Camaguey Cuba Ballet

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The most exciting photographic opportunity I had in Cuba was at a rehearsal for the Camagüey Ballet. I’ve always wanted the opportunity to capture dance, which like music, is a linear art form. Unlike musical performances, dancers provide numerous moments for powerful still images. Considering it was my first attempt I did OK. My instincts of where to be & when to snap were solid. The challenges of background & lighting were a distraction. A photo my daughter took inspired this shot.
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As I have mentioned before, odd numbers for me are more visually interesting. I find that 3 or 5 primary subjects can create unbalanced symmetry I find intriguing. Maybe it has something to do with the rules of thirds. I found this tighter shot, which cropped the full form of the dancers, engaged my eye more with the individuals. I enjoy the personal outfits of rehearsal instead of more formal costumes during performance.
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As I was transitioning from the horizontal of video into stills I discussed the challenges I had with vertical framing. A single ballerina in a spinning pointe erased whatever traces I  have of reluctance to turn the camera 90 degrees. I also explored personal post-production boundaries on this image. I justify the enhancement with the fact that the subject is “art”.
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A square cropping also pushes my comfort zone. Shortly after I started working on this image in PS I was drawn to this perspective. In some respects, because it lacks the entire pose of the dancer, this shot is a failure. However the expression on her face justifies to me showing only 3 of her 4 appendages. This led me to explore square cropping with other images.
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When photographing in a room with mirrors it can be either a nightmare or an entry to another dimension. Fortunately the mirror was on the south side of the room where I kept my back most of the time. I would however like to explore coordinating the perspective of this shot. Standing there trying to make something out of this angle I remembered a workshop where I learned where you stand with a camera is a lot like shooting pool. A few degrees difference can make a big change.

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Although shot has an even number of subjects I like this image a lot. The missing form of the ballerina in the foreground is partially revealed in the background dancer. This combines the power of a close-up with a hint of the pose. I also like the green leaf earrings, which are a personal touch you could easily miss in a wider shot. along with the informal wisp of her hair. If only the bar in the background had not been there. I was thrilled & thankful to be a guest at this rehearsal. However, the photographer in me wanted control.

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OK, I’m back to odd numbers. In an effort to eliminate the bar that encircled the room I tried getting a lower angle. However my old knees had an opinion as to how much I should do this. Again, I justify the failure of not having the complete form with the more dramatic facial features. The receding focus & the position of the dancers arms in conjunction with the direction of the their gaze create both tension & harmony.

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This shot demonstrates all of the visual distractions I was trying to overcome. If I had to choose only one distraction I could eliminate I would have the bar removed. In my minds eye the strong horizontal lines is a visual speed bump. Ignoring the distractions and the noise from a high ISO I love the form captured in this moment as well as the dancers concentration. In hindsight, I could have lowered the shutter to 350 speed & reduced the ISO.

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As somewhat of a bookend to the beginning image of feet in the 3rd position I choose this CU of pointe to end my images from the rehearsal studio. A ballerina in pointe is an iconic image of the art. In my minds eye the subtle strength & precise form of the dancer are captured in this detail.

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I must thank Esmeralda Pimental Rodriguez a representative for Paridiso Tourismo Cultural for the connection and insight into Cuban Art. She helped coordinate my trip to the ballet rehearsal at Casa Quinta. If I ever return to Cuba I will look for her assistance in coordinating  my visit around a performance of the Camaguey Ballet.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.

Artists of Cuba & their ART Part 2

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Sorting my images I recognized shots of artwork connected to some of my strongest memories of my trip To Cuba, Even if these photographs are what I consider substandard, especially compared to various people shots, I wanted to do another posting of Cuban art to give some insight into the character of the artists & culture.

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The pallet of colors Cuban artists use is weighted in the tropics. The subjects in much of their work is diverse interpretations of life on the island. In many variations, art is a voice that speaks to the emotion of people, places & times.

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I don’t know if the faces are specific individuals or if they are symbolic representations. When I think of Dark Imagery it usually lacks detail. In this work the detail is intricate to whatever the artist was trying to say.

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I’ve thought tile/mosaic work is between flat art & sculpture. I might even call it 2.5D. In public & privates spaces I found custom works enhancing the environment.

