Category Archives: Cuba

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!

Cuba

I’ve just returned from my fourth trip to Cuba. It was an interesting time to be there with the recent announcement regarding our relationship with Cuba. The general consensus among the Cuban people I spoke with was one of hope, optimism and happiness.

The image below, was made in old town Havana well before sunrise just outside of our hotel. I feel it captures the essence of Havana. It really is like entering a time warp…

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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.