Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

At last, I am having a kind of break in my seasonal weekly travel routine, so I can swipe off the dust from my cameras, go through the photos I made it what now seems to be another life, take out my digital brushes and create a little. Also this week’s challenge is interesting.

The theme of this week is Peek. I have this blog for a year and a half, and travelling from my old photos to my more recent ones, I can see how my work as a photographer has changed. I used to (as any other starting photographer) aim at making to crispest, the brightest photos depicting my subject in the most accurate way. A cute small tribute to HDMR. Now, comfortably achieving that, I am moving towards being more creative with my photography. Which, ultimately, means not showing it all, or not showing it that well.

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A girl in the restaurant as seen from the streets of Busan, South Korea

I like this photo (that much that I chose it as a cover for my latest blog post about South Korea) because it makes you pause and reflect. What you see is a girl leaning towards her table (or what’s in front of her), – but then you don’t know whether she is eating, typing on her smartphone or, maybe, drawing or creating some other kind of art. If she is writing, to whom? if she is making something, what is it? In the end, this photo – not that crisp and not the revealing – makes you think more about its subject than would the one processed to the minute details. You pause and spend some times asking questions, guessing, contemplating.

And that is one of the key objectives of the photography, ins’t it?

🙂

Racoon Cafe in Busan, South Korea: What’s Life Without a Friendly Fur

October is an exciting time for me at work. I start new projects, bring up new topics to the discussion on Digital Innovation, and even introduce a couple of new full-bred solutions. I fly for weeks straight (actually, I am set to fly through the entire month), and put all my energy into my job. Then comes a weekend. During the week, I am looking forward to it as a time when I can finally switch gears and create, read, do sports. I somehow picture it as 48h charged up with useful and exciting activities for which I can’t set time aside during the week. And then, on Saturday/ Sunday I spend most of the time in my pjs, watching series, ordering food and doing rare bicycle gigs around the city, mostly to go to the movies. (I do read books though.)

I now I think it it’s okay. I used to feel sorry for these unused stretches of creative time, but then I got to a point in my life when I understood the value of planned downtime (hello, “How to Have a Good Day” by Caroline Webb). This time around, I am embracing my racoon weekend personality, swiping the dust from my August photos (made with Fuji, by the way, my go-around-the-city camera, instead of my Canon 5DIV), to spread some more love for South Korea, the country of my eternal vacations.

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This post captures my visit to a racoon cafe in Busan, South Korea. Today Korea – a small country with no natural resources and a landscape made up by 70% of mountains – is one of the world’s leading economies. I have been coming there for 13 years by now, and could witness their economic ascent. I gave a lot of thought about what made Korea what it is now, and being humble and eager to learn is one part of it. Take Apple vs Samsung battle. Some years ago, Apple used to be the number 1 phone in Korea, the high earner’s trade mark and a sign of (be)longing to the Western sophisticated civilization. Most of what Samsung did these days was to mirror Apple’s design and functions, first to a very modest success. With years, Samsung caught up with Apple, offered their own progressive techs, and now very few people in Korea still have an Apple device. Samsung there is all the rage now (despite the fact that Apple offers a very appealing price level in Korea).

The same about animal cafes. Koreans have been excited about cat cafes, even launched a few dog cafes (where dogs are wandering and playing around, not what you could have thought), and now introduced a racoon cafe.

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Come explore.

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Havana’s Must Dos: Old Town, Classic Cars, El Prado

Most guidebooks, blogs and tour guides advise to carve out two to three days to discover Havana. WRONG. Three days is the sheer minimum to explore its Old Town, Havana Vieja. And maybe to take a ride in a classic car around the city – the entire city, cruising through Miramar with its doll houses of embassies wrapped in fantastic posh forest, pausing at the panoramic spots to take some gorgeous shots, parading through the Revolution Square. That’s what you can do in three days. And Havana is much more than that. Fun fact: the Old Town has never been the actual city center, nor it is now. Intrigued? More on that later, in the post about Malecon.

I was mesmerized by Havana Vieja. To me, it justified the entire trip to Cuba: 10h+ of flying, staying in casas particulares of doubtful quality, struggling to find the food I normally eat (the food part turned out to be not bad at all). I wanted to come back to this part of town again and again, day and night, until I learnt by heart all its curves, its smells, its treasures. The Old City is Havana’s birth place and its raison d’être: its narrow harbour is the only place along the long coasts where the vessels can approach the shores, otherwise protected by reefs. The single city entrance is guarded by nine fortresses (La Fuerza and del Morro being the most famous). The fortifications made Havana at the time the most protected city of the Caribbean, “the key to the New World”. As well as the major trade post and the most lucrative asset of Spain for other empires.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Wish

Looks like Weekly Photo Challenges are the main contribution I manage to make for this blog during this period of my exciting work life, but so it be. Something little often goes a long way, and the pictures I am usually using for these challenges are coming from my trips, – so one more memory knot is one more sip of happiness.

