Uncategorized

Patagonia Preparations

Patagonia Preparations

Looking apprehensive on the first leg of the journey,

Looking apprehensive on the first leg of the journey,

It took me two days to reach the Patagonian town of El Chalten, 14 hours transatlantic flight, a three-hour connecting flight, 4 hours on buses, trains and a taxi, plus a 22-hour layover sitting in Buenos Aires airport waiting for my connection. I could have spent that time in a hotel but with a flight at 7.00am, I didn’t want to risk sleeping late and missing my connection. Plus who wants to rely on a 5.00am taxi in a strange city.

Arriving in El Chalten with 49kg of luggage and no taxis to get from bus station to hotel required some careful baggage selection. My trusty Samsonite wheeled suitcase was invaluable as has been my somewhat unusual choice of backpack.

It's unusual but it works

It’s a little unusual but it works well for me

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 15.58.16

Highly adaptable with snowshoes, ice axes and tripod

The camera is secure in the barrel

The camera is secure in the barrel

As seems to be the case so often with me the first days of a trip tend to provide the best conditions, so much so that you tend to find yourself taking them for granted and assuming each and every day will be the same. So you perhaps squander that time until day three brings rain, winds and cloudy skies leaving you wishing you’d been wiser with your time. Unfortunately, I had little option but to spend my first days sorting out somewhere safe to leave my equipment.

On day two I managed to put down a deposit on a small house that I’ll rent from April 4th until November 1st. The plan is to spend as little time as possible in the house, but I need some sort of a base. Despite unfavorable weather conditions I’ve still managed to get out in the park. Each day I’ve re-hiked the old trails and also discovered some new areas that I’d previously overlooked during my 2011 and 2012 trips.

The town itself has undergone little change, there’s a new gas station, which I’m told, has yet to run out of fuel. There’s now a bank, which is a great relief particularly to the businesses in town. It’s also helpful to know that the ATM is less likely to run out of cash, as was the previously the case. Currently, the black market rate for the U.S dollar stands around 11-12 pesos to the dollar whereas the official rate is nearer to 8 pesos on the dollar. With a basic meal costing around 200 pesos, it’s a good thing to bring out U.S dollars as the savings soon mount up.

Wi-Fi here in El Chalten is particularly bad, to the point where it’s only possible to get a connection at a few times a day and even then it can, and often does drop out mid-email. Sending data other than email is all but impossible; with hope, it should improve in the winter when fewer people are around to use it.

For now, I’m unable to add any photographs despite having several ‘almost’ shots. I’ve seen more rainbows the last few days than in the last three years combined, sadly none with the mountain visible.

I’ll keep working on it.


Shiprock New Mexico

Shiprock New Mexico

Shiprock New Mexico

Feel free to comment below

I’d been shooting at another location about 30 miles away when a winter storm blew in. With little time to spare I made the decision to leave and drive out to this spectacular mountain situated in northwest New Mexico. I’d only ever seen the rock from a distance and had no idea where I’d find a composition. As I approached from the south the storm worsened and visibility reduced to less than a half mile. It was fast approaching sunset so I had little time to waste, I used my handheld GPS to get in a position roughly southwest of the rock. I parked the car at the side of the highway but could see nothing of the mountain. Incredibly right at sunset the clouds cleared and I realised I’d parked at a great spot and was able to capture this scene. Some telegraph poles were removed in Photoshop


Bear Hat Mountain

Bear Hat Mountain

Bear Hat Mountain

In 2014 I spent six months shooting the Pacific Northwest, I shot for about 3 weeks in Glacier National Park. This image from Bear Hat Mountain was one of my favorite images. It’s a popular place to shoot, not only is the mountain very photogenic but there is also a lot of wildlife in the park.  During the earlier part of the evening I nearly managed to capture a grizzle bear in one of my shots. Hearing the bear come crashing through the undergrowth I became very still, watching it from at least 75m away I felt safe enough. I hoped it would come closer and into the frame but unfortunately it wandered off too far to the left.

This shot has a little bit of movement in the reflection in the water. I tend to prefer that over earlier images which were completely still. Here’s another shot, also from Glacier National Park:

Grinnell Lake

Grinnell Lake

 

Save


Mt Hood

I spent about two weeks trying to photograph Mt Hood from the unusually named Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. I pushed my Photoshop ethics quite a bit here because the fog layer was actually sloping down to the left and required some ‘pushing and pulling’ in post to make it look natural.  Highway 26 runs downhill from the ski station all the way to Portland and I suppose the fog follows the contours of the valley.
After shooting this I returned to the parking lot to discover a line of cars that had all been broken into, broken glass littered the parking lot. Criminals had clearly taken advantage of the remote location and broken into cars left at the trail head. I was in such a good mood from capturing the image I didn’t let this bother me. I was perhaps luckier than most, my car wasn’t damaged but I did lose my a few things.


Fallen Roof Ruin

Fallen Roof Ruin

Fallen Roof Ruin

Feel free to comment below

In about 1250 many ancient Puebloan people began constructing settlements high in the cliffs of southern Utah and northern Arizona —settlements that offered defense and protection. These villages, well preserved by the dry climate and by stone overhangs, led the Anglo explorers who found them in the 1880s to name the absent builders the Cliff Dwellers. Nobody quite knows why during the latter part of  13th century some cataclysmic event forced the Anasazi to leave their cliff houses and their homeland and to move south and east toward the Rio Grande and the Little Colorado River. The accepted belief is that a series of droughts led to fighting, even cannibalism.

 


Postholing

Postholing is a miserable way to spend a winter hike. Imagine the type of hole a fencepost sinks into: Narrow, straight, deep. Now imagine taking a step on what you think is hard-packed snow, only to hit a soft spot and sink straight down into it. Your leg creates, then immediately occupies, a posthole in the snow.

Once you’ve started postholing, the only way to make forward – or backward – progress is by pulling each half-buried leg straight up out of the snow before you take your next step.

This takes a lot of energy and shortens your stride quite a bit. If you sink in really deep, say up to the hip, just extracting your leg from the hole is a real chore.


Cerro Torre

Beautiful Light

Winter sunrise on Cerro Torre can be mind blowing and because of the low angle of the sun it’s possible to shoot quite late into the morning. This shot was taken at 240mm focal length on a full frame camera. Here’s a few more from the same area taken at various times throughout the year:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


Subterranean Ice

_aaa5107-editWhilst out scouting I came across this shaft that dropped down beneath a glacier. In order to explore inside I had to fix a couple of ice screws and rappel down the shaft. 40 or 50 feet below the ice there wasn’t much scope for photography as it was too dark to see. I figured shooting upwards might make an interesting image, when gazing up I was reminded of my ‘Wormhole’ image which was obviously taken somewhere considerably warmer. Getting the shot without a rope in the way wasn’t easy, I needed to rappel into place, then fix some ice screws in place. I hung from these whilst the rope was removed by a friend.  I then used my ice axe to cut out some ledges for the feet of my tripod which was then lowered down from above. The shaft was quite narrow so I focus stacked for depth of field. Once I had the shot the rope was lowered down, I removed the ice screws and used prusik loops to climb out.

An i-phone snap shows me rappelling down.

An i-phone snap shows me rappelling down.

Save


Fitz Roy

Fitz Roy

High winds produce some of the most dramatic skies in Patagonia.

One more from the same location:

_AAA7742-Edit-2

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Save


test

test