Thursday, January 2, 2020

Cuban Photo Tour - Dancers from the National Ballet at sunset

First of all, I would like to say Happy New Year to all of you blog followers out there. I hope that you all have an amazing 2020 with great people, great experiences, capturing photos that excite you. I am looking forward to an amazing photographic year with trips to India, Costa Rica, Scotland, Ireland and of course the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The year 2019 ended with my first photo tour to Havana, Cuba for my first photo tour in the country. As part of this, we had a chance to photograph two amazing dancers from the Cuban National Ballet. When Mike (the owner of M&M Photo Tours) and I planned this out, we decided to have the dancers meet us at the famed Malecon area of the city about an hour before sunset. We arranged to photograph them for up to 2 hours, aiming for golden hour light and sunset shooting, and that plan worked out perfectly.

We met Kathy and Grettell at the Malecon and I thought it would be best to position them on the seawall with the iconic lighthouse in the distance.

With the perfect evening sunlight, I encouraged everyone to shoot without any flash. We asked the ladies to face the setting sun and to do some of their classic poses.

I had two cameras with me: the Canon 5D Mark IV paired with the Canon 24-105mm lens and the Canon 1D X Mark II paired with the Canon 100-400mm lens.

I started with the 5D Mark IV and wider lens to capture both Kathy and Grettell as they made their jumps.

Then, in order to give the ladies a break in between jumps, we switched to photographing one dancer at a time. This time I switched to the 1D X Mark II with the longer lens to isolate Kathy in mid air. We still had a decent amount of light, allowing us to achieve shutter speeds of 1/1600 sec at ISO 320 (at f/5). For this shot, I cropped out the wall below Kathy to have just her and this beautiful pose above the water. This is one of my favorite photos from the trip.

We moved Kathy to a point at the end of the seawall and all had a blast capturing photos of her in this perfect light.

 This is a tighter crop of the same photo above.

As Kathy posed, I encouraged everyone to move around to get different perspectives.

We photographed until we lost the golden hour light...

...and then I broke out two of the Canon 600EX-RT flashes and a Canon ST-E3-RT transmitter. I used the MagMod grids on both flash units and also added 1/2 CTO gels to both (to match the golden light from the sun). I determined the proper camera settings for everyone and then, with people holding the flashes in front of Grettell, we took turns using the transmitter and getting photos of the ladies in low light.

For these photos, we set our cameras to ISO 1250, f/5 and 1/200 sec, and I powered the flashes to give us the best light on our subjects. At this point, we had attracted quite a crowd of people watching our photo session. They were also doing their best to get their own photos of the dancers with their phones.

As soon as I saw the color growing in the sky, we moved the dancers so that the sunset would be directly behind them.  We had these bands of pink coming from behind the clouds which really added drama to the sky. I switched back to the Canon 5D Mark IV with the 24-105mm lens to get wider shots. Once again, I determined the best camera settings and flash power, and we all took turns using my transmitter. I only brought one set of Powerex Pro AA batteries, but luckily they lasted for the whole shoot. This was another favorite photo from the trip!

While the others were using my transmitter and flashes to light the ladies, I took advantage of the time to capture photos of their silhouettes against the fading sunset.

This last shot was taken at 6:12pm and we were just about out of sunset light. I asked both ladies to pose on the wall for one last silhouette shot for the group. After this, with all of us were feeling the exhilaration of a great photo shoot, we went to a nearby hotel rooftop and enjoyed a good mojito to celebrate another amazing day in Cuba!

This part of our photo tour was so amazing that I know we will do it again next year, and maybe even try it multiple evenings. 

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1 comment:

JCusack said...

So amazing, just that opportunity would be worth the trip . The photos have everything you would want . Fabulous background options , beautiful subjects and unbelievable capture of classic motion . Had to be an unbelievable shoot . Thank you for sharing .😊