Friday, May 17, 2013

Great Depth of Field: Landscapes & Lifescapes in Guna Yala

Our family trip to Guna Yala (formally known as Kuna Yala & San Blas) this past weekend was not for the sole purpose of basking in the Caribbean sea. I knew that there was a story to tell of the Native people residing amongst these 365 islands. While there, I did take advantage of shooting some landscapes of palm trees, crystal clear water and white sand beaches. For wall art of course! To accomplish this, I knew that I wanted to shoot for "Great Depth of Field". This term in photography is generally used to describe a technique where all of the image is SHARP & IN FOCUS. The way to accomplish this is by using a smaller aperture than you might for say a portrait. Because there was a nice range of tones from the sea, mountains and sky, I was able to accomplish this very easily and didn't need to do ANY post correction using Photoshop or Lightroom.

For this image, I used my 17-55mm Nikon lens with an aperture of f8 to retain the detail in the fore and backgrounds almost equally.
For a complete guide on "Apertures" and other Camera Settings, pick up a copy of the Mamatography Photo Basics book!
Please excuse some of my personal, favorite family photos below ; ) 
Read on for a look at the Kuna culture!
Our view upon arrival to Isla Iguana from "La Launcha"












Digging with Daddy in the softest sand on earth! 
Lobster for lunch everyday? YES PLEASE!

Safi was just as curious about the nice nuns that arrived for lunch as I was.

Enjoying lobster and a snuggle with Daddy.

Who needs to wear a top when you're on a deserted island?!

Taking in the sunrise with my Boo Boo
As I mentioned above, the Caribbean itself was not the only reason for us to go to Guna Yala. I had been anticipating this trip from a Photographers perspective for years! So on our second day, we loaded up the "launcha" and held on for dear life as we bounced through sea chop over to the main village island where the Kunas reside.

Arrival at Carti Sugdub (Crab Island)

Another Kuna village across the way


Click the Pic to Enlarge
This image was the result of all my inspirations for this trip taken at the village of Crab Island (or Carti Sugdub in Kuna). I see these women in their colorful cloths and beads in the city everyday! My daughter's teacher is of their decent. My curiosity with the Kuna culture started on my first trip here to Panama CIty in 2009 with a shaded shot I caught of a weary Kuna woman staring at me from a phone booth. They come here to work, earning a living selling their popular Mola designs. They are HIGHLY protective of their culture greatly in part of the beauty of the landscape and risk of development form hoteliers. So much so, that in the 1920's their was a Kuna Revolution, in which they won. For me, visiting where they come from was a kind of closure. Because sadly, soon, we are leaving Panama. 

I imagine this lovely, elder women is on the Kuna Cocoa diet. The average Kuna drinks about 4 cups of organic, unrefined cocoa a day leading to long, healthy lives with a reduced risk of cancer and heart related deaths by an astonishing degree! 
Something to think about…

Safi & I getting our "Weenie" bracelets. I can't confirm the spelling, but that is in fact what they're called.

Below are Safi's little girlfriends, who followed us throughout the paths and allies, tickling her and calling for her with laughter. I wanted to wrap them up and take them home with us! We had bought these juices for them, it was a terribly hot day, that I'm sure they are very used to. But when the last sip was gone, to our horror, they chucked the plastic bottles straight over the sea wall and onto the rest of the garbage ON TOP of the buried sand line. WOW. HEARTBREAK.





Long before this trip, I had wanted to shoot a documentary on the Kuna way of life and create some kind of fundraiser scenario for the education of Kuna children. Mainly because I always saw their mothers working so hard selling their goods, just like the days when I went to work at the flea market with my mom. They are a symbol of independence and work ethic for women everywhere. To my delight, amongst the polluted village of the Crab, was this adorable little school boasting of brand new desks and learning materials. I especially enjoyed their bilingual alphabet and banners in both Kuna and Spanish. 



Now, from this experience, all I want to do is somehow educate them on how to contribute to the preservation of their BEAUTIFUL environment! All this granted, the government in Panama is not exactly resourceful in the way of environmental awareness. Steps are being taken in the Canal zone which is a very international area. But why not help the native people of Panama to be more aware too? They need to be taught to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle and be provided with a means to do so. These thoughts make me feel defeated at times, but if we start with simple education perhaps some books on the earth and our environment, maybe they'll tell their friends and their parents and MAYBE think before throwing that plastic bottle into the sea. 

I'll leave you on this note:
Snap some pictures. Share them and change the world!

Yours Truly, Vicky