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AkulkaAllow me to introduce Akulka.  Akulka is well known in the Readers Submissions area of Stick’s site and has penned three other features for this column in the past.  All exotic, all enjoyable.  He is well travelled and always has an interesting perspective.  You can contact Akulka at: argonaut942@gmail.com

 

 

 

For several years I’d been thinking about visiting Cuba until I finally turned this idea into reality in November 2010.  I traversed almost the entire length of the island from East to West over the course of three weeks, mostly travelling by bus or other forms of public transport.  Despite having been somewhat skeptical if Cuba would meet my travel needs and interests before going, I gladly found it exceeded my expectations in many ways.  In fact I consider it one of the most fascinating countries of all the places I’ve ever travelled.

When I’m taking pictures I’m usually not just looking for interesting or simply beautiful motives.  As much as possible I try to find meaning in details, or look for subjects rich in incongruity, in the sense of finding elements that seem to be at odds with their context, which is easier said than done.  The same goes for taking pictures which express basic human values, emotions, or beliefs. What follows is a selection of some of my photos from all around Cuba.  Some of the pictures more or less meet the criteria, while others don’t.

All photos were taken with my well tested Panasonic G1 Micro 4/3 camera which I have generally been very happy with.  One of the features of the camera I have come to appreciate most is its swivel LCD screen, allowing for interesting and unusual perspectives.  All images underwent some more or less basic post-processing using Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

 

 

In Cuba one can opt to stay in regular hotels, or in private guesthouses.  To me and many others the private guesthouses (Casas Particulares) are the far more interesting option, as they allow for interaction with Cubans from all walks of life who rent out spare rooms to foreigners all around the country.  This is the view from the balcony of my “Casa” in central Havana.  In the distance looms the Capitolio, the most famous landmark of the city.  Taking this picture was a bit tricky because of the backlight from the rising sun.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F5.6 1/125th 46mm ISO 100

In Cuba one can opt to stay in regular hotels, or in private guesthouses.  To me and many others the private guesthouses (Casas Particulares) are the far more interesting option, as they allow for interaction with Cubans from all walks of life who rent out spare rooms to foreigners all around the country.  This is the view from the balcony of my “Casa” in central Havana.  In the distance looms the Capitolio, the most famous landmark of the city.  Taking this picture was a bit tricky because of the backlight from the rising sun.

 

 

What looks like a train cemetery is actually a restoration yard for decommissioned steam engines.  Out of necessity nothing gets wasted in Cuba, so some of these decrepit old-timers will eventually find their way back onto tracks and into service.  The yard is located in the very center of Havana, just a few minutes’ walk from the Capitolio.  A worker noticed me taking an interest and was kind enough to walk me through the compound.  This photo is an HDR, composed of three pictures, taken handheld, at -2/0/+2 exposures.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F6.3 1/125th 24mm ISO 200 HDR Processed

What looks like a train cemetery is actually a restoration yard for decommissioned steam engines.  Out of necessity nothing gets wasted in Cuba, so some of these decrepit old-timers will eventually find their way back onto tracks and into service.  The yard is located in the very center of Havana, just a few minutes’ walk from the Capitolio.  A worker noticed me taking an interest and was kind enough to walk me through the compound.  This photo is an HDR, composed of three pictures, taken handheld, at -2/0/+2 exposures.

 

 

A spruced up old-timer taxi in Havana Vieja.  There are lots of old-timers on the roads all over the country, adding to that special ambience of long past times Cuba is well known for.  While most old-timers look their age and are often only able to be kept on the roads due to the mechanical ingenuity of their owners, this one has obviously been looked after very well.  Photo taken at from the ground level up, taking advantage of my camera’s useful swivel screen, to provide a different and more interesting perspective.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F7.1 1/250th 58mm ISO 100

A spruced up old-timer taxi in Havana Vieja.  There are lots of old-timers on the roads all over the country, adding to that special ambience of long past times Cuba is well known for.  While most old-timers look their age and are often only able to be kept on the roads due to the mechanical ingenuity of their owners, this one has obviously been looked after very well.  Photo taken at from the ground level up, taking advantage of my camera’s useful swivel screen, to provide a different and more interesting perspective.

 

 

Baseball for the revolution.  “Pelota”, as baseball is commonly referred to, is Cuba’s national sport, draws crowds, and stirs up passions.  Wandering through the streets of Havana one can see people playing everywhere, often using iron rods and stones in lieu of real bats and balls.  The kids in this picture were lucky to have proper equipment, playing on Havana’s “Revolutionary Square” where often political events get staged.  Photo taken sitting on the ground.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F6.3 1/1000th 194mm ISO 200

Baseball for the revolution.  “Pelota”, as baseball is commonly referred to, is Cuba’s national sport, draws crowds, and stirs up passions.  Wandering through the streets of Havana one can see people playing everywhere, often using iron rods and stones in lieu of real bats and balls.  The kids in this picture were lucky to have proper equipment, playing on Havana’s “Revolutionary Square” where often political events get staged.  Photo taken sitting on the ground.

