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Owtafocus

Habana Centro

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One of my XPro2's did very well on a recent trip to Cuba.  My other one fried the first day there.  So, 12 days with no backup body was nervous time, but it survived heavy daily use.

streetlamp.jpg

rundowncorner.jpg

diamond-hallway.jpg

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Was this your first time to Cuba? I hope to visit in the coming years. Where all did you go?

I'd love to see more from your trip, I find the architecture particularly interesting.

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artuk   
3 hours ago, Christopher said:

Was this your first time to Cuba? I hope to visit in the coming years. Where all did you go?

I'd love to see more from your trip, I find the architecture particularly interesting.

Unfortunately I feel that Cuba has become rather a photographic and tourist cliché - old buildings, old American cars, men with cigars etc.  I like the colours in the second photo. The first one "worries" me aesthetically as the camera isn't parallel to the buildings, so they slope to the left (sorry, these things always irritate me, a personal thing).

One should also remember that in spite of Cuba's 2-tier economy where everything costs tourists many times that of locals, the locals are still desperately poor and it seems that the Government pockets most of the tourism money but doesn't appear to do anything very helpful to the general population with it.  There have been a number of articles about this in various sources which are worth reading and explain the issues far better than I have here.

Personally, I always try and combine tourism and photography with a personal responsibility, which means there are some places I simply wouldn't visit.  I was recently discussing this with someone who has taken all the stereotypical hot air balloons over Bagan (Burma) photos but was blissfully unaware that the military still continue to raid northern villages and kill all the inhabitants they find, in spite of "democracy" that puts ex-military junta in "respectable" positions as Politicians - but the policies, agenda and corruption all remain the same.

I have no specific issue with Cuba, beyond a tourist tax and a government system that for decades has clearly not benefited the local people, in spite of lots of generalised kudos for Fidel Castro for reasons that don't appear to stand up to much (if any) scrutiny.  Owtafocus is of course free to travel wherever he wants, and I am not picking on him or his trip - just an issue that has been on my mind for a few weeks after a few internet posts on postcard tourist trips to various places.

I find the last photo too bright towards the bottom, which draws my eye too much and detracts from the potential curiosity of exploring the shadows nearer the top of the frame.  Perhaps a darker exposure and some darkening (e.g. gradient filter) on the lower part of the frame?  Just my opinion.

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Chris, it was my first trip there.  I was with a group of photographers but I had a lot of free time to roam and wander.  We mainly visited Havana and Trinidad, with a small town between where we visited a grade school.  Yes, Artuk, I am painfully aware of all you say.  I went to experience the country as it is and not get too hung up on the social-political aspects which are pretty apparent.  There is a small rise in tourism happening but plenty of the real thing left to explore and photograph.  I brought school supplies and snack foods to give to the children and teachers at the schools I had a chance to visit and photograph within.  I went with a person who has been visiting Cuba for over twenty years and knows many people that gave us access to places and activities that were quite special.  Regardless of the economic and political situation for most people, they were happy, loving, extremely friendly and we became friends as I photographed away.  Their lives had character and charm and I was privileged to have them share that with me. 

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Jeffrey, I am sorry to learn that one of your X-Pro2s died during the trip (and I am curious to know why), but glad the other one allowed you to make some beautiful pictures. I am particularly attracted by the second one, both for its composition and for the sense of desolation it is able to convey. Thank you for sharing.

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artuk   
On ‎30‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 3:10 AM, Owtafocus said:

Yes, Artuk, I am painfully aware of all you say.  I went to experience the country as it is and not get too hung up on the social-political aspects which are pretty apparent.  There is a small rise in tourism happening but plenty of the real thing left to explore and photograph.  

Regardless of the economic and political situation for most people, they were happy, loving, extremely friendly and we became friends as I photographed away.  Their lives had character and charm and I was privileged to have them share that with me. 

There was no need to justify yourself - as I said earlier, the comments were not personally directed and a reflection of a number of discussions I have seen recently.

Alas Cuba like some other countries has great poverty, tourism, and a corrupt government system that prevents the local residents getting the economic benefit of the tourism.  That in Cuba's case so many people almost eulogise Castro for such a system mystifies me.  As you comment, in many such countries the people are often charming and friendly, as the issue is not with the individuals but with the political system they are often forced to live in.

