Blue Hour Photo Workshops

Photography is a constant travel to new places

Archive for Cuba

Students Facing Their Fears

© Nina Ramberg

© Kari Anne Kvam

© Jan-Morten Bjørnbakk

© Jan Holm

© Berit Roald

© Anders Øystein Gimse

We are always amazed by the work students come back with during any of my photo workshop. During this year’s Cuba workshop we had participants with quite different photographic skills and knowledge, but not matter their background they were all able to produce some outstanding photos.

Personally for us, that is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching a workshop. We believe we always learn just as much as the participants from their different perspectives and their different ways of shooting that they bring into a workshop. Yes, we as workshop teachers push them to grow and expand, but they all come with their own photographic voice, whether refined or still in the making.

Likewise for the participants, we think being push from teachers with a different perspective than themselves is what makes attending a workshop so worthwhile. When participants let them be move into new ways of seeing and are willing to go outside their usual box, that’s when they will experience tremendous growth and development during a workshop.

During this year’s Cuba workshop, all the participants did exactly that. Yes, some of them felt vulnerable when we pushed hard, which is something we experience in all workshops we teach, but they also came out on the other side with a new photographic confidence and a stronger sense of their photographic voice.

Shooting on the street is difficult for anyone who is not used to it. Particularly approaching strangers on the street with the intention of capturing photos of them can be challenging. It takes a lot of practice to be at ease when walking over to a complete stranger—even for a seasoned photographer used to shooting on the street. Even more so, for participants who have never done anything like this before. But again, the participants of this year’s photo workshop ended up getting into any situation by the end of the workshop, yes, they equally easily entered houses of strangers and kept shooting inside their homes.

I think this willingness to face up to the task was what made their work so outstanding. This post gives a little sample of photos by the participants.


Natural Light Indoor


Nothing beats natural light. It’s versatile, so beautiful and always changing like a facet, thus always surprising. Even in places, you recon you would need to use artificial light; you may take advantage of natural light. Think indoor. Your first thought may be to turn on the flash, but instead of its harsh and contrasting result, here is a different approach.

Light from a window or an open doorway brings the beauty of natural light indoor. What more is, it’s a soft and diffused light that wraps around the subject you photograph—as long as you don’t let direct sunlight through the window or doorway.

Furthermore, window light is a natural light that we are all familiar with in our day to day lives. It is easy on the eye and easy for us to decode in a photograph because we are so familiar with the way light rattles around in a room. A large window is essentially a huge softbox that will diffuse light into the room and around the subject you place in front of it. Window light can be wonderful for photographing portraits or still-life subjects.

As mentioned, it’s diffused but still directional so that it brings out the forms of whatever you photograph. One could call it «quiet light» because it has a peaceful quality to it. It reduces contrasts, which makes it easier for the camera to record details in both the deeper shadows and the brighter highlights, which in turn makes it possible to see more details in the final picture.

By using light from the window almost anyone with a good camera and lens can take exceptional indoor images. The soft nature of window light makes it very flattering; the shadows that appear on the face are very natural and don’t accentuate any features.

You can use light from a window in many ways, lighting the subject from behind or affront. However, probably the most beautiful light from a window or doorway is when you use it to cast a sideways light on the subject. Side-lighting will really bring out the forms and details in the subject.

The photo above was lit from an open doorway only. The light brings out the characters of the elderly couple and brings out the weathered faces sculptured from a long life on a farm in Cuba.

What about giving this approach a try? I am sure you will find window light both easy to handler and resulting beautiful images.

Cuba Colours


Cuba is a country of colour and sensual heat. It moves differently than any other country in the world. Maybe it’s due to the fusion of stiff Eastern European communism with Caribbean salsa. And maybe it’s exactly the contrast that makes Cubans more alive and outward going than even other cultures you will find in the Caribbean. Of course, it has not the least to do with the rich cultural heritage of the Cubans. Cuba is after all where the music son were born and spread to the rest of the world as its offshoot salsa.

During Blue Hour Photo Workshop’s «Street photography in Cuba» you will get ample opportunity to both experience and photograph the Cuban colour and heat. That is really what makes the country and it’s people so attractive for photographer from near and far. The workshop takes place from April 29th to May 6th this year.

For more information about the workshop you can sign up by clicking the link:


Cuba Workshop Getting Filled

Gatekunst og propaganda i bydelen Marianao

Our photo workshop in Cuba kicking off on April 29th is getting some traction. Over the last couple of days, we have reached more than half the maximum amounts of participants and expect more will sign up over the next couple of weeks. If you have been pondering about attending, maybe now is a good time to figure out whether you want to join or not.

Cuba is more popular than ever. The country is changing rapidly, and if you want to experience some of the «old» Cuba now is really the time. Don’t get us wrong, changes are good, development are good, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to experience something that soon will be all but history. Like any other country is developing, so is Cuba. The hardworking farmers are slowly by slowly no longer ploughing with bulls, traditional culture is vanishing and of course ever more tourists have an enormous impact on Cuba—like they have in any country.

