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.


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2 comments:

GNB said...

As usual, nice photographs. However, if one looks carefully, one sees the broken down buildings and poverty. Cuba is a prime example of socialism gone bad.

Diane C. Ordonez said...

So many people thought or ask why is there so many vintage cars in Cuba so here is a bit of explanation i know about it. Individuals in Cuba like wonderful things and exemplary vehicles are more excellent than present day autos, kidding. At the point when the US put an exchange ban on Cuba, Cuba was not able get any new autos. So by snare and by hoodlum, the Cubans had to make their 60′s vehicles, "exemplary autos" work. While numerous individuals in the US dispose of their vehicle or garbage it, Cubans had one of the biggest assortment, with numerous cutting edge authorities going to Cuba to buy these relics.