I never had my eyes so much in shock by the stark contrast when travelling beyond the buzzing capital of Cuba, Havana, and the tranquil vivid green landscapes. Our first rural stop was Viñales, a tiny agricultural town that occupy west of Cuba’s most beautiful natural corners. It’s best known for the farming of Cuba’s famous, organic tobacco, which is used to produce the world’s finest cigars. The farms also produce loads of fruit, vegetables and coffee. The typical Cuban way of spending the afternoon in Viñales is sitting on a porch in a rocking chair and smoking a cigar while looking out at farmland and enjoying views of enormous limestone karsts that almost always seem to be within arm’s reach!!Our journey then continues to the city that is considered UNESCO Heritage and “Pearl of the South”, Cienfuegos. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494. Cienfuegos is a small town, not much to do except walking around the streets and observe the surrounding architecture. Another interesting observation is to see whole families sitting on the porches listening to radio, playing cards or selling little goods at the doorsteps.Trinidad was our next stop, a Cuban city located on the south side of the country’s center. I found Trinidad delightfully colourful with peeling paint. With brick roofs, cobblestone streets and antique façade all add up to the town’s charm. As anywhere else in Cuba, Trinidad has no shortage of music; there are plenty of opportunities for some moving and shaking especially at Plaza de la Musica, my favorite spot to put on my salsa shoes and dance.Beyond Trinidad is another great opportunity to stare at the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and panoramic views, especially hiking through Salto del Caburni down to the waterfall.Our last stop before returning to Havana was at Santa Clara to visit Che Guevara's Monument and Mausoleum.
Recently I had the privilege to visit Cuba before the death of Fidel Castro. Travelling Cuba is like being in a time machine, travelling more than half a century ago. This is a country where you can wave goodbye to Western certainties, digitally detox and expect the unexpected.When I think of Cuba, I always think of my first night back in Havana; the busy atmospheric streets, the thumbing Jazz and Salsa music from every corner bars, plazas and rooftop casa’s restaurants, and the unmistakable aroma of cigars and old car’s petrol. The old Havana along with other Cuba Unesco listed cities has meticulously preserved its historical legacy, one of revolution greatest achievement.Most of all I loved Havana for its robust culture, run down old buildings with their colorful makeup and the fact that it can be frustrating for a moment and surprisingly inspiring the next.In this post, I will showcase my images from Havana hoping to give a little flavor of my Cuban experience. Followed by posts of photos from other cities I have visited.
Recently I travelled with couple of my friends to Prague for a weekend break. We thoroughly enjoyed the city and its enriched preserved history at its heart. We strolled around its cobblestone streets, enjoying the culture in glorious sunshine amazed by the old artitecture that's been holding for hundreds of years, even when the capital was hit 13 years ago with the most damaging flood in decades. My highlight of the trip was crossing the stunning Charles Bridge in dusk with beautiful show of fireworks that took our surprises as we came to learn it was the 600th anniversary of Jan Hus being burned at the stake- he was one of first church reformer, executed for his heresy against Catholic Church. We also toured around the medieval Prague Castle complex, dating back to 9th century. Apparently this castle is listed as one of the largest ancient world castle in Guinness book of Records. The castle is huge occupying 70000m2 and included St Vitus cathedral, Romanesque basilica of St George, vast gardens and palaces. Golden Lane is a narrow street which is also suited part of Prague castle ring. It has tiny colourful houses and the myth says that it was alchemist houses although no alchemist occupied any of these houses. They were so tiny these houses even for me!!! :)Here I have showcased photos from my prague experience in 2 pages, I hope you will find it enjoyable as much I did. Enjoy :)
Bird of Eden and Monkeyland are one of the three Sanctuaries under The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA). Bird of Eden was an incredible spectacle of different birds and the park consists of a giant aviary with a boardwalk throughout taking you to the various different places. This is the largest aviary in the world and it’s a perfect opportunity to photograph a really impressive list of free-flying colorful birds ranging from parrots, to many different kinds of pigeons, as well as water birds such as swans, geese, ducks and even some flamingoes. It’s hard to choose a favourite bird from a list of beautiful birds, but Grey African parrot would still be my favourite of all. We went to Monkeyland as it just started raining, so our guide said the rain might limit us from seeing all the 11 species of monkeys. However, we did pretty well and we saw quite few primates jumping and roaming around for food. I was very impressed with the large 12 hectares enclosure and the superb condition provided for the primates.Overall both sanctuaries are great opportunity to learn about and photograph incredible species that are hard to spot out in the wild. The process of eliminating photographs to fit this post from hundreds and hundreds of images captured at both ranches was proven difficult. However, I have selected my besties just to show a flavour from my experience.