The topic of this week is Wish. Wishes and dreams are very important for me. There were certainly times in my life when wishes and dreams were all that I had. First steps in every of the nine countries I lived, the job searching period in the end of my MBA studies (with my European residence permit expiring), the first time I held a DSLR camera in my hands. Looking back, I don’t think about these experiences as challenging times but as happy moments, when the future I wanted was so crisp in my mind it seemed I could reach out to it and dissolve in this perfect picture. From these experiences I grew to appreciate wishes and dreams of the others.

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One of the reincarnations of Che’s photograph by Alberto Korda: probably, one of the most printed photos of all times

Such as the dream of Che, the Cuban Revolution hero of Argentinian origin, who toured the entire Latam continent, capturing romantically bitter images of his land and promoting his vision of “the new free man”. This “new free man” of Che would be free of any restraints of the government and the state, have access to land,education and medical care regardless of this origin and would possess many other freedoms most extensively captured by Marx and his followers (personally, I am allergic to communism and even socialism, so I won’t go there).

Despite the inclination of my own political views, I can’t help but admire Che’s dream: so passionate, so absolute, so pure. After Che’s meeting with Fidel it became the dream of the Cuban Revolution – and, later, after the regime of Batista had come to an end, – the dream of many other revolutionary movements, in Latin America and beyond, in Congo and Bolivia. And even if the economic success of the Cuban Revolution and the subsequent Castro’s regime poses some questions today, the spiritual leadership of the image that Che painted more than half a century ago remains undisputed.

Such is a power of a wish. Such is a power of a dream.

🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Road Taken

Today’s photo challenge is about The Road Taken. Just as I was reading the description, one thought flashed through my mind: Cuba! This country has won me over – at once and, I have to say, unexpectedly, because I was not looking to coming to the Cuban countryside. At all.

Before my trip, I could understand the fascination of Havana, with its infamous gorgeous buildings in catastrophic conditions, its music and rum. But the countryside? I was not sure what to expect. To get there, we had to literally take the road, driving under the Cuban sun for hours with Juan Carlos, telling us (for hours as well) the history of his country. All we had to do was ask why Fidel and the Revolution had won.

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Vinales Valley in Cuba

Vinales was stunning. And so was the road to it. In fact, being on the road in Cuba is a lot like watching a movie: thrilling, ever-changing, fascinating, evolving. An experience of its own, compared to the joy of discovering the Old Havana.

Fuel is hard to find in Cuba, most gas stations you find are empty. That makes traffic, especially in this part of the island, virtually non existent. All is left is yourself, the sky, your thoughts, detailed history of the Cuban Revolution – and the endless road.

🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ambience

You might think that I have completely lost interest in travelling and blogging, and that the only thing I do this day is photography. It is not quiet true: in fact, I am preparing something in my usual several-A4-pages format which I hope will inspire you as much as it did me. So stay tuned 😉

Meanwhile, this week’s photo challenge is Ambience. Ambience has much to do with light, an intangible substance which is essential to how a photograph comes out and pretty much defines its mood. And our mood, when we see it. Ever since I have upgraded my camera body to the one without an in-built flash (and we still call it an upgrade…), I keep on experimenting with natural light and how it changes throughout the day.

Here is a snap of Lisbon at golden hour, a short period of time that separates night from day and results in some amazing sun-kissed photos. When the day and the night are splitting the rights for the city, it comes out in all its glory: in the magic of the dusk, with imperfections of the day hidden in the tender shadow, and night starting lighting up its flames.

🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Names

I simply love words. The magic of connected letters has captivated me since I was a child. Since then, I have always been surrounded by books: novels when I was growing up, books on strategy and economics when I was studying, books on self-development and growth now, when I am done with degrees (with an occasional history reading, like the book on Cuba that was my vacation reading binge).

When I am not reading (and not working, or writing in my blog or IG), the magic of words still captures me on the streets. I have a lot of pictures with street signs, hashtags and city graffiti walls that have captured my imagination in different cities during different trips. For this week’s photo challenge, Names, I have chosen words with coffee from last year’s Roland Garros.

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Roland Garros 2016: the coffee

Happy tasting!

🙂