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In Cuban Art Part 1 I showed you Abel Garcia Leon in the business side of his home. With his dog keeping him company he is working on a fresh canvas in his studio beside his barbershop. The kitchen, bedroom & toilet are in the back.

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The work of his I saw hanging in his barbershop/studio was an interesting approach to pointillism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Seurat

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The Garden of Eden symbolism would be an interesting discussion I would love to have with the artist that created this painting. Symbolic biblical representation like this in a Communist country is an example of how art can transcend oppression.

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An artist in the tropics made me feel the cold winds of the sea with color & brush strokes. That is an example of how art can have an impact on senses beyond your eyes.

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The umbrella topic of this blog is motivation. The inspiration & evolution of the artist that made this piece would be a very interesting discussion.

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I believe it is very challenging to “fill the frame” in any visual medium. The easel is the perfect method to display this work. A frame would destroy the boundaries.

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Often as I wander thru galleries, shops & museums, I felt an overwhelming diversity of styles. The montage/collage displays demonstrated a co-op of the talent on the island as the images fought for my attention.

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As a photograph this is a complete failure with the exception of the subject. The trilogy of the work with the background drew me to try & capture something that I just couldn’t get. However, the diversity of the theme of vases really caught my eye.

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Most of the Casa Particulares I stayed in had artwork that complemented the homes. This outdoor courtyard in Camaguey had an elaborate wall mural made with 8X8 tiles fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. The organic accents & the decorative ironwork were integrated in an interesting layout.

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I end this blog with another mediocre photograph. I did not take the time to wait for better human interaction with public art. I was on my way to Ballet Rehearsal which is the next posting in a few weeks.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.

Artists of Cuba & their ART Part 1

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My blog returns to Cuba with focus on art & the artists that produce it. The on-the ground experience of seeing the work of artisans was motivation to connect my camera to my mind. If it catches my eye, attention or ears I explore a little deeper. If it makes me smile or triggers a memory, I want to share it. I hope you enjoy where my eyes take you. My credibility as a critic is thin so explore the links to add you own exposure.

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Music wasn’t a motivator but… First was Herb Albert/The Lonely Bull. Then Santana’s Soul Sacrifice followed by Oye Coma Va by Tito Puente  & Latin tempos became a part of my life. Currently Manhattan Transfer/Soul Food To Go is my favorite driving song. Enjoyment of Latin tempos is a constant in my life. However, music is linear for the ear. I didn’t put effort into shots of musicians. To hear Afro Cuban Music, watch 3 Rivers to Cuba. Done by Chris Mason, her it explores multiple layers of Cuban musical culture.

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The architectural & artisan work of the Spanish Colonial Empire has influence on artists today. From the pallet of colors to the intricate details I saw centuries old examples of design, detail & craftsmanship that made me pause.

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My first night in Cienfuegos we went to Palacio del Valle. I was immediately struck by the blending of architectural influences. Built a century ago by a sugar merchant, the mansion is now a National Monument of Cultural Heritage run by the government.

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This church window is more representative of maintenance & restoration of buildings in Cuba. Usually the dynamic image of stained glass windows is from an interior perspective. From the outside layers of history can be seen. Some ironwork is from colonial times while some is from current artisans.
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Public Art, especially murals, provide character to communities. They also offer backdrops for street photography. The hue & fading of her pants matching the backdrop is worth a 2nd look.
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This is not the iconic image from Abbey Road. A true Beatles fan would know they were walking the other direction & all 4 are in full stride. I didn’t catch that on-site because I was preoccupied with the numerous possibilities I could stage with this backdrop.

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I did not see many statues in my wanderings. This bronze likeness of Cuban Hero Jose Marti reading to a young boy represents many important values of Cuban society.
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I was initially attracted to Martha Jimenez’s paintings because of her subject matter of 3 women in diverse situations. I believe odd numbers work better in visuals arts. At her gallery/studio/classroom in Camaguey I discovered her talents included sculpting & engraving. Her primary subject is women. I noticed a few works with a sewing machine. The gallery director told me it represents women workers around the world.

