The stories are true, Cuba is passion, heat, decay, music and vintage cars but so much more. After a regrettably short visit my mind and my mind’s eye are bursting with sounds and colours, people and sensations. I travelled with a small group of keen photographers in a coach over dusty pock-marked roads from Havana to CienFuego, to Trinidad and Santa Clara and finally back to Havana. My amigos also visited Vinales but a short interlude with the excellent Cuban health system prevented me from joining them. Frui runs holidays (with a photographic tutor) to Cuba and many other great destinations.
We flourished in the expert guidance of Giselle our Cuban chaperone and our driver Candito, who both went far beyond the call of duty to find us the perfect places and situations for our photographic purposes.
Cuba is not an easy country to understand, its history is complex and thrilling. Stuck as it is with the US trade embargo still in place, the Cubans are short of all sorts of modern and everyday products which are so familiar to us. Cuba is not short of welcome and rhythm. The salsa beat is with you day and night, sit down in a cafe and within moments a live band will be serenading you and musicians set up in the street in the most unlikely places. Tourism is Cuba ‘s money-maker, life there will change very quickly when the Castro dynasty ends, tourism will be the big draw for foreign entrepreneurs, who no doubt will suck away all the profits leaving the Cubans to make what they can with an infra-structure that has been starved of regeneration funds for more than 50 years.
One day in Berlin is not enough – of course! I was there to visit the Bauhaus Archives, the most comprehensive representation of information about the mid 20th C design school. I also enjoyed a 3 hour coach tour with a certain Thomas who was the most informed and amusing guide I have ever met. He skilfully took us around or past every historic point, every breath-taking piece of modern architecture with an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything Berlin has to offer the coach-bound traveller. Due to lack of time we could only leave the coach twice and for just a few moments, so many of the photos are compromised by having been taken through the coach window as the coach was moving.
Just one photograph hardly does justice to this complex building, light and shadows dance across the angled facades and jagged chasms and take your breath away. Daniel Libeskind
Berlin Hauptbahnhof – Meinhard von Gerkan
Meinhard von Gerkan The station looks particularly marvellous at night, streaks of light gliding through and out of the enormous glazed tube of a roof.
The external structure of steel rods or shafts catch the light and cast shadows giving the whole structure a nebulous appearance, quite the antithesis of the stern buildings that preceded it under the Third Reich. Ursula Wilm
At first sight this appears to be a man with no head! Actually he is bending his scarf-covered head forward sharply in order to better read his phone.
On the day Prince George was born crowds of people waited outside Buckingham Palace for news. These two young men seemed a little out of place but they looked so good perched on the narrow ledge of the Victoria Memorial like a couple of large pigeons with immaculate white shoes.
On the upper level of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul you can look out through windows, guarded by a fine mesh to keep out the birds, towards a gilded spire. It is pretty dark inside with inky shadows set against the intensely blue sky outside. Photographically it was a challenge to get the balance of light right so that one can see into the shadows without losing sight of the spire.
I took many photos on different settings trying to replicate what I could actually see by just looking at the scene. Whilst peering through the tiny viewfinder, I was not fully aware of the figure who had stopped in front of me, I didn’t see her properly until I reviewed the photos later on a computer. She appears to be a serene figure in contemplation of this great spiritual place, head bowed as though in prayer, the sun lighting up the top of her red scarf and her right hand. The scene has something of the Caravaggio Chiaroscuro style of painting about it.
I liked the image so much I began to adjust it slightly for exposure and began to see a very different scenario developing from the shadows. The atmosphere and mood changes utterly once the shadows are lightened, only then you can see the Smurf toy attached to the woman’s backpack. It changes from a study of spiritual contemplation into just another one of the thousands of mildly curious tourists who pass through the Hagia Sophia every day, perhaps just stepping back off a bench and looking down for her foothold, after trying to peer out of the window. Nothing is as it first seemed.