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I think there’s a law of the universe that requires photographers to create photos of every lighthouse they see. With that in mind, I had no choice but to shoot Castillo del Morro in Havana.

Castillo del Morro Havana, Cuba

Castillo del MorroObligatory lighthouse photo from the trip. I say obligatory because photographers are nuts for anything that has a lightbulb in the darkness.  You put that lightbulb on the end of a big stick and…well, it’s magical.

Except when it’s boring. Sadly, that was my experience.  Here, let’s list all of the magical elements that need to come together to make a perfect lighthouse shot.

  • Darkness
  • Lighthouse
  • Glowing light emanating from lighthouse
  • Big rocks
  • Angry seas beating against big rocks
  • Orange sunset
  • Exasperatingly beautiful and strange clouds

Didn’t get all of that here. It was low tide and the harbor was calm. That’s a shame, because the sea does get some angry waves nearby. The Malecon is right behind me and sometimes the waves crash menacingly against the sea wall. Not this night.

The sunset itself was a tad disappointing. None of the usual fantastic clouds or even an orange sunset. Much like the seas, the skies decided to take a break.

Why It Still Made Me Happy

If it sounds like I’m complaining, let me assure you that I’m not unhappy. It was a wonderful, lazy evening doing what I enjoy. Alex, one of the folks who joined this trip to Cuba, was right out there with me. We had a peaceful evening of photography. We shot different angles and listened to the people around us.

A young couple came up behind us, obviously in love. It was peaceful and mildly romantic. At least it was until the gentleman said something that just royally pissed off the lady with him. I don’t understand a lick of Spanish, but you didn’t really need to understand the words.

His expression showed the entire story. Confusion, at first. Then bargaining, as if he were trying to say, “Baby, wait. Let me explain.” After that, submission. He knew he stepped in it and nothing he said slowed down her voice. The only thing he could do was be quiet, accept the inevitable, and realize the he wasn’t going to get out of this situation without some kind of apology and admission of guilt. Yet his face clearly looked like he didn’t believe he deserved her reaction, that’s the way it played out.

Her voice became less agitated and more conciliatory. He stopped explaining and gave into the moment. By the end of the night, it was water under the bridge (or so it seemed to me).

Nobody else who looks at my photo is going to see any of that experience, but to me it’s a reminder of a night under the shade of Castillo del Morro. For me, photography isn’t just about my final image. It takes me back to places and experiences that I would otherwise forget.

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