Little Havana: tourist trap?


Little Havana.-
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It all started as an outlet for Cuban refugees to play dominoes and forget about their Caribbean paradise that was no more.

Years have come and gone. Miami is now the beacon for Latin-American refugees seeking the ever elusive American dream.

It is not only us Cubans, it is all new world blood, humiliated, stepped-on, diminished . We are nothing but cheap labor.
The “carrot” of good behavior is paraded in front of our eyes. If we are humble and obey, maybe we will be allowed to reside in Wonderland of Wonderlands.

Big fallacy. We did not grow up to worship the gold coin. We grew up to value family and justice. And we burn our wings to come to a land that promises that, the joke is on us!

But, we are here. Strong, invincible, with roots that go beyond the cortex.
Proud, hard working, forgiving of the culture that we do not understand, not totally believing the false promises, but there is always hope.

What would people be without hope? Annihilated before even takinge the first step forward.

Do we have a chance? Only time will tell.

In the mean time, we are vibrant, alive, full of joy and pride of our heritage.
Hopefully that prejudice will die one day. That our warmer colored skin does not make us target of hatred and intolerance.

One day, maybe, people will be appreciated for what they are, their intrinsic right of birth to be unique ant part of a big collective at the same time. No fake oppressor.

Face value: the way we are born.

I present to you Little Havana, the Latin-American tourist trap in Miami.

All images were captured with Sony a7rii and Sony 24-70/2.8 G Raw capture, converted to B&W in Lightroom.

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But then, there is our music…
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Oaxaca, dance of colors


The celebration of the Day of the Dead could be very colorful, especially on the “comparsa” nights, where there is even a custom contest, with the make-up school participating and having a very animated march of laughter, joy and music.
Here are some of the masquerades, another time I will add anecdotes, which are always there.
Enjoy!
OAX passingmem

OAXmimo

OAX pancho

OAX littlenightmusic

OAX kiss

OAX hairdofromback

OAX greenface

OAX girlyellow

OAX Frida

OAX deathtunnel

OAX Catrinamezcal

OAX catrinacell

OAX bridelastnight

OAX bitchplease

OAX bellecomparsas

OAX Fridadaytime

A Moment in the Life of Tigrito, Oaxaca


I had spotted “Tigrito” close to the Zocalo in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, following a tall, slender man, in a hurry in the midst of a lazy pueblo morning. The tall stranger seemed to be on a mission. He and the little dog made a striking pair. I took a quick shot and continued on our way to Plaza Santo Domingo.
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A few minutes later, on the side street by the church, a second sighting. This time, the tall stranger saw me and turned his head as not to be in the picture. But that was not to stop him of keep him away from his mission.
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Looking around for things to photograph, we spotted someone lying in the sidewalk, apparently drunk, since no one around him paid any attention. In a provincial town, you do pay attention to things like that.
The guy was collapsed in front of aa Art Gallery, and as we watched (a couple of pics to be had, why not), there we are, face to face with the tall stranger with the puppy.
We said hello and learned he was an artist waiting for the gallery to open so he could deliver some of his work.
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Two seconds later, I was on the ground, trying to establish contact with the puppy and asked the Master if I could take pictures of the dog. The name was Tigrito” (small tiger) and the artiste was looking for a home for him.
Tigrito was very difficult to photograph. Not in the way our puppies are, playfully biting out fingers and turning over for a belly rub. No.

Tigrito was a street puppy. And street puppies grow up in a hurry. His eyes were constantly on his Master (Savior?) and the little eyes followed him with devotion every inch of the way as if his life depended on him. Which actually may just be the truth. The life of street dogs in our Latin countries is not easy, although every street and town has plenty of them and you can see there is a law and structure firmly held in place by the stronger ones, territories clearly marked.

My guess is that in a struggling artist life, the sudden presence of a puppy could be too big a responsibility. But I feel that in this case, the deal is sealed. Those two depend on each other and that is the way it will stay for a long time.
It was a treat to get to meet the Tigrito and his friend.
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Oaxaca in B&W


We came to Oaxaca for the second time to enjoy the Dia de los Muertos celebration as part of Raul Touzon’s photo workshop. Arriving a couple of days ahead of time gave us the opportunity to hang around town, enjoy the great food and hospitality of the locals.
It is a beautiful, colorful city, with all the Mexican flavor you can expect in a provincial town. Very interesting architecture, vendors, clothes typical of the holiday, even street musicians and kids going on the Halloween part of this, which is just gathering candies and or small coins.
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Getting busier by the day, the city is beaming with tourists here for the occasion,the locals getting the supplies for the home altars and one or two political demonstration, if small are peaceful.
The people here are quick to smile, easy to talk to and fiercely proud of their culture. I would be too.

