Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bay Area, California
    Posts
    396
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    40

    Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Lisa,

    I've been to all those areas, though travelling backpacker-style rather than rented 4WD so my budget was probably "slightly" smaller Didnt have any problem w finding accommodation in El Chalten or Puerto Natales - this was December 2003 - but then I was staying in hostels. Torres del Paine is surely where it is difficult to find hotel rooms, I slept in my tent and in Refugio Chileno which at that time (1999) was brand new.

    Photography at Torres del Paine, sunrise seems to be the key. Weather changes fast, I'm sure you know about that. I didnt hike up to Mirador Las Torres for dawn, it's a long hike. The good thing is you get a majestic view of the three pillars facing southeast, so it is good for sunrise. The hike from Refugio Chileno was over two hours, moderately difficult. Bring a flashlight/headlight, as you have to start out from Refugio Chileno when it is still pitch dark (4AM).

    Otherwise, the reflections in the lakes south of the mountains at dawn can be fantastic. Afternoon weather is often cloudy so use the mornings well.

    I took the boat from Pudeto over Lago Pehoe to get to the trailhead round the massif. It was just drop-in but this was nine years ago, there are a lot more tourists there now.

    Here is a decent overview map: http://www.torresdelpaine.com/ingles.../a/popup/3.htm Notice how the lakes are close to the mountains - the key is to get to the other side of the lake to get a good reflection - and hope for no wind.

    Glaciar Grey can be photogenic up close, but not so much from a distance. it's a long hike from the trailhead. Id' say it's not worth it if you are limited in time.

    El Calafate: The town itself is pretty boring and far from the mountains, the real attraction is Perito Moreno. I camped about 5 km from Perito Moreno, to get there at sunrise. No interesting hikes around town.

    Here is a link to my travel journal from the 1999 trip, and some photos. The journal is not complete, I lost some pages for that week. http://www.vinberg.nu/pages/1999-01-...stopuerton.htm

    As you can probably see from my photos, the best light at Perito Moreno is at dawn and early morning. The sun reflects in the lake, lighting up the side of the glacier in a spectacular way. Also notice the afternoon shots from where I camped, the view back to the glacier is not bad, especially with loose ice drifting in the lake. You'll recognize the place as you drive by, the water is about 400 meters from the road as far as I recall.

    El Chalten... I went there in 2003. Your best friends are ND grads and factor 50 sunblock. Once again, the best light is at dawn and early morning. Once the morning sun hits the peaks at full strength, the contrast level is incredible. Even if you have a sunlit foreground it will be 5-8 stops down from the peaks. Bring ND grads, lots of them. I have 1-2-3 stops, both soft and hard. You'll be in better shape shooting digital so you can review the results on location, I was shooting 6x12 and 4x5 slide film and looking back I'm not happy with the results.

    My journal notes from 2003 (no pics): http://www.vinberg.nu/pages/2003-11-23.htm

    Here are some pics from my weeks in Patagonia in 2003. Only one from Chalten, and I have to admit it looks a bit edited. http://www.8x10.se/pages/collectiongallery.asp?id=12

    Finally, a place you are not going to and a bit hard to get to (airplane, car, hiking, boat, and finally waders): These are caves, in blue-white marble, sculptured by ice. http://www.8x10.se/pages/collectiongallery.asp?id=21

    Hope this helps,

    Lars
    Thanks so much, Lars! I enjoyed reading your travel journals and seeing your pictures. It's good to know ahead of time that early morning is the best time for photography in most of the places we're going. I definitely want to do Mirador Las Torres, and will be sure to try to get out early that day. We're staying several nights at the Hosteria Las Torres, which is near the start of that trail, which will help (if the weather cooperates any of those days!).

    I'll also try to get out early on one of days we'll be at El Calafate to get to the Perito Moreno Glacier long before the tours.

    Regarding the contrast level and ND grads: I currently shoot digital, so I deal with very high contrast levels by using a tripod and shooting multiple exposures, then blending them.

    Anyway, thanks very much for all the information!

    Lisa

  2. #2
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    23,623
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    2555

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Well done Lisa , you did it perfectly. My admin job is up for grabs now. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    I have posted one of my photos from Chalten (Fitz Roy) in the gallery (under my name) to illustrate the contrast challenge in photographing the peaks in the morning.

    Using a 3-stop ND grad most of the morning, I still had difficulty getting the mountain and the foreground into a contrast range that works.

    This is why it is so important when shooting Chalten to be on location at first light. Unfortunately there is a two-hour hike to get a clear view of the mountain, so this means starting out from the village early or camping out.

