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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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Visiting Cuba for the first time. The vintage cars in Havana and more...

For the last three years I have wanted to visit Cuba to see this country before it changes and catches up to the rest of the world. Like the rest of you who live in the United States, I heard about the opening and then closing of this country to our tourist travel. We had planned a trip to Cuba for last year and had to cancel it. I was really disappointed with the closure, but reassured by Mike (the owner of M&M Photo Tours) that we could still go this time around. And yes, for all of you wondering if you can go to Cuba, it is indeed possible if you go with a group for reasons other than tourism. And that is how we are allowed to visit the country, and how we will be going next year.

Now...on to the photos...

Along with cigars, rum and sugar cane, Cuba is known for all the old cars in the country. I thought that these cars were still in service mainly for tourism reasons, but as it turns out, they are still in use because the country has not had many options to import new vehicles. For this reason, the people of Cuba have had to keep these old cars running as their only means of transportation. Some of the cars are completely restored and beautiful and others are not as pretty, but still running.

I took this photo in front of the newly restored capital building in Havana. I waited for this red car to enter my frame and took this shot. I wanted a red car to contrast the white building and deep blue sky.

Everywhere we toured, we saw these awesome old cars, and I saw this as a great chance to teach motion panning.

It was actually quite comical as the group of us stood on a sidewalk and panned one old car after another.

For those of you not familiar with motion panning, let me explain how this works and why we do this. Motion panning is when we slow the shutter speed of the camera and then move our cameras at the exact same speed of the subject. I was teaching our guests to start panning at shutter speeds of 1/30th of a second, and when they got proficient at the technique, to try and pan even slower. Maybe even as slow as 1/10 of a second for these fast moving cars. I was using my Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 24-105mm lens, and I usually try to get my focus point on the door handle of the car and then do my best to keep it on the handle as the car drives by.

The technique is not easy for first-timers, but with some practice does yield some awesome results.

Why do we want to motion pan these vehicles? By slowing down the shutter speed and moving with the cars, we are able to show motion in the image. The foreground and background are blurred, which makes our cars stand out even more. This slow shutter speed also blurs the tires and wheels of the car to accentuate the motion even more. 

Once I had a bunch of "normal" motion blur images of the cars, I started tilting the camera to get something even more different.  This photo was taken at 1/15th of a second, and just before sunset.

One afternoon, we did a tour of Havana in a couple of these old convertibles. I was getting back into our car when I noticed this door lock. I got down low and took this "detail shot" of this skull.

In Cuba, the first letter of the license plate designates the use of the car. They have "B" for business, "P" for personal, "T" for tourist and others.

I saw these license plates in a tourist shop and liked the colors and images.

The streets of Havana are really interesting, with lots of color and lots of friendly people.

Havana is a mix of modern and historic buildings. We went up to a rooftop bar to get some images of the city from overhead.

This is one of the city squares, with nice restaurants and shops.

We had a great time walking the city and photographing everything and anything that was unique. I saw this guy peering out from his window, looking over the laundry, and captured this typical Cuban scene.

This is a panoramic image that I took from my hotel room, 22 floors above the city. My view looked out over the Malecon, which is a long road and seawall which stretches for 8 kilometers along the coast of Havana. You will see more images from the Malecon, including some epic shots of Cuban ballet dancers, in one of the next blog posts. I will also be posting images from the cities of Vinales, Trinidad and other sites.

We will be going back to Cuba at the same time next year, since the weather is optimum at this time. If you want to know more about that, you can get more information here.

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Canon just doubled the rebates on the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon R cameras!

I just wanted to let you all know that Canon increased the rebates on the Canon 5D Mark IV (my favorite camera) and Canon EOS-R camera systems last night at midnight.

This means savings of between $1000 and $1300 on the 5D Mark IV, and savings of between $800 and $1000 on the EOS-R. This is the first time I have ever seen a 5D Mark IV for $1999. If you have been looking to upgrade, now is a great time!

Click HERE for the latest pricing.

I have heard that these double rebates will end on Dec 24th. Happy holidays indeed!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

My favorite products and photography gift ideas for this 2019 holiday season

It is that time of year when everyone is looking for the perfect gift idea, so I decided to share with you all some of my favorite photo related gear. broken down by price range. Not only am I listing my favorite products, but I also researched which products have big discounts right now.

I hope that this helps you shop for someone you love, or maybe even give you some new ideas to treat yourself.