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On our small explorations, we were in the big church by Plaza de Santo Domingo, not the Museo de toas las Culturas yet, since it was closed Monday, and yesterday, the Benito Juarez market.
That was an experience in itself and although considered a bit “touristy”, a feast for the eyes and senses, with flowers, vegetables, fruits and the local drink of choice, mezcal, a close relative to tequila, but not yet produced commercially in a big scale because of the difficulty in carrying the plant down the hills, where they like to grow. It is produced by artisans and a big chunk of the local economy.
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Chocolate is a big thing here and so are is the “quesillo”, a white cheese great for warming up, sold in balls of long threads. Mole is another big thing here, having various colors. Very typical are the “chapulines”, grasshoppers.
I will prepare another post showing the colorful market.
Today, the first project here, B&W photos.
This make not make sense at all and I need to run it by my on-line mentor, Sean Duggan, but I have been converting in Lightroom, using the color filters to get the tones precisely as I like them, then taking the resulting image to Silver Efex Pro 2 for the extra punch. IF I try to do it straight to Nik, the results feel different to me. No scientific proof of this though.

So here are some of the images, the subjects have all agreed to let me take their picture, except one or two obvious cases, no asking for compensation from any, but, the question of what do I want the picture for, which makes sense to me. I just tell them that because I like their look or smile. And being the truth, it works like a charm.

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Tonight we will have the welcome cocktail, and then crazy schedule I hope to be able to comply with. Last year I could not make to all field trips because of fatigue. But I feel stronger, at least mentally 🙂 and hope I can keep up.
I don’t want to miss the night at the graveyard, a mystical experience despite the party-like atmosphere.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Be back soon and enjoy!

Ceiba speciosa is blooming!


So alfred talked me into using a point and shoot camera.
I have never been a fan but he always has one with him, even in trips with full load of equipment. Lots of candids and behind the scenes he had.
So he got me the Sony RX-100 mkIV, really small and powerful. A real pocket camera, but it sits in a velvet pouch on my purse and goes with me anywhere now.
The last two photo expeditions, it is what I’ve used, fir the sake of portability. The sensor is a 20 mgs CMOS, and lens equivalent of 24-70, with a wide aperture of f/1.8-2.8. Even if it is a relative small sensor, you can get great bokeh.
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I have the feeling I will be using this a lot!
The ceiba is a beautiful tree with personality problems. It blooms in the fall instead of the spring. Creative little thing LOL
But it is refreshing for us in South Florida, where we don’t get fall colors for the most part, to have something beautiful to photograph, plant wise, this time of the year.
Although there is a Royal Poinciana in fresh bloom around Ponce and Alhambra. Another one with timing issues.
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So those are a few from yesterday, processed in Lightroom. There are some more, but not worked on them yet.
Have a great day y’all!

What do you do on a rainy day in Brickell Avenue?


We love the buildings in Brickell Avenue, even more so than the ones downtown. It is also easier to navigate, since we do, or have done, the work from the car.
This time we did not take the mirrorless system, since it was raining. Not nice to walk around in the rain on a hot day, at least for me.
I know you can get great stuff in the rain, but I prefer to do it from a sheltered location, rather than participate in the wet humidity.

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SO all of this images were taken from the car, from behind the windshield or out of the closed window. It was an interesting game, because of the blue polarized or whatever top part of the glass, trying to avoid it. The camera used was the Sony RX-100 mk IV, at f/4, Auto ISO, Aperture Priority and most with a 1+ Ev.

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They were all distorted and colorized to taste, exaggerating, to get a modern look to them. All work was done in Lightroom.
I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

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Night Life at Mango’s


We have been visiting the disco bar at Ocean Drive lately. It is a rather informal cabaret, with a few tables downstair and others on the balcony upstairs. The shoes start at 8:15Pm and keep going until 2:30AM. Great stuff, folks. You can see it from the bars or reserve a table, where cover charges and minimum comp. are required.
It is a great atmospheres, with very friendly personnel and beautiful decor.
Parking we soul advise to use the garages close by, since valet is really expensive in SoBe. You do not want your night end up with a surprise.
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We used the Sony a7Rii with a few lenses, mostly one at a time, out of laziness. Unless you are at a table as we have been, it becomes awkward to be changing lenses. The mirrorless ISO and AF capabilities have not let us down yet. Lenses used are the Sony/Zeiss 55 f/1.8, Sony/Zeiss 16-35/4 and the Sony/Zeiss 35 f/1.4
They all AF, and we have tried different settings. I have to admit that the rotating color lights could work against you or make your shot. Just be patient, use you continuous drive and be flexible.
On the floor

Joy!

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Samba

Giving the performers and occasional print will make them very happy and you will probably get eye contact the next time around. What goes around, comes around. Spread the joy and you will get some back!

So here are some the things that are available there, nothing difficult.
Salsa mia

SoBe pixelcropsinger

SoBe mojitoroomBatman

MJ coming in

Epa!

Second jump

The light

I am the one

Good place, good time

Mango's dancers

MJ impersonator

Are you OK Eddie?