Cuba and Cigars

Cuba is famous for it's cigars, and in Havana they are everywhere.  People smoking them, or posing for photographs with them, or trying to sell you them.  Cuban cigars are rolled from tobacco leaves found throughout the country of Cuba and are said to be among the best in the world.  Despite American trade sanctions against Cuban products, cigars remain one of the country's biggest exports.  In 2016 Cuba exported $445 million worth of cigars worldwide.  Here are some portraits I took in La Habana, the Capital of Cuba of Cubans with cigars, click through the slide show below:

All of the above photos were taken with a Canon 5D IV using natural light.  The lenses used were the Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens and the Sigma Art lens at 135mm.  Some of the people I captured in Havana were there for the tourism and received money in exchange for photos, but a couple were strangers in the street whom I asked if I could photograph.  I like the additional prop of the cigar in these head shot portraits, it adds a particular Cuban feel to the images.  

More of my travel photography from Cuba can be found on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Street Portraits in Havana, Cuba

I recently spent a week in Havana, the Capital of Cuba.  It's a great place for photos, full of old classic cars, interesting architecture, and a lot of colour.  Whilst in Havana I also took several portrait shots of some of the locals.  When I first started taking photos I took mainly nature shots: flowers and landscapes.  I then became interested in Street photography capturing people around the World in a candid manner.  A friend once told me that the best photographs are those which contain people and I now tend to agree with that more and more.  Click through the slideshow below for some black and white Cuban portraits:

All of the above photos were taken with a Canon 5D IV using natural light.  The lenses used were the Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens and the Sigma Art lens at 135mm.  Some of the people I captured in Havana were there for the tourism and received money in exchange for photos, but a couple were strangers in the street whom I asked if I could photograph.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words and with street portraits I believe you get an even more interesting story from an image.  I was happy with the head shots I got in and around Havana and plan to take some more in the future.  I converted the images to black and white using Lightroom as I preferred the overall mood of the resulting series.  However, Havana is a colourful place and it is often nice to see the images in colour.  One of the cigar smoking ladies can be seen in colour here, whilst the cigar smoking gentleman can be viewed here.

Cuba is a country located in the Caribbean, south of the US state of Florida, west of Haiti and north of Jamaica.  Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and has over 11 million inhabitants. Havana (Habana or La Habana in Spanish) is the capital city and leading commercial centre of Cuba.

More of my travel photography from Cuba can be found on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Peruvian Sunset Photography by Geraint Rowland

Sunset images are still one of my favourite types of photo to take.  No two are ever the same and if taken well they have universal appeal.  In the last five years I have spent a large amount of time in Peru and have photographed a lot of Peruvian sunsets.  The majority of time has been in Lima, which can have amazing sunsets during the Summer months, but I have witnessed equally stunning sunsets in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Arequipa, Iquitos near the Amazon, and the beaches in the North such as Huanchaco, Chicama, and Chiclayo.  Click through the first slideshow below to view some of my Peruvian sunset photos: 

How to take good sunset photographs

There is a wealth of useful information online regarding how to capture sunsets and the techniques involved.  Without getting too technical here are some tips for shooting beautiful sunsets:

Timing: When taking sunset photos, preparation is obviously important, being in the right place at the right time is a must.  So if you can, try and take photos of the setting sun at the best time of the year.  For example, Lima is often referred to as the Grey City (Lima La Gris) due to the constant fog for much of the year.  In Lima you will have a much better chance of capturing a good sunset during the summer months (December to January).  Get to the chosen location in plenty of time to experiment with different angles and frames.  Don't forget to wait some time after the sun sets, this is the time the sky often becomes the most spectacular.  

Tripod: As the sun drops, so does the light, for a clear image you will need a good tripod.  This will also help if you want to capture movement in your sunset images (such as the motion of the water).  In addition, long exposure photos can make the colours more vivd.  If you do not have a tripod, try resting your camera on a solid surface or at ground level.  If this is not possible you will have to increase the ISO and open up the aperture as much as possible.