We visited this animal sanctuary because it was recommended to us during our stay in Oudtshoorn, initially I was not expecting much but I was happily surprised. My first impression was how well designed and maintained the park was. Such attention to details from the old trees in the lemur enclosure or the way the bridge rocked while you looked at the crocodiles. The day at the ranch started with a guided walk through animal sanctuary with knowledgeable guide -- Ed revealed interesting facts about conservation of many African wildlife. We were very impressed with the marvellous efforts these guys were advocating towards wldlife, and I would recommend everyone travelling to South Africa to visit this ranch. Besides roaming around the park, we interacted closely with lemurs and Cheetah! This was an amazing experience especially stroking the soft fur behind cheetah’s ear and the jumping lemurs! At the end of the day these animals are wild with animal instincts so we were given strict instructions never to touch Cheetahs’ mouths or tails, just stroke the back of their heads and backs...which they loved!!Here I have presented few shots of animal portraits from the ranch, for which I have used the Olympus M.ZUIKO digital ED 40-150mm Pro F2.8 on Olympus OMD-E5.Enjoy
Being the fourth cave I have visited so far, this 200 years old discovered cave was proven no diffirence to others in housing the most spectacular naturally sculptured stalagmite formations in the world. It is situated in limestone ridge parallel to the well-known Swartberg Mountains in South Africa .I was especially fascinated by its first chamber “ Van Zyl’s Hall” which consists of a cluster of leaf-like stalactites and the imposing feature of ‘Cleopatra’s Needle” standing 9 meters high and at least 150 000 years old. The tour guide was very friendly and informative, and I am extremely thankful for giving me the extra time to take these long shutter speed shots of Cango Cave.Most of these photographs were taken with Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO Lens mounted on Olympus OMD-E5 camera and mini-tripod. I hope you will enjoy! J
As well as its splendid breathtaking scenery, friendly locals and delicious cuisine, I was intrigued by how much Cape Town has to offer of wildlife. Our first encounter was with the seals at the Seal Island, which we approached by a river cruise. Unfortunately, the weather was very misty; hence I rendered the seals photos to black and white for better effect.Following the Seal Island, we went to Boulders Beach to view the African penguins, which are also known as “jackass” penguins for their donkey like bray. They have short body, pink glands above the eye to regulate their body temperature and short feathers, which make them distinctive to other penguin species. Overall, I tried to capture different penguins behavior and demonstrate them in this post. I hope you will enjoy! :)
I will start my first South Africa’s photoblog with my recent visit to one of its oldest city, with cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years, Cape Town. This vibrant city is perched between the mountain and the ocean; there is no chance to be bored in Cape Town.It is in Cape Town that the rainbow nation really covers the spectrum, between beautiful Cape Dutch homesteads, traditional dancers with painted faces, the smell of Malay cooking and the taste of a well-made wine, this city has filled all my senses. It is well deserved nicknamed as “Mother City”.Cape Town also known for its magnificent Table Mountain, which offer a scenic photographic background of the city, Lion’s head and a far view of Robben Island, the former home of Nelson Mandela and several other political prisoners who fought against the apartheid government. Table Mountain is not just known for its highest peak of 1,086 m above sea level and breathtaking views, but for being a great habitant for variety of plant species only endemic to this mountain.I would like to thank my good friend Reshma Sonecha for being a wonderful travelling companion and for all the unforgettable moments we had. Last but not least, I would like to thank our brilliant tour guide and friend, Jakes Sampson, for making our South Africa trip an exceptional experience and for being patient with me taking lots of photographs!EnjoyJ
Last week I visited Butterfly World which is situated on the outskirts of St Albans in Hertfordshire. Currently, it's more of a butterfly house than a "world" as the actual project - Biome- is not finished. However, there is plenty to see, photograph and learn from different species of butterflies, moths, bees, ants and insects. All well preserved and looked after by highly informative and friendly staff. I would not just recommend this place for an enjoyable family day out but for educating young children about the life cycle of butterfly and its improtance for the environment and what can be done to attempt to reverse this species. Here is sample images from my visit to Butterfly World, for which I have used only my Olympus M.ZUIKO 60mm 1:2.8 on an Olympus OMD-E5 camera. Enjoy!
I have reluctantly decided to part my beloved Panasonic Lumix 20mm F 1.7 lens, which has captured some of my favourite images, especially landscape and architectures. I have decided to change to a different lens which has similar focal length in range, thus I sold this lens.The day before posting the lens to its new owner, I was in town centre and I took the final window of opportunity to shoot London's architectures with my departing Panasonic 20mm lens. I have attached these images with this post in memory of this rewarding lens.I am sure I will miss this pancake prime lens. But I am also sure that it is in good hands now and will reward itsnew owner with some wonderful sharp and vibrant images.
Almost every night of last week, London's night sky was lit up with gleaming fireworks in remembrance of Guy Fawkes night on 5th of Nov 1605. Needless to say, shooting fireworks is one of my favourite moments to capture light streaks during the night, hence in this occasion I went to three firework displays across London. I have taken this year's shots with Panasonic 20mm lens mounted on Olympus OMD E5 body and mini Gorilla Tripod. I have tried shooting with various settings but I particularly liked the shots captured with narrow aperture F14-16 and slow shutter speed at low ISO. I have also attached few of my photos from last year's Bonfire night using Tokina mounted on Canon Dslr body, this just to compare the quality of the shots produced by the light weight mirrorless system camera to a jumbo Dslr camera system. To me, the difference is indistinct. I hope you will enjoy the photos :)
Barbados is an imaginary paradise, for which I have an infinite enjoyment in visiting and photographing. This island exhibit a natural beauty ranging from picturesque turquoise beaches, soft white sand, spectacular wildlife at door step to lush tropical greenery landscapes. The East coast of the Island is the Atlantic ocean side, which is more outrageous coast suitable mainly for surfing and adventurers water sports. Whereas the West coast of the island is surrounded by the Caribbean sea, a calmer and more relaxing edge. As well as Island's magnificent panorama, the Bajen cuisine is absolutely delicious and fresh. It mainly entails catch of the day (flying fish being my favourite) and seafood grilled or baked. In this post I have combined all the photos from my previous visits, I have used my Olympus OMD E5 camera with its lenses: Panasonic 14mm F2.5 & 20mm F1.7 for landscapes shots. I have also used the Olympus 45mm f2.8 as a macro lens to capture the Bee shots. I hope you will enjoy the photos :)