Skepticism vs. Luis The Wheelbarrow Poet
I think a healthy dose of skepticism is good for everyone. Being skeptical prevents us from blindly following an ideology without researching details for ourselves. Skepticism often helps protect us from deals that are too good to be true.
In Cuba, I used a healthy dose of skepticism to stay away from street scams. For example, one of the most common scams is the guy who walks up to you and tells you that he has a bunch of Cohibas (high end Cuban cigars) in his pocket for sale at a special price. Right. I’m sure they’re legit.
On the other hand, sometimes being skeptical gets in the way of creating great images. Case in point, I was walking through the streets of Trinidad Cuba one evening and noticed a gentleman sitting on a wooden wheelbarrow with sign that read Taxi. It was an obvious attempt at humor, but my first reaction was that this guy was trying to earn a buck from camera-toting tourists. So, I took a quick (blurry) grab shot, and kept on walking.
Before I got more than a few steps, the gentleman said, “Where are you from?” I thought to myself, “Oh great, here comes the sales pitch.” But, as I looked at him a bit closer, I could see he was genuinely interested. So, I told him I was from the USA.
He asked, “What state?”
“Washington,” I answered.
He then started telling me all kinds of facts about Washington. Details about the geography. Rivers. Proximity to Oregon and Canada. Information about Seattle, Tacoma, the state capital Olympia, the Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean, conifer trees, giant forests, and lots more. I asked him if he’s been to Washington, and he said, “No, but I’ve written a poem about Washington.”
“Hold on,” he said. He held his index finger up in the air and began rifling through a box sitting on the cart with his other hand. He pulled out 20 notebooks filled with his hand-written prose. He leafed through multiple notebooks until he found his poem on Washington and the Northwest. Then, he proceeded to read me the poem in Spanish.
After he read me his poem, I asked if I could take a picture. He said, “Of course!” What a beautiful trade. He shared his art with me and I was able to use the opportunity to create a lasting memory with a fun picture.
My lesson in all this? Don’t let skepticism prevent you from participating in a beautiful moment. I’m happy I stayed to listen and engage with my new friend Luis, The Wheelbarrow Poet.
Two days, two motorcycles and two moons. This weekend I found myself at a couple restaurants with motorcycles out front and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph them with the rising moon and twilight sky. In both cases, I brought along my Nikon D700, so I increased the ISO to 1,600, held my breath and squeezed off a few shots. A few came out with decent sharpness while the rest were a bit soft from motion blur. I guess I should have brought my tripod as well.
One of the traditional artforms in Tanzania is wood carving. Artists create all types of carvings such as faces, masks, people, bowls, bracelets and animals, but my favorite carvings are of faces. Makonde is the best known type of carving in Tanzania and is typically created using African Blackwood, or mpingo.
Mpingo is very dense and fine-grained, which allows the artists to create extremely detailed carvings. Buying carvings can be a great way to contribute to the local economy and prices for these pieces of art can vary between $10 USD to $10,000 USD.
Artisans are able to create emotions and expressions in their work that always amaze me. In fact, staring into the face of some of these carvings can be completely mesmerizing. Just like any good piece of art, I often find myself captivated in thought while viewing the carvings.
The images I show here were taken of carvings at an art center in Arusha, Tanzania. Since most of these pieces are outside in the weather, they are are beat up from years of sun and rain. I like the added texture derived from the weather and think it enhances the overall look of the carvings.
I processed these images in Nikon Capture NX2, using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0. I added just a touch of Bleach Bypass and increased the saturation by a few points. Bleach Bypass added to the grittiness of the images and the small punch of saturation returned a bit of color that was eliminated by the bleaching effect.
Just wrote a review for a great new product called Capture Pilot from the good people at Phase One. The product allows anyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to view photos from a tethered photo shoot in real time. The product is truly awesome. Check out the article and see how I used it to photograph a bunch of young kids in an impromptu hotel studio.
Here’s the link to the review: http://www.nikonians.org/resources/reviews/capture-pilot
Click on the section “Pro Reviews” to read the article. If you only want to see the fun pictures, then click on the fourth page titled “Real World Testing.”
A few weeks ago we had our annual small town Gig Harbor Parade. What a great event. Everyone in town comes out to participate, help or just watch and it is like a giant family reunion. We all cheer for the kids, wave to our mayor, shake hands with the local politicians, and laugh at the antics.
From a photography standpoint, it is one of my favorite places to shoot because access is incredibly easy. In fact, mixing it up with the crowd is easy to do in a small parade like this since there aren’t any fence lines or security guards yelling at you to get back. If you see something you want to shoot, then you just step out and snap the pic.
The theme this year was “pirates” so lots of people were dressed up in their best pirate garb, including the animals!
Here are the photos.
As photographers, we should be keeping our heads on a swivel. We should be looking in all directions for photo ideas, and this means looking up! Here are a few shots I’ve found by looking up towards the ceiling.
Coming back from Yosemite last week, I was amazed at all the wild flowers. There were so many in the low Sierra foothills that I had to stop the car and take some pics. Here are a few of my favorites from California Highway 41 and Highway 49.