Writing with Light

Cuba

2015 My Year in Review

Every year Jim Goldstein runs a project on his blog, JMG Galleries, where he encourages photographers to post their best pictures of the year. It’s a great project and I’ve participated every year. When I started participating about 4 years ago I thought, “what a great way to have pictures seen by a whole new audience.”

That was me when I first started blogging but now there are so many other reasons that I participate. Yes I still like that fact that I may reach a new audience but more than that I find this to be a difficult and yet rewarding exercise. It’s tough to cull through your work and pick what you think may be the best of the year. It really gives me a chance to go though my images (some that I haven’t looked at for almost a year) and decide whether they’re good enough to make the cut of the top 10 or 15.  I try to review my images from a technical perspective and from a creative one. Certainly I’m drawn to certain images due to the circumstances of where and when they were taken. The picks may not always be perfect and certainly wouldn’t win any awards but art is subjective and what one person views as a masterpiece another make look at and dismiss entirely.

It’s been a busy and rewarding year both on the photographic front and from a family and work stand point. I’ve taken on a new role at work which was unexpected at the beginning of 2015 but I am loving it. The only downside has been that its been so busy that my photography had to take a bit of a back seat.

From a photography perspective I’ve continued to sell prints and license new work which is always very exciting and rewarding. I won’t make any specific commitments for the new year because I know that my day job will still be taking up a lot of my time but learning new photographic techniques and honing my craft is something that I know will always be important and I will find and make the time to do it.

If you have a chance jump on over to Jim Goldstein’s site here in or about the second week of January and he should have a list of year in review post listed for your viewing pleasure. There’s always a great list of photographers on there, you won’t regret it.

As always you can click on the images to enlarge them or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, Havana, Old Havana, street photography, travel photography, black and white

Cuba

water drops, gerber flower, refraction, milkweed, macro photography

Refracted Water Drops

Havana, Cuba, Cuban Cigars, Cigar, Stogie, travel photography, cigar aficiondo, black and white

Cuba

Hilton Falls, Ontario, Milton, conservation, waterfall, long exposure, trees

Hilton Falls, Ontario

Boston, skyline, Fan Pier, sunset, blue hour, travel photography, harbour, lights, Charles River

Boston

Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, Ontario, Muskoka Chairs, dock, sunset, nature

Muskoka

Lake Ontario, Toronto, Beaches, sail, sailboats, water

Lake Ontario

Old Montreal, Quebec, night photography, long exposure, historic

Old Montreal

Jerusalem, Israel, street photography, black and white, monochrome, man, beard

Jerusalem, Israel

Israel, Jerusalem, Western Wall, Orthodox, Man, Walking, Motion, black and white, travel photography,

Jerusalem, Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel, sunset, beach, family, photographer, golden, water, sea, Mediterranean

Tel Aviv, Israel

 


More Dizzying Heights & My Thoughts on Creativity

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend filled with family, lots of laughs and good eats 🙂 I don’t think any of my posts so far have garnered such opposing opinions as my Havana Rooftops multiple exposure that I posted last Friday.

Some of you didn’t like it…I mean really didn’t like it and some of you did. I actually found all the comments refreshing and I want to thank everyone that did comment and offered their opinion. As photographers we want people to like, no love our work. It’s one of the reasons we do what we do but it’s not the only reason. There’s also the self-satisfaction of creating something different. Sometimes when we look through the viewfinder we see something that may not be there physically but rather in our minds.  The definition of creative is “having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas.” While some of these ideas will appeal to some they won’t appeal to others. I can just imagine what some people must have said when Jackson Pollock create his first piece of art.

Oh please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way comparing my work with that of Jackson Pollock. I’m just making an analogy between his experimentation and mine.

Some of you asked what the original image looked like. Here it is…

Havana, Cuba, rooftops, cityscape, travel photography

And I’ll give you one more of my “experimentations” before I leave and I promise I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled program with my next post 🙂  Oh…and please leave a comment and let me know what you think…either way.

Click on the image to enlarge or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, havana, multiple exposure, rooftops, travel photography,


Havana Rooftops

One of the best bird’s-eye views of the city of Havana is from the roof of the Bacardi Building. While I was shooting this scene I kept thinking about the layers upon lairs of roofs and how the different colour buildings played against each other.