Travel: To capture the best sunsets you have to travel.  This doesn't necessarily mean you have to travel overseas to exotic locations but this obviously helps.  Instead, try and explore your local area to end up with a variety of sunset shots from different locations as opposed to going to the same tried and tested spot each time.  Click through the carousel below for more images of the setting sun taken in Lima:

More of my travel photography from Peru can be found on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  I recently wrote a blog on Ocean Art Photography, many of my abstract photos are taken during the sunset period.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Photographing the Coastline of Great Britain

In the summer of 2015 a small group of cyclists set off from Anglesey in North Wales for a 64 day journey, circumnavigating the coastline of Great Britain.  At the start of July the cyclists began their epic journey cycling the entire coastline of Wales, Scotland and England before finally arriving back at their starting point seven weeks later.  I was employed as photographer & social media manager, and in addition to capturing daily images of the riders I also documented the coastline and countryside as we travelled around.  Over the course of the 6,700 kilometre journey I took over 20,000 photographs.  Click through the first slideshow below for a look at some of the sights we saw along the way:

In addition to the cycling element the Countrywide Great Tour was also a celebration of the beautiful and varied coastline of England, Scotland and Wales.  With the cyclists always riding in sight, sound and smell of the sea we got to witness the beauty of Great Britain during the summertime.  

I wrote a previous blog on the Countrywide Great Tour of 2015 with a selection of cycling photos which can be viewed here.  In addition I posted a photo everyday to my Flickr account, which can be viewed here: CGT2015 Flickr Album.  Here are some more images from our trip around the coastline of Great Britain, click through the second slideshow below:    

The Countrywide Great Tour was an amazing experience and I recommend anyone to get involved in 2018 when the Great Tour is returning.  More of my images from the Countrywide Great Tour can be viewed on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Black and White Portraits in The Gambia

I recently spent two months in Senegal, during that time I travelled south to the Cassamance area staying in Ziguinchor.  From Ziguinchor I travelled north to spend a couple of weeks in The Gambia.  I spent a couple of weeks living in the Serekunda area some 11 km's west of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.  This set of black and white photographs were taken outside a traditional Gambian home.  Click through the slideshow below for some black and white portraits I took of the local Gambian children there:

All of the above photos were taken with a Canon 5D2 and a 50mm 1.4 prime lens.  Some of the images were taken candidly whilst others were obviously posed.  I converted the images to black and white using Lightroom as I preferred the overall mood of the resulting series.  

The Gambia, officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa that is completely surrounded by Senegal except for it's coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.  Despite a third of Gambians living under the poverty line, the people there are extremely friendly and welcoming.  In fact The Gambia is often referred to as the 'Smiling Coast of West Africa'.  I hope to return soon to explore more of the country and take more photos.

More of my travel photography from West Africa can be found on my website, my Facebook and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Day of the Dead at the Cementerio Nueva Esperanza in Lima

in 2015 I spent a fascinating day experiencing the Day of the Dead at Cementerio Nueva Esperanza in Lima, Peru.  This huge sprawling cemetery is the second largest in the World and on the 1st of November thousands of Peruvians visit to pay respect to their departed.  Very much a family affair, the Day of the Dead is a celebration of happiness and remembrance of the deceased as opposed to one of sadness.  A day where musicians play music to the dead, traditional Peruvian Dancers (Danza de las tijeras) perform, couples share beer by the graves and children embrace and play.  Click through the slideshow below to view the Día de Muertos images taken in Cementerio Nueva Esperanza in Lima, Peru:

Day of the Dead, also known as All Souls Day is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and other parts of Latin America on October 31st, November 1st, and November 2nd.  In Spanish, the Day of the Dead is called Día de Muertos, or Día de los Muertos.  Click through the carousel below for more images from the day of the dead in Lima:

A photo blog of the Mexican day of the dead can be found here.  More of my travel photos can be found on my website, my Facebook page and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Day of the Dead, Mexico City by Geraint Rowland

Last year (2016) I travelled to Mexico City to experience and photograph the Day of the Dead Festivities.  It was my third visit to Mexico City or Distrito Federal (DF) as the locals call it, but the first time for the Day of the Dead celebrations.  Day of the Dead, also known as All Souls Day is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and other parts of Latin America on October 31st, November 1st, and November 2nd.  In Spanish, the Day of the Dead is called Día de Muertos, or Día de los Muertos.  Click through the slideshow below to view the Día de Muertos images taken in Distrito federal: 

In 2017 Mexico City held it's first Day of the Dead/Día de Muertos parade.  With life imitating art, they took the idea from the Bond movie (Spectre) and created the event. Over 100,000 people attended the event every day with various parades throughout the city.  I took the following photos candidly during the Day of the Dead events in and around the streets of Mexico City.  

The days leading up to and following the festival are a great opportunity to get some interesting and unusual photos.  All across the city there are exhibitions, events, street parties and people in costume.  If you plan on going, make sure you book accommodation well in advance.  The whole of Mexico City sells out with people travelling from all over Mexico and the World to experience Day of the Dead.   

