Cuba in November?

My next photography workshops in Cuba (legal from the U.S.) are November 5-14, 2015 and January 7-16, 2016. The cost is $4,495 per person, double occupancy (plus $350 for singles) and includes nearly everything except your costs to/from/in Miami. There are still open slots for the November 2015 workshop. The January 2016 workshop is currently sold out, but we’re accepting people to the waiting list.

For more information, see my Cuba Workshop page.

Dos Mojitos!
Dos Mojitos!

Cuba Workshop, January 2015

At 12:05am on January 16, sixteen photographers and their partners were the very first Americans to land in Havana under the new rules announced in December by President Obama. There was no fanfare, just the usual midnight airport skeleton crew that took two hours to x-ray our bags. One of us did get “special treatment” for arriving with enough gear for a feature-film crew and what could have been mistaken for a suicide vest. For most of the group, it was everyone’s first visit to Cuba.

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Tahrir Square Video

Here’s some of the video I shot of Tahrir Square in Cairo on the first night of the Egyptian demonstrations.

It was shot using a Nikon D7000 with an 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at ISO 3200 from my 25th floor balcony of the Semiramis InterContinental Hotel, which is about a block away. If you watch the High Definition version you can see a lot more detail even through the digital noise.

Thanks to The Conversations Network’s Paul Figgiani for editing and titles.

Exodus from Egypt

On January 19th I tweeted “Getting ready for a trip to the Middle East. Decided to register with the State Department. You just never know.” Six days later I stepped out of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to find a scene reminiscent of Berkeley in the 1960s: a stream of demonstrators running past the museum towards Tahrir Square.

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Insure Your Stuff — It’s a Bargain

For over a year, I’ve been thinking about insuring some of my expensive photography and computer equipment. I’m getting ready for a three-week trip to the Middle East on Sunday, and since I’m taking some of that pricey camera gear, I finally decided to check this off my to-do list. Insuring this stuff turns out to be fairly simple and surprisingly inexpensive.

The hard part was the inventory. I created a spreadsheet with all the descriptions, serial numbers and purchase prices. Although it wasn’t necessarily for some items, I tracked down all the invoices. (Most of it was purchased from, who allows you to re-print the invoices for anything you have ever bought from them.) I put it all into a PDF and sent it to my State Farm Insurance agent, where their underwriter picked through it, item-by-item.

Bottom line: This is a terrific deal. For a cost of only $1.25/year per $100 of value, they will insure against any loss or damage with a zero deductible. I’ve got almost everything covered: not just cameras and lenses, but expensive filters, accessories and even my backpack. I can update the inventory at any time. I’ll eventually add other items like my wife’s jewelry, artwork, etc. I haven’t insured my computer gear yet, but my agent says that will cost even less. The underwriting is detailed to the extent that they won’t insure iPads, for example. The losses and risks are just too high. But they had no problem with any of the photo stuff.

The only other restriction is that this is for amateur photographers only. A pro will have to pay a higher rate. (Probably a completely different policy.) I haven’t seen the details, but I think this is an add-on to my homeowner’s insurance.

So if you’ve been putting this off, particularly if you’re planning a trip to a far-away place, call your insurance agent now and check it out.

Back from Africa

My wife and I just returned from a 2.5-week photo safari in southern Kenya. I plan to write about the trip including recommendations for other travelers and photographers, but it’s going to be a while before I can get to it. In the meantime here’s a quick export of some of the 3,000+ photos I took as a Flickr slideshow.