I kept seeing this scene as a multiple exposure but unfortunately my Canon 7D doesn’t do in camera multiple exposures. I created the final image in Photoshop.

Let me know what you think.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone and Happy Passover and Happy Easter!

Click on the image to enlarge or to Purchase a Print.

Havana, Cuba, rooftops, multiple exposure, travel photography

 


Taxi

Wide shots of urban scenes are great and really gives the viewer a sense of place but don’t knock a close-up.

Click on the image to see a resolution version or to Purchase a Print.

Varadero, Cuba, Taxi, Black & White, travel photography, car,


Shadows & Light

The sun was setting as we were walking around Havana casting shadows along buildings and streets. Standing here, for a moment I thought back to a similar building in New Orleans.

Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Havana, Cuba, Monochrome, Black & White, pillars, shadow, light, leading lines

 


A Typical Day in Havana

Before we head into the weekend (with some milder temperatures coming our way) I thought I’d leave you with an image from Havana.

To convert to black & white I used Topaz Black & White Effects. I wanted to let you all now that Topaz Labs is having a sale until the end of March, you can pick B&W Effects for $39.99 (regular price is $59.00). Click here to purchase or down loan a trial version.

Cuba, Havana, Black & White, Monochrome, city, street, architecture


Cigar Aficionado

Don’t get fooled by the title, I’m not really a cigar aficionado but my husband is a bit of one. He loves to smoke an occasional cigar and made it his mission, while we were in Cuba, to purchase some fine Cuban cigars. For my part I was happy to tag along realizing that this was a photo opportunity that wouldn’t come along very often.

The gentleman in these images was more than happy to let me photograph him my only problem was the lack of light. I had to increase my ISO to 3200 to get any decent images and I still had to use a relatively slow shutter speed. While the Canon 7D is pretty good at high ISOs at 3200 there was still too much noise for my liking. My favourite noise reduction software is Topaz DeNoise and once again it came through in spades. You can download a trial version of Topaz DeNoise and you can use the discount code ELPHOTO to get 15% off any Topaz product.

Click on the images to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Havana, Cuba, Cuban Cigars, Cigar, Stogie, travel photography, cigar aficionado

Havana, Cuba, Cuban Cigars, Cigar, Stogie, travel photography, cigar aficionado

Havana, Cuba, Cuban Cigars, Cigar, Stogie, travel photography, cigar aficionado, black and white

Havana, Cuba, Cuban Cigars, Cigar, Stogie, travel photography, cigar aficionado, black and white

 


Time for a Cut

I came across this scene walking through Old Havana. I don’t believe this gentleman was an official barber but he seemed to be doing a good job.

Havana, Cuba, black and white, monochrome, haircut, barber, travel photography, street photography


Biding Time

This young person was biding their time on a small street in Old Havana and today so am I. Tomorrow I head out to Nashville for Imaging USA. I’m very excited and plan to make good use of 3 days of seminars and learning the business of photography.

Have a great weekend everybody and I’ll tell you all about it when I return.

Click on the image to see a high-resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Havana, Cuba, architecture, building, cart, three wheeled cargo bike, street photography, travel photography


Top 10 Things to Know about Cuba

Thinking of travelling to Cuba. Below are 10 things I learned on my first visit.

  1. Cuba has 2 currencies. The Cuban Peso (that locals use) and the Convertible Cuban Peso that tourists use and it’s exchange rate is based on that of the U.S. Dollar
  2. Expect that getting through customs upon arrival into the country will take you about 2 hours.
  3. Cuban’s are hard-working, kind-hearted and engaging people
  4. A bottle of Cuban Rum costs the same as a large container of Pringles chips.
  5. The temperature in the winter months averages in the mid-20s C and the natives find that cold. (although it was close to 30C when I was there in December)
  6. Cubans still use ration cards for basics such as bread and rice.
  7. Cubans are cautiously optimistic about the future, especially in light of the announcement that the U.S. will be lifting the embargo, but the younger generation still feel that they may have a better life if they lived abroad.
  8. Che Guevara is still a hero to many.
  9. The beaches in Cuba are spectacular (but you probably already knew that). 300 beautifully clean, natural, white sand beaches along 588 km or coastline.
  10. Cuba is a Photographers dream.

