The Streets of Havana

We spent a total of 5 days in old Havana.  Most of our time was spent wandering the streets and photographing the people, colorful old cars, and crumbling colonial architecture.

Our best money spent was for an all-day “hop on/hop off” double-decker bus tour of the city.  For $10, we got to see all the major landmarks of Havana as often as we wished.

From the bus, we had some great shots the Malecon…

the hurricane-battered buildings along the Malecon…

and some high-angle shots of people in the streets…

But nothing could beat walking slowly along the streets and capturing candids of the people and cars of old Havana.  Cubans are much more reserved towards foreigners than Mexicans.  So, the only way I could really capture their personalities was to sneak pictures from waist level (not using the viewfinder or LCD) with my camera set to “silent” mode.

I’ve been using smaller Panasonic cameras this past year for everything other than my night sky photography work (for which I still use my Canon 6D).  The smaller Lumix cameras are much more discrete than a full-sized SLR, and much easier to hand-hold all day long.  These photos were taken with a Micro Four-Thirds Lumix G7 with a 15mm Leica lens (30mm equiv), as well as a Lumix ZS100 point-and-shoot.

Lots of bike taxis and bike “trucks” used in old Havana:

One step up the transportation ladder, are these 3-wheeled motorcycle taxis.  They were cute, but had very smoky/smelly engines and were pretty uncomfortable due to the lack of any suspension.

Of course, the ultimate way to get around town was in a classic American car.  Nothing says “Cuba” like these old beauties–

While some of the buildings in old Havana have been restored, and we also noticed a few major construction projects underway for new high-rise luxury hotels, many colonial buildings were crumbling– some stood with the assistance of 2 x 4’s, and others inhabited by just a few brave tenants.


But more than anything, it will be the faces on the street that I’ll remember the most about Havana.  There’s something really amazing about how the light reflects off the brightly colored buildings that seems to illuminate the people here.  Or perhaps it’s the Cubans themselves…their struggles, their joy, and their strength to persist against all odds.

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