Tina Rowe

In Cuba

I stood around by the road a lot in Varadero.  A couple of times I was stopped and people tried to engage me in conversations about the cameras I was using and why I was using them.  I got that through gestures as my spanish is strictly menu spanish, which is about as much use as chocolate teapot in Cuba because aside from beans, rice and pig, the menu was mysterious unless you ate with the other tourists, but that menu was prohibitively expensive and frequently dire.

I stood by the roads because the cars are fascinating, but everyone bangs on about that, what I was after was something about cars, not really of them, instagram is full of pictures of the lovely cars in Cuba.  I had a wide angle pinhole and a hasselblad 500CM.  I don’t see the point of trying to emulate the sharpness of digital, even with a mighty box of swedish engineering and pan-f plus.  If you want a picture of what was in front of you pretty much as it was in front of you at the time (and don’t mind the way the lenses distort) use your phone.

It’s not that I didn’t tinker round the whole digital thing, first was a second hand D70 and then a brand new D700.  The D700 was seductive and I learned a lot with it, mainly about aperture priority and how much more fun it is to do long exposures than short.   If it had been human, that camera would have been one of those relationships that happen in your early 20s for three or four years; you are still changing but you are definitely an adult.  At first it’s all adventure, an awful lot of intense physical stuff which leads to experimentation and that is where the cracks start to show.  One of you will go all vanilla while the other one becomes increasingly reckless.  You end up having looping conversations about going and living abroad and despite the fact that you both agree that it would be good to learn Spanish, one of you is thinking about a couple of years teaching english in Madrid and the other one is picturing themselves as the go-to blogger on ayahuasca, sponsored by enlightened millionaires looking for drugs and glamping in the jungle.  It’s never going to pan out, but it was fun while it lasted.

So I ditched the digital and have been rendered destitute by film.  I still remember the D700 fondly, not least because I sold it just before sensors got better and the value of a D700 slid.  As it happens, I ended up in South America on the cash I made, unfettered by ayahuasca, though on one occasion almost so disabled by an ill advised toke that I thought I was going to wake up upsidedown in the cariocan equivalent of a hedge, but that’s a whole different blog post.

Anyway, this is what my camera saw.


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