Cuba | Havana | Photo Trip

Cuba was a special experience for me. Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and Arthur Meyerson did a marvelous job arranging for us to meet the Cuban people and to experience how they live. We where encouraged to go out on our own to meet and talk to the Cuban people. I can say all the ones I meet and talked to where really nice people. While some could speak English, others did not, so we had to work our way through the conversation. Luckily, our guides could assist with the language if needed. To see the architecture and the cars was like stepping back in time.

Our Cuban photographers where Jorge Gavilondo and Carlos Otero. That got us in places that most tourist would not get into. Like two dance companies where they preformed just for our group. During the performance we where able to photograph them. It was breathtaking performance and to be able to photograph them was wonderful, what an experience.

A typical day for the group would start at 6:45 am to do “dawn patrol”; photographing until 8:00 am. After breakfast at the hotel we would download what was shot. The group would go out again between 9-10am, coming back to each lunch where ever we wished and to down load our photos again. Between 3-4pm, we went as a group to photograph for a couple of hours. After  downloading the photos from the group shoot it was free time. Most of us went out again at sunset to capture the light on the buildings and people. Once we ate dinner it was back to work editing all of the photos from the day’s work.  We did so much in such a short amount of time and had an incredible experience.  I shot over 5500 photos in 6 days.

Here is some information on Cuba.

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba  Spanish: República de Cuba, , is an island country in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba comprises the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the capital of Cuba and its largest city. The second largest city is Santiago de Cuba.[10][11][12] To the north of Cuba lies the United States (145 km or 90 mi away) and the Bahamas are to the northeast, Mexico is to the west (210 km or 130 mi away), the Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic are to the southeast.

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and with over 11 million inhabitants, is the second-most populous after Hispaniola, albeit with a much lower population density than most nations in the region. A multiethnic country, its people, culture, and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, a close relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and close proximity to the United States.


Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as “enclave tourism” and “tourism apartheid”. Contacts between foreign visitors and ordinary Cubans were de facto illegal between 1992 and 1997. The rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba, and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy.

Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue.[ 1.9 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of $2.1 billion. Cuba recorded 2,688,000 international tourists in 2011, the third-highest figure in the Caribbean (behind the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).


Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of  (281.18 sq mi) − making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the third largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region. The city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbours: Marimelena, Guanabacoa and Atarés. The sluggish Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay.

Old Havana

Old Havana, contains the core of the original city of Havana, with more than 2,000 hectares it exhibits almost all the Western architectural styles seen in the New World. La Habana Vieja was founded by the Spanish in 1519 in the natural harbor of the Bay of Havana. It became a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World. In the 17th century it was one of the main shipbuilding centers. The city was built in baroque and neoclassic style.

Many buildings have fallen in ruin but a number are being restored. The narrow streets of old Havana contain many buildings, accounting for perhaps as many as one-third of the approximately 3,000 buildings found in Old Havana.

Old Havana is the ancient city formed from the port, the official center and the Plaza de Armas. Alejo Carpentier called Old Havana the place "de las columnas" (of the columns). The Cuban government is taking many steps to preserve and to restore Old Havana, through the Office of the city historian, directed by Eusebio Leal. Old Havana and its fortifications were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982.


Cuban music is very rich and is the most commonly known expression of culture. The central form of this music isSon, which has been the basis of many other musical styles like salsa, rumba and mambo and an upbeat derivation of the rumba, the cha-cha-cha. Rumba music originated in early Afro-Cuban culture.[205] The Tres was also invented in Cuba, but other traditional Cuban instruments are of African origin, Taíno origin, or both, such as the maracas,güiro, marimba and various wooden drums including the mayohuacan.

Popular Cuban music of all styles has been enjoyed and praised widely across the world. Cuban classical music, which includes music with strong African and European influences, and features symphonic works as well as music for soloists, has received international acclaim thanks to composers like Ernesto Lecuona. Havana was the heart of therap scene in Cuba when it began in the 1990s.


Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. Food rationing, which has been the norm in Cuba for the last four decades, restricts the common availability of these dishes. The traditional Cuban meal is not served incourses; all food items are served at the same time.