The Blue Hour Photo Workshop «Cuba in Essence» will take you to some of the most amazing places in Cuba. This is really a street photo workshop, and we promise you will be able to capture some amazing photos. And the two workshop teachers will help you develop your photographic vision. During the Cuba workshop you will become a better and more confident photographer, no matter your present level.

You will find more info about the photo workshop «Cuba in Essence» on this site.

Let the Sun In

It’s about time to continue our little series of practical tips – tips that can be used to enhance your photos. In the last installment of this series we wrote about using a long exposure time on freehand to create a more energetic and somewhat abstract expression (Time Elongated – A Practical Tip). Today I want to talk about light.

Light is one of the most important factors that influence the quality of a photo. Light can make or destroy an otherwise excellent photo. In traditional photo literature and how-to-books we often learn that midday sunshine is bad. It creates harsh and unforgiven light with dark and ugly shadows. Certainly, that can sometimes be the case, but I disagree with the notion that it’s bad light in general. There is no such thing as bad light, only suitable or not suitable light for whatever you are trying to express. If you use the harsh light creatively, it can generate some wonderful photos.

Here is a way to turn that harsh midday light into a more subtle, soft and glowing illumination. Simply go inside and leave the door open behind you. The sunshine coming directly from above reflects on the ground and showers softly through the open door and into the room behind. Use the indirect light from the sun to create and almost unearthly setting for you photography.

The result does depend on the ground, though. If the outside of the door is covered with newly laid and black asphalt, the amount of reflections may be close to none. Then this tip doesn’t work. But with a lighter ground outside, it’s a delightful (excuse the pun) light to illuminate persons or a still life in an interior setting.

This works particularly well in areas closer to equator, be it Mediterranean countries, the Caribbean, the Tropics or Subtropical areas where midday light is particularly harsh. The photo following this post is all illuminated by harsh midday sunshine coming through an open door to the left (and yes some light is streaming through the open window behind, but not illuminating anything facing the camera). It shows the celebration of quinceañera or a girl’s 15th birthday in Cuba.

Cuba in Transit





The demise of Cuba’s former head of state, Fidel Castro, has been in the news all over the world. The big question is of course what is going to happen with Cuba now that the mastermind behind the Cuban revolution and the one in charge of Cuba’s policy the last half of the previous century has passed away.

No doubt changes will come, as they already have. Still, as long as Fidel Castro’s brother, Raúl Castro, is in charge nothing big is likely going to happen over night. Then more influential on imminent changes is probably the opening for US tourists to travel to Cuba. US tourists are already visiting the country increasingly. And more is expected to come. Of course, it still remains to see what effect the election of Trump will have on relations between USA and Cuba.

Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that Cuba is in a transition. The passing of Fidel Castro is an indicator of the new times to come. Many visitors travelling to Cuba these days do so in order to experience the Cuba as it is and has been under the Castro era. Before it’s too late.

Thus, if you plan to experience Cuba before the big changes, it’s about time to do something about it. If you are a photographer, what better way to do so than joining Blue Hour Photo Workshops next workshop in Cuba in the end of April next year? Look up our street photography workshop in Cuba for more information.

The photos here were taken during a period of the last 25 years.

Now Is the Time

En av mange gamle amerikanere som trafikkere gaten som kollektivdrosjer

As announced a couple of weeks ago, Blue Hour Photo Workshops will once again organize a photo workshop in Cuba, this time from April 29th to May 6th. We expect to have more interest for the workshop than ever. Cuba has become an increasingly sought after destination for photographers and tourists alike.

They come from all over the world, now even regularly from the United States. Up until recently US citizens were not allowed to travel to Cuba, but after the thaw between USA and Cuba the last few years, it’s been ever more easy for US citizens to travel to Cuba.

The conditions are still not normalized. US citizens still have to comply with certain regulations to make a legal trip to Cuba. Nevertheless, American travellers are now able to take commercial flights between the two countries, something they haven’t been able to do in 50 years.

There is still a limitation of 12 acceptable categories to travel to Cuba, outlined by the United States Department of the Treasury. To attend a workshop like Blue Hour Photo Workshops are organizing US citizen would go under a people-to-people program under the educational exchange category. These days, it’s not necessary to obtain a special license. Now all you have to do is clicking a box on the online form when making your travel arrangements.

When in Cuba, US citizens are required to keep records showing an itinerary of approved activities. If you are an American and are considering attending our workshop, Blue Hour Photo Workshops will provide you with such a itinerary that you can use for both planning and during the participation.

For more information about how to travel to Cuba as a US citizen, New York Times had a very informative article about the requirements imposed by the authorities.

Cuba is changing rapidly, not the least because of the influx of travellers from all over the world, included United States. If you want to experience the special paradox and cultural depth of present-day’s Cuba, now is the time to go. Why not come along on our photo workshop for an exceptional experience. More information about Blue Hour Cuba photo workshop.