On the weekend before Christmas in 2011, my friend Gary Cunningham and I were guests of Dave Goeddel at his home in Cabo San Lucas at the El Dorado Golf and Tennis Club. Golf was the main focus, but Gary and Dave found time one evening before dinner to try their hand at catching something. Dave was successful but Gary drew a blank. I was more interested in photography than fishing. The skies were spectacular! I used my wife's Nikon D5000 which survived a fall from a golf cart during the weekend. Unfortunately, the Goeddel family getaway took a major hit during the recent hurricane a few months ago. It will be a slow process to get it back to what it was when we were there.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
As the title of the post says, "somewhere between Cienfuegos and Trinidad" I saw a baseball game in progress as our bus lurched its way towards Trinidad. I asked our driver to pull over and he did. After waking our players in the back of the bus, we all spilled out on to a real field of dreams. I should mention that we were in Cuba with a rather motley crew from my 2003 high school baseball team, many parents and assorted hangers-on from Saint Francis High School. This trip was the brainchild of my wife, Margaret, a Spanish teacher who had long wanted to visit Cuba. I wasn't sold, after returning a week earlier from France where an unprecedented heat wave had killed hundreds of French citizens. I was beat! But here we were and I was starting to really understand why Cuba is a magical place. This impromptu stop proved to be the highlight of our entire trip. We engaged the two opposing town teams in a friendly pick-up game, talked with the locals, donated a dozen new baseballs, and left a lasting impression on both the Cubans as well as our young players. As we got on the bus to continue our trip, the Cubans were getting into a makeshift flatbed pulled by a tractor to get back to their respective towns.This was two hours I will never forget.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Again, all of these photographs are from 2003 and taken with the Nikon Coolpix 5700. Correcting distortion from this lens is a bit time-consuming and not entirely successful, but the shots give a sense of the infrastructure in Old Havana eleven years ago. Things have been improving but not at a pace to satisfy the inhabitants of the city. Many injuries and even deaths have resulted from buildings literally falling down or burning to the ground as a result of faulty wiring. The bottom photograph shows a building across the street from our hotel where the ceiling has completely disappeared and yet several families still made their home. The building in the photograph of the woman standing amidst her laundry has been completely restored as it sits on a square where many tourists congregate. Of course, she and many others have been moved out as a result of the renovations. The flags on the balcony of photograph number three represent the 26th of July, the Cuban 4th of July.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
It's next to impossible to avoid music in Cuba, not that I'd want to. It seems like every bar, restaurant, or street corner has a band or at least a combo doing their thing with great enthusiasm. The photograph second from bottom only became usable the last year or so because of sophisticated software that wasn't available in 2003. It was so dark in that bar, I could barely get a workable shutter speed. It didn't help that in those days I was afraid of raising the ISO above 100 to avoid excessive noise in the photographs. The bottom photo was taken at an alligator farm of all places. It's the only photo from the entire tour that features my notoriously camera-shy friend Les DeWitt,
These three views from the bell tower in the Church of Saint Francis in Trinidad are interesting to me for a number of reasons. For one, each "framing device" is a different shape and each looks out on an entirely different landscape. The bottom photograph looks towards the mountain range, the middle to the ocean about ten miles to the south, and the top to the north and an approaching storm.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Although I was able to spend only about two hours in Trinidad in 2003, I am still happy with some of the photographs. In subsequent visits lasting two days or more, I was able to explore much more of this fascinating Colonial city in Central Cuba, a World Heritage site. It was six years before I got back, and then another two years for a third visit. Houses have been repainted, buildings are either in a greater state of decay or have been entirely restored, and I wander farther afield each time. It's a small, very walkable place if you have good walking shoes as the cobblestones can take their toll after a while. There are two very good hotels and a few excellent restaurants, but otherwise few concessions to tourism.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
My first reaction on seeing these photographs again was that they all have people in them. Trinidad is a very recognizable place once you have been there. The colors of the houses, the architecture, the animals, people selling cigars, and men sitting on a stoop talking are all motifs that make this a very special place for me. I've never been any place else like it and can't wait to go back. It's the same but different every time.
Kids make great photographic subjects, mostly because they are far less self-conscious than adults. The second photograph is a good example of the Nikon 5700 not being able to capture the background without blowing out the highlights. The top two and bottom photos were taken in Havana, and the next two in Cienfuegos and Trinidad. I had just stepped out of our tour bus when I saw this little guy eating a piece of fruit recently picked from a tree. He immediately offered me one to try.
I've spent the last week or so reprocessing photographs from my first trip to Cuba in 2003. I had all the originals saved so, with new software coming out seemingly every month, it was time to take a look a place I've been back to twice since then. I was curious to see how my limited photographic equipment (and skills) had held up. These "cigar women" caught my attention. They work mostly around the main plazas in Havana where the tourist traffic is high. They are colorful and represent all age groups. Many have been doing this for 50 years or more. The lady in white with the tarot card will tell your future, blow cigar smoke in your face, and try to convert you to Santeria. The bottom photo was taken in the morning in the Plaza de la Catedral as they got together to chat, check their makeup, and get ready to start the day selling flowers to tourists. The limitations of the Nikon 5700 Coolpix 5-megapixel camera aren't as apparent in these low-contrast photographs. It's only when you encounter areas of bright sun with shadows that the files seem to fall apart a bit. (a big bit actually) It was fun to revisit my first impressions of this magical place.