Cuba: in Black & White

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 A Double Entendre

… ambiguity of meaning arising from language that lends itself to more than one interpretation…

 

This time around I left my rose colored glasses at home and I was standing on firm ground.  This trip took me to rural areas low and high, and city sights that blew me away. It’s true, the Cubans have nothing tangible.  But before I continue on with this B&W post, I need to mention again that the people of Cuba are beautiful in body and soul.

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While in Holguin I needed to buy a pair of sandals, my gym shoes were too warm for the Cuban heat.  On my way to the store I met up with two young men, we talked of the USA and that their father lived in Miami.  Knowing that I needed sandals they took me to the ‘shoe’ store.  Thank God they were with me… I wouldn’t have known where to begin.

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They spoke to their friend behind the counter and the next thing I knew a great pair of size 7 sandals were mine.  I may have payed more than the average Cuban …. but that’s OK.

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Later that same day while we were exploring the City of Holguin we came upon a home for pregnant girls. Manuello, who rolls as if he were sitting on the ball head of a tripod, decided that we should stop and introduce ourselves … so we did.

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After a small discussion between Manu and the Doctors we were invited into the home to photograph the girls and their surroundings.  This is a home / hospital  for young pregnant woman that live too far from the ‘hospital’, or just need a place to relax and deliver… many situations are in play.

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I was a bit intimidated photographing under these circumstances, but then again I couldn’t resist. Everyone was very gracious and welcoming, and I was very considerate and thankful.

Education is big in Cuba, and I have no doubt that the doctors are excellent …

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On the road again Manu spotted a home just up the hill from our route.

  Guyz Guyz !  Meetchel come here!

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… so we did !  Our group consisted of 5 student photographers, Manuello – the top dog, and Miyal – his nephew and right hand man.  This lovely family that we surprised out of the blue clear skies welcomed us with open arms and Rum !
The Cubans love their Rum …

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Nothing ….

 … but this family could not have been more gracious and welcoming. They may not own much, but you can see the pride that they share from the twinkle in their eyes. I know at least 5 people live here. The older men, the  patriarch and his brother, must live close by.

  We stayed for an hour or so, shared some rum, photographed anywhere we liked,  and bid adieu.

What an experience !

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In my last post I showed you some images of the children from San Luis.

Here are some more scenes from this untouched Cuban Village:

just another day in the life of …

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The village of San Luis was a highlight.

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Santiago de Cuba during the Blue Hour

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I have much more to show and tell.

How fortunate am I to have had two beautiful trips to Cuba with two incredible photography groups.  I loved my trip to Havana with Muench Photographers, I couldn’t have painted the picture any better.   And Manuello Paganelli, what can I say?  I loved this trip just as much  but with a different lens and a different focal point.

God Bless America

 

Please stay tuned for more of Cuba from this trip:

  • The Cuban Way of Life  : how the Cubans make a living

  •  Landscapes of Cuba

  • The Sounds of Cuba !

  • and The Carnival of Santiago de Cuba

The Children of Cuba

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Yes!  I went back to Cuba. This trip took me to the South Eastern corner of the Island, the City of Santiago de Cuba. Santiago is the 2nd largest city in Cuba and known to be the birthplace of the Cuban sound. Desi Arnaz, Emilo Estefan, and many members of the Buena Vista Social Club were born in this area.

When I returned from my first visit to Cuba someone suggested that I look up a Cuban-Italian photographer by the name of Manuello Paganelli … so I did.

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Manu, or Pag, has been photographing the Island for over 20 years.  Manu travels with the heart and soul of his heritage, every one is familia.  His warmth and charming Ricky Riccardo personality lead the way, the printed syllabus was just a suggestion…

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 One day, en route from A-B, we stopped in the small town of San Luis for lunch. We had caused quite a stir in this town and the villagers ventured out of every nook and cranny. Tourists are far and few between.

The people of Cuba were as lovely as I had remembered, and another reason for my return.

  Once again a simple ‘hola’ was exchanged with a warm and genuine smile in return. 