    In general for Patagonia, morning light is the good light. In the west, the humid air from the southern Pacific is pushed up by the Andes, causing overcast conditions, precipitation, and generally crappy weather. In the east it is often clear. In the morning - especially at dawn and sunrise - the morning light reaches in under the cloud cover, creating light effects that can be quite photogenic.
    Last edited by Lars; 13th November 2007 at 13:54.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bay Area, California
    Posts
    396
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    40

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    I have posted one of my photos from Chalten (Fitz Roy) in the gallery (under my name) to illustrate the contrast challenge in photographing the peaks in the morning.

    Using a 3-stop ND grad most of the morning, I still had difficulty getting the mountain and the foreground into a contrast range that works.

    This is why it is so important when shooting Chalten to be on location at first light. Unfortunately there is a two-hour hike to get a clear view of the mountain, so this means starting out from the village early or camping out.

    In general for Patagonia, morning light is the good light. In the west, the humid air from the southern Pacific is pushed up by the Andes, causing overcast conditions, precipitation, and generally crappy weather. In the east it is often clear. In the morning - especially at dawn and sunrise - the morning light reaches in under the cloud cover, creating light effects that can be quite photogenic.
    Oooo, gorgeous place! I see the contrast difficulties, though. Do you remember where that was taken from, which trail? (We have a trail map of the area already.)

    And thanks again for the general info about morning photography. I'll keep it in mind.

    Lisa

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    As far as I recall, it was on the trail leading up towards Laguna de Los Tres. I don't have my map accessible and couldn't find anything good online. The trail heads up a valley with a stream on the right/north side. Great place for an early lunch break btw

    BTW I hope you do read up on the history of climbing and Cerro Torre. It's fascinating (and terrifying) reading, so many lives lost. The view of Cerro Torre really is awe-inspiring, even more so than the Fitz Roy massif I think. It still gives me the chills just thinking about it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bay Area, California
    Posts
    396
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    40

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    I'm back! I've finally dug out from under the laundry and piled-up mail, and the photos are backed up onto the home computer but not yet processed (Christmas cards must come first...). It was a *fantastic* trip. If past experience is any indication, it will be about three months before I get the time to finish going through the photos, processing the good ones, and getting them posted online.

    Thanks for your blog on your trip, Lars; it was helpful. I think we ended up seeing pretty much everything in Torres del Paine & Los Glaciares that we wanted to, with much hiking. The two highlights were the Mirador Las Torres in Paine and Laguna de Los Tres near El Chalten. Since we weren't camping or staying in refugios, though, we had to do both from the nearest trailhead at a road - sore feet afterwards, but well worth it!

    It looked to me like most visitors to Patagonia are either on expensive package tours or are traveling on the cheap, taking busses and staying in campgrounds or hostels. We were some of the rare ones who were driving a rental car independently and staying in hotels or hosterias (more or less like Bed & Breakfasts), but it worked extremely well.

    Lisa

  7. #7
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Los Altos, CA
    Posts
    10,486
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    1031

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Welcome back Lisa and can't wait to see your images!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Lisa, very cool - looking forward to seeing some pics! Brings back memories, I feel the travel fever coming on again... sound like the trip was a bit of an eye-opener - it should be Glad to hear you made it up to the Mirador. On the way up is a Refugio I think its called Refugio Chileno, I stayed there in -98 when it was less crowded in Torres del Paine.

    Around Chalten, did you get a good view of Cerro Torre? Still gives me the chills.

    Yes lots of backpackers in South America (including me). I met an Italian in Santiago once that had been traveling down there for ten years. Israeli youths often take 6-12 months off after military service to travel the world - some make a point in traveling literally for pennies, there always seems to be a contest who can find the cheapest B&B. Then there's the American Eco-tourists with too much money and too many Leicas

    Hosterias down there are great, you get to meet lots of people and cost is moderate.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bay Area, California
    Posts
    396
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    40

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Lars -

    Refugio Chileno is still there, and still used by hikers (we used its bathroom on the way up to the Mirador).

    We never got a great look at Cerro Torre except from a distance. The day we did the Laguna Torre hike (where you see it across a lake), the top "needles" were in clouds. We did finally see it all, but only from the road on the way into town early one morning, in the distance, where we couldn't quite see the base. It is indeed a stunning mountain. We got better views of Fitz Roy - it was completely out of the clouds for the last several days we were there, including the day we hiked to Laguna de Los Tres.

    By the way, do you know the difference between a lago and a laguna? (Alternate words for "lake".) We couldn't figure out the difference between them; what is it about a body of water that leads to it being called a lago when another similar one is called a laguna? I believe on one occasion I even saw the same body of water called a lago on one map and a laguna on another.