The typical meal could consist of plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja (shredded beef), Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits. Black beans and rice, referred to as Moros y Cristianos (or moros for short), and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet. Many of the meat dishes are cooked slowly with light sauces. Garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves are the dominant spices.

Viñales Valley

Viñales Valley is a karstic depression in Cuba. The valley has an area of (51 sq mi) and is located in the Sierra de los Órganos mountains (part of Guaniguanico range), just north of Viñalesm in the Pinar del Río Province.

Tobacco and other crops are cultivated on the bottom of the valley, mostly by traditional agriculture techniques. Many caves dot the surrounding hillfaces (Cueva del Indio, Cueva de José Miguel).

The conspicuous cliffs rising like islands from the bottom of the valley are called mogotes.

Viñales is a major tourist destination offering mainly hiking and rock climbing. The local climbing scene has started to take off in the last few years with many new routes being discovered resulting in an increase in local tourism.

Here are some of my photos from the trip. Enjoy





A Cuban House


Living in Cuba

People in Cuba

Tobacco for Cigars

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Picturing Cuba: Havana and Viñales | Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Santa Fe, New Mexico

I will be joining Arthur Meyerson on this trip.

The program is excellent. It truly is a person-to-person exchange, and I loved meeting the people of Cuba on the streets, talking to them, and photographing them. It was wonderful.  Kathryn Hill, past Cuba Program participant

As the eyes of the world turn to the small but resilient island in the Caribbean Sea, Picturing Cuba offers you the rare opportunity to engage with the Cuban people and to discover the country’s cultural diversity and physical beauty with your camera. Alluring, urban Havana and serene, verdant Viñales are our primary locations to explore. Join photographer and seasoned Cuba traveler Arthur Meyerson for a memorable journey to this beguiling country before it changes forever.

Here is a video from our trip, showing photos from all the people in the group I traveled with. Enjoy the video.

via Picturing Cuba: Havana and Viñales | Santa Fe Photographic Workshops Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Aerial Video and Photography coming to McGraphics | DJI S800 EVO

We have purchased two RC helicopters for ariel video and photography. This will bring new visual settings to video and photography. It will can bring new meaning with landscape photography. We will be able photograph or video from any height and angle needed to capture the perfect moment without movement.

Both of the DJI Phantom and S800 EVO helicopters are fitted with a Zenmuse gimbal with will give an new meaning to a steady shot. The DJI Zenmuse Gimbal is a milestone gimbal system which is developed for professional filming, aerial photography for commercial use. Even if aircrafts are in a fast-speed flight, it can still stabilize and control the camera equipment precisely with highest stability. The precision of control angle is within the range of ±0.05°, so picture or video output can reach the best effect.

The Phantom gimbal H3-2D gimbal is designed for the GoPro Hero3, and remote start/stop shooting, video transmission. On the S800 EVO has Z15 gimbal. In order to make the gimbal function the best, DJI provides the customized Gimbal according to the type of camera. For example, the Zenmuse Z15 supports Sony Nex 7. Zenmuse gimbal system has three types of control modes, which are Orientation-locked control mode, Non Orientation-locked control mode and Back to Mid-point mode (Horizontal mode). The three types of modes can be switched quickly from one mode to another to meet the different requirements of aerial photography. With the perfect mode and easy operation of the stable 3-axis Zenmuse gimbal, users can take excellent aerial works. With either one of the gimbals you will get a steady video with no bouncing around on windy days.

Here are videos using Ground Station software on a iPad.  The iPad ground station software, compatible with DJI flight control systems, is a portable mobile control platform designed for BVR (Beyond Visual Range) flight. I make a flight plan on the Ground Station software for these videos. After that I tell the software send the copter on the flight plan, it takes off and does the flight plan and comes back and lands. That is simplified but, that is what it does.

iPad Ground Station

  • The iPad ground station software, compatible with DJI flight control systems, is a portable mobile control platform designed for BVR (Beyond-Visual_Range) flight.
  • Single waypoint function, lick desired point and go.
  • Waypoints function edit a route and go – You can preset and edit flight routes according to real-time flight requirements.

The day that this video was shot there was a 18 mph wind and gusting at times.

This video was at Sunset Country Club also using the Ground Station software.

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