Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cuba - From Havana to Guantamo

    Back in June 2012, I was given the graduation gift of a lifetime.  My grandmother let me know that she was planning on going to Cuba, and she invited me to go with her.  Visiting Cuba, had been on my bucket-list for the longest time, because I had always wanted to see the country that my grandpa came from.  We were there for two weeks.  Our trip began in Havana, and the majority of it was spent with our family near Guantanamo, I believe the town was San Antonio.  Now, I have a lot of photographs from Cuba, but I am not going to post them here because I plan on making a book sometime in the future.  I dream of returning to get more photographs, before I can make my photography book.  Nevertheless, I want to share with people some of the beautiful things that I was able to see and experience.  I think Cuba catches the interest of Americans, because it is one of those "untouchable" places where American travel is heavily restricted.
    While in Cuba, I had the opportunity to travel from Havana to Guantanamo by route of a rugged and choppy two lane highway.  The journey in our green taxi lasted nearly 16 hours.  I was able to see so much of the country from the busy streets of Havana, to the green valleys and then to the beautiful beaches of Baracoa.  This was my first time in the Caribbean, and it did not disappoint.  I have been to a few south american countries, but I have never been to place with water painted such a beautiful shade of emerald green, or to a place with a sky so blue.  The country was filled with natural beauties, old buildings that had character, and a people that were genuine and caring.  I have so many stories, but I will save them for my book.  
    If you would like to use my photos, please contact me at sdiegorivera@gmail.com.  If you are interested in learning any of the ways in which I take photographs, I am willing to teach just get in contact with me via email. If you need a photographer for an assignment let me know as well.  I've still got a lot to learn, but I have a passion for photography, traveling, trying new things, and tasting new foods!  I apologize, but I am still holding on to so many photos, I don't want to share with the internet just yet.  


Such a beautiful sky

This place is called "las salinas", I was told it was the place my grandpa used to escape

Cuba

We took like 15 people to the beach in our taxi, these guys were on the roof

Somewhere in Havana

This was like the boardwalk

Just a quick break

In San Antonio

Me and the witch

Walking through the streets of Havana

Some cars were impeccable 

This was in "La Plaza Del Revolucion"



Honeymoon to San Francisco

     My wife and I got married back in December 2013.  Immediately following our wedding we took a road trip/honeymoon up the California coast, through the beautifully scenic route of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) 1.  My goal was to show my wife the incredible scenery, and to have a blast as we traveled up the coast.  Our day started at LAX, as we had to say goodbye to our brother (departing to Italy), and to two of her closest friends (departing to Japan), and finally we were off.  During the first day we made it all the way to Pismo Beach, and had to set up camp by using the headlights of our truck.  That camp was beautiful.  Our tent was close enough to the water that throughout the night you could hear the crashing waves.  The stars could be seen so clearly, there was not a cloud in the night sky. 
     After day one we drove to Hearst Castle, and took a tour.  If you are taking a trip up PCH, you have to stop at Hearst Castle.  It such a beautiful, and unique place.  My favorite parts of the castle were the pools.  I couldn't believe that at one point this was really someone's home.  For people interested in visiting Hearst Castle, make sure you get your tickets before hand, because the day that we visited we wanted to move our reservations up, but all of the tickets were sold out.  Right after leaving Hearst Castle, we stopped by the Friends of the Elephant Seals, at Piedras Blancas.  This was a really fun unique experience.  We shared so many laughs looking at the Elephant Seals, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to just have fun and who is not in a rush to get to San Francisco.  The only negative part of seeing the Elephant Seals was the lack of parking, but that is because there were so many people.  As we headed North, there was traffic the whole way up, but we made it to San Francisco around 11:00 pm.  
     While in San Francisco we visited Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Haight and Ashbury, The Grateful Dead Hose, and Golden Gate Park.  San Francisco is such a beautiful and unique place, please enjoy these highlight photos, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment.  If you would like to use my photos, please contact me at sdiegorivera@gmail.com.  If you are interested in learning any of the ways in which I take photographs, I am willing to teach just get in contact with me via email.

I took this shot somewhere on PCH near Santa Barbara on Day 1 of our trip

We pulled in to camp at Pismo Beach around 10 pm, here we are setting up camp.

This was our camp, such a beautiful night

On our way to San Francisco we stopped by Hearst Castle, this pool was amazing!

Hearst Castle is such a cool place.

