Photo Essay

Cuba Obscura

Naufragio II

In November 2006 I took a Pinhole Camera and a bag of film to Cuba. Inspired by another visit 3 years previously and a newly found interest in Printmaking, I set about capturing an island in a slow period of transition.

Cuba is an incredibly photogenic island. From beautiful people to a luscious landscape, all the ingredients are there for beautiful photos. The old 50's automobiles and falling apart rickshaws are just a sample of the vivacious street life that enhances Cuba's towns and cites. However, the digital photos I returned home with in 2003 didn't quiet encapsulate the underlying mood of melancholy or frustration I had noticed in its people.

Between that first visit and my more lengthy return in 2006, I developed an interest in Pinhole Photography and Printmaking. I decided to marry the two together with the Photo Etching process and found they were a perfect compliment to each other. The Pinhole image's eerie otherworldly quality is enhanced by the unpredictability of a Photo Etching. I felt that the combined effect might portray an image of Cuba a little closer to that of my imagination than the pixel perfection of my digital shots.

For 6 weeks I traveled from west to east and back again taking Pinhole Photos. I could never have been sure as to what I was getting. Exposure times are generally guessed and without a view-finder you generally are hoping that you've captured your subject. It was very discouraging at times to think that I mightn't have been getting any results at all. My bag of film was x-rayed 6 times between leaving and returning home and my Pinhole Camera, despite all my preparation was untested!

I began printing my images in September 2007 in Cork Printmakers. I named the collection Cuba Obscura (as a play on Camera Obscura!).

The collection to date is viewable at

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2 responses

  • Penny Nannini

    Penny Nannini   gave props (22 Oct 2008):

    absolutely beautiful photos and essay!

  • Ian Beer

    Ian Beer gave props (2 Dec 2008):


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