Sled dogs in Longyearbyen, Svalbard


Meet Lumi, a four months old female in training.

Lumi
Beautiful 4 month old female, in training.

Do not despair, my animal lover friends. She is a happy puppy. Her enclosure is huge, there are other dogs in training and she is very much loved. I was proudly invited by the caretaker to meet her.

The day we went for the sled dog ride, my heart sank when I saw each one chained to their little houses. I really wanted the whole thing to be over and get out of there. DO NOT JUDGE.
These dogs, the majority of them mixed, are working dogs. Nothing wrong with that, I worked all my life and nobody frowned upon that. They are athletes in a way, very strong, (each one can roughly pull 60kg ) and are a very important part of the Arctic life.
A dog that would jump to kiss you and gives you belly IS NOT and abused dog. They are very well fed, their health very much taken care of (if one is sick or in any trouble, the get to be in the main shack and walked around for their bodily needs as any other loved pet).
The care takers know every dog by name, and they are all animal lovers. You couldn’t do the job otherwise.
They get go ride at least once a day and I’m a witness they love it! Their joy is intoxicating.
I visited three kennels and got enough dog love for the rest of the year

Husky love
This beautiful girl was taking a Sunday morning stroll with her family. A bit more relaxed than the one at the kennel, she didn’t jump at me, but accepted and corresponded to my affection.


On our ride with Svalbard Huskies, one of the guides was a beautiful girl from Seattle. She can tell each of the hundred dogs apart and by name.

After they were harnessed, with the riders help, who get to learn, we went on our way. Six dogs to each sled (with wheels for the summer), two guides and four general workers make each team. Guides concentrate in the route which they know by heart and the rest just pull merrily.
We carry empty dishes (I was trying to figure that out) and stop by the clean streams for give them water. We stopped twice for water and a third time by a mine just so we could see it. They did not care for that stop and were hauling to get going LOL


When they got overheated, the whole team went to the side stream of water, took a quick and fun dip and came up to the road. Smart puppies.
We also saw many locals walking their dogs and “parking” them outside the business they were visiting. Got to “talk” yo many of them. I particularly remember “Monster”, with beautiful blue eyes and the female we saw the last day, who shed half her fur into my clothes.

Dogs are the only pet allowed in Svalbard, although the Russians have managed to illegally import some felines into Barensburg, the mining community across from Longyeabyen. Since they are isolated, they are contained there.

Dog parking
Sign outside the Radisson Blue Polar Hotel. It was common to see dogs “parked” outside businesses. All patient and well behaved.


Dogs are happy in Longyearbyen, both as home pets and as working dogs.

Husky close up
This beauty was, as most of them were, very friendly and loving. Difficult to get a good pic since they are so active. Wet kisses galore!
Svalbard Husky
One of the dogs at the kennel.

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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