Cuba, Havana, street photography, portrait, yellow dress, cigar smoking, travel photography


Selling Che!

Che Guevara is a hero to most Cubans as is evidenced by the numerous buildings and institutions that are named after him. Newsstands with books and magazines about Che are a comma site on the streets of Havana.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Havana, Cuba, news stand, magazines, Che Guevara, monochrome, black and white, travel, street photography


A Bicycle in Havana

Given my history you didn’t think I could walk by a bicycle and not photograph it…did you?  Found in Havana.

Click on the image to see a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, Havana, bicycle, building, yellow, street photography, travel photography


A Night At The Marina

Our Cuba trip was primarily a family vacation. We stayed at a lovely resort in Varadero, The Melia Marina. The resort was connected to the Varadero Marina and at night it sparkled with all the Christmas lights.

Click on the image to see a High Resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, Varadero, Melia Marina, Varadero Marina, night photography, lights, travel photography, Christmas lights

Cuba, Varadero, Melia Marina, Varadero Marina, night photography, lights, travel photography, Christmas lights

Cuba, Varadero, Melia Marina, Varadero Marina, night photography, lights, travel photography, Christmas lights


The Bacardi Building

The architecture in Havana comes in all shapes and sizes from Neoclassic, Baroque, Art Deco, Eclectic to Modernism. While parts of the city are in a state of deterioration one can see that restoration of historic buildings has and is taking place.

One of the best examples of Art Deco is the Bacardi Building. The building was built-in 1930 for the Bacardi Rum company which had its origins in Cuba.

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,

 

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,

In October 1960 Cuba’s revolutionary government seized control of all foreign owned and 400 Cuban owned companies and property including The Bacardi Rum Company. Before army officers were able to get to the Bacardi facilities the family destroyed the secret yeast strain they used to make their rum.

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,

Anticipating that the tides were turning in Cuba, the Bacardi Family had already set up distilleries in Mexico and Puerto Rico and offices in the United States. With the Bacardi Company’s exile from Cuba, it forced the family to regroup and plan its future and it set up a new centre of operations in the Bahamas. Within 20 years of the loss of its assets in Cuba, Bacardi rum became the world’s leading premium spirit brand.

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,

After the revolution the building continued to be used as offices. In 1990 a major renovation and restoration was undertaken by the City Historian’s office.

We also went up to the roof of the building to enjoy the view of Havana.

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,

Bacardi Building, Havana, Cuba, Art Deco, Architecture, travel photography,


Edificio Elena

I walked by this building in Old Havana and just loved the way the shadows were falling against it and how it brought out the pastel colours.

After some minor processing in Lightroom I used Topaz Impression to give this building the artistic flair it deserved.

Click on the image to see a high resolution version that captures all the detail (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, Havana, building, pastel, street photography, travel photography


Street Photography in Old Havana

Havana is one of those places that is just perfect for street photography. The people, the architecture, it seems that in some areas time has just stood still.

It was a beautiful sunny day as I was walking through the streets, the buildings alternating from yellow to rose to blue, it was truly beautiful but for some reason as I was processing these images the black and white rendition provided that timeless, classic look I was looking for. I promise I will share some colour images as well but for now I hope you enjoy these.

Click on the image to see a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, Havana, Old Havana, street photography, travel photography, black and white

Cuba, Havana, Old Havana, street photography, travel photography, black and white


Back from Cuba

It seems that I disappeared a couple of weeks ago without a word or a holiday wish to all of you and for that I apologize. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday. I got walloped with a nasty cold which really did me in before the holidays and then I was off to Cuba.

Cuba is a place that I’ve always wanted to visit and photograph but this was a family vacation. One glorious week of sun and sand at a resort in Varadero with the kids. We did get to Havana for a day, which was certainly not long enough, but it did give a small taste of this wonderful city and its people. I’ll have more images and stories in the weeks to come but for now I just want to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Click ont he image to see a higher resolution version (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.

Cuba, Havana, car, classic car, Bel Air, Chevy, Travel Photography, Street Photography