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I was drawn to the work of Jose D. Gutierrez by the unique texture to his sculpture. Examining the pieces closely I recognized I had never seen whatever he used to make these detailed works of art. I inquired about how they were made. I was told about creating a mold, where the craftsmanship is needed, & then forming goat-skin over it.
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A few artists in Cuba are doing well financially selling to the rest of the world. But, like artists everywhere, Abel Garcia Leon must rely on other skills to live. His studio is in one room of his home & his barbershop is in an adjacent space. His great-great grandfather bought the barber chair in the 1880’s. He has sold his paintings in Europe, Canada & the US. His optimistic dream is to one day to have a showing in NYC.

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In many shops I found the typical colors & themes of paintings targeted at the tourist. While these pieces may not have any deep artistic qualities they are a few steps above the price & quality of mass-produced souvenir trinkets.
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Restrictions on expression after the ‘59 revolution & limited resources had a negative impact. However, art education & subsides increased the population of practicing artists. Some have demonstrated that art is freedom of the mind. Artist Georgeanys Trinidad
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Learning the perspectives of artistically expression opens your soul to emotions of others & yourself. Teaching & mentoring preserves the past but also sows seeds for the future.
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Let me reinforce the fact I have no credibility as an art critic. Part of my motivation for photography was to capture informal shots of people. Naturally portraits on canvas caught my eye. I observed that Cuban artists had a firm grasp on portraiture.
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The number of artists in Camagüey was more than other places I visited. One evening I met Eduardo Rosalez Ruiz in his studio/gallery where the walls were covered with diverse examples of his work. With a typical warm welcoming he told me about his current projects as we shared a drink of rum & honey. Working with materials & subjects of indigenous Taino Cubans he hopes to bring awareness to historical roots.

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“I love Digital. I Hate Digital” has become a mantra of mine. I immediately gave this oil on canvas that title.

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This piece by Lester Campa is my favorite not only because of style & subject but also because of the memory of Dr. Fidel Hernandez Figueroa proudly sharing it. If you go to this wonderful reservoir of talented artists plan on returning with some of their work.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.

Boxing

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There is still more to come from Cuba but I didn’t want to get into a rut. I don’t follow boxing. However the challenge of photographing the sport motivated me to give it a try. I had worked for a few years with HBO Championship Boxing doing slo-mo replays & I saw the speed & the action intimately. When I look at iconic boxing shots I realize just how difficult the sport is to cover with a still camera. I contacted Wolfpack Boxing Club & asked if I could bring my camera to try capture a few images. The owner Jeff said sure.

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The skills necessary for a boxer to step into a ring are as numerous as any sport. Split second hand-eye coordination, stamina, strength, agility, concentration & balance are all needed to attack you opponent while they attack you. Beyond the gloves & the roped off ring the sport has no other accessories. Their is no denying boxing is violent. However, it also involves strategy & judgment, which allude to the epithet of the “Sweet Science.”

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In addition to physical training a boxer must have psychological confidence & tenacity, which fuels powerful reactions. Capturing the brief expression with the action is a tremendous challenge for any photographer. But when you get it it’s compelling.

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At ringside you need different focal lengths to capture the action while shooting at a steep angle when boxers get close. Often action is blocked or so abrupt an angle that good images are almost impossible. For this shot at Wolfpack in Carnegie PA, I positioned myself with the background in mind. I then waited for the action to happen in front of it. Since this was training I was alongside the ropes & had flexibility where I could stand.

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Real-time self-observation is an excellent drill to develop techniques of punches & combinations. The opponent is yourself, which allows you to observe what an adversary sees. This perspective is a tremendous motivating drill. In a studio lighting situation I’d enjoy the chance to explore old school shadow boxing where I control the shadows.

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Frequently on HBO Boxing events I isolated a hand-held operator working from the corner of the ring. Gordie Sager was recognized as one of the best in this position. It was a pleasure to be responsible for replays of his work. He never gave up on framing for the best perspective. Slight adjustments he made in his position often resulted in surprising results because he knew where the action was going to go. Most memorably was his reaction when we didn’t get a single replay on the air. He said, “The other cameras had the best looks…tonight.” He understood the value of patience & persistence.

