Here are a couple of shots of the highly elusive Pudu taken on a recent tour to Chiloe Island. The Pudu is the World’s smallest deer growing to a maximum height of just 18 inches (45 cm). They live in the coastal rain forests of southern Chile and parts of western Argentina. They are extremely rare to see and even harder to photograph, unless you are very lucky as I was with this one. I have been tromping around the coastal areas of Patagonia for over 25 years and have probably only seen 4 or 5 of these little guys in the wild and this is the very first time I was lucky enough to come across one that was possible to get some photos of. I had heard they were more common to see on Chiloe Island and I was very pleased to learn that’s actually true. This one was right next to the highway and hung around nonchalantly as we screeched to a stop and scrambled around to get our cameras out. These shots were taken with a Nikon D600 and a Nikkor 80-400 zoom set on aperture priority at F 5.6, ISO 400 and a -1/3 exposure compensation.
Here’s an interesting image taken at the Exploradores Glacier on our recent Patagonia Autumn Photo Safari this past April. The phenomenon is called a “Brocken Specter” and is produced when the sun is directly behind the observer and their shadow is cast upon a bank of fog or clouds. You have likely seen this or what’s called a “Glory” when you are flying and the shadow of the airplane is cast on the clouds below. When we first got here, our view of the the Exploradores Glacier and Cerro San Valentine (Patagonia’s highest summit) was obscured by the morning fog but, fortunately it gradually burned off exposing the scene and then, unexpectedly we were greeted by this unusual and amazing phenomenon. There was a lot of scrambling going on with everyone trying to find the best way to capture it. I didn’t have a wide angle lens quite wide enough to fit it all in so, this image was made by stitching 2 separate images together. For more info on this phenomenon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocken_spectre
New slideshow from our latest Autumn Patagonia Photo Safari
I’m recently back from a great trip to Northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. This is one of the best places in the world for observing and photographing the night sky. That’s why the Atacama has been chosen as the site for several of the World’s most important observatories. In fact the very largest astronomical project in the world, the ALMA project, is presently being implemented on a high altitude plateau near San Pedro de Atacama. The high altitude and extreme dryness of the Atacama are major factors why it’s so ideal for stargazing. However, what’s even more important is its location in the Southern Hemisphere which provides for the best view into the actual center of our galaxy.
Images such as these are relatively easy to achieve with the low light sensitivity of today’s