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Thread: Altiplano

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Altiplano

    Here are two photos from a part of my journey in the Andes in 2004, along with excerpts from my travel diary. These photographs are special for me. Not for its qualities as images, but rather because of my experience in getting there (and back).

    Monday, January 19, 2004

    ...

    I returned from my three-day excursion to Salar de Tara before noon, so I had some time to use that afternoon. I restocked on water and petrol, and headed back northeast towards El Tatio, aiming for the sideroad heading up the side of Volcan Sairecabur.

    About 40 kilometers up the road, at 4300 m altitude, there is a graded road to the right. After a few kilometers it starts climbing up the mountainside. I kept going. after an hour or so, at about 5000 meters, the road was just a plowed track through the ancient lava outpours. Stil mid-afternoon so I kept going, beginning to realize that this road would head all the way up.

    At the top, after some light 4WD bouldering, were two small temporary buildings, in turned out to be a small observatory (of course), a joint project between the Smithsonian and a Chilean university. It seemed unoccupied for the moment but otherwise in operation.

    I looked at the altimeter - 5530 meters - and stepped out of the truck. Man, the wind! And where did my breath go? Quickly back into the warmth of the truck to catch my breath, then full gear on including windbreakers and all fleece garmets I could find.

    About 50 meters away was the edge of the caldera. I set up the 4x5 there and made a few exposures, trying very hard to work against the altitude confusion - autoexposure sure would have been nice. I briefly considered hiking across the caldera to get a better view of Licancabur, then realized that this stupidity - I would probably have died from trying to hike three kilometers at this altitude - was a sure sign of mountain sickness so it was time to head down.

    Half way down the mountain the darkness of night caught up with me, I found a decent camping spot and pitched my tent. Later at night I heard two trucks heading up the road, they stopped and spoke in English about my tent, wondering why I was there.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2004

    Morning on the mountain

    The night was very cold indeed. While my sleeping bag might be ok for around freezing temperatures, the tent lets the wind straight through, so sleeping in the tent was much colder than in a cold car. I used my extra sleeping bag as a blanket, it did give some additional relief. And of course the altitude of 4550 meters made it harder to keep warm.

    I stayed in the tent until the sun reached down over the mountains around 7:30, and quickly warmed things up. The morning was crisp and clear, with a fabulous view of the surrounding volcanoes, the mountain side and the Atacama plateau to the west.

    A little later two trucks came down the road, two American scientists who had stayed overnight at the science station at the top - it was their voices I had heard the night before. We spoke for a few minutes, they explained that this was public land and a public road, but that they wanted to know who was on "their" mountain as they had had some theft of expensive equipment in the last few months. I asked them about hiking across the caldera to get a better view of Licancabur - they advised against it as that trail leads right to the Bolivian border and thus most likely has been mined.

    On the way down to the Atacama desert I stopped to sleep for a few hours.

    ---

    First image is the view over the Sairecabur caldera looking south, with Licancabur dominating the view. In the distance you can probably see Lascar, Leija, Miniques, and Volcan Socompa far south on the Argentine border, the highest of them all at 6050 meters. Ebony 45S, 120 Digitar, 6x12 Velvia.

    Second image is the view from my tent the next morning looking northwest. Ebony 45S, 120 Digitar, 4x5 Velvia.

    Location (zoom in all the way to see the observatory and the 4WD track):

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=h&...,86.220703&z=4
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  2. #2
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    Re: Altiplano

    Lars, beautiful and the colors are "delicious". Did you shoot B&W's? If so, would love to see. Also what roll film back did you use on #1?

    Lars, is a CF required on your 150XL when shooting E6?

    Also, do you bracket (shoot multiple images) when working with E6?

    PS: Those bad guys in the Sony forum convinced me to buy a 900/24-70 to supplement my LF.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Altiplano

    Quote Originally Posted by Tex View Post
    Lars, beautiful and the colors are "delicious". Did you shoot B&W's? If so, would love to see. Also what roll film back did you use on #1?

    Lars, is a CF required on your 150XL when shooting E6?

    Also, do you bracket (shoot multiple images) when working with E6?

    PS: Those bad guys in the Sony forum convinced me to buy a 900/24-70 to supplement my LF.
    Thanks No B/W in South America, I decided early to focus on color photography with LF.

    I have a Horseman 6x12 back for 4x5. At the time I got it there were no cheaper options. I also have a Shen Hao 6x17 back for 4x5 which works well but is not as elegant.

    Yep I feel that the 150XL needs a CF with slide film. Part of the reason is that it's color so our brain demands realism in a different way than with B/W, the other part is that some slide films that I use like Velvia and VS have high contrast so any falloff is amplified.

    I've bracketed with 4x5 sometimes, but not with 8x10 - too much money.

    I will envy your A900 and 24-70 that's for sure. My D700 has its positives (like handheld in the middle of the night with the Sigma 50/1.4) but if I was only shooting SLR I would probably have sold all my Nikon gear when the A900 got reviewed.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: Altiplano

    Lars, have you ever seen a Ilfochrome B&W print? I just discovered this process last week . Years ago I had color Ilfochromes done and they were/are striking but did not know about the B&W process.

    I am having some positive B&W processing done next week and than send a few images to the Ilfochrome lab. Can't wait to see the output.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Altiplano

    Didn't know of B/W Ilfochrome, please share your experiences when you get the prints.

    I just spoke to a local lab here in Stockholm that runs a 6-foot Lightjet. Some of the stuff in their lobby is pretty impressive. Not cheap though.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Altiplano

    Quote Originally Posted by Tex View Post
    Lars, beautiful and the colors are "delicious".
    Yep Velvia is not a good idea above 4500 meters (15,000 ft). Light is very blue, and the sky is extremely deep and saturated.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Senior Member emmawest72's Avatar
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    Re: Altiplano

    Wonderful photograps and enjoyable reading too. Thanks for sharing Lars.
    William
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  8. #8
    Rod
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    Re: Altiplano

    Hi Lars, I enjoyed reading the diary entry and your photographs. Did you use a tilt with the second photograph to get the foreground grass tussock in focus?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Altiplano

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod View Post
    Hi Lars, I enjoyed reading the diary entry and your photographs. Did you use a tilt with the second photograph to get the foreground grass tussock in focus?
    Hi Rod - yep of course tilt, with such a large format perceived DOF is minimal.

    I just checked my notes - the 4x5 was with thee 120 Digitar + KR3 filter, exposed 1/8s at f/22.5.

    The 6x12 was 120 Digitar + KR3 + ND grad 0.6 hard, exp 1/60s at f/16.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member viablex1's Avatar
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    Re: Altiplano

    wow sounds like a hard night and you pushing your self to get that "right photo" glad you made it alright..

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    Re: Altiplano

    "...with such a large format perceived DOF is minimal.

    ???

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Altiplano

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    "...with such a large format perceived DOF is minimal.

    ???
    Uh...not sure what the question marks are about... given the same field of view for two different formats (thus different focal lengths) the perceived depth of in-focus field is smaller for the larger format.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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