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Close-ups are more dramatic, but the story of most sports is told in wide shots showing relationship & interaction. Real fans of boxing know that a head to toe 2 shot is the bread & butter of the sport. I can’t say I am knowledgeable enough to analyze individual boxers.   However, I am aware enough to recognize & respect determination.

Cuba Environment

01Since my primary subject for photography was people, my visit to Las Terrazas & Soroa was more of a drive by-look-see. Traveling back roads reminded me of the valleys & hills of Western PA’s Allegheny Mountains. Since 1985 when UNESCO declared Sierra del Rosario a Biosphere Reserve, this region has become a model of sustainability as well as a laboratory/classroom for environmental education.

02 I had a life moment with Dr. Figueroa, Director of the Biosphere.  When we walked into his office it was obvious who in my group was not Cuban. He got up out of his chair, walked over extending his hand & said Fidel. I shook his had & since he informally only used his 1st name I did the same replying Jay with a smirky smile. His eyes widened as he chuckled saying…Really! We both laughed understanding in Spanish a close sound to J is Che. This 2 shot may never be as iconic as photos of our historic namesakes. But, it is locked to a memory from my trip that will always bring a smile to my face.

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Prior to the ’59 Revolution 11% of Cuba was covered in forest. European settlers cleared trees for cattle grazing & coffee plantations. The assault on the land was ferocious. Photo courtesy Sierra del Rosario Reserva de la Biosfera archive.

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Thanks to the work of peasants, who in the process of replanting the forest, also built what some call “Castro’s Eden.” Since the 70’s over 8 million trees have been planted increasing the forested Cuban land to 28%. This is an amazing success of Reforestation in just 4 decades considering the work was done with the most basic tools. In the middle of this is Las Terrazzos. A small community & very is different from the colonial founded cities where I spent the majority of my time. It is a “tab of butter in a sea of grits” as some of the Chapel Hill Boys would say. Eco-tourism directly accounts for over 250 jobs providing a much-improved standard of living.

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Dr. Fidel Hernandez Figueroa has worked here since 1983. As a young boy he wanted to live in the mountains. At the University he studied to be a Forest Engineer. He got his Masters as an Ecologist then a PhD in Forest Science. I think it is safe to say that he made his dream come true. After he laughed when I asked him what he enjoys doing when he isn’t working, he told me he always is working but still enjoys studying & tries to learn at least 1 new thing every night before he goes to bed.

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His accomplishments & attitude are fueled by passion & hope for the future. Fidel told me even if the pay is low he is spiritually wealthy. He insisted on showing me the portrait done by local artist Lester Campa. Since Fidel & I are close in age, the blending of two iconic personalities from our youth made it a serendipitous connection.

07aIn the forests around Las Terrazass the diversity of birds & plants, many of which are endemic, is an example of how repair can be made to nature. It also demonstrates how quality of life can be improved with a balanced approach to tourism & the environment. If I ever go back to Cuba this is a place I will get to know better. My translation of Sierra del Rosario is… Mountains of Hope.

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I’m vastly under-qualified to describe the tropical floral I saw Cuba other than to say it was diversely beautiful. For a much more detailed information please link to a blog by Emily Kalnicky Diretor of Science Education & Jordyn Melino Exhibit Coordinator from Phipps Conservatory.

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Sustainability & organic farming in Cuba evolved out of necessity. After the collapse of the USSR the supply of chemical pesticides & fertilizer disappeared. The rationing of food & other hardships impacted the entire population in what Cubans refer to as the “Special Period”. Weeding by hand was added to the list of manual chores needed to survive.

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The Vinales Valley on the western end of the mountain range is a UNESCO jewel, & a showcase of how 25 plus years of experience has made Cuba a model for Agricultural Sustainability. The mogotes, described as upside down bowls of ice cream, are unique topographical features that help define this place. They gave me a feeling of being small similar to how Yosemite made me feel. Some of the best tobacco in the world is grown in this fertile province. Even though most other parts of Cuba I drove thru were parched, this valley was lush. Hiking, horseback riding and biking are very common activities for visitors that allow you to get an intimate perspective of the natural environment.

