Week 6 – Patagonia

Torres Del Paine Massif viewed from Pehoe Lodge in Chile

Torres Del Paine Massif viewed from Pehoe Lodge in Chile

Patagonia encompasses the southern section of the Andes Mountains as well as deserts, steppes, and grasslands. It extends to the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

The Paine Massif of the Paine mountain range is in the Chilean portion of Patagonia and it is there we find the Torres del Paine which is the distinctive granite peaks of the mountain range.  The peaks rise up to about 8200 ft. above sea level.  Surrounding the mountain range are scenic valleys, rivers, lakes, and glaciers.  I was there during their fall (April 2011), and I must say that it was the windiest place on earth that I have ever been other than Antarctica.

Our group of about ten photographers had four full nights at the Pehoe Lodge (pronounced pay-way). This lodge is located on a 12 acre island in Lake Pehoe, so from our lodge we had a wonderful view of the Paine mountain range.

My goal was to get a good picture with morning light on the peaks of the Torres del Paine. Each morning I would spring out of bed, grab my camera and tripod and hurry out to a chosen spot along the lake. Each morning I would come back to breakfast without getting my shot due to clouds blocking the sun or clouds surrounding the tops of the mountains. Each day we ventured to other places in Patagonia and had great success. It wasn’t until the fifth and final morning and we were packing up to leave that the clouds parted and the tops of the peaks showed their splendor. Finally, I was able to capture the illusive peaks I had been seeking.

Technical data:

  • Picture was taken with a Nikon D3s camera and a Nikon 24-120 mm f/4 lens set at 58 mm
  • ISO of 400, 1/180 sec at f/5.6
  • Time was 9:00 AM April 20, 2011

Bonus

Andean Condor, Vultur gryphus

Andean Condor, Vultur gryphus

I am including a picture of an Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) flying in Patagonia. It is rare to see this bird flying below eye level since they typically sore high in the sky. We were on a high road overlooking a valley. These birds had been sitting on rocks and when they flew from their perches they would sail down towards the valley below. It is also rare to get this close and see several dozen at one time. The condor is a very large bird with a wingspan of about 10 feet. It is a very revered bird and a national symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru. Notice that the condor soars with its wings held horizontally and its primary feather bent upwards at the tips, not flat like our vultures. The condor nest on inaccessible rock ledges high in the mountains and are one of the world’s longest-living birds, with a life span of over 70 years.

Technical data:

  • Nikon D3s camera and Nikon 200-400 mm f/4 lens with 1.4X tele converter.
  • A focal length 550 mm, 1/2000 sec at f/5.6 and ISO of 800.
  • Time taken 2:42 PM, April 19, 2011.