Unguided Tour Has Moved

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Unguided Tour has moved to its own URL: http://www.unguided-tour.com/

Please check out my new post, “A Dedication to Creating.”


2010 in review

January 10, 2011 § 2 Comments

Happy New Year

Recently, I received an email from the Word Press People, describing the success of my blog, by how many people visited it. I was surprised by their note, which was unexpected to me, as well as by how many people spent a few minutes reading my blog and viewing the images that I posted. For all of you, who have made this blog successful, thank you. I truly appreciate the time that  you have spent. Every year, I keep telling myself that I will post twice a month, yet I can never seem to get into the groove of following through with this promise. However, I will be making a more concerted effort this year, as I already have a long list of ideas, events, book reviews, and articles that I would like to post about photography.  Additionally, I have several blank fields in my blog that I will also be filling in, which I hope a few readers will find useful.

Exciting personal news, in the forefront of mind anyway, is that I am working on the redesign of my current website. I started this process back in October of 2010, and I am hoping it will be live by Lunar New Year. The redesign is very exciting, as it will be more conceptual in nature, and mimicking certain aspects of the History of Photography, related more to the pre-digital era. Also, there will be a new photo-essay that I have been printing since August, on the Shanghai Provence of China. These images and this essay is finally coming into fruition, and will be posted at the launch of the new website.

Below is the email I received from Word Press, describing the health of my blog. Once again, thank you, to all of you, who have taken the time to view my postings and my photographic endeavors, on my current website, http://www.thomaslindahlrobinson.com

Happy New Year,

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 3 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 35 posts. There were 62 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 37mb. That’s about a picture per week.

The busiest day of the year was February 22nd with 74 views. The most popular post that day was Daniella’s Birthday Party And Her Grandfather, Alberto.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were thomaslindahlrobinson.com, blisterina.wordpress.com, facebook.com, networkedblogs.com, and en.forums.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for stefan jora, alberto del rio, no conversation, unguidedtour wordpress, and alberto del rio house.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Daniella’s Birthday Party And Her Grandfather, Alberto February 2010
3 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,


About The Author November 2009


About My Rhythm November 2009


My Photographic Journey February 2010


Technical Notes February 2010

To photograph or not to photograph?

October 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

In late summer, I had an opportunity to travel to Kona, Hawaii; the big Island for seven days. This was more or less suppose to be a vacation, an opportunity to rest and relax, for the first time, in a long time. When possible I do like to take a weekend excursion, yet it is usually photographic related. My dilemma was to photograph or not to photograph?

It is a difficult and indecisive decision at times, as photography or art can become not only an obsession, but a way of life. The idea of simply lying around and reading a book, unless it is a compelling photography book, is difficult for me to comprehend, especially when you are surrounded by moments of eloquent light. As always, indecisiveness seems to set in, and the question became more clear; to photograph or not to photograph?

The next morning, I talked to one of the guys at the hotel, hoping he can give some leads of some of where the fisherman hang out, surfers, or more of where the local community is. He was an older caucasian man with, with a plump belly, an oval-shaped face, and white beard with plenty of aloha spirit; a Hawaiian Santa Claus. However, when I asked him about these ideas and what I hoped to photograph, he suggested I relax at the beach, and later go to the local bookstore to buy a book on the local surfers. I was bit taken back and disappointed with his suggestions, that I decided to see what I could photograph on my own.

The key to any successful project is gaining trust of those of who want to photograph and for what purpose. Day 3 was soon ending, and not much luck on any front. I decided to drive to more of the local beaches, talk to a few Hawaiians, and when I asked them if I could photograph them, they would often state, “I have aloha spirit, you should have aloha spirit too brah, and go to the beach, relax and swim, this is Hawaii brah.”  Okay, things were not going very well, and Day 4 was fast approaching. After a few mai-tais, I thought maybe this would put in the aloha spirit, but I was hoping to find a little more adventure.

The following Day, I decided to rent some snorkel gear, go to a reef and see what was underneath the water. The reef was spectacular, teeming with life of oddly shaped and colored fish. It was incredible, I just entered another world, a world I had access too, but not the right equipment. I made no attempt in finding a pro-camera rental shop that would rent such gear either. This adventure was apart of the aloha magic, something to be experienced and appreciated for what it was and in the moment. In the end, I wound up photographing the least likely suspects, and the ones who would be least bothered by my presence as a photographer, and photograph the tourist swimming at the reef. Perhaps, next time, I will choose not to photograph, yet the temptation and the desire are often, far stronger and more intriguing, than sometimes lying around reading a book or hiking on volcanos.