 

 

While most Cubans are simply trying to get on with their daily lives and cope with the bad cards they have been dealt with, the revolutionary propaganda is well and alive all over the country.  “Revolutionary committees” organize rallies on a local level, and posters, billboards, and graffiti praising the revolution and its leaders can be seen everywhere.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F5.6 1/40th 90mm ISO 100

While most Cubans are simply trying to get on with their daily lives and cope with the bad cards they have been dealt with, the revolutionary propaganda is well and alive all over the country.  “Revolutionary committees” organize rallies on a local level, and posters, billboards, and graffiti praising the revolution and its leaders can be seen everywhere.

 

 

The port of Baracoa, Cuba’s easternmost city.  Baracoa’s landmark flat-top mountain, El Yunque, is in the background.  Because of the US enforced trade embargo against Cuba, few ships call to port here, and most supplies arrive via the famously steep mountain roads that traverse the “Cuban Himalaya”, connecting the otherwise isolated city with the rest of the country.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F7.1 1/320th 34mm ISO 100

The port of Baracoa, Cuba’s easternmost city.  Baracoa’s landmark flat-top mountain, El Yunque, is in the background.  Because of the US enforced trade embargo against Cuba, few ships call to port here, and most supplies arrive via the famously steep mountain roads that traverse the “Cuban Himalaya”, connecting the otherwise isolated city with the rest of the country.

 

 

Maguana, 20 miles east of Baracoa, is a beautiful “wild” beach.  Very few foreign travelers make it here, in stark contrast to the resort areas with their high-end hotels and package tourism along the beaches of Varadero etc.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F6.3 1/400th 56mm ISO 100

Maguana, 20 miles east of Baracoa, is a beautiful “wild” beach.  Very few foreign travelers make it here, in stark contrast to the resort areas with their high-end hotels and package tourism along the beaches of Varadero etc.

 

 

Baracoa’s seafront at low tide at dusk. Photo taken using a tripod.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F10 6secs 74mm ISO 100

Baracoa’s seafront at low tide at dusk. Photo taken using a tripod.

 

 

Playa Duaba, another scenic wild beach near Baracoa.  Other than at Maguana, swimming is not advisable here because of strong undercurrents.  Photo taken an hour before sunset.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F7.1 1/250th 42mm ISO 100

Playa Duaba, another scenic wild beach near Baracoa.  Other than at Maguana, swimming is not advisable here because of strong undercurrents.  Photo taken an hour before sunset.

 

 

Out of necessity cycling is for most the only viable mode of transport other than walking.  I took this picture from ground level.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F8 1/320th 40mm ISO 100

Out of necessity cycling is for most the only viable mode of transport other than walking.  I took this picture from ground level.

 

 

Honor guard at the tomb of Josef Marti at Santiago de Cuba’s famous Santa Ifigenio cemetery.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F7.1 1/1250th 400mm ISO 200

Honor guard at the tomb of Josef Marti at Santiago de Cuba’s famous Santa Ifigenio cemetery.

 

 

“Big Boy” parked in front of Los Angeles hospital in Santiago de Cuba.  Again, I took this picture from ground level.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F9 1/6405th 90mm ISO 100

“Big Boy” parked in front of Los Angeles hospital in Santiago de Cuba.  Again, I took this picture from ground level.

 

 

Surprisingly Cubans’ know a thing or two about ice-cream.  While it’s not comparable in quality or taste to real Italian gelato, it’s a ready available treat in Cuba’s tropical climate, and very cheap to boot.  One cone of coconut flavored ice-cream goes for 0,01US$.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F5 1/250th 28mm ISO 320

Surprisingly Cubans’ know a thing or two about ice-cream.  While it’s not comparable in quality or taste to real Italian gelato, it’s a ready available treat in Cuba’s tropical climate, and very cheap to boot.  One cone of coconut flavored ice-cream goes for 0,01US$.

 

 

A piglet is slowly bleeding to death on the streets of Santiago de Cuba.  Meat is a rare treat for most Cubans.  I came upon this scene by chance and had to react quickly if I wanted to get an interesting shot.  I chose “Auto Mode” on my camera and took a few pictures.  This one turned out best.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F3.5 1sec 28mm ISO 100

A piglet is slowly bleeding to death on the streets of Santiago de Cuba.  Meat is a rare treat for most Cubans.  I came upon this scene by chance and had to react quickly if I wanted to get an interesting shot.  I chose “Auto Mode” on my camera and took a few pictures.  This one turned out best.

 

 

A Cuban shop, like many others, with mostly empty shelves.  At the few supermarkets that can only be found in larger towns and cities, security measures are stringent to prevent theft.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F5.4 1/15th 56mm ISO 100

A Cuban shop, like many others, with mostly empty shelves.  At the few supermarkets that can only be found in larger towns and cities, security measures are stringent to prevent theft.

 

 

“Valle de los Ingenios” is a beautiful tropical valley near the colonial town of Trinidad in central Cuba.  HDR composed of 5 exposures ranging from -2 to +2.  A tripod was used.

Panasonic G1 Micro, @F7.1 1/125th 28mm ISO 100

“Valle de los Ingenios” is a beautiful tropical valley near the colonial town of Trinidad in central Cuba.  HDR composed of 5 exposures ranging from -2 to +2.  A tripod was used.

 

Akulka -

WOW! I truly enjoyed this. Great pictures and a captive narrative. Very enjoyable.

Thank you

Steve