Rad A. Drew Photography: February 2020

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Significance of Classic US Cars in Cuba

Clearly the American cars from the 40’s and 50’s are a novelty and a tourist attraction in Cuba. But they represent so much more.

The fact that these cars are even running at all today is testament to the ingenuity and mechanical engineering and devotion needed to keep them running. Each is an historic capsule from the past, preserved as much as possible, and behind each preservation is a resourceful Cuban who is making it all work.

I once had a classic car owner in Cuba tell me, 

Making the parts we need is the easy part; it’s making the machines we need to make the parts that’s challenging

There are those who take pride in sharing that their car is completely original, while others can’t hide the clatery sound that’s a dead giveaway to the Russian diesel under the hood. I’ve even seen boat motors used to run these tanks, and I have a good friend who powers his classic Dodge with - are you ready? - a Hyundai engine! 
Regardless of the efforts and methods employed to keep these cars running, there’s no doubt in the pride of ownership. 

Seeing old US cars from the 40’s and 50’s on the streets of Havana and on the roads connecting towns throughout Cuba is as much a part of Cuba today as her native music and dance. Cubans have taken something created elsewhere long ago and made it uniquely, iconically, their own. 

It speaks volumes about Cuban culture.

I lead trips to Cuba several times each year, often partnering with Cuban photographer, Ramses Batista. If you have an interested in joining me on a future trip, email me here to be notified when new experiences are available. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Letting in the Light

Guest Blog Post by Photographer Linda Hollier 

Editor's Note: Linda's art attracted me several years ago and I was inspired by the etherial way she records moving subjects, including the flowing thobes of men, and the beautiful materials of the Burqa and abaya worn by women in the Middle East. In 2017, Linda and I had the good fortune to meet at the futuristic Masdar City near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (see image below). I'm thrilled that she has written a guest blog post here discussing her work! – RAD


by Linda Hollier

In photography, shutter speed refers to the length of time a camera’s shutter remains open. The faster the shutter speed is, the faster the shutter will close, creating a sharp image. This is perhaps one of the camera’s most amazing attributes. It has the ability to freeze a split second, often capturing details which the human eye can so easily miss. 

The slower the shutter speed is, the slower the shutter will close, resulting in an unsharp image. Slow shutter speed thus captures movement, in the scene, or on the part of the photographer, as motion blur. At the same time, the longer the shutter remains open, the more light it lets in.

The more light it lets in. This concept has always fascinated me on many levels. Whilst the slower closing of the shutter can obviously bring about a light trail, I often wonder how much more of the essence of a subject, how much more Light, can be captured in this way.

By nature, I am very sensitive to the energies of both people and places. With this is mind, I began to photograph people using the Slow Shutter Cam app on my iPhone, focusing on the energy I sensed around them.

Strolling, © Linda Hollier
To artistically portray the people in my works, I set myself the challenge of using only my iPhone for capturing and editing, No laptops, no iPads or other devices come into play. Using various apps, I create my own textures and blends and at times paint by finger on my iPhone screen.

I soon noticed that I was photographing not only movement, where past, present and future were being depicted in one photo as it were, but that the figures I captured were often surrounded by a distinct light. By letting in more light with the slow shutter app, perhaps, I am capturing energy! I feel this adds to the sense of Presence I am aiming to portray.

Radiance, © Linda Hollier
Shortly after I began experimenting with the Slow Shutter Cam app, I attended a Whirling Dervishes Sema Ceremony in Istanbul. This inspired me to focus on discovering new ways in my art to portray the whole concept of rootedness and movement occurring simultaneously, bringing about an even stronger sense of Essence and Presence. The individuals in my artworks appear to be rooted in a moment but at the same time appear to be moving in an other-worldly realm which is beyond space and time. The viewer is invited to follow them to discover the story that is waiting to unfold.

Noor (the Arabic word for light), © Linda Hollier

The famous photographer Minor White believed that whether the photographer was consciously present or absent at the moment the shutter is released shows up very subtly in the photograph. My iPhoneart flows out of my mindfulness practice but in a sense has become a practice in itself. My whole creative process is becoming more and more intuitive and this requires me to be very much in the moment.

It is interesting for all who love photography to note that Minor White also believed that when the photographer is in resonance with the subject at the time a photograph is made, the photograph will also seem to radiate the photographer’s presence. I interpret this as yet another form of Light being captured when the shutter is released.
On the Way, © Linda Hollier
The Mobile Art Movement has taken off in the age of social media. LIght plays a very interesting role in media. Light can shine on something, or light can shine through something. Marshall McLuhan, a communications theorist, used the terms “light on” and “light through” to highlight the media that went hand in hand with various cultures throughout the ages.

In the Middle Ages, in the west, light had shone through. The stained glass windows of many cathedrals are testimony to this. The windows and the way the light was being let in, told stories to the beholder and were meant to point the one looking to a Presence beyond. The dominant belief at the time was that the light of Spirit was shining through all that was taking place.

The invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in the 15th century had ushered in the Renaissance, an age of “light on”. The printed word had to be looked at. Light had to be shone on the printed word so that the eye could read it.

What excites me as an iPhone artist, is that the digital age has once again ushered in “light through”, and the gadgets we currently use are like electronic stained glass. Their high resolution makes them luminous and beautiful, with light shining in from behind. Each artwork created on a mobile device can be instantly shared and viewed on such an interface. It is in this milieu of luminosity that the Mobile Art community has been established. 

Eggshell, © Linda Hollier
The dark side of the current state of media in the digital age is that social media can blind us to what is actually happening. Users can become trapped in their own filter bubbles, hearing only from likeminded people. Fake news is becoming common and can easily spread. There is a great lack of transparency.

To further explore the concepts of light through, filters and transparency, I have created a series of six gauze-like veils titled #interact2connect, which I am currently photographing around the world. Six of my iPhone artworks are printed onto these veils. By interacting with people I meet or with strangers, we connect. When the veil is held up in the light, the veil also interacts with the individual and the surroundings.
#interact2connect, © Linda Hollier
Next time you are out photographing or creating mobile art, I invite you to become aware of the ways in which you are “Letting in the LIght”.

Linda Hollier
Linda Hollier is an explorer with a pioneer spirit. A keen observer of life and culture, Linda is filled with boundless curiosity when traveling, whether in cyberspace or around the globe. This is what fuels her creative process.

Linda has evolved the capacity to smoothly and effortlessly weave the digital potential of her iPhone with the material world of print. Her choice to print on recycled wood and on fine Ethiopian veils, as well as her investigation into copperplate, plexiglass and aluminum, aid in embodying her conceptual ideas about time, space, interconnectedness, rootedness and movement in her work. She calls these new parameters ‘here2here'.

Born in South Africa she is currently living in Canada, after spending ten years in the UAE and ten years in Germany. Her work has been exhibited in Italy, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Qatar, UAE, Switzerland, USA and Spain. Over the last few years she has also been honored to receive numerous international awards.

Masdar City, UAE,
Where Linda Hollier and I met in 2017.
© Rad A. Drew

Links for Linda Hollier