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Thoughts & Photos from Havana Cuba October 2017

 (paul evan green)
View over Central Havana to Vedado

Havana is a great place for me to do things like this writing blogs and working on the huge backlogue of video editing I’ve created for myself. Having a Cuban girlfriend brings me close to Cuban people and I’m very interested in their lives which are very different and difficult. The news that the U.S is  discouraging  tourism and is scaling down  its embassy staff  in Havana by 60% will have a huge impact on the ordinary Cuban who in most cases lives way below any poverty line we know of in the rest of the world.

 (paul evan green)
Old American Car on the Malecon after Hurricane Irma

Despite this poverty imposed from above and outside Cubans remain proud, creative, resourceful and hopeful that things will improve. President Raul Castro stands down in February 2018. Next month there will be municipal elections to select candidates who will decide on the new President.  Cubans are hopeful for positive change bringing modernisation, more efficiency and opportunity.

 (paul evan green)
Children’s Art Class  in Prado, Central Havana

I have avoided walking the streets with a camera on the last few visits to Cuba. I see many street photographers walking around with their Leicas and various other symbols of photo artistrty all trying to create cliches of cliches and I guess I’m guilty of it as well. It is hard to avoid cliches here.

 (paul evan green)
Graffiti after President Obama’s visit to Cuba

My first visit to Cuba was shortly after Obama’s. There was a big improvement in the relationship which also trickled down to the average Cuban. Without giving it much thought Donald Trump has pledged to be a wrecking ball for any of the good things that came out of the Obama administration.

 (paul evan green)
Graffiti of Donald Trump in Havana

The average salary for a Cuban is around U.S $30/month.  One hotel worker I spoke to told me how he went twice to the U.S embassy to apply for a visa to visit family at a cost of U.S $160/application only to be refused in less than 5 minutes each time. That’s more than 10 months salary gone in 10 minutes.

 

 (paul evan green)
Shop in a doorway in Central Havana

Now there is a fear campaign because of the Sonic attacks on U.S diplomatic staff both in the embassy in Havana and in a hotel run by the Cuban military. I don’t believe the Cubans are capable or responsible for this kind of attack nor would it be in their interests to deliberately damage their relationship with the U.S.

 (paul evan green)
Old Street Musician

Havana has some beautiful old buildings and many are being restored. Others are crumbling around their inhabitants. There is money being made but the average person is poor. Supermarket shelves have very little to offer the customer and the basic diet is lacking in variety. Government controlled internet is of very low quality at an exorbitant price.

 (paul evan green)
View over Central Havana and Vedado from Lincoln Hotel

European Photography Summer 2017

European Photography by Paul Green. I started of in Budapest in the 3rd week of August to work on a family history project for a private client. Budapest is a city that I knew a bit about but always wanted a reason to visit. It’s a charming city with magnificent architecture. I enjoyed walking around in my spare time.

 (Paul Green)                                                                                                                                                          New York Cafe

 (Paul Green)

Four Seasons Hotel Lobby Gresham Palace

 (Paul Green)

(Detail) Memorial For Jews shot by Nazis on the bank of the Danube

Formula One came to town and that was my cue to leave.  I decided to have a look at some small towns in Poland and headed by bus to Katowice. I was interested in the Pre-war Jewish history and it’s always difficult to find any traces. I found the Jewish cemetery and a couple of monuments. There is still a very small community in the town.

 (Paul Green)

From Katowice I went to Zakopane in the south of Poland. Here I was interested in the architecture and the mountains. I started doing some timelapse sequences and did a lot of walking.

Timelapse combining sequences from Zakopane and Radomsko

Radomsko was the home town of my father’s grandparents although they didn’t ever talk about the place much. It was a major Hassidic centre in Poland. When my great grandparents lived there it was part of Russia. There are still a few old buildings there so i was trying to look at things they also would have seen. Trying to share experiences with them.                                                                                                        (Paul Green)

Beautiful windows in an old apartment building

 (Paul Green)                                                                                                                                                        Old Jewish owned building

 (Paul Green)

(Detail) Mass grave in Jewish Cemetery

My second job was in Zdunska Wola. This was a beautiful art project entitled “The missing mezzuzot of Zdunska Wola” by Estelle Rozinski. This was my 5th visit to Zdunska Wola and it was primarily a filming job. I took very few images for myself but I was struck by a stack of mazevot (Jewish Grave Stones) in the back yard of the museum. The Jewish cemetery in ZW is very beautiful partly due to the excellent stone masonery .

 (Paul Green)

Stack of Jewish Tomb Stones Zdunska Wola

After filming the 73rd anniversary commemoration of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto I arrived in Warsaw.

 (Paul Green)

Old Town Warsaw

Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens First Impressions

I’ve never owned such a wide lens before but when I upgraded my Canon gear from the 5dmk3 to the 5dmk4 and 5ds my trusty L series17-40 f4 was suddenly no longer sharp enough for the results I needed for myself and my customers.

I have not bought anything other the canon L series lenses for many years now. Sometimes I’ve opted for the slower lenses due to weight as I travel extensively on Film and Photography assignments. Weight is a major factor for me and heavy fast lenses in my experience are back breakers.

So I weighed up the Sigma 12-24 f4 Art Lens (1151g ) against the Canon L series 11-24 f4 (1180g .) Both are very heavy!

There weren’t many informative comparisons online and I couldn’t gauge the performance of the Sigma especially on the 50mp 5ds but I’ve been hearing rave reviews of Sigma’s art series lenses. Many of my peers have been raving about them for a while. Mainly Dean Tirkot, Marco Bok and Derek Henderson.

I havn’t read a single bad review of the Canon L series 11-24 f4 but it’s really heavy, really big and really expensive. The front element is a very impressive piece of glass that reminds me of a Zeiss 40mm distagon front element from the Hasselblad days. Also $4000 is a bit pricey in the current economic climate for 1 piece of equipment in a world where you need many and varied pieces of equipment.

Yesterday, at half the price of the Canon I took delivery of my first Sigma Art series lens and today I took a few pics with it. I took my 5dmk4  which I prefer using  to the 5ds. Lets have a look at the pics and see how the lens performed under different conditions and on different settings.

I won’t do any profile corrections in Lightroom. So here we go!

 

 (PAUL EVAN GREEN)

Photo paulegreen 8914.jpg

is of Australian artist Ken Unsworth’s sculpture “Stones against the Sky’ located between Darlinghurst and Kings Cross in Sydney. The picture was slightly backlit but there is plenty of detail in the shadows and highlights. The photo appears very sharp.

Settings were ISO 100 12mm f7.1 1/800 sec

 (PAUL EVAN GREEN)

Photo: paulegreen8918.jpg

is The wall of the Darlinghurst Fire Station. It’s a good subject to test a wide angle lens. There is a very slight loss of sharpness but it was shot at f4.

 

Settings were ISO 250 12mm f4 1/80 sec

 (PAUL EVAN GREEN)

Photo paulegreen8927.jpg is on the escalator at Kings Cross Station. Again I shot wide open to test distortions on the edges of the lens. I’m happy with the way this image resolved even though there is a bit of blur due to slow shutter speed.

Settings were ISO 400 12mm f4 1/25 sec

 (PAUL EVAN GREEN)

Photo: paulegreen8930.jpg

This is another test like that of the fire station wall. Again I’m very happy with the corner sharpness and the barrel distortion is acceptable for such a wide lens. I have Canon L series lenses with significantly more barrel distortion than this. It is easily corrected. Also the shutter speed is very slow for a handheld photo.

Settings were ISO 500 12mm f4 1/13 sec

 (PAUL EVAN GREEN)

Photo:paulegreen 9836

is of a row of Victorian Houses in Darlighurst at night. It’s a seriously wide angle view that I would never have previously been able to achieve.

Settings ISO 5000 12mm f4 1/30 sec

 (PAUL EVAN GREEN)

Photo:paulegreen 8941.jpg

is a shadow of a tree against a painted wall illuminated by street lights. I can’t fault the lens sharpness in the corners.or the even coverage of light on the 5dmk4 sensor.

Settings were ISO 5000 17mm f4 1/30 sec

I did find a pretty good technical review after I finished writing this blog at https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sigma-12-24mm-f4-dg-hsm-art-lens-review/2

On first impressions the Sigma 12-24mm f4 Art lens is astounding. I’m really excited with the possibilities the this lens will add to my photography and film making.

 

Happy image making!