Unfortunately, it often feels that Cuba and particularly Havana have become one of those photographic clichés, in the same way that monks in South East Asia have. 

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artuk   
1 hour ago, Owtafocus said:

Cliches are only significant to some people.  I'd like to see those monks.

Hahaha well In was looking at a thread in another forum from someone who had visited Burma, a country with a very poor Government now full of ex-military junta posing as "politicians", where villages in the north are still regularly massacred by the army.  he posted a thread of photo after photo of monks. I guess if it is your first trip to SE Asia this seems interesting, but the internet is awash with saffron clothed monks that have alas become a repetitive cliché. I'm not against originality or art when photographing a subject, but many/most are not art but simply a regurgitation (often artlessly) of what has already gone before.  I do occasionally photograph Buddhist monks, but try to do so in a way that is personal, offering some personality or something artistic or unusual.  Candid photos of monks even when taken with a fancy camera and lens are often little more than snapshots unless they offer something original.  That I don't publicly show many / most of my photos of monks is a reflection of my belief in the originality or artistic merit of much of my work.  Visiting a location and taking the same photos that thousands have taken before isn't very interesting, and as keen amateurs we owe it to ourselves to try and raise the bar, otherwise we are just snapshotting tourists with said fancy cameras.

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What you say may apply if one's pictures are taken for publication but even so - there is precious little that has not been photographed especially since the advent of digital. However, pictures taken for oneself - hopefully with some artistic and technical merit are a different matter. The actual subject or victim chosen and the timing of the shot is a personal view. I'd love the chance to photograph those monks although even though I'd feel I was probably the millionth to do so. A photographer does not visit these countries then avoid taking pictures because others have. Everything has been photographed before and as you say, you "occasionally photograph Buddhist monks, but try to do so in a way that is personal, offering some personality or something artistic or unusual." It sounds a little pompous to assume that others are not. They may not be as good as it but they have just as much right to try. Personally I prefer to take, and to view candid portraits whatever they are taken with.

Everything in photography is a cliche - does this mean I should go on safari and not take pictures because I can see animals in other peoples pictures or on TV - in fact with such great wildlife TV programs, why go at all?

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artuk   
On ‎31‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 11:27 PM, veejaycee said:

What you say may apply if one's pictures are taken for publication but even so - there is precious little that has not been photographed especially since the advent of digital. However, pictures taken for oneself - hopefully with some artistic and technical merit are a different matter. The actual subject or victim chosen and the timing of the shot is a personal view. I'd love the chance to photograph those monks although even though I'd feel I was probably the millionth to do so. A photographer does not visit these countries then avoid taking pictures because others have. Everything has been photographed before and as you say, you "occasionally photograph Buddhist monks, but try to do so in a way that is personal, offering some personality or something artistic or unusual." It sounds a little pompous to assume that others are not. They may not be as good as it but they have just as much right to try. Personally I prefer to take, and to view candid portraits whatever they are taken with.

Everything in photography is a cliche - does this mean I should go on safari and not take pictures because I can see animals in other peoples pictures or on TV - in fact with such great wildlife TV programs, why go at all?

Sorry if I sounded pompous, it wasn't my intent, and perhaps a reaction to a thread of 20 or so very quite repetitive photos of novice monks taken in Burma.

I was trying to be polite on this subject, but in that particular case that the photographer went to Burma without any knowledge of the continuing problems there. There is state/military violence even with "democracy" and persecution by some Buddhist leaders of minority indigenous Muslims. His photos were average clichéd photos of balloons over Bagan and novice monks. To visit somewhere with problems like Burma and not take the time to understand the political and social situation is to me somewhat offensive, as those travelling particularly on tours contribute little to the local economy but a lot to the military junta in elected government as they have interests in many western hotels, for example. As I commented earlier, everyone is free to travel wherever they want, and must make their own moral decisions. For whatever reason, I found such clichéd photos of Burma taken without any knowledge of persecution of the countries citizens to be quite annoying - in the same way that for example I find F1 motor racing annoying as they find it acceptable to hold races in Bahrain where th government shoots political protestors. My comments were not about Owtafocus' photos, though I wanted to mention earlier that Cuba has a well known 2 tier economy from which the locals have barely benefits for decades, which is very sad. I've seen a lot of photos of Cuba which are very nice, but after so many 1950s cars and men with cigars and wrinkly faces, fatigue sets in. I did try to offer some positive comments and critique of the photos above, and there was no offence or personal attack intended as I haven't particularly been discussing those pictures or that trip.