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Nationally, clean energy production is on the rise but without the most technologically advanced tools. There are 300 cooperatives focusing on pig production. Some are also processing bio-mass fuel gas. Residual material from the fermenting of pig poop is used for fertilizing. Getting the most out of available resources is part of the Cuban Culture. This region provides an example of the benefits of sustainable environmental practices.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.

Cuban Cigars

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The iconic status of Cigars motivated me to visit the tobacco farm of the Cameo family. Sergio was a wonderful host. I was amazed at the young man’s maturity. Generous with his time, he shared his knowledge & a few laughs…but no family secrets. Inside a drying houses the reflected morning sun fueled my attempts to capture some interesting images. This portrait is one of my top 3 favorite shots from my trip.

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Respecting & honoring family are subjects I experienced with other Cubans I came in contact with. While Sergio was giving a tour of his home I wasn’t surprised to hear praise for his father but also respect for his grandparents. He proudly told me about his ancestors that had emigrated from Spain in the mid 1800’s. His family has farmed the land the entire time. This father & son portrait has an interesting generational flip-flop. Benito has on the ball cap & his son wears the traditional headgear.

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I was struck at the size, strength & vibrant color of the tobacco plants. They are cultivated from a seed the size of a pinhead. I learned the first leaves are cut for cigars. The second sets of leaves are for cigarettes. After tobacco leaves are harvested they begin a lengthy process before being rolled into cigars. Some leaves can be aged for 5 years.

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First there is the curing where the leaves turn from green to yellow to orange & finally brown. The next steps are aging & fermentation. I was told different blends of spices, honey & rum are common seasonings. I began to understand the correlation cigars have with wine & craft beer. Recipes, aging & timing all are critical to the final product. Like cuttings from vineyards other farmers value the seeds of tobacco plants. The process is a blend of science, generational expertise & mother natures.

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In hindsight, I’d have been smart to  grab the tripod from the trunk. The sunlight coming thru the door bouncing off of the reddish dirt gave a wonderful quality to the light. Mixed with the aroma of drying tobacco the radiance of the room seemed to have a taste to it. The textures on the leaves was both subtle & dramatic. The limited spectrum of colors was a rich blend of earth tones. My eyes saw things I couldn’t capture with the camera. If I go back, I will have my tripod & do low ISO/f 16/long exposures. Speaking of equipment, the most manageable package of gear was the 7D/18-135 & an OTS bag with 28, 40 & 100mm lenses.  The 400mm stayed in my room.   The 2nd camera around my neck was of little value. Twice I wished I had my 10-22mm I left in Pittsburgh.

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Part of Sergio’s plans for the future is to continue to learn from his father. He understands the importance of his family’s reputation & recognizes he must gain more experience & work hard. The Camejo name has been respected as farmers in the Valley for over a century & a half. The leaves from their farm are recognized for consistent high quality. Rolled cigars are a significant export in the Cuban economy. The government purchases 90% of the leaves at a price set by the government. Sergio believes the possibility of changing relations with the US means more people will be interested in Cuban Tobacco making the future bright for his family’s farm.

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The quality of the final cigar begins with using his fingers to judge the dryness of each leaf. The tools he needed were basic. He had a board across his lap & a machete on his belt, to trim the ends. Once he rolls specific leafs into the layers of the cigar it is wrapped tight using a large unblemished leaf. He then smells the final product, examines the overall rolling before he lights it & tastes it. He also inspects the ash. Four of his 5 senses are used to ensure the high standard his product is recognized for. Consistency & quality go hand in hand in the world of cigars.

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Cockfighting is legal in Cuba but betting, like most gambling, was shut down by after the 1959 Revolution. Although Sergio is only 20 years old his confident poise is evident as he proudly displays his champion fighting rooster. Before we took this picture he took the time to groom/massage his champion. He explained the entire training, diet, conditioning & recovery process. It was a bit like the routine of boxers. As I was listening & taking photos I had my only Hemingway Moment while I was in Cuba.

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The concept of family extends to all that work alongside each other. Workers on the farm bridge the history of families with the Camejo’s which not only is a sign of loyalty but also respect & honesty. I’ve always had high regard for farmers. Working close to the land is tough, dirty, honest work. I learned a lot about cigars & discovered coffee with rum is Patriota & rum with coffee Carajillo. Details can be important. It was a beautiful morning on the farm.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.