The previous year (2015) I had spent a fascinating day experiencing the Day of the Dead at Cementerio Nueva Esperanza in Lima, Peru.  This huge sprawling cemetery is the second largest in the World and on the 1st of November thousands of Peruvians visit to pay respect to their departed.  Very much a family affair, the Day of the Dead is a celebration of happiness and remembrance of the deceased as opposed to one of sadness.  A day where musicians play music to the dead, traditional Peruvian Dancers (Danza de las tijeras) perform, couples share beer by the graves and children embrace and play.  A photo blog about the Day of the Dead in Lima, Peru can be viewed here.

More of my travel photos can be found on my website, my Facebook page and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Machu Picchu by Geraint Rowland Photography

A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend a week at Machu Picchu taking photographs for MINCETUR, the tourist department of the Peruvian Government.  Machu Picchu is a 15th Century Inca citadel located in the Cusco region of Peru above the sacred valley.  Machu Picchu was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.  In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

For seven days I was based in Machu Picchu Pueblo, the village below Machu Picchu, also known as Aguas Calientes.  From here I would visit the various peaks surrounding Machu Picchu including: Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain and Putukusi (also spelled Putucusi).  In addition to this I also hiked the last two days of the Inca Trail which finishes at Machu Picchu, the mysterious "Lost City of the Incas".  Click through the slideshow below for some images I took from my time at Machu Picchu:

I had an amazing week at Machu Picchu, and would recommend spending a few days there if you have time to fully explore the area.  With more time you can visit the various peaks and have a much better chance of experiencing good weather.  The day I climbed Huayna Picchu there was very little visibility for most of the day.  I personally believe that the best views of Machu Picchu itself were from Machu Picchu mountain.  The most exciting and least busy of all the peaks was Putukusi with only a handful of people seen the entire walk.  It is not for the faint hearted though with several huge and steep ladders at the start of the hike (see below).  If you only have time for Machu Picchu try and make it up on one of the first buses to catch the sun rise.  Click through the carousel below for more images from Machu Picchu:

More of my Machu Picchu photographs can be found on my website, my Facebook page and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.  

Black and White Photography at Belen Village, Iquitos Peru

These photos were taken in the village of Belen in Iquitos, Peru.  Some of the photos formed part of an earlier blog and photo essay for Dezine Magazine.  Belen Village is part of Iquitos, the largest metropolis in the Peruvian amazon.  The entire village is flooded for several months each year by the nearby Amazon river.  The only way to get around is by boat so even the children learn to navigate and paddle in small canoes from an early age.  Click through the slideshow below for a selection of the Belen Village photos:

Belen Village in Iquitos is full of amazing photo opportunities: The local people use the river to work, travel and play.  Children sit overlooking the river selling food and produce to passing boats, Men offer taxi boat services or fish, and Women wash the family clothes in the river.  Some 65,000 people live in the Village of Belen on either moored floating houses or houses on stilts.  It is a very poor neighbourhood with many of the people living in impoverished conditions.  

More of my travel photography can be found on my website and my Facebook page.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.

Monkey Love, Bijilo Forest Park, The Gambia

I recently spent two months in West Africa visiting Senegal.  I have a Senegal album on my Flickr account with photos from Dakar, Lompoul, and Ziguinchor.  Whilst visiting the Casamance area in the south of the country I decided to take a trip to The Gambia.  The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa and is completely surrounded by Senegal except for its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.  It is home to the Bijilo Forest Park (aka Monkey Forest).  Click through the slideshow below for some images I took of the monkeys there:

The Bijilo Forest Park, or Monkey Forest is situated next to the coast in the Serekunda area some 11 km's west of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.  There are various trails through the park that take you through the forest and coastal scrubland.  Many local people told me that there are no longer any monkeys left in the park but there were plenty on the day I visited.  I think the diversity of the monkey population has diminished over recent years with the Western Red Colobus monkey being pushed out of the area.  This has been blamed upon deforestation of the area as well as the practices of the park itself:  By encouraging tourists to buy nuts and feed the green monkeys, their numbers have risen massively pushing out the red monkeys.  I didn't see any red monkeys in the park whilst I was there but did see some along the main road in the mornings.  The green monkeys however are in an abundance (click through the carousel below for more monkey love):

Some major construction was taking place close to the entrance of the park when I visited with more of the park area being cleared for commercial development.  Hopefully enough forest survives for the existing monkeys but their future looks fragile. 

More of my travel photography can be found on my website and my Facebook page.  If you are interested in purchasing any prints, using an image online or would like further information please send me an email at: geraintrowlandphotography@gmail.com.