Cooking up the Calle Ocho series

My latest series of images comes to you from Calle Ocho, aka. Little Havana in Miami, Florida. This is my "recipe" for making these images.

The images are a composite of several different images taken in the same session and manipulated in post production. Elements have been added and subtracted from the scene in an attempt to control what cannot normally be controlled.

The idea is to let the environment speak for itself without the clutter of real life.

A bit of history

After the Castro revolution of the late 1950s a flood of Cuban refugees landed in Miami and settled in a neighborhood just west of downtown Miami. They created a vibrant community and the name “Little Havana” emerged in the 1960s.

Little Havana is famous as the cultural and political capital of Cuban Americans, and the neighborhood is still a center of the Cuban exile community.

In 2017 the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared the neighborhood a national treasure.

This series of images is a celebration of this unique area. The colours, the characters, the ambiance from my point of view, an outsider.


I came across a daguerrotype made in 1838 by Louis Daguerre himself while doing some research for a photography course I was giving.

"Boulevard du Temple", a daguerreotype made by Louis Daguerre in 1838, is generally accepted as the earliest photograph to include people. It is a view of a busy street, but because the exposure lasted for several minutes the moving traffic left no trace. Only the two men near the bottom left corner, one of them apparently having his boots polished by the other, remained in one place long enough to be visible."

The key for me was the fact that "the moving traffic left no trace".

I was living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the time, and as with most cities KL is clogged with traffic much of the time and half the street and the lower parts of buildings are hidden by cars and buses.

I was trying to come to terms with life in this vibrant, cacophonous city. One of the ways I was doing this was by working on a series of images photographing the historical heart of Kuala Lumpur. My aim was to try and turn down the volume, at least in my photos and I felt I had found just the right technique.

After moving to Miami I was facing a rather dry period creatively and a dark period psychologically. I needed inspiration and it came when I most needed it.

It come in the form of a book by British photographer Chris Dorley-Brown called “The Corners”. I marveled at the images in the book, they were what I wished I had done in KL, but couldn’t quite figure out how. I saw his images and instinctively knew what he had done.


I jumped on google and learned how to stack images and “paint” in or “paint” out elements of the image below. Here are some of the links I found:

How To Auto-Align And Composite Images In Photoshop

I found Jesús Ramirez to be a great teacher:

Photoshop Training Channel

How To Remove People From Photos in Photoshop

Photoshop Compositing Secrets - Blend Images Together Like a Pro - Live Presentation

Open MULTIPLE Images as Layers In Photoshop [Quick & Easy]

Here is one example:

and the images I used. The base image is the long exposure image. I like to get some movement in the sky and in the trees:

I have never used Photoshop to this extent before and I find it as enjoyable as making the photos in the first place.