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This trip was varied and diverse. We went to a Cock Fight, to a home / hospital for pregnant girls, we visited a home in the mountains and dropped in on a family who lived just off the side of the road.  We sat in on a Santeria Ritual … rum was offered in return for health… , we swam in the Caribbean and sipped Caipirinha’s at night.  But the main reason I choose to go to Santiago de Cuba was for the Music and the Carnival.

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Our first night in Santiago de Cuba was the Children’s Parade… worth every click of my shutter!  Manu knew somebody somewhere so we were able to walk within the confines of the parade itself and snap away, we had the run of the mill.

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That was a photobomb !

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“The carnival of Santiago de Cuba is the largest, most famous, and most traditional carnival in all of Cuba. It’s an explosion of color, contagious drum rhythms, and dance. It is also a time for Cubans to re-gather themselves and remember their history, community, and culture. The event is often punctuated by the Cuban National Holiday of July 26th.” wiki

This year they were also celebrating Fidel Castro’s 90th birthday.

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This little fellow was crying pretty hard!  I tried to take his picture but I wasn’t quick enough. By the time I reached him he was just scowling  …. I talked to him in my own special way, took a photo, showed him his picture and then smiles galore !  He was OK after that…

 My first post, this one, is an introduction to my recent visit. I will share this trip in more detail as time goes on but I wanted  somehow to incorporate the children of Cuba. Aren’t they beautiful !

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I smile at each shot, and  remember the moment. Some of these children lured me take their picture and I was delighted.  I think I had more fun than they did ….!!

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This image was taken in the town of El Cobre.

  Every picture tells a story ….

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Up, Up, and Away

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We have owned a home in Galena, Illinois for 12 years now.  Every June I see, or hear, the balloons overhead.  I’ve always wanted to go to the ‘Great Galena Balloon Race’ but I have never been able to …  until this year. At about  4:30 in the afternoon I got the heads up, a Blue Hour special was to take place at 8:45pm.

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The festival start’s early in the day. The Great Balloons, an Antique Car Show, an Ale Fest, and a band to boot! This is a big deal and a whole lotta fun. People travel from all over, from Detroit’s Motor City to Baton Rouge, Louisiana….

Pack lunch and bring a blanket, this is family day.

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I was thrilled at the sight of these brilliantly colorful monsters and wanted I to shoot (as in photograph) them again, sooo…

The following morning I rose at 4:30am, caught a ride with my neighbors, and witnessed the Dawns Early Light.  Another spectacular showing.

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With the sun gently spilling over the horizon we transitioned into the Golden Hour, need I say more?  The illumination was beautiful.

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Now let me explain how the race is won. This particular race was a ‘bean bag toss’. Because the balloons do not take flight at the same time, it can not be won by the first balloon to arrive. Therefore, a target is placed on the ground and where it is placed is determined the morning of, the winds will make that decision.  Anyhow, when the balloons arrive at the target, the bean bag is tossed and the closest bag to the target wins!!

Elementary my Dear Watson…

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I love the above photo, but in the upper corners you can see the shadows from my lens hood, or is it from my lens? Shooting too wide with a 35mm?  In any case if I had cropped this image, the scene, or the balance, would be off  and it would have ruined my picture.  So…. I let it be!

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 Oops, same with this shot, can I get a little help please …..?

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Proceeds from the Great Galena Balloon Race go to support research to find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes – JDRF and to support Camp Hertko Hollow – a summer camp in Boone, IA for kids with diabetes.  

Man’s Best Friend…

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Remember the pups?

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This is Banks, eager to please and wanting nothing more than your love and approval.  Sweet to the bone.

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This is Banks today, nothing has changed.

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Meet Barley, he is ready, willing and very capable.  Also sweet to the bone  ….

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…. and again nothing has changed.

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God Bless the Child ….

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Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

His love to guide me through the night

and wake me in the morning light

 

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Golden slumbers kiss your eyes

Smiles await you when you rise

Sleep little baby do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby

 

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Robert ‘Pierce’ Gilbert

January 19,2016

The Winter of my Discontent ….it’s time to come clean!

Winter Shed

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Yes, it’s time for me to come clean, to acknowledge to myself that I am lost somewhere, somewhere under the covers or over the rainbow. I’m struggling and must admit that I am in a creative rut. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been shooting, ’cause I have, it just means that I have nothing to show, nothing to show to myself  …  this is all about ME !

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Fever River in Color

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In order for me to stay above water, while treading, I need to lose myself in a project. This project is titled, “Winter…”

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The Depot

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 Yes, I am aware that photography is a process, and I’m also aware of one’s creative ebbs and flows that fluctuate with time. However, the issue that puzzles me, the one issue that is most troubling to my psyche is that I haven’t discovered my direction. I haven’t found my niche.

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Grant Park Bridge

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Fever River in B&W.

When given a project to photograph I excel, I love the challenge that it presents. Right now self proclaimed themed projects are what’s keeping me behind the lens. Please feel free to help me along with any suggestions you may have, I am ready, willing and able to step up to the plate. I welcome your thoughts with an open mind. This photo gal is on a mission to find her way.

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  Winter Barn

 My Winter of Discontent

Big Bills Sandwich Shop …. alias The Shop!

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Today is not about my photo’s, today is about my son, my one and only, my pride and joy. As you may remember Jack was attending St.Louis University and was enrolled in the Entrepreneurial School of Business.  Hmmm, let’s take this slow.

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What is the definition of an Entrepreneur?

 One who starts a business or other venture that promises economic gain but that also entails risks.

What are some qualities of such a person?  

unwavering passion, open-mindedness, desire to be an expert, able to delegate, able to manage time effectively, visual goals and success, listening skills, seeking help when needed, knowing when to get out of the office, giving back

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These qualities can be honed in, and are enhanced with time. So how does this relate to my son? My 19 year old son has taken a leave of absence from college to pursue his dream, a business of his own. Was the food industry what he had in mind? I really don’t think so, but the plan fell into his lap and he ran with it. The stars were aligned and the gods were smiling..

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Let me begin again with his inspiration and the backstory. In a resort town in Northern Michigan their is a take-out sandwich shop like no other, the name of the shop is GURNEY’S. Is it fancy? no. Is there seating? no. This past 4th of July, 80 degrees outside with Lake Michigan beckoning, I waited in line for 45 minutes to order my lunch, need I say more?  

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Well, wouldn’t it be great to open a ‘Gurney-like’ shop in Galena Illinois? If we were to do half the business Gurney’s does we would still be a success. But why Galena?  Galena is a historic town in the North-West corner of Illinois. This Civil War era lead-mining town was once the most important city in Illinois. Galena, named after the lead that was mined, is situated on the Fever River just off the Mississippi where steamships and passenger ships could maneuver.  Today the town depends on tourists and the Chamber is a success when it comes to luring the people in.  The clincher:  we ownminers cottage a stones throw from Main Street … 

As you can see one thing lead to another, which lead to the right employees, which lead to a perfect team, which leads to an open mind, which lead to a coffee bar, which lead to soups and salads, which all lead to stress and worry and stress and more stress! This beautiful shop is designed by my son, built by my son, installed by my son, lit by my son,  and now operating in it’s 6th day by my son and his excellent team!  As a mother I am extremely proud, worried to the point of no return, and stressed to the point of me taking a leave of absence from my day job to be with him.  I am the mother Grizzly that will stop at nothing to make sure my cub is taken care of in his time of need, but the stress on me cannot compare to the stress he is enduring.

Now I know what you are thinking, where are the sandwiches? the salads? the soups? the coffee ????  It has been about a year since I have seriously photographed food and I will be damned if this shop closes because of my shots!  I need to work the food some more, practice will make perfect, at least better,  but let’s peek at the soup …

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 The Santa Fe Chicken Soup

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 Organic Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic

Too close ?   old dog. 

   

So far the reviews have been wonderful, the towns people are rally-ing around Jack and the word is getting out. No better advertising than that! I will post again and include the menu, photo’s of the  main attractions, and keep you abreast of his ups and downs. This is quite a feat for such a young lad.

BIG BILL’S SANDWICH SHOP

301 North Main Street

Galena,Illinois 61036

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  “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney, co-founder of the Walt Disney Company 

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“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”   Wayne Gretzky, NHL Hall of Famer

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“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”  Ronald Reagan

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