    And yes, we enjoyed the hosterias we stayed in. Small and personal, but comfortable, and the one we stayed at in El Chalten even had a couple of friendly house cats who shared the lounge area with the guests. In some places we were stuck in hotels (which were fine), but we chose hosterias when possible. I was surprised by the expense of the ultra-expensive "eco-tourism" hotels (like you mention) that we saw in several places there; we're willing to spend for nice lodgings, but over US$ 500 per day is ridiculous. We stayed in one in New Zealand once that was somewhat less but the same basic idea, just to give it a try and and because it was in an area with no other lodging; while it was nice, it just wasn't anywhere near worth the cost. Of course, they're for people who want their excursions organized for them, don't want to think about where to go for dinner, and generally just don't want to plan their lives themselves. We prefer to do such things for ourselves, so it was a waste for us. (Except than in New Zealand I got practical experience on how to immobilize a sheep, but that's another story.)

    Lisa

  10. #10
    Workshop Member ChrisDauer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, CA
    Posts
    264
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    82

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    SNIP
    we're willing to spend for nice lodgings, but over US$ 500 per day is ridiculous. We stayed in one in New Zealand once that was somewhat less but the same basic idea, just to give it a try and and because it was in an area with no other lodging; while it was nice, it just wasn't anywhere near worth the cost.

    SNIP

    We prefer to do such things for ourselves, so it was a waste for us. (Except than in New Zealand I got practical experience on how to immobilize a sheep, but that's another story.)
    HAHAHA! We did the same thing. For one night, we stayed in a very expensive place ($800+ NZD room that we got for around $395 on Wotif.com). I couldn't agree with you more! It was nice, but not worth 4x as much as the other places we stayed (I couldn't image it be worth 8x's!).

    Man, I missed out on learning how to immobilize a sheep. You'll have to teach me someday
    -Chris
    Ps. Lisa, as a well traveled individual, how would your rate trip to Patagonia; compared against all of the other trips you've had? Top 3? Top 5? Mid ##? Bottom 10? (eg. New Zealand is in my top 3 trips, out of 20+ trips I've done.)
    Last edited by ChrisDauer; 14th December 2007 at 09:46.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bay Area, California
    Posts
    396
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    40

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Ps. Lisa, as a well traveled individual, how would your rate trip to Patagonia; compared against all of the other trips you've had? Top 3? Top 5? Mid ##? Bottom 10? (eg. New Zealand is in my top 3 trips, out of 20+ trips I've done.)
    If you had asked me about five years ago, I would have said that my favorite would have been a three-way tie between New Zealand, Turkey & Rome. Since then, though, I've discovered Switzerland, which is now a clear #1 (we keep going back there regularly). Patagonia was excellent too. I'd have to think long & hard about whether second place would now have to be a four-way tie, including Patagonia - probably not *quite*, but close. It's definitely top 10%. The mountains are absolutely stunning, the hiking is excellent, the glaciers and penguins were interesting, the food was excellent (great steaks & lamb, and great king crab in Chile), the people were pleasant, prices are relatively inexpensive (except in Torres del Paine park), and the uninhabited wide open spaces between the handful of tourist concentrations made it feel like a real adventure. On the negative side, the wind can be too strong to stand up in at times in some places, the wind-generated clouds sometimes covering the mountains can be frustrating (that's why you stay at least several days at each place), and the rutted gravel roads can make driving difficult and tiring, but those just add to the sense of adventure. Oh, and the food & lodging in Torres del Paine park is dreadfully expensive (captive audience), but that unfortunately does *not* add to the sense of adventure...
    Still, though negatives aren't all that significant compared with the positives.

  12. #12
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Los Altos, CA
    Posts
    10,486
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    1031

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    This would be a great thread topic: List your top three travel destinations.

    For me it's easy:

    1) Any country the Mediterranean touches LOLOL!

    2) Switzerland, New Zealand and believe it or not, the Canadian Rockies (Calgary through Jasper), all tie for second.

    3) Any high desert area
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  13. #13
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: Patagonia (restarting thread from Sunset Bar)

    Hehe. OK this is from a photography standpoint, so focus is on the light. Man, what a pun.

    1. Altiplano, obviously (that's northern Chile, southern Bolivia).
    2. Death Valley
    3. Gotland (island in the Baltic, part of Sweden)

    Why not NZ? It's pretty and scenic but my photography from three separate trips there came out as pretty postcards. Not for me obviously.
    Why not Australia? I spent 12 months travelling and photographing there, and I think that's why - it's tooooooooo biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig... Probably deserves spot # 4 - amazing memories like crossing the Simpson desert, 500 km without roads just red sand and flowers.
    Why not Patagonia? Same reason as NZ, my photography didn't work there. Still want to go back to those marble caves in the winter, but I suspect it will be a frozen nightmare so that might never happen.

    Uhhhh memories... and I'm not going anywhere anytime soon... Hmm Tunisia and Libya are just 30 minutes away, winter desert camping in the Sahara anyone?

    Lars

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •