Cayo Hueso and Bollos

Cayo Hueso and Bollos

Key West, dangling like a yo – yo, at the end of a string of islands hanging from the bottom of Florida, is closer to Havana than to Miami. It seems to float on those tropical waters at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. At a crossroads. Control of Cayo Hueso, as it was often referred to, was passed back and forth between the Spanish and British, like fish gone bad. The Americans showed up in 1822 and claimed “The Rock” was theirs. No one complained.

The story that was Key West had quite a cast of characters. Pirates and adventure seekers, wreckers and fishermen, railroad tycoons and writers. And of course, the usual supporting roles of barkeeps and prostitutes. The famous and infamous came from everywhere, but most from the Bahamas and Cuba in the earlier years.

Cayo Hueso was the largest city in Florida in the late 1800s, and a major cigar making center. The influx of tabaqueros from Cuba has left its mark on this Southern Most City. Most notably, to my taste, the cuisine.

After a morning visit with the 100,000 residents of the Key West Cemetery, hungry and dripping humidity, we trudged down Grinnell Street looking for relief. Within a few blocks, the culinary oasis we were seeking: 5 Brothers Grocery and Sandwich Shop. What to order. That’s easy.

Bollos, that delectable black-eyed pea, deep fried fritter. Fresh made and piping hot. Reason enough to come to Key West. A delightful little morsel that make hush puppies hide their heads in shame. Next a mixito, of course. This traditional Cuban sandwich made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Then pressed on a hot grill. Perfection. Ideally, a double shot of Cafe Cubano, Cuban espresso sweetened with raw sugar, to wash it all down. But it’s just too hot today, and an ice cold Red Stripe will have to do.

Lunch bagged and ready, we head outside to the shady side of the store and enjoy the best food on the island, as we watch the world go by. Life was good and now better.


Processing the ImagePostcard From Key West

In my minds eye, I saw this image (the original is to the right) with a light, bright, tropical feel, and a little nostalgic.

Most of the work was done in Lightroom. To get the look I wanted I:

  • Slightly lightened the exposure
  • Slightly reduced the contrast for a softer effect
  • Reduced the highlights and lightened the shadows
  • Reduced the clarity to give the image the soft, dreamy look
  • Increased the vibrance to preserve the color
  • Changed the hue of the red, orange, and blue channels for a more pastel tone
  • In split toning I added a pinkish tone to the highlights and a blue tone to the shadows
  • Did the final crop

That was about it for the processing.

I then opened the image in Photoshop and added linen like pattern fill at about 13% opacity for a little texture.

And finally, in the Perfect Effects 8 plugin I added a Torn Paper border for a bit of a watercolor look.


Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. You certainly improved it.

    1. Thanks Kerbey and thank you for visiting.

  2. love the soft pastels in this shot – very nice

    1. Thank you very much and thanks for visiting.

  3. Nice way going from high contrast to soft watercolour look. Thanks for sharing the process steps.

    1. You are very welcome. I am happy you liked the post.

  4. The title of this one led me to read further. Why? Because to Cubans, bollo, is another nickname for the vagina. I have never heard of an actual meal being called this. LOL.
    Key West is awesome.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. I probably should not write about papayas either, right? 🙂

      1. Oh wow, that made me laugh out loud. Us Cubans have the craziest nicknames for things associated with food.

        1. Or associated with the other, it would seem.

          1. Ah yes…I meant to throw that in there too.

  5. The opening shot is really surreal and it seems fitting with your story about Key West. One day I hope to visit its shores.

    1. Thanks Randall. I always appreciate your comments. I hope you make it to the other coast too.

  6. oh my goodness! i would have to work for years to try to master what you did! i think i’d better stick to painting!

    great story and great image! z

    1. We all have our talents, I suppose. Mine certainly is not painting, however. Your work continues to amaze. Thanks a much for your kind comment Lisa.

  7. This is a brilliant image, Ron. This area has such interesting history.

    1. Thank you Sylvia. Have you been to the keys and Key West?

  8. Love the light, water color effect. You did a great job of capturing the heat and the beachy feel.

    1. Thanks for such a kind comment and thank you for visiting.

  9. Utterly gorgeous 🙂 And so yummy to read …. You have whet my appetite! We don’t get much Cuban food around here so probably porridge will have to do … Sounds boring doesn’t it? Maybe I will have miso soup instead! 🙂

    1. Make your own. Might be the start of something.

  10. I like the effect you created through the Lightroom processing, Ron. It almost looks like a painting. I just wish I could have enjoyed the visuals of your enticing lunch!! It sounded perfect. 🙂

    1. Thanks Cathy. I am happy with the outcome. No shortage of great food in Key West.

    1. It was fun being able to get what I was seeing in my minds eye. And was even more surprising to get it done in Lightroom. Thank you Carol.

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