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Top ten photography locations in Patagonia
So your idea of a Patagonia vacation has you feeling a bit overwhelmed? How does one decide on the best possible area for great photography? It is a vast region, with one spectacular highlight after another. Because of the size of the area and the impressive geographical barriers, you will be required to invest a sizable amount of time in travel activity. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, for chances are very good that you’ll do more stopping to grab the camera and tripod than you ever thought possible.
Your Patagonia adventure begins at the car rental agency. Forget the tours, the buses and the mini vans. If you are serious about beautiful photography, then put yourself on a photographer’s schedule. This means your photo sessions begin well before dawn’s first light and and end long after the sun sets. Organized tours get started about three hours after your first photograph of the day is dutifully recorded.
A top ten list of anything is ridiculous by its very nature. If one takes on the concept of Patagonia, absurd starts setting in. Still, it's fun, and people have asked about my favorite places when visiting the region. It’s subjective, of course, simply because the area is so immense and pristine. One could easily spend an entire season in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine and consider it as the top ten photography locations on the entire planet. Such is its presence. Perhaps instead of a top ten, it should just be ten great places to consider for better photography, should you travel to Patagonia. There is so much more than what is offered here.
Lago Nahual Huapi is an outdoor lover’s paradise. That translates into beautiful photography. The part of the lake near Bariloche is situated along a line that catches great morning and evening light. Consider the north shore across the lake from Bariloche for great morning shots.
More than anything else, the light quality in Patagonia will leave you speechless. A combination of factors play into this. The geography first and foremost determines the weather. There’s always the weather. Any time two massive bodies of water connect, as do the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, there’s bound to be a rumble or two. Patagonia will not disappoint. Mountains, wind, and oceans. What more could a photographer ask when searching for the quality of light?
Travel about the countryside
It is easy to find a comfort zone, never straying far from it. However, arm yourself with a quality map and then travel about the countryside. A good local map will show elevations and locations of various landmarks, often times letting you know where the best photography possibilities are. The area around Pucon holds a wealth of subject matter for nature photographers. The road to Los Tres Saltos takes you through pastoral settings. Late afternoon sunlight photography works well here, as the waterfalls are in the shade of the canyons.
Punta Arenas travel
Patagonia Sur must be the most exciting part of the entire continent. One can easily make this a base for as long as one chooses. First on your list of good photography possibilities is the town’s cemetary, Cementario Municipal. Chances are good you’ll visit it more than once. Also from your Punta Arenas travel base, a visit to Pinguinera de Seno Otway is in order. About an hour north of Punta Arenas, this colony of Magellanic penguins has a seasonal home on the south shore of Seno Otway. Plan ahead for a timely visit. The city itself is quite colorful, perhaps helping mask the sometimes dreary weather. However, as many photographers will say, the weather is a bonus.
Leaving Punta Arenas behind, head toward Puerto Natales and Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. This will be your base unless you choose to stay in the park. If your trip thus far has failed to make you feel as if civilization is gone, brace yourself. Take the road leading to the southwest entrance of the park. Approaching the park, Lago Toro comes into view. There are several pullouts along the way and numerous photo opportunities.
Yes, this is a must visit place. Pay for the tour boat to take you up close to the glacier. Better yet, pay for the glacier hike. A transfer boat will meet the tour boat near the glacier, picking you up for what will be your personal confirmation on the reality of global warming.
Spend some time studying your map, as this area provides some of the classic Patagonia landscapes. Pay special attention to the area around Hotel Pehoe, as there are several front cover possibilities.
All about photography
Punta Vino is unmarked on any map, in fact it is not marked anywhere. Sometimes our visual awareness leads us on the path of discovery. Armed with a camera, tripod, water, cheese, bread, and wine, a day was spent at this spot, from sunrise until dark. Four seasons were experienced during the course of the day.
Setting the tripod in one position for the entire day was the first step. A personal vision exercise followed. Only the camera’s angle or lens was changed during the course of the day, never moving the tripod. By day’s end the photo library had grown nicely.
Back to the issue of that map. This place was discovered as the result of visual observations combined with careful study of a very good map. The best photography is often the result of thorough research.
Sometimes the best photography ideas are unexpected. Heading back to the hotel late one evening I came upon a couple of guachos, Argentine cowboys, driving a herd of cattle along the road. Taking one photo of the two of them together and then one of each of them garnered this image. A classic portrait evolved from a candid moment. Be prepared for the unexpected that can come at any time, from any location.
For those venturing as far south as Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia will likely be your base. Pay close attention to the Rio Olivia as it follows the road toward town. Numerous opportunities await the photographer willing to exit the car for a few short hikes.
Because of the strong spiritual nature of Patagonia, this part of the world is an ideal place for conducting work of a personal nature. When a break from the trials and tribulations of society is needed, head south to this special land.