For an Alaskan, glaciers are not a new sight. But even so, they are always impressive, forceful features that make and mark the geological landscape. The Gray glacier is one of the easily accessible glaciers in the park, and I took a short boat ride past it’s face after a 10 mile hike up along its northern moraine. During my visit, I encountered a surprising little amount of rain, and certainly less than I planned on seeing. On this overcast and rainy day, the blue face of the glacier is brilliant and the gray skies contribute a foreboding feel to the landscape.
Gray glaicer, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS (70mm) 1/160 @ f/8, ISO 200.
The towers (los torres) are one of the most popular hikes and sights in the Torres del Paine National Park. It is about a 12 mile round trip, with some notable vertical gain on the final ascent to the towers. I would have preferred to be there at sunrise, but that was not an option that day, so I photographed the scene in mid day, under overcast lighting. I was at least fortunate enough to see the towers, since clouds are common in the mountain summits. With the absence of strong color drama, I was curious how the contrast would render in black in white. It’s not bad actually, considering a mid-day time frame. And, regardless of the light and color, it was a really fun and memorable hike to a very magnificent, other worldly, view!
The Towers (Los Torres), Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35mm f/2.8L, 1/80 sec @ f/16, ISO 100
Black and white conversion. The Towers (Los Torres), Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35mm f/2.8L, 1/80 sec @ f/16, ISO 100
The brilliant red blossoms of the firebush decorate much of the landscape around the lakes and hillsides in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Such a color is often a signpost of autumn in Alaska, but here it is prevalent just a few weeks prior to their summer solstice. What is also prevalent at this time of year are intense winds, which are evidenced by the blur in the red blossoms. And I mean wind! Sometimes its hard to stand up, let alone take a picture. On this particular morning, the summit of the distant mountain named Grande Paine is cloaked in clouds, which was a common fare for this peak, although the clouds were continually moving.
While the dynamic range was considerable in this frame, it is a single exposure with some basic graduated ND filter and brush applications in Lightroom.
Firebush and Grande Paine, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS (32mm), 1/5 sec @ f/14, ISO 100
Amongst the “blow your mind” views on this planet, this for sure is one of them. I’ve seem pictures from the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile for many years, but while they are luring, there is no substitute for being someplace, in person, connected to the broader sphere of senses that create real experience. This particular view reveals the Horns of Paine, or the Cuernos del Paine, in Spanish. Sunrise at this time of year in the southern hemisphere is about 5:30am, and the clouds that move across this mountain landscape create one of the most dynamically changing views I’ve ever witnessed. It many ways, it is like a theater, and I found myself just staring for long periods as the great spring winds blew cloud formations into continually changing shapes. The “Towers” which the park is named after, are hidden in the distant clouds behind the massif.
The park is located in the southernmost reaches of Chile, which is one long and slender country. For context, upon arriving to Santiago (about in the middle of the country), one takes another plane ride which is about equal to flying from Fairbanks, Alaska to Seattle, then getting in a vehicle and driving across the state of Washington to get to the remote park. So, a journey it is indeed, but one that will deliver appropriate rewards. Stay tuned for more views of the park.
Sunrise of "The Horns" Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS, (84mm), 1/125 sec @ f/4.5, ISO 200
Trekking in Chile’s Atacama region was my first encounter with exertion at high altitude, and experiencing the body expressing its great hunger for oxygen. Surrounding Atacama, are a number of volcanoes that can be pretty easily climbed, provided you have sufficient time to acclimate to the altitude. After a few days of altitude acclimation, a friend and I climbed Cerro Toco, 5,604 m (18,386 ft).
Along the slow and methodical trek we passed through a series of dorsal fin-like snow/ice protrusions called nieves penitentes (spanish-refers to the processions of gaunt hooded “penitents” in primitive Medieval Spanish Catholicism-thanks to Bob Michael for the clarification) that have a shape defined largely by sublimation. They flank the mountain slope and due to their stratification pattern are more wisely navigated on a lateral plane.
The blue, cloudless skies, sun and wind are common companions in this region. The climb, although done in the morning, was not quite early enough to optimize that golden moment of light, but the views from the top, overlooking Bolivia were grand indeed.
Trekking through remnant snow on the slopes of Cerro Toco, Atacama, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS, (35mm), 1/640 sec @ f/10, ISO 200
Remnant snow on the slopes of Cerro Toco, Atacama, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS, (35mm), 1/200 sec @ f/14, ISO 200
Remnant snow on the slopes of Cerro Toco, Atacama, Chile. Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L IS, (35mm), 1/200 sec @ f/18, ISO 200
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