Cuba 2000-2002, Hasselblad X-Pan
I first travelled to Cuba in late February 2000 with the Maine Photographic Workshops. Although I took my large Fuji 617 panoramic camera expecting to shoot slide film, I had just purchased a 35mm Hasselblad X-pan which could convert to a panoramic format, taking a 24x65mm photo rather than the standard 24x36mm photo. Using the f4/45mm lens, this created a 71° wide angle of view. The challenge was to fill the frame edge to edge with interesting imagery. As this was a range-finder camera, the viewfinder showed me more than the actual image would be, so I could watch the action develop on the edges of the frame, and knew when to press the shutter. I ended up using the Hasselblad almost exclusively on the first trip, and as my only camera on the four subsequent trips. Using the 45mm lens, which is a wide-angle lens on a medium format camera (which the Hasselblad was in panoramic mode), and using Kodak negative film at ISO 400, the brightness of the tropical light allowed me to shoot at f16 at 1/125th of a second. This great depth of field allowed me to set the lens at the "hyperfocal" point, meaning everything in the frame was in focus almost all the time. Further, as a rangefinder camera, I could hand hold the camera at slower speeds when I walked on the shady side of the street. Most photographers visiting Cuba are initially attracted by the old American cars, so I start with those images. The chrome on the front of the Chevys reminded me of a shark's mouth. I then began photographing the elementary school students, who in their red skirts and pants with white shirts, were happy to have their photos taken. However, once they traded in their red clothes for the gold of middle school students, they became more reluctant to be photographed. On one trip I went to Trinidad, in central Cuba, and was struck by the quality and intensity of the light, much like French painters describe their reaction to the light in Provence and along the coast. So I end this portfolio with those images.