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Monthly Archives: March 2013

hen and chick

Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate it.  I hope everyone has a great day.

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mogotes

The Vinales valley in Cuba is filled with mogotes.  “Filled with WHAT?” you ask.  Mogotes are basically lumps of harder rock (in this case, limestone) that remain after the softer rock surrounding them has eroded away, leaving them exposed.

These huge, rounded formations are found throughout the valley, plunging almost vertically out of the earth, sometimes several hundred feet up.  The mogotes loom over the otherwise flat farmland dotted with a few scraggly bushes and the occasional palm tree, and giving the region a somewhat surreal look.

mogotes 4

See what I mean?  The palms in the image above are actually growing on top of smaller mogotes in the foreground, but the ground fog is obscuring those mogotes and making it look like the palms are floating in mid-air…trippy, man!

Same effect in the image below.  It reminds me of a long exposure of water flowing around rocks.  Actually, since fog IS water vapor, I guess that’s a pretty accurate description, isn’t it?

mogotes 5

The image below shows how large the mogotes can be, and how dramatically these monoliths rise out of the soil.  Again, these are right in the middle of the valley.  You can see the hills on the far side of the valley behind them.

mogotes 3-2

I just love how the ground fog made an unusual landscape even more intriguing.  This was by far the most beautiful area I visited in Cuba.  I only wish I had had more than only two days to spend in this fascinating region.

mogotes 2

cow and palms

This is a pretty typical scene in the Vinales region of Cuba:  a cow grazing in a field.  It’s not typical to see a cow with only one horn, however.  A unicow?

I wish I knew the back story and could tell you why this cow is the one-horned wonder.  I think she’s kind of sweet, despite her asymmetry…or maybe because of it.

Having only one horn makes her stand out from the herd.  Thus, I suppose you could say that she’s out standing in her field!

woman in window

I was walking past this woman’s house in Vinales, Cuba one morning, and I was struck by the beautiful patterns that the irregular pieces of wood siding made.  The woman agreed to be photographed, but she never smiled.  She just stood in the window and stared out the entire time I shot.

I started at the far side of the house, and shot her from the left, the front, and the right as I walked perhaps 40′ in all, and took almost 20 images.  Since I was using a 28-200 mm zoom lens, I was able to adjust for the varying distances from my subject, and still make images that were well-composed and needed minimal if any cropping.  This image was shot at 200 mm.

I like the simplicity of this composition, and also that it’s chock full of texture, from the brittle, dry straw roof to the unusual siding patterns to the smooth leaves in the foreground.  Even her soft, worn and faded clothing has a definite texture, as does her beautifully aged and wrinkled skin.

Finally, I love the incongruity of all her silver jewelry.

Texture adds another level of interest to a good image.

turkey

These are some of the animals that are kept on the small farms in the Vinales region of Cuba.  I saw very few turkeys, and I think this is the only turkey image I got.  Ironically, this is a better turkey image than anything I’ve been able to get in the states.  Clearly I need to give up on chasing wild turkeys through the fields and woods, and just shoot the ones at the farms.

pig

There are tons of pigs in Cuba.  If  someone’s raising an animal for meat, chances are it’s a pig.  The pork in Cuba is delicious!  One of the tastiest treats I enjoyed during my visit was a pork sandwich from a street vendor in Trinidad.  It was small, like a slider, but the pork was juicy and tender, and it was served on a small bun with a slice of tomato, some shredded cabbage, and a dash of vinegar.  Sadly, I didn’t get a shot of the sandwich because I ate it too fast!  You have to settle for an image of “pork on the hoof,” as it were.

I also saw the occasional duck.  The one below is part Muscovy.  They interbreed with other duck species and you can get some interesting-looking birds.  The eyes on this one were a striking blue.  Not all Muscovies are this attractive!

duck

horse and buggy

This gentleman was out for a ride on his cart one morning in the Vinales region of Cuba.  So who’s “walkin’ on air?”  Why the horse, of course!  Did you notice that all four hoofs aren’t touching the ground?

For you non-horsy types, this is known as “extension,” or an “extended trot.”

Call it what you will, I think it looks pretty cool.  The horse looks very healthy and trim.  The owner, on the other hand, looks as though he could use a little more walkin’ to be as fit as his steed.

Nice to know I’m not the only one who should ride less and walk more…

sleigh

OK,  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand a thing about farming…so can anyone tell me what the contraption this gentleman is riding on is for?  I mean, the wheel’s been invented, right?  There are easier ways to get around.

It’s one of those things that I forgot to ask about at the time, since I was so busy taking pictures…and now I’m looking at this image and thinking “Darn, people are going to want to know what that ‘sleigh’ thingee is for, and I don’t have the slightest idea!”

So I’ll throw the question back at you, dear readers.  I know at least a couple of you have been to Cuba.  And for all I know, these gizmos are used elsewhere on earth as well.  So please, fill in the blank:

“It’s a __________!”

oxen

These two bulls belong to the gentleman who was featured in the last two days’ posts.  They stood and waited patiently while their owner had his photo op.  These are Brahman bulls, which are often used in tropical climates since they can withstand the heat and humidity better than other breeds.  Thus they’re perfectly suited for Cuba!  I saw a lot of these critters, pulling wagons on the roads and plows in the fields.  They don’t move quickly, but they have a lot of stamina.  Some of these bulls can weigh over a ton!

hands

This is the same gentleman who was featured in yesterday’s post (“A Vinales Local,” 03.22.13).  He was sitting in a chair in front of a farmhouse, and I was struck by how his weathered hands and worn boots looked next to the once brightly painted and now “distressed” wood of the chair.  To me they tell a story as much as his face does in yesterday’s image.

feet

farmer

I photographed this gentleman on one of his neighbor’s farms in the Vinales region of Cuba.  Talk about a face with character!