Above $1000

Canon 5D Mark IV (This is my favorite all-around camera. Yes, I do own a Canon 1D X Mark II and use it quite often, but it is overkill for most people. It also happens to have a $600 rebate right now)

MacBook Pro 16" (This is the newest addition to my arsenal of travel gear and I love this new laptop. You can see my recent review of this new laptop here. Apple replaced the 15" MacBook Pro with this new model and kept the price the same.)
Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS lens (This is my go-to lens for portraits, events and so much more. I can't even explain how much I love and rely on this lens. There is $300 rebate right now.)


Under $1000

Drobo 5D3 (I personally use the Drobo 8D, and love it. But I know that this is probably overkill for most people, and that a 5-bay system is more affordable. For this reason I recommend the 5D3.)

Canon 100mm macro lens (Not used as much as the other lenses, but awesome for creative close-up shooting. $200 rebate right now)

Canon Rebel T7i Camera (I personally do not use this camera, but always recommend this to people who are looking for a good entry-level DSLR and are on a tighter budget. There are rebates on this camera now, ranging from $250 to $400.)

Under $500

Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet (I do not even have a mouse on my editing computer. Instead I rely solely on the Wacom tablet. This is a huge time saver for me! Oh, and I recommend the medium size as I find it to be just the right size for me.)

DJI Mavic Mini (This is the one product on this list that I have yet to use BUT I am excited to get mine soon. The lower price is exciting, but not as exciting as the small size! Mine is on its way.)

Acratech ball head (I am really picky about my tripods and heads, and this one has been my favorite for the last 8 years.)

Canon 50mm 1.4 lens (For years I have said that this is the best value lens Canon has to offer. Normally offered at $400 with a super wide aperture and tack sharp, this is a great deal. Right now there is a $100 rebate, bringing this lens down to $299. If you don't have one, you should get one now.)

ThinkTank StreetWalker Rolling Backpack (I credit this backpack for saving my back over the last 2 years. With the option of either carrying this as a backpack or rolling it like typical luggage, what I thought would be a scarcely used camera bag is now my go-to bag for all trips!)


Under $200

Datacolor Spyder X color calibrator (If you take your photography seriously, you need to be retouching your photos on a monitor that is color calibrated. I have one of these for each computer.)

Photo Mechanic (People often marvel at the speed at which I post images from an event. One of the tools which makes this possible is a software package called Photo Mechanic. It is available for Windows and Mac and is a huge time saver!)
Crucial X8 External SSD (I reviewed this new external SSD a couple of months ago and love this storage device. It transfers data twice as fast as any SSD on the market. Forget the old portable hard drives and get one of these!)

ProGrade Memory Cards and Readers (I hate it when I see people using great cameras and lenses, and cheap memory cards. I trust my images to memory cards and readers from ProGrade. High quality and good prices! You can use the code "CABLE20" to get 20% off of everything.)

FitBit Versa Smartwatch (This is not really a photography related product, but I love it so much that it had to make the list. In fairness, I do use the Versa to track my steps when I am shooting an event, but more for fun than anything else.)


Under $100

BlackRapid Straps (This is the best camera strap on the market. No more neck strain, and that is a good thing.)
MagMod modifiers (I use these flash modifiers every weekend when shooting events and they are just awesome. Easy to put on and take off, and very effective in spreading light.)

Powerex rechargeable batteries (I have a TON of these rechargeable AA batteries and use them in all my Canon 600EX-RT flashes. They are inexpensive, pack a whopping 2700mAh of power, and recharge super fast in the Powerex MH-C980 charger.)

Tiffen HT UV filters (I protect all of my lenses with these filters. The HT filters are super clear and do not degrade my lens quality at all, and that is critical.)

Eargasm Earplugs (You might be thinking, "Why are earplugs on this list?", but I can assure you that they are needed by any event photographer. I just purchased these recently and they are in every camera bag. They help me protect my ears, but still allow me to talk to and hear people. I will blog more about these soon.)


I hope that these suggestions help you in your holiday shopping for yourself or someone on your list. And happy holidays to you all.

- Jeff

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Spending some time in Washington and Oregon

Last month, my wife and I traveled to Oregon and Washington for a quick trip. We flew up to Portland, OR to meet up with our daughter who is living and working up north. We had time to visit some places that were new to us, and also visited some places for the second time. Of course, I took my camera along to capture the sites.

We drove south from Portland and explored some of the lesser known areas. We were driving on a small two lane road when we came across this pretty view of Mt. Hood. I liked the way that the clouds were intersecting the mountain and grabbed this shot. In order to get up close, I used my Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 100-400mm lens.

