Lost Is Just a Four Letter Word

Lost Is Just a Four Letter Word

Short Essays

Lost Is Just a Four Letter Word

“Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves” – Henry David Thoreau

Havana is an eclectic, neurotic city of more than two million people, pulsing with multi layered rhythms, colors, moods, and energy. It’s been called an exhausting nightmaresublimely tawdry, and the most romantic city in the world while all possibly being true simultaneously. Winston Churchill called Havana “a place where anything can happen” and on that count, it rarely failed to disappoint. This little slice of Caribbean chaos can be just about anything except boring.

As a casual visitor, you might be led to places like Revolution Square and other obsequious homages to Castro, Guevara, and Marti. Finca La Vigía, an estate set high along the city’s perimeter, is where Ernest Hemingway called home from 1939 to 1960. Then of course there’s La Habana Vieja – The Old City – with its colorfully-painted paladares, festive open-air cantinas, and gaggles of sunburnt Canadian tourists wearily shuffling through the cobbled alleys.

I’m not one to complain about tourists while pretending I’m not actually one of them myself, so for two days I dutifully imbibed the scene’s contrived nostalgia with the same combination of enthusiasm and irony that I applied to its famously overrated mojitos. Yet I was gaining a thirst for something more than just the same tired tourist circuit. Authentic and gritty is what I sought, a furtive peek behind the superficial facade. I wanted to experience, if only for a day, “the poorer quarters where the ragged people go,” borrowing a phrase from Simon and Garfunkel’s imperishable The Boxer; the crumbling buildings, the working markets, the suffocating poverty, the real lives of real people. I wished to go native.

On the morning of day three, I flagged down a taxi in front of the hotel, a flaking blue ‘53 Chevy, and set out solo into the heart of the steamy inner city. After forty exhilarating minutes of walking and exploration, I had not the faintest idea where I was or how I had gotten there. I was lost.

“No Left Turn Unstoned” Lost in the heart of Havana or just contrived nostalgia? Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 42mm. 1/500 second @ f/8, ISO 1000.

Being lost is often cited as one the four most crippling human fears. And while technological progress has made little headway with death, heights, and public speaking, it has nearly succeeded in reducing the art of getting lost into a lost art. GPS devices, smart phones, and navigation apps with talking virtual assistants can get us from Point A to Point B with ruthless efficiency while offering little about where we are in the world, figuratively speaking.

According to cognitive scientists, getting lost is an essential part of how we grow and develop as humans. Whether it’s in a big, sprawling city like Havana, a forest, or a good book or movie, losing oneself, even for the briefest of moments, is good for the mind and the soul. Aside from the state of being lost, there’s the added benefit of getting unlost at some point, a practice that draws on exercising one’s intuition, reasoning skills, and memory recall. Making mental maps and establishing spatial awareness using landmarks and physical cues – instead of relying solely on technology’s cold, clinical instructions – are important cognitive functions that are quickly becoming lost, for lack of a better word, in today’s digital age.

Having spent much of my childhood in the foothills of rural North Carolina, I was given an extraordinary amount of freedom as a young boy to get lost at will, which I often happily did. A typical journey began on a bicycle, continued on foot through unfamiliar tracts of woods, fields, and dusty dirt roads until I became lost, or at least unsure of my location. I would then instinctively seek out the most familiar feature of the local landscape, the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Roaring Gap. I knew this piece of splendid scenery like the back of my hand and it was my navigational and emotional North Star. With this guidepost in sight, I could calibrate my bearings with respect to east, west, north and south and the direction that would take me from the Land of the Lost back home to Possum Trot.

The fear probably has very little to do with the condition of actually being lost, which is pretty harmless itself, but rather the psychologically unsettling disconnection from the familiar and the consequences that can arise from it. In a wilderness situation, it would certainly be irresponsible not to carry a GPS device, if only for an emergency, but just as irresponsible if it became a preoccupation and distraction from what was most important – the experience. In an urban environment, the fear is focused on being harmed in some way by another person; a stranger. But if you’re ever the unfortunate victim of assault or physical violence, the statistics point to overwhelming odds that you will know your attacker personally, probably intimately. Strangers are regularly disparaged in the abstract, but the kindness and generosity offered as individuals have saved me from more than just a few moronic decisions while traveling. By averting our gazes to the flickering screens of our phones and tablets while avoiding interaction with others, we only miss out on much of life’s rich banquet. And do we really want these devices raising an entire generation of young men who grow up never knowing what it’s like to refuse to ask for directions?

And what exactly is lost anyway? Well for starters, it’s both relative and subjective. Everyone and everything are always somewhere since nowhere doesn’t exist as a real place. If you’ve ever lost your car keys or the TV remote, they are only lost to you. If the remote could talk and was asked to comment on your little crisis, it would have to admit that being lost wasn’t all that bad, thankyouverymuch. Being lost can be a place of cosmic bliss and a buzz of creative inspiration for us humans too, if we’d only give it a chance. For others, however, lost is an unhappy place of doubt and uncertainty and might very well be Dante’s forgotten tenth circle of hell. The mild epithet, “Get Lost” is a G-rated simulacrum of the vulgar, three-word directive with the aforementioned four-letter destination. Maybe hell, after all, is an eternity spent wandering the vast, empty corners of the universe, helplessly and hopelessly lost. And maybe some of us actually find comfort in that notion and a glimmer of bliss too. After all, it’s possible that hell can be one person’s bliss just as bliss can exist as another soul’s personal hell. And lost? It’s just a four-letter word. It’s all about how you look at it.

HAVANA, CUBA – SEPTEMBER 2018

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Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 

Canon EOS R Mirrorless SAMPLE IMAGES

Canon EOS R Mirrorless SAMPLE IMAGES

Announcements

Canon EOS R Mirrorless SAMPLE IMAGES

On September 5 of this year, Canon announced its highly anticipated Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera to the world and over the past week, I spent some time shooting a production model while traveling to Havana, Cuba. This camera was made for travel and street photography so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a good working over.

The EOS R Mirrorless camera features a brand new RF mount so it’s not compatible with EOS lenses without the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R that fits between the camera and lens. I used two of the new RF lenses as well as many of my older EOS lenses on this trip. More information and specifications on the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera can be found here.

I found the camera to be very intuitive to use, especially if you are a Canon shooter already, it fit my hands comfortably, and the image quality was very similar to that found in the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which is my current go-to camera body for travel and landscape photography, as well as the occasional wildlife shoot. I thought the ISO performance on the new mirrorless camera to be just a tad better than the 5D Mark IV (see the last of the sample images below captured at 10,800 ISO) but it could be my imagination. It’s certainly a subjective observation at best. The two RF lenses – the Canon Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM and RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM were amazing performers – some of the sharpest Canon lenses I’ve ever used.

This copy of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and the lenses were on loan to me for a very limited amount of time so I couldn’t do any technical, objective tests. My subjective observations are positive overall, but I don’t see myself going to an all mirrorless system anytime in the near future. I do believe Canon is heading in the right direction with this inaugural model, however, and I’m excited with the prospect of future R bodies and an expansion of the RF lens line.

Get your Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera here on Amazon.

“El Malecón” The Havana waterfront at sunrise, Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 80mm.

“No Left Turn Unstoned” Getting lost in the heart of Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 42mm.

“La Virgen de la Merced” Church interior in Old Havana. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens @ 12mm with Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R.

“Life’s Rich Banquet” Old Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens @ 28mm.

“El Contendiente” One of many students in Radames Castillo’s boxing academy, Havana, Cuba. I really pushed the limits of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera in this dark working environment. ISO 10,800!

“Ragged Quarters” A Black and White street scene from Havana. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens @ 50mm.

“La Habana Vieja” Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 38mm. I’ve still not completely embraced the Electronic Viewfinder used in mirrorless cameras but I found this to be the best I’ve tried so far. It feels and looks less “virtual” when I peer through the viewfinder.

Canon EOS R Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

The Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera

After months of speculation and rumors, Canon officially announced today the Canon EOS R, the much anticipated full frame mirrorless camera that will compete with Sony’s full frame mirrorless line and the new Nikon Z6 and Z7. Concurrently, Canon is also unvieling four native RF lenses and the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R for using EOS lenses on the new RF mount. The Canon EOS R camera body will be available in October 2018 with an estimated retail price of $2,299. The new Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 lens will also be available in October 2018 while the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USMRF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, and RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM will all be available in December 2018.

Canon EOS R Specifications

  • 30.3MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • A New 54mm diameter RF Lens Mount
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • UHD 4K30 Video; C-Log & 10-Bit HDMI Out
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • Maximum of 5,655 Manually Selectable AF Points
  • 3.69m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.15″ 2.1m-Dot Swivel Touchscreen LCD
  • Expanded ISO 50-102400
  • 8 fps Shooting
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, SD UHS-II Card Slot
  • Multi-Function Bar, Dual Pixel RAW

My (Initial) Take on the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera

I will very likely have my hands on this new camera within a few weeks (through some back-channel contacts) so I’ll be able to offer some hands-on, first-person opinions very soon, as well as some sample images. But for now I’ll simply offer my take on the camera and the system in general.

I believe that technology will lead us all to mirrorless systems in the not-so-distant future considering the many technological advantages to the mirrorless system over DSLRs. I won’t go into all of these advantages here but the larger lens mount and reduced physical distance between the imaging sensor and the lens are literal game-changers when it comes to future lens possibilities. We are seeing some of those possibilities with today’s announcement from Canon. But despite these facts and no matter how my hands-on experience with the Canon EOS R will be in the coming weeks, I will continue to use Canon DSLRs (Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 1DX Mark II) for my photography in the coming months, unless the landscape and the technology drastically change in a hurry.

The two most cited reasons I hear for moving from a DSLR to a mirrorless system is a reduction in weight and size as well as the electronic viewfinder (EVF). I find the weight and size differences to be negligible (the Canon 5D Mark IV is 1.962 lbs vs. the Canon EOS R at 1.455 so we’re basically talking about a half of a pound) and I don’t consider the EVF to be a big advantage at all. With the current technology, I prefer an optical viewfinder. When I use the Canon EOS R in the next couple of weeks, I could change my mind on the EVF, however.

The biggest problem I have with the Canon EOS R is the very limited lens choices (four lenses as of this writing) unless the rumored adapter is used with the current line of EOS EF lenses. This is not an optional solution for me. For example, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x is one of the most important lenses I use for wildlife and I just can’t imagine using this lens on the Canon EOS R with an adapter at this point. There certainly is no reduction in weight or size so why make a change at this point? As a professional photographer who needs to consistently produce quality images year-round, I will use the best available tools for the job, period. Right now, the mirrorless option is not the best tool for me but that could change soon. Stayed tuned.

Order your Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 is Macro STM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R here on Amazon

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.