Day 4, rose and set, as quickly as the light, a flash, a brief the moment I spent mesmerized by the dazzling colors of the fish and their shapes. The next day was a planned a trip to Volcano National Park, yet still eager to find something to photograph and swim at the reef, I decided to skip the drive and all day hike; besides I was hoping to photograph people, interesting people, the people who live and breathe Hawaii.  I finally realized that unless you live on the island it would be a difficult project to carry out. Their have been times, when I have been able to travel to a foreign place or domestic city and photograph. However, the difference was that I had someone who help me make the connections prior to my plane landing. Since this was a vacation, I figured, I would relax.


August 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

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This past summer, I  had the opportunity to travel approximately 13,000 miles, swim in two oceans, one sea, two rivers, and five lakes; I slept on a half a dozen beaches, and revisited and photographed the people who have allowed me to become apart of their lives. These subsequent photos are the moments between moments as I recorded them with my iPhone; they are representations of what I was able to record on film. I am forever grateful of my time spent photographing and being apart of others’ cultures. The subsequent photos are my wanderings through the Malecon, my youth as a boy, a grown man with a form of a kite, the understanding of difference, the empathy of pain, the respect of one’s religion, relationships with loved ones, and peaceful moments gazing out of a window onto an ominous sky.

Daniella’s Birthday Party And Her Grandfather, Alberto

February 17, 2010 § 3 Comments

December 26, 2009, I had been in Havana for four days, wondering the streets, seeing my friends, and just celebrated Christmas with one of my cuban families.  It was quite a different holiday celebration; relaxing, tranquil, and distant from the western consumerism that I am use to with its post holiday sales. My morning was spent drinking coffee and making breakfast for a whole family, a traditional, American Christmas breakfast, or at least a traditional, American Christmas breakfast residing within my childhood memories, yet, made with cuban ingredients.

When I first arrived, Billy had invited me, on Saturday, the day after Christmas,  to his friends house, whose daughter was celebrating her birthday.  I was reluctant to be a participatant or a photographer at this event, thinking to myself, “I want to relax,  go to the beach, especially the day after Christmas, one of the days in the year that I can actually do so,” but explaining this to a cuban, didn’t make sense to him, few things western do, especially the mentality of wanting to rest the day after Christmas.  A few days prior, Billy keeps reminding me to show up at his house, early Saturday morning, western time, not cuban time, as he sometimes stresses, and telling me that we need to leave by 9 AM.  I show up at 10 AM, too lazy to crawl out of bed, I was worried that I was late. Once I arrive his house, Billy exclaims, “good morning my friend, coffee?” And I asked him if we still have time? He exclaimed, once more, “You’re right on time.” I felt dubiously tricked and outsmarted. We chatted for a bit, over coffee and a cuban breakfast of rice and black beans with a little bit of chicken.

He further commented that we have a long way to go, on the outskirts of Havana, in the province of Cotorro, Havana, and that we will be there most of the day. It was a part of Havana that I have never seen before, or even knew that it existed. I was intrigued by the houses and the people that were living there; so close to the main city of Havana Del Este, yet so far away at the same time. It would be a frustrating commute if you lived here, and had to commute into the city everyday; as buses are sporadic and as cuban taxis are expensive, and few and far between.  We finally arrive to our destination, Billy finally explains that he wanted me to photograph a little girl’s birthday party; explaining how she has never had her portrait taken, and the family would be quite grateful if I would document this event for them.

It was a beautiful day, not a hot cuban summer day, but a mild, sometimes chilly, San Francisco fall day, with a slight cold breeze; it was a northerner from the intense winter North America was having, interrupting their normal tropical climate.  I was introduced to Daniella, the birthday girl, excited about her day and her party that her parents arranged for her: complete with decorations, lunch, party favors, clowns, and a Pinata. The whole day, you could see in her eyes, her enthusiasm and her excitement.