We were just driving around and seeing what interesting things we could find. While checking our phones, we saw that we were near the Oregon Park which included a home designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. We entered that address into Waze and headed over to check it out.

Here is a photo of "The Gordon House" on the park property. The house was not completed before the death of Wright, and the home was moved to this location, from Wilsonville, OR starting in 2001.

After checking out the house, we walked to the gardens and thoroughly enjoyed the fall colors.

The colors in the gardens were amazing as well!

I saw these beautiful red flowers in the middle of a grass area and worked hard to get my shot. I got down low, so that the red color would be in the middle of the frame, surrounded by all the different shades of green and purple. I shot this with the long zoom lens at 271mm and f/5 to have only the red flowers in perfect focus.

The next day, we drove from Portland, OR to Seattle, WA. Again, we were looking for interesting things to see along the way. We saw that the Mt. Saint Helens visitor's center was only 6 miles from the freeway, and decided to check that out. I remember watching the news about eruption of Mt. Saint Helens back in 1980 but had never seen the site myself. The direction of the sun in the morning was not great for photos, but it was still worth the photo.

I took this shot from the visitor's center, using the trees to frame the mountain in the distance.

And then we were off to Pike Place for some lunch.

If you visit Seattle, you have to go to Pike Place Fish Market. This is Seattle's famous landmark, with people throwing fish, the first Starbucks, and a fun place to capture photos. For this visit, I was still using the Canon 5D Mark IV, but opted for the Canon 24-105mm lens.

I did not want to use flash, instead opting to use only the ambient light from the market. I turned up my ISO to 1250 and held the camera steady as shoppers made their purchases.

For this shot, I got down low to the fish and grabbed this shot. I changed my aperture to f/4 so that only the faces of the fish would be in focus.

We only had one day in Seattle before heading back south towards Portland once again. My wife had heard about an overpass with great glass pieces (right near the Museum of Glass) in Tacoma, WA and wanted to check it out.

It was worth the stop.

We did not have time to go into the glass museum, but enjoyed walking around and taking photos of the unique building.

We did walk across the street to the courthouse to see the Chihuly glasswork that was on display there.

I really liked the reflection of the glasswork on the polished floor, so I backed up and took this shot to include the window and the foyer of the courthouse. (Photographer's note: To keep the window from blowing out (being too bright) I changed the exposure compensation of my camera to -1.3. This kept my window light at a good exposure and darkened the scene inside. I was OK with that, since I really wanted to the viewer's attention to be in the window and the reflection with the foyer being a secondary subject.) 

To try something different, I went right up to the Chihuly glass pieces and shot through them. I saw the Museum of Glass visible in the distance and used the orange glass to frame the museum,

While looking through the orange glass, I saw this American flag flying in the background. I waited for the flag to blow the right direction and took some photos through the glass.

After shooting from the second level for a while, we went back down to the first level and shot photos looking straight up the Chihuly sculpture.

We were walking back to our car when I saw the museum framed by these trees. I liked the way that the angled building seemed to be peeking out from the foliage, and took this photo.

A couple of days later, my wife and I were driving back home to the San Francisco Bay Area. (You may be wondering why we flew up and were driving back. Our daughter purchased her first new car and we were taking the old car back home.)

In order to break up the long drive home, we decided to stop in Ashland, OR for the night. We have been to Ashland before, but never really explored the area much. As we were driving towards Ashland, we looked up things to do in Ashland and saw that there was a park called Lithia Park in the downtown area. Even though we had been a block away from the park entrance on past trips, we did not know about its existence. Now that we know, we will be going back there again!

We arrived into Ashland late in the afternoon, quickly checked into our hotel and then headed right for Lithia Park. It was early in the evening when we entered the park, and the sun was starting to set. I saw this one guy meditating in the distance and loved how the sun was lighting only him and the trees above.

We walked along the creek and enjoyed the sound of the water. I rested my camera on some of the railings of the crossing wood bridges to take long exposure shots of the scene. I set my camera to ISO 160, f/11, and exposure compensation of -1 to get a shutter speed of 1.3 seconds. I put the camera in a 2 second timer mode so that I could hit the shutter release button and not have to worry about shaking the camera. 

My wife was picking up some of the fall leaves and be both thought it would make a nice photo.

The next morning, before heading out for the 6 hour drive home, we decided to walk Lithia Park one more time, covering quite a bit of the 93 acres of parkland. This time, in morning light, we had a chance to see the same park lit from the other direction. It was so pretty. If you visit Ashland, OR and have decent weather, make sure to put Lithia Park on your list of things to see and photograph.

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.