Sunday, January 31, 2016

Havana: More Wabi-Sabi

More crumbling beauty everywhere you look. My friend Clyde and his wife, world travelers "par excellance," just got back from their first trip last week and came away with the same feelings Margaret and I have about Cuba. It's not really explainable until you go.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Havana: Works in Progress

Change is coming to Cuba, but it will take time. Whether it's a collapsed building or a derelict automobile, progress will be slow.

Havana: More Like the Last Post

Some more walls and doors for your viewing pleasure Nigel. These are like cat-nip for me. I noticed this trip quite a bit more actual wall art that graffiti, although there's plenty of that as well. Havana is starting to change from 2012 and our other two visits. The hotels are jam-packed, and not just for Christmas. Our favorite hotel, the Parque Centrale, is booked a year in advance. There are more tour buses around, and on our drive in from Jose Marti International, there was actual traffic, especially as we approached our hotel next to the Parque Centrale. There are not nearly enough hotel rooms in either Havana or other popular destinations, but Air BnB seems to be filling some of the void. Cubans are very entreprenurial and have jumped all over the government's loosening of restrictions on how its citizens can make money. We also made reservations at every restaurant we ate at on this trip. On December 26th, I asked for a reservation in person at a popular restaurant in Plaza de la Catedral. No luck for two weeks!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Havana: Abstract Art

I happen to enjoy abstract art but I don't claim to know anything about it. I just know what I like when I see it. I like color, geometry, shadow, and wabi-sabi (look it up Nigel). All of these photographs have at least some of those elements. Some are more literal than others. Regardless, I enjoy looking for these things when I am walking around a place like Havana, and there's no shortage of photographic opportunity.

Havana: Skies and Clouds

For some reason, in late December and one day in January, I expected the weather to be a bit more dramatic. No such luck. It was exactly like summer, just not as hot. For one evening, however, I got my wish and the clouds moved in over the city. The middle picture was another day, but the sky coupled with the pollution-belching smokestacks got my attention.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Havana: Classic Cars Part 2

Some more examples of what's to be found on the streets of Havana today. To get a car isolated from other cars (taxis), it is necessary to walk the back streets of Havana where tourists fear to tread. Well worth it for good photography and completely safe.

Havana: Classic Cars Part 1

Along with cigars and rum, classic cars from the 50s are Cuba's biggest cliche. Even so, I still find them colorful and interesting and a testament to the Cubans' incredible ability to keep these things running long past their expiration date. There's an American TV show called "Cuban Chrome" that pays homage to the mechanics who find a way to get parts, paint and almost anything they need to keep them on the road. My main criteria for these photographs is that the background must be as interesting as the car itself. I don't always succeed at that, however. It seems like today, three years since we were last in Havana, that the majority of these old pre-1959 cars are being used as taxis.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Havana: A Person in the Landscape

I try to give each set of pictures I post some sort of connection with each other rather than take a willy-nilly approach. That isn't to say that each photograph is particularly effective on its own. Although I like these shots, there are some nagging problems with a few of them. I love the color in the bottom two, but I wish the feet of both people (1) were visible in the pink and blue photo and (2) not so close to the bottom of the frame in the last one. Often, I'll turn around and there's a shot that I sometimes don't have the time to perfectly compose. In the shot with the man in the red shirt and walking stick, I wasn't able to give him room to breathe as he's walking out of the frame. I was taking the background and he walked into the shot while my eye was at the viewfinder. In four of the other five photographs, the people are very small against a larger landscape. I think a person adds something against a more sterile picture of a building. All photographs taken with the Sony A 6000.

Havana: Street Cinematics

Cinematics are usually taken with a wide-angle lens, in this case my Sony 10-18 which in 35mm terms means a 15-27 range of view. I straightened some of these shots and left others with some distortion, most notably the one of the people playing dominoes on the street outside their home. While I usually try to keep the subject out of the center of the photograph, I made an exception with the man running away from me on the Malecon. No reason really. I also try to keep people in the frame spread out a bit, with not too many on either side of the shot to give the photograph some balance. As I walk around the city, I have no particular place in mind to go. I just keep moving until something catches my eye, usually color or a striking building or particularly good light. With the exception of the first picture, all were taken on the streets outside the more spiffed-up Havana Vieja center. I used the Sony NEX 7 for all of these.