The Sea Lions were just chilling.

We were in stopped traffic, during such a beautiful sunset... look at the mirror.

Sunbathing

Pier 39

A huge, and I mean HUGE Lobster at the Fisherman's Wharf

People pay this guy, to scare people

This Salt and Pepper Crab  

The Grateful Dead House

Classy Disco Ball

Catching crabs

Our last day in San Francisco

Goodbye San Fran!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dia De Los Muertos - Downtown Riverside, California

On November 2nd, 2013 I participated in my first Dia De Los Muertos Celebration sponsored by the City of Riverside.  This was one of the funnest and most culturally significant experiences I have ever participated in.  As a second generation Chicano in the USA, this was one of the most intense cultural experiences I have participated in.  The event was filled with Mexican cultural dances, folk songs, and plenty of Dia De Los Muertos regalia.  Dia De Los Muertos, literally meaning "Day of the Dead", is a celebration of dead relatives.  Families honor their dead by creating altars, and surrounding them with photos of the deceased, favorite foods and other symbols that represent their lost relatives.  Below are some of my favorite photos from the night, the photo situation was very difficult to deal with, but this the best I could do.  There wa low-light, and I really didn't want to use a flash, so I had an ISO ranging from 800 - 1600.  The aperture also varied, with an F-stop ranging from 3.5 - 5.6, and the shutter speed 1/40th to 1/4th of second.  The video was shot from my Iphone 5c.  If you would like to use my photos, please feel free to contact me at sdiegorivera@gmail.com.  If you are interested in learning my any of the ways in which I take photographs, I am willing to teach just get in contact with me via email.


video

A Beautiful Night

Dancing for the Dead

Candlelight

Balancing Act

Blurred Death

Ninos Del Muerto 1

Ninos Del Muerto 2

In the Limelight 

Dancers

Caught in Time

Spirals

Lady Death and Her Children

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years Day 2013, Hokkaido, Japan

    Hello and Happy New Year to all of you reading this blog!  I've been in Hokkaido, Japan for the past 2 weeks, and am now on the last week of the trip.  I was given the opportunity to bring in the New Year with my lovely fiancee Izumi this year, but unfortunately I was sick.  I did get to stay up until midnight, but some plans had to change.  New Year's celebrations in Japan seem to be very different from the New Year Celebrations that i'm used to back home in Southern California.  In Japan, the common tradition is going to a shrine at midnight, praying, and buying a good luck charm and fortune (Omikuji) for the new year.  This year we didn't get to go out at midnight, but we stayed up watching a huge TV Program that was filled with famous Japanese musicians, and socialites.  The program had at least 30 live music performances, but strangely many of the performers lip-synced.  One of the most memorable facets of the program was the fashion.  Musicians wore some of the craziest attire I have ever seen, try and imagine a Royal Blue suit with an added tie-dye effect spiraling out from the center of the suit, or one of the band dressed like a cross between Kiss and Twisted Sister.  To say the least, the show was interesting to watch just for the extreme fashion that was on display.
   On New Years Day, we went to the shrine, prayed, and bought Omikujis.  There must have been at least 150 people at the shrine, and about 10 dogs.  The process went like this: People waited in the freezing cold line (with their dogs in hand if they had them), threw some change into the money collector, said a quick prayer moved along to the Omikuji purchasing section, bought an Omikuji, read it, and then tied their fortune to a post.  My fortune wasn't that good, but Izumi got the best fortune a person could get, the little talisman that came with her fortune consisted of Mt. Fuji, and Eggplant, and a Hawk.  My talisman was a chicken, and my fortune was mediocre; go figure.  After we read our Omikujis, Izumi and I walked over and rang a huge gong.  Izumi said it was her first time doing it, so I'm not sure if it is a shrine tradition, or a New Year Tradition; either way it was a lot of fun.  Well, below are my photos from New Years day in Hokkaido, Japan.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment.  If you would like to use my photos please contact me at sdiegorivera@gmail.com.
Kitami Shrine


Izumi and I waiting in line

A Guardian of the Shrine

Kitami Shrine

Getting close to the front of the line

Shrine Guardian


Kitami Shrine

Omikuji - Crazy Edit

Omikuji - regular edit

People Really Bring Dogs to the Shrine


Tying up the forunes


Izumi tying up her Omikuji


Tied up Fortunes


Omikujis


This thing is for health, it is not an Omikuji







Izumi ringing the Gong