Havana Sunshower

It was long ago enough that I can't recall, exactly, the state of mind I was in when I decided to join a photography workshop in Cuba. My photography was in a stale place and I felt no incentive to continue. I had actually lost about 10 years of photography to dreaded iphoto issues that I still hope to resolve some day. So, i was generally bummed out. They included several memorable sailing trips which I only have videos of now. But the workshop offered travel to an intriguing bucket list destination and the opportunity to learn how to use the Adobe Lightroom software which I hoped, would, and am happy to say has, worked out well. I shot several thousand photos while I was in Cuba and came away with a renewed passion and curiosity I thought I had lost.

My current travel gallery, found in Best Sellers -> Travelscapes, features 4 other photos from Cuba. When I reach 6 Cuba photos, I think I will make it the first collection in Travelscapes. That way i can move on to other trips I've taken since Cuba that were all planned specifically to shoot photos; some on my own, others with small groups and a couple times with just a hired guide. They all have their advantages. I am most productive with a couple other people and me not having to make any plan whatsoever. That way I'm only concentrating on the photography part and not the route, the parking, the timing, etc, etc.

This image, Havana Sunshower, that has now joined my Cuba Collection, happened totally per chance during a real live sun shower. We had just come back on the street after shooting at the famous ballet school in Havana and the moment was just dazzling. But of course I had just come out from doing mainly video work with the dancers. So I grabbed the camera closest to me which was my Canon 5D3. It had a Canon 50mm prime on it. Looking at the settings now, the ISO is 640! with the shutter at 1/1000 and f 7.1 - without that high shutter speed that wouldn't have been possible without some serious (for me) ISO and the 7.1 just may be the lens sweet spot. The only downside is the original pic has a lot more foreground that I cropped. It was distracting from the real story of people generally going about whatever one has to do even though its raining when in the tropics. I especially love the rain drops frozen as they fall! This has been one of my all time most popular commercial images.

But when it's all said and done, what I really came away from Cuba with was a sincere love and compassion of the people. Despite all manner of generational hardship, the gentle people I got to meet and in some instances even share a coffee with in THEIR home were amazingly resilient, curious and very excited to practice english! While these pictures of the people as well as my mini-documentary, Faces of Cuba, will not be coming to this gallery, it gives me great pleasure to share them here with you!

The poverty in Cuba is very evident and has been going on a very long time. When i was there they still had a two currency system. One for tourists and one for citizens with a value of about 25:1. In 2021 the government unified the currency into one and as of this writing is 120:1 USD which means they all basically took another massive hit when that happened.

I visited during the brief moment in time when the Obama Administration began to open various aspects of relations with the island nation for the first time in fifty years! To gain entrance to the country we had to hire a privately owned tour operation in Cuba that was required to take us on a cultural tour of the island. We saw the countryside, agriculture, small towns and outposts as well as various activities in Havana. I have to imagine the tour company paid the government and the cultural attractions to facilitate our "diplomatic" visit! That seems an awful lot like capitalism to me!

Of course, Cuba has played a mysterious role in my entire life, beginning with the "Cuban Missile Crisis." which happened when i was quite young but my parents were already political junkies at that point. So the hysteria of the time, backyard bunkers, et al were not out of the question! Many years of Caribbean travel and until this time had never ventured to the giant island nearly as long as California! I truly hope I am able to see some sort of resolution for the people of Cuba in my lifetime but the government there hangs on with a military power against a population numbed from decades of generational despair and neglect.

Like all of the Caribbean, music is an essential part of the culture and you hear it everywhere in Cuba. Everywhere! Perhaps it is reminiscent of Puerto Rico? But no! It really stands alone as witnessed by this very mainstream number by Orishas collabing with a Trinidadian American!  Nearly the alternative national anthem! There was music of this sort on every street corner of Havana and while in the town of Trinidad, I got to hear some wonderful indigenous folk music performed in a small club too.