chocolate is a movie released in 1993.  It was shot in Cuba at this very building. The building is a favorite to photograph, however, in neighborhood where we are told to stay close to the bus. I was peeking out the window while others were shooting the iconic stair scene when I saw a red truck pulling into the garage. I quickly ran downstairs to see what was going on. Much to my delight it parked to load the debris from the renovation going on. Within minutes of making a few images, the truck pulled out and was on its way. 

On another note, we’ve just had a cancellation for our Tuscany/Venice Tour in May. It was not listed on the tour page as it was full before we announced it.  If you’re interested in joining us, please send an email and I’ll send you the details.  It is a 10 day tour starting on May 23rd ending on June 1st.

Red

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I’ve photographed this car in Havana on previous trips. It is hard to pass up, so here is another take.

I have noticed a fair amount of construction going on in Havana over the past three years. This is good news. The wiring we saw in homes three years ago looked dangerous. Now, we see lots of new electrical boxes and wiring that does not scare me. This year, many streets were torn up. It appeared as though work was being done on the infrastructure which is sorely needed. It will be interesting to see what changes are in store with the rekindling of our relationship with Cuba. I hope the “people” receive some benefit, but I have my doubts.

Waiting

If you get up early enough, and you should, the streets of Havana are quiet and void of activity. And then, as you roam the vacant streets with dawn approaching, you’ll encounter small groups on their way to work, or to catch a ride, or to catch the bus, or to get a cup of coffee. It is during these early hours that you’ll likely find little vignettes such as this one.  Of course I was drawn to the wonderful red car with tons of character, but then the door opened and the woman poked her head out. Then she stepped out, obviously waiting for her ride. An already good image now a better one. And then, after she left, a neighbor stepped out of his home and shared that the car was his and did not run. It too is waiting, waiting for another talented, industrious Cuban to come and fix it, so it will ride again.

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I’d like to draw your attention to a very special new tour that Dan and I are offering in January of 2016.  A full week at The Hideout Dude Ranch in Wyoming!  Lots of details can be found on my tour page here!  (scroll down to the bottom when you get there.)  We are VERY excited about this one!