Havana Dawn

School Girls

Each day in Havana we awoke at 6:15 to get a glimpse of the city waking up. On the first morning, we explored the colorful neighborhood just to the north and east of the Parque Central Hotel as outlined by the Prado (Paseo de Marti), San Lazaro (which parallels the Malecón), and Neptuno street.

School children, in their gold pants and skirts, were walking to class. Workers were stoping at the small Cafeteria’s setup from private houses to get coffee and roll. A few cars were on the streets, but generally people walked. By the time we reached this busy corner, the sky was starting to lighten, but there was still the feeling of dawn light.

The big American pre–1959 cars are ubiquitous in Havana. They seemed to make up about 50% of all the cars I noticed in Havana. Sometimes they are beautifully kept with bright shiny wax jobs, and other times they look like they are held together with wire and house paint. There are a smaller number of Soviet-era Ladas on the road which must have been the primary import until the break up of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. And finally, a small percentage of new Korean Hyundais are seen. The best kept of the American cars are private Taxi’s catering to the tourist trade. There are only a few intersections with traffic lights within the neighborhoods of Havana and, outside of the Paseo de Marti which runs down each side of the Prado into Havana Central, there seems to be little need.

Off to Work

Where is the Light?

Good Morning
Good Morning by I Nancy, on Flickr

Your at a location and your mind is running through its paces. You are asking yourself questions. What is the location telling you? What do you want to concentrate on? What lens should you chose? What camera settings are you going to choose? Where is the light? – Where IS the light?

Here I was shooting predawn at the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse area just above San Simeon. At some point I turn around and BAM!, there was the light. A beautiful light – skimming across the glass lands and lighting up the wildflowers like evening sparklers. I was shooting long and recorded the lines and colors and undulating fields as well as the muted foothills in the background.

Tower Butte at Dawn

Tower Butte at Dawn
Tower Butte at Dawn by I Nancy, on Flickr

I think it is going to take me some time to complete my edits from my trip to Utah and each time I dip back into the well, something else surprises me.

On the morning after The Wave, I opened my eyes just before dawn and saw this incredible scene begin to unfold. While the others stayed at the Quality Inn, Chick and I had ended up at the Lake Powell Resort with a lake facing view. At first I closed my eyes again, then a voice in my little brain said: “You came all this way and here is this beautiful sunrise unfolding, get up and get your tripod out and take some pictures”. And so I did.

I took several images over the course of the 20 minutes or so that it took the sun to rise. I kind of knew that the early pictures were just tests and unconsciously I used them to tweak the composition and exposure. With the bright light coming, I knew I wanted to take some brackets that I could layer together later. A very dark exposure for the sun and brighter exposures for the sky and lake. This is a 3 shot bracket with the sun brought back in from the darkest image. I like the subtle star at f/11 and I am glad I didn’t use anything smaller. The textures on the lake were brought in with the HDR software as well as the subtle layers (perhaps not visible in the small image here) on the buttes in silhouette. The heavy sky was created by smoke from a fire in the Salt Lake region. It provided just the ceiling this sunrise needed to reflect all of its glory.

Shifting Sands

Delta Flow, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

Ripples, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

This morning I took a pre-dawn trip to Santa Barbara Stearns warf with a bunch of photog friends. Each of these early morning trips always seem to produce something different. Sometimes there is spectacular fog, clouds, or birds. Today we found low tide and some nice cloud formations. But as the sun rose it skimmed over the roughshod sands recently sculpted by the receding tide. I spent much of the next 30 minutes on my knees in half-wet sand capturing the miniature landscape.

I was tempted to convert these to B&W but the natural lighting created an almost duo-tone effect that adds just the right touch of warm and cool.

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Dawn Breakers

Dawn Breakers, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

Taken during the same dawn shoot as the Pelican’s Rising, it has taken me a few weeks to find a comfortable crop for this image.

I’ve become a little bit picky about my crop ratios was trying to stick to one of the two following ratios.
2:3 – standard 35mm, printed at 11″x16.5″
7:9 – standard print size of 11″x14″ and pretty close to 4:5

I’ve never really felt all that comfortable with free-crops. I seem to want to crave a balanced ratio, but the set of seascapes I did this day all seem to want a somewhat, but not exaggerated panoramic crop. 1:3 was too drastic and 2:3 included too much height. I was cropping these free but not satisfied. Tonight it dawned on my to try a 1:2 crop and every one of these clicked into place. I am now going to add it to my set of standards.

1:2 – gentle panorama, printed at 7″x14″