Saturday, December 28, 2019

Cuban Photo Tour - The people of Cuba

Looking back at my first trip to Cuba, there were a lot of things that I expected and some things that surprised me. One of the biggest surprises was how open and friendly the Cuban people were to us, and how the majority of my favorite images were of the people who we met along the way.

Almost everyone we encountered were inviting, friendly and curious about our group. They may not like our current government and the restrictions put on US tourism, but they definitely had no problems with American people.


As part of our photo tour, we visited one of the local markets, and had fun photographing the merchants as they sold their goods.


Unlike some other cultures, people in Cuba were mostly accepting of us taking their portraits, and usually did so with big smiles on their faces.


We saw this tall Rastafarian butcher who was feeding these stray cats. I was laughing as I took the photo, because this would not be approved by the FDA in the United States.


As we moved through the market, I was teaching our guests how to shoot from different points of view. In this case, I was showing how we could take a portrait through the merchant's pineapple, but make sure the focus was on the woman.


We did not use any flash when shooting these portraits, only relying on the sunlight coming through the open walls of the market. This created some really nice portrait light on the merchant's faces.


We saw this one butcher who was selling government subsidized meat. He was the perfect subject for me to teach about portrait lighting. He was in a dark corner of a room, but facing out into the window light.


I photographed him from the side angle and then from outside the window to show the different compositions to the group.


Later that same day, we visited a cultural show where these local dancers performed. While watching the show, I saw the movement of the dancers and encouraged our guests to slow their shutter speeds and catch some of the motion of the dance.


We were shooting at ISO 500 at an aperture of f/4 to get a shutter speed of 1/20 sec.


The room was small, but the colors were amazing.


One night we went to a dinner show where we were entertained by some well known Cuban performers. Not only was it a fun experience, but this was a chance for me to teach high ISO shooting.


One of our guests was reluctant to shoot at any ISO above 2000, but I showed him how we could get very good photos even at ISO 6400 using the Canon 24-105mm f/4 lens on the Canon 5D Mark IV camera.


We were taking a walking tour of Havana and came across these older men playing dominos. I stopped our group and asked these men if we could photograph them during their game.


This was a great chance to teach once again. I showed our guests how getting down low, brought us into the game.


I got behind one man to get a shot over his shoulder, when I saw this look on his opponent. That is pure intensity and I knew I had a favorite photo from this match.


This guy had a classic Cuban look about him, cigar and all.



I was teaching how photographers need to tell a story when taking photos. Sometimes, this involves photos that are not of people's faces, but just their hands and tiles.


I was just about done shooting when I noticed this guys hat, with the word "Cuba" embroidered on the back. I changed my focus point to his hat and took this shot to tell the story of where we were.


We were done shooting and about to continue our walk through the city, when this tall Rastafarian guy walked up to watch the old men play. We said "Hey, you are the butcher we saw the other day!" and he smiled. I had to photograph that!

Stay tuned for more photos from Cuba including local farmers and some sunset photos of incredible dancers from the National Ballet.

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1 comment:

J said...

It is almost 4 years since my retirement gift/trip to Cuba where I spent 2 weeks photographing the people of Cuba in their daily lives. Intentionally I ignored Havana and traveled to less urban, less populated areas. In the weeks after I returned, sorting the images I found that beyond the "day-in-the-life" images I also captured emotion and character in some of the people I photographed. My take is the same as yours...some of the warmest friendliest people I have ever met...and I don't speak Spanish! Being from the home of Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood I felt Cuba was a Spanish version of what we have here in Pittsburgh. If you are interested, here is a link to one of my 14 blog posts I did about my trip https://jphotoblogblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/humans-of-cuba/ Looking forward to your posts from Tokyo. I don't know if you take requests but my daughter got her start in pole-vaulting and I think you, in your spare time, should try to get some pole-vaulting in your viewfinder. I enjoy your blog!!!