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Artuk, you need to take a break from looking at all the images you do and reading about countries with horrible politics. Some of the world has always been like that and is not about to change. Personally I choose to photograph beautiful landscapes, nature, and various interesting cultures. I want to enjoy my image making. It help me cope with the rest of the hate in the world. When I need to update my worldly views, I get enough of that crap on TV, reading or the Internet. And, thank you for your comments on my photographs. 

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artuk   
17 hours ago, Owtafocus said:

Artuk, you need to take a break from looking at all the images you do and reading about countries with horrible politics. Some of the world has always been like that and is not about to change. Personally I choose to photograph beautiful landscapes, nature, and various interesting cultures. I want to enjoy my image making. It help me cope with the rest of the hate in the world. When I need to update my worldly views, I get enough of that crap on TV, reading or the Internet. And, thank you for your comments on my photographs. 

I don't think any of us should take a break from.making informed choices about where we travel before embarking on package holiday tourist happy snapping - I know the world is this way and may not change, but one of the few and most powerful ways we as individuals can exert pressure on such places is an economic one. If the Cuban government hadn't been bankrolled by 1000% tourist tax for 30,years maybe they would have had to have done more to help the locals and the local economy, for example. I'm not in the business of propping up military dictatorships whilst I can go on a carefree holiday - a personal choice. I'm not saying don't travel, but I believe in doing so responsibly - there are plenty of pretty places to snap.

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On 12/29/2016 at 9:55 AM, Owtafocus said:

One of my XPro2's did very well on a recent trip to Cuba.  My other one fried the first day there.  So, 12 days with no backup body was nervous time, but it survived heavy daily use.

Your forgot to tell us what happened with your other X-Pro2 that died! What's the story there? Have you been able to get it fixed?

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Hi Chris.  I took two bodies as anyone who understands backup would do.  And it was going to afford me the luxury of having two lenses mounted thus saving precious time swapping.  Of course I ended up swapping but it all worked out.  The story....

Upon the first days arrival, a bear of a traveling day, with the grueling experience at the visa, immigration and security clusterf*cks at the airport, we stopped at a nice viewpoint for sunset on the way to our hotel.  I made exactly FOUR frames on one of my XPro2's and upon changing the ISO setting, the camera became unresponsive.  Couldn't get it to come up alive.  I wasn't going to waste another minute while the light was good so I swapped bodies and continued on.  Back in my room I took the faulty body out of my bag and noticed how warm it was, especially around the battery compartment.  I tried everything I could to reset it or get it going again, and although I saw a small flicker of glow on the rear screen, it refused to cooperate. I did not use that battery again since perhaps it was a problem.  I had 5 others.  I made about 6300 frames on my working body and the trip was a success.  I sent the faulty unit in to Fuji last week and am still waiting to hear back about repair estimate or warranty status.  Either way, I'm really curious to know what the problem was, and if they tell me, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, here's one from the roof of my hotel at sunrise.

 

rooftopangel.jpg

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Followup to the mishap.  I received my XPro2 back from Fuji New Jersey all better and working.  They replaced the main PCB.  Including shipping time, the camera was gone for 1 month.  Even though I bought it used privately online, they honored the warranty and it was no cost to me.  Great service!

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Glad to hear it all worked out! That's too bad it took a whole month, but at least you had a backup! I bet it took so long because they're short on parts for the new models.

I'm trying to find a window to send in one of my X-T2's, it's working fine but the shutter button has developed a weird subtle 'stickiness' almost as if the weather sealing on the button is out of alignment.

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Nice images "Owtafocus"; as my late wife said it is far far easier to criticise than create; I trust your X-P2 has been restored to great health; it isn't funny when you are 1000's of miles away from home when a camera goes doolally; I have heard of one or two issues with X-P2 and X-T2 models; lets hope Fuji sort the bugs out; I am in no rush to upgrade my well used, travelled and hammered X-T1's.

Edited by peterjones
can't spell.

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