Cuba Part 2

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I thought I’d add a another post with a few more shots from my Cuba trip including some from Varadero and Vinales.

I’ll start with a few more from Havana…

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Havana Market

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Havana Central

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Ring my bell

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A room with a view

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My “Hipstamatic” simulation, taken with Fuji X100s

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Havana motorcycle and sidecar

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Taxi Rank

Next up a short video recorded with my Sony HDR-GW77V video cam inside a Havana “colectivo” Taxi. These 1950′s machines are well worth a ride in, and if you know what you’re doing you can travel across the central part Havana in one for a VERY reasonable price. They are known as colectivo because they somewhat operate like buses without designated stops. Anyone can hail one down, and if there’s room inside you can squeeze in (and out) when you like. A great way to do what Cubans do, and experience a little more of there culture.

With it’s 20x optical zoom, image stabilisation, flip out touch screen and water resistance to 5 meters, the Sony is quite the little powerhouse that’s only half the size of the Fuji X100s for example.

Excuse my recording skills, this is my first genuine video camera, and whilst I found it performed really well, I’m not used to creating this kind of content.

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Busy traffic

One can’t spend too much time in Cuba without experiencing some of their rich musical heritage. I was fortunate to meet a guy on the street who took me to two very memorable venues in Havana. “Ripsol” was a wonderfully friendly person and in total I spent about 8hrs with him on one of my last days in Havana. All because of a chance meeting on the street, we watched live music, ate dinner together and shared a number of laughs. Great times. Thank you!

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Ripsol

One place my ad-hoc guide took me to was the Egrem “El Patio”. An amazing live music venue that’s kind of a hidden gem in Havana central. It’s run by the Egrem recording label (the oldest Cuban record company), that was featured in Buena Vista Social club. It’s a genuine place for real Cubans rather than tourists as such, and is well worth a visit, trust me.

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Egrem “El Patio” entrance. Havana central

This picture of the entrance to “El Patio” doesn’t do the place justice. It’s full of energy and must have hosted many amazing musical performances. Unfortunately video recording was not allowed inside the venue whilst I was there.

Earlier in the Day, Ripsol introduced me to another venue that was also unforgettable. Bathed in it’s former architectural glory, this place had a surreal atmosphere. The Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro building is home to dance and music schools and after being shown inside I managed to make this little video clip…

Wow, what a privilege it was to witness those people doing what they loved. One more time, thank you Ripsol, without you I probably would have walked straight past that building without a clue about what was going on inside.

Now to on to other parts of the island…

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Varadero home

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Varadero

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Varadero back streets

My time in Varadero was quite short (I flew into Cuba via Varadero), and whilst it has great facilities for relaxing by the beautiful ocean, drinking cocktails on the beach, and lot’s of nightlife, these weren’t the reasons I came to Cuba.

I felt needed an excursion from Havana during the trip, a break from the noise and hustle bustle, and the one place that is close and well worth a visit is Vinales in the Tobacco growing region of Cuba. I took the Via-Zul coach about 3 hours west of Havana and landed amongst a landscape quite unique in Cuba.

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Approach to Vinales (shot through coach window)

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The slower pace of Vinales

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Vinales and it’s characteristic hills

Again I stayed in a wonderfully clean and friendly Casa particular in the middle of town. The price was around $30 a night including breakfast, a little more if you wanted dinner too. Thank you Micher and Deylin :-)

It was at this Casa that I met three three Swedish guys who had taken a whole year off work, bought a sailing boat and sailed fromĀ Gothenburg to the Caribbean in search of adventure and life building experiences. Such great guys, I really enjoyed their company and it was with them that did a long hike the second day in Vinales and truly experienced a different pace of life compared to Havana (and Toronto!). The guys have a Facebook page you might be interested in checking out here: Sassylady . One warning it’s mostly in Swedish :-)

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Tobacco pickers

One sight in particular that caught my eye in first morning of my time in Vinales was a distant tree in a field far away from where I was walking. I decided the only sure way to get to it was to travel directly cross farmer’s fields containing a multitude of livestock, fences of barbed wire and more. A few times I met these farmers and asked if it was ok to cross their land and was surprised how readily they accepted my request. Eventually I made it to the tree and was mesmerized by it’s size and posture…

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Getting closer to a distant goal

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Majestic

My visit to Vinales was short and sweet with the people perhaps even more genuine and friendly than those in Havana.

After two days I was back in Havana, and taking some shots of a site that seemed very out of place right in the middle of downtown, next to the Capitolio Nacional. Some kind of Locomotive restoration project which would be a paradise for train enthusiasts…

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Locomotoras rehabilitacion

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Pano X100s

I spent about an hour wandering around this site, chatted with a few of the guys doing the restoration and generally quite enjoyed myself. I wonder how long the project will take to complete?

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Welding

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Worker’s hut

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Spare and broken parts

It was plain to see they had a lot of work to do but their enthusiasm for the job was palatable.

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In need of a service

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Rusty Loco

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Nighttime cityscape

That’s nearly all for now. But I’ll post one more short article soon showcasing some “Hipstamatic” shots I took with my iPhone 4. Stay tuned!

  1. SethSeth07-29-2013

    I hope that there is a part three!

    Seth

  2. JeroenJeroen07-29-2013

    More lovelyness! Great photos!

  3. MartinLMartinL07-29-2013

    I hope there is a part three too.
    Beautiful photo’s and such a shame there are not more of them.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Martin.

  4. JorgeJorge07-30-2013

    Absolutely LOVE these images of Cuba. Both part I and II. Varadero beach is especially endearing as my grandparents had a home there. Literally on the sand. As a small child after going to bed each evening I would here the faint clicking out on the porch. In the morning, my mother would open the front door, then with a straw broom and me standing behind her skirt (Mama’s boy) she would literally sweep hundreds of crabs off the wooden porch back into the sand before I would set foot outside!! (that would be after she would grab a bunch for the family to enjoy for lunch) To this day, and I’m not only fifty six, but spend my summers in Maine, I have never, ever eaten or touched a crab. They give me the hibbie-jibbies.
    Again, keep up the great work and if you ever hold a photo tour back to Cube PLEASE put me on your list.
    Thanks for the great memories!
    Jorge

  5. JorgeJorge07-30-2013

    On another note: If you truly want to capture that Spanish architecture, restored, re-painted and just gorgeous, visit San Juan Puerto Rico! I’ve been there at least fifteen times on business — the most recent was July 2012 for a destination wedding I shot in Old San Juan. That was a 14.5 hour day on the day of the weddiing, and another five hours the second day for the trash the dress sessions on the beach and resort pool! Fun all around. After that, it was three days for myself of sun, fun, Corona’s, and photography!
    Take care my friend and keep the images coming.
    Jorge

  6. Simon PeckhamSimon Peckham07-31-2013

    Fantastic images Kevin, really like the car street shots and the old locomotive, Cuba, seems like such a rich environment to support wonderful photography.

  7. AustinAustin10-26-2013

    Hi Kevin. These are excellent! Can you share which JPEG settings you use with your Fujis?

  8. KevinKevin10-26-2013

    The Fuji Jpegs are almost good to go, but I did tweak them a bit in Adobe Lightroom. I can’t give the exact settings but I will say once I got a look I liked I saved the settings as a preset in Lightroom to give all the colour images a mostly consistent look.
    I can’t remember if I started with Astia or Provia, but it certainly wasn’t “Velvia” as I find this crushes the blacks too much. I recomend you experiemnt and create your own settings as this is half the fun of Lightroom. Best regards, and thanks for visiting :-)

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