In the bedroom, next to the living room, in front of the house, I heard a loud, constant moaning, not a person in anguish, or of a person in pain, but perhaps of loneliness. I inquired as to where the sound was coming from, and Daniella responded, “mi abuelo, Alberto.” Her father, introduced me to him, and I later asked, if I may photograph him.  He asked his father, explaining who I was, and that I  have traveled a long distance to be here. He agreed.  Once I began to photograph, he stopped moaning, pausing to look at me from time to time. Unfortunately, I could sense he was near death, although he did not seem to be in too much pain. It was the same sensation I experienced as my grandmother moved closer and closer to her passing: in and out of consciousness, the moaning, as if she were remembering and longing for a time that existed in her youth, as my grandmother explained to me in between her moans.  I felt uncomfortable at times, photographing him when he probably did not feel like himself, yet every time I moved out of the room, or away from his sight, away from his presence, he would begin to moan once more. I took this as a sign that he was comfortable with my presence, my camera,  and that I was not interrupting his peace. This was later confirmed when his son and daughter-in-law moved him into the kitchen to have lunch. I raised my camera, and he moaned once more, nodding, back and forth, aware of my presence, and understanding how he did not want to be photographed.

Alberto Hernandez lived 86 years, living most of his life, in the Pinar Del Rio provence of Cuba. He passed away in late January of this year. And it was amazing to see how this family was celebrating life, by celebrating their daughter’s seventh birthday, and at the same time celebrating the life of Daniella’s grandfather.


November 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

In the summer of 2007, I met Cosette; an auspicious child, who is full of curiosity and life. Her poses are her own, as I did very little to direct her.  In between the moments of photographing her, she would often become jealous at the moment I stopped paying attention to her, and I started to photograph someone else.  She would subtly protest her displeasure of me photographing anyone but her: by looking through my camera bag, playing with my equipment, and photographing me as I was photographing other members of her family.

The light was harsh and not easy to contend with during these summer days, and the idea of returning at a later time did strike me on more than one occasion, yet it is not always an option for one reason or another.  The light, like Cosette’s personality, would seldom cooperate when you would like it to.  Despite these little nuances of uncooperative light and personalities, the best place for me to photograph her was between the door well of her home; where I had a little more control of the light, the shadows and the contrast, and a more confined space for her personality.  She spent more than an hour standing there, waiting, as I was waiting for that unexplainable movement of a slight gesture exposing a moment of her personality.

Since then, I have photographed her every year, watching her grow, change, and becoming older.  These changes are evident in the images, over the past two years, and this past year she has had corrective surgery of her spine that was twisting her body out of shape.  According to her doctors, the operation was a success, which has left Cosette in a lot pain.  Despite this though, Cosette, at times, is still herself by expressing her displeasure when I photograph anyone else.


November 15, 2009 § Leave a comment


Stumbling along the streets in Havana, carrying a 4×5 Speed Graphic on a tripod from one corner of their tightly, claustrophobic streets to the next, and blank stares of confusion. I was considered to be an oddity, transporting not only the camera, but all the miscellaneous photo-related equipment that is needed. I would often stop, set down the tripod placing it in front of the scene that I was only hoping to photograph, yet, to find, only moments later, my scene would not wait for me to be photographed. Often left in disappointment, moving on until another scene would unfold, setting my camera down once again, yet only to be disappointed once more. I would spend my days walking the streets, occasionally stopping to rest on the stoop of a step, looking at all the wonderful moments unfolding before my eyes, but discouraged by the speed of time these moments would unfold. After my rest, I once again gained consciousness to move forward looking for more scenes to possibly photograph. I walked by this complex of three boys playing-one boy was playing with a pair of homemade stilts made out of wood and rusty nails. I placed my tripod down once again, yet to be told they did not want their photograph to be taken. I packed up my equipment, yet again to walk in between the buildings that crumble and hold their breath, while looking for other moments to capture on film. Halfway down the block, the man-sitting in the top left corner of this image-with his broken english and my broken spanish, invited me back to photograph him, and the three boys. Elated, I jumped at the opportunity, holding back my enthusiasm, and setting down my tripod and camera once more. The three boys, including the one with stilts, were climbing up and down the stairs, and running around as if I weren’t there. The minute I was ready, the magic happened, all three boys and the man, who chased me halfway down the block, all sat down, without direction. I exposed two plates, before I realized all the other film holders I had pre-loaded for the day, have already been used. I then realized that these would be the only two exposures that I would be able to create of this moment. The first exposed plate went well with only a slight concern of the image being underexposed. The movement in this image, the second exposed plate, is a result from using a slow shutter speed, the people moving, and me bumping the camera. Once I processed the film and made my contact sheets, this image turned out to be the more interesting of the two. The rest of that evening was spent cooling off, and eating chinese in the Barrio de Chino District of Havana, before returning to my casa particular. On subsequent journeys, I have wondered the same streets looking for this complex, yet it seems to have vanished only to exist for this one moment, this one photograph.