Cuban Churches

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In homage to the Christian celebration of Easter & the Resurrection this post contains images I took at Churches in Cuba & share what I learned about Catholicism in this communist country. I am not Catholic nor do I regularly attend the Protestant church I belong to. However I consider myself a spiritual person respecting the moral guidance of a higher power.  “Do unto others…” is the best guidance I’ve learned.

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To say religion in Cuba history has twists & turns is an understatement. Spaniards colonized the island in alliance with the Pope & shared in the bounty. The Slave Trade, a cornerstone of Cuban economics, became a moral issue the Vatican could no longer condone. Most priests assigned to Cuban churches were from Spain & associated with the monarchy & the elite ruling class. Revolutionaries in the late 1800’s proclaimed the church was not the voice of the common people. Skip ahead to 1959 & the Castro brothers, who had gone to a Jesuit high school, understood nationalism & religion are contradictory. In Communist countries state atheism is promoted.

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With the collapse of the USSR in the 90’s, economic hardships & social changes edged the  government to evolve & declared the nation secular. In ’98 Pope John Paul II visited Cuba followed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. In 2015 Pope Francis made a huge step in moral diplomacy attempting to resolve the divide between Cuba & neighboring United States. Along with Catholicism are dogmas from Afro-Cuban religions that have been preserved & evolved. I did not experience any of those traditions.

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Having survived this turmoil between church & state I found magnificent Catholic Churches in the cities I visited. Usually they were built near colonial designed plazas, which served as a commons in developing towns. From a rooftop in Camaguey I saw the steeples of 7 grand churches. The architecture influence is diverse & the physical conditions vary greatly. But, most structures have been cared for despite withered congregations. Architectural photography isn’t a genre I have much experience or success with. Nonetheless many of these spaces are free of poles & wires to spoil the frame. It’s a rare opportunity to have numerous options to photograph a building.

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I spoke with Father Marco at his parish in Camaguay. He is from Mexico’s International Mercy Congregation. Shortly after his ordination in 2012 he came to Cuba. His multi-faceted perspectives were insightful. We discussed the contrasting ways of the people as well as their deep roots to the church. He remembers being embraced when he arrived & believes Cubans hospitality & respect for manners are what make them so friendly.

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After his 10am Saturday Mass we discussed the continual changes people are experiencing. He feels a trait many Cubans poses is the ability to adapt & they are somewhat open minded about reforms that are coming. In his brief time in Cuba he has seen the government try & do more for people in rural areas. And he has had access to prisons, health institutions & even universities. Father Marco believes these are big steps & opportunities to spread the message that with belief in God all things are possible.

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His love of the Cuban people includes their more casual attire when attending church compared to his native Mexico. He also noted that they hug & kiss instead of just shaking hands like he experienced growing up. Religious life is much more flexible. Father Marco also spoke of how the resilience of the Cuban people was integral in conquering hardships. In some ways I believe Father Marco’s mission to make people happy is made easier because cheerful is part of their being.

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A natural role for any religious leader is preparing followers for what lies ahead. I asked him what his dreams were for the Cuban people. He had three. #1 The government system will realize that people can make more of their own decisions. #2 people who are close to the economic needs & problems should come up with solutions. #3 an emerging need for more religious/human values, which have eroded since the 90’s with more attention to money. He also hopes Cubans abroad do not abandon their history.

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I developed ideas similar to what Father Marco’s dreams are as I was doing research for this trip. I’m not smart enough to understand the best path to make those ideas a reality or if even if I have a deep enough understanding of the problems. What I did observe is that in a society where much rebuilding is needed, churches have a solid foundation & have been maintained suggesting a religious culture with respect for history. In facing the unknowns of the future knowing where you came from has value.

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The future has many contrasting forces Cubans will need to navigate. Since I was totally off the grid during my trip I observed technology nipping at interpersonal interactions along generational lines. I hope they survive the flood of information from the Internet. Emerging changes in Cuban society could lead to self-centered perspectives. My prayers for our neighbors are to not abandon the values that allowed them to collectively survive. Dreams are based on unique blend of our past, personal motivations & hope for the future. I wish for Cuban people the ability to make good decisions.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.