Cuba Tips for Photography
Wander, Be Bold and Pay Up
The musician makes eye contact. On this cue his body shifts into a striking pose. Guitar strings are raised and fingers flexed. You know he has done this before, but not for you. His eyes are twinkling that universal message of commerce. You can take my picture for a fee. Caribbean harmony.
1. Wander off del Prado and the popular tourist squares of Viejo Havana. You will find anything going on in the side streets and mostly the unexpected. An impromptu dance session, a car under repair, a cigar smoking momma, a parade and more local color treasures. Architecture, cars, people. Mix and match as you desire or as they roll out on any street.
2. Change your perspective. Head to the rooftop or poke the lens into a mass of men street battling out a chess game. Separate yourself from the rest of the tourists roaming the plazas and promenades.
3. Pay up for portraits. It is the culture and many have gone before you so. Be prepared with small (US) dollar bills in amounts you know will be acceptable locally. Helping locally will have you feeling more connected to your travel destination.
4. Work the pose for your unique style. Travel is no reason to leave your creativity at home.
5. Be mindful of the sky. In the Caribbean it can change to a mother nature drama in minutes. Just make sure a hurricane is not brewing.
For more Cuba tips for photography, see also:
Swanning Around with a Cygnet
Coy Parenting Tactics
A young swan or cygnet is cuteness factored by three, or maybe thirty three. Baby animals have a special place in our heart. Young swans swaddled in fluff and curiosity giving them an extra high heart rating. They wreak of softness and innocence. Exposure and vulnerability. We just want to swoop them up and cuddle. But that is best left to swan parents.
Adults mate for life and have years together to finesse parenting. Harmonious in their relationship, together they safeguard their offspring. After up to 150 days the youngster can take flight. If you are on a large waterway when a cygnet is present the parents will remain between humans and the babe. This is done with the utmost of coyness. They swoon into position so gracefully, you may not even realize an invisible, protective shield has been raised. One that they will fiercely defend, if under pressure. But who can resist mother nature at it’s finest? You will be so emotional over the entire scene of youth, guardianship, attachment and perennial bonding you will not notice the defensive positioning. A cygnet being nurtured along on the waterways of life.
For more on swans and their habitat, see also:
Happy New Year This Fall Season
Back To School For Everyone
For some folks the fall season is the” new year” as far as getting back to a schedule after the drop out days of summer. Back to a schedule often means continuing education after a break. How does the frugal photographer improve?
We are often happy to separate from our money on workshops and seminars but it may not always be convenient or necessary to have others lead? With a little sleuthing and planning you can get a low cost education on a myriad of topics.
Internet – the idea here is to get a plan, not just scamper around sites looking at whatever is announced in your Inbox or social media site. Find a few websites or blogs that speak to you, sign up for their regular spiel and read them as an assignment. To maintain discipline, the newsletters could go in a folder called “School” and you could make a commitment to get a little education daily. Read them all or replace with ones you will read. Don’t pick too many or you will be overwhelmed. Pick a focus area that you want to improve in and assign that work for a month or two. Stick with it then move on to a new focus. Discipline with the internet is key and we all know what that is about.
Public Library – Let’s start with what libraries are known for, books, then walk past them to the magazine. There is a wealth of information in computer, technology and art books as well as specific books showing imagery on subject matter you may be specializing or interested in. Computer and technology books need to be current but older photography and art books can work for composition, focus, new or improved subject matter, colour, posture, lighting and all things image capture related. Test yourself. Why did the photographer chose the setting, lighting, angle, point of view, how was that shot obtained, why was the lighting set up a particular way. This is also a source for focused look at specific areas of interest, nature photographers check out the magazines on outside activities, portrait folks look at poses and props. Pick your genre and explore.
Equipment – Sounds simplistic but, in reality, cameras are complex computers. If you are just using the Auto settings (or ones with icons like night, portrait, landscape) you are not utilizing much of the potential of your camera. Do you know how to set up for flash off camera, use the timer, take bracketed images, change the on-camera flash compensation, preview a shot, Live-view a shot, compensate for fill flash, and any other new, untried button, setting or switch? Set up a time, open your manual and play around with settings in an area that you are not familiar with.
Shoot with someone who does an entirely different type of photography. Push yourself outside the box. With a little discipline you can get a free education.
For more on Fall Shooting, see also:
Backyard Birding Is For Everyone
I can still hear the screaming sirens of the merlins, the clucking of the cormorants and the take-off squawk of the great blue herons. That was backyard birding this summer and it was always entertaining. Often the entertainment was from a particular perch that was favoured by most flying visitors from songbirds to birds of prey.
Backyard birds as entertainment? They can actually compete with any social media feed, preoccupying you mindlessly, if you just take the time to tune them in. Behind a pair of binoculars you will become immersed in colour, song and behaviour, forgetting that to-do list made moments before. All you have to do is hold your position and take it all in. They will fly into your live feed without prediction or warning sometimes. A drop-in visit last Monday will not guarantee the same bird this week but another may be in the same place. Some are more predictable than others but you can always reap rewards with the usual suspects. They will flit and flutter, scratch and twitch, those fickle feathered friends.
Birds are always on the lookout for their many enemies, eagle eyed or four footed, even the two footed ones. As long as they feel safe from their many predators they may fan their feathers and show off their plumage or spurt out a territorial or mating song. So, if you have a happy place where birds feel safe, and it is in the open where you can keep your eye out for them you will have many hours of happy viewing from your own backyard perch. This year is Year of the Bird.
You can start your 2018 bird quest in your backyard. For more on birds and birding, see also: