Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II: Cuba in Monochrome By Richard Nugent


Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II: Cuba in Monochrome

By Richard Nugent

Hey Steve.

Over the past couple of years, you were kind enough to post two of my user reports describing my travels to Cambodia and to Havana. I received a lot of comments on them, so I wonder if your readers might be interested in seeing a few images that I took during another recent trip to Cuba, this time to Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second largest city. Santiago is located on the extreme eastern end of the island bordering the Caribbean. It was my third visit to Cuba in the last three years and I still cannot get enough of this remarkable island and its beautiful people.

Cuba is truly a photographer’s paradise! There is color everywhere, particularly in Santiago, and I was able to capture many vibrant images. However, sometimes the color and tropical sun overwhelmed the scene. So I have been experimenting with converted some of these images to monochrome using Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2. It is these conversions that I would like to share.

All captures were made with an M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. The E-M10 is fast becoming my favorite street camera because of its small size and great feel. It brings back fond memories of my old OM-1. This camera and lens combination served me well because it was discrete and did not intimidate my subjects, who told me they were getting a little gun-shy with the big cameras and lenses that all the new tourists have been shoving in their faces. The image quality holds up very well, and the five-axis stabilization works great for those quick grab shots. One small camera and one small lens: the ideal street kit.


Richard Nugent


  1. Dick – I got a similar shot that last day, but with just the woman and youngster. I liked the shot in color (the colors of the “bus/truck” are muted), but I will check out how it looks in B&W. I love how the cafe scene with the woman reading and the band in the background looks in B&W. The lighting made our color shots so difficult, I had set mine aside. I will go back and look at them in B&W….maybe I will have a keeper. The photos are wonderful.

  2. Your 6th picture of the women looking out of the bus windoew reminds me of Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans’.

    • Thanks Ton,

      That was just a lucky capture. I didn’t realize that I caught the hand and head-scarf until I started to review the images on my computer. We were stopped at a rural crossroad where people were arriving and leaving on buses, trucks and even horse carts. I was trying to get the feel of the scene and was just snapping away. I have another image of almost the same scene that looks great in color, but without the hand. I guess if you take enough shot, you’re bound to get a few good ones. Lol.

  3. The 17 f1.8 is really a gem of a lens, The EM10 m2 a great camera. In good hands it can produce great results like your pictures.

    I do have both cameras and lens and think to upgrade to the Em1 m2, but the price…..

    • Thanks, branche. I’m old school and really like B&W for a lot of situations. But Cuba is such a vibrant place, it begs for color imagery. My last two trips there were for photography workshops and, in each case, at least one of the other participants chose to shoot B&W. Their images were fine, but when we would do our nightly group critique/review, the color photos were just so much more involving and evocative than the monochromes.

  4. Very Nice! A Smaller Camera, really lets you get closer. No matter what current brand of Camera, I am using and experimenting with, the only Lenses I have kept are my Micro 4/3rds. I always end up coming back to these cameras. They really are the best value for an interchangeable lens camera. I am Jealous of the Photo Trip you got to take. Keep up the great work!

    • This is debatable – since it can be the attitude and persona of the person behind the camera that can make the difference between an image shot from afar, and that shot intimately, very close to the subject(s). After quite a few countries now, I’ve still kept with DSLR’s and found that it’s how you approach people, how you converse with them and your body language that means a whole lot more than simply the size of the camera you wield.

      Very nice photo’s by the way Richard, it’s great to see that you’re embarking on more and more journey’s around the world! Where are you off to next?

      • Thanks C,
        I am thinking about taking a workshop in Paris with Peter Turnley in September. My two workshops in Cuba were with him and I really like his approach to teaching. Plus, he has lived in Paris for over thirty years (and published a book on the city) so I expect to get a really intimate street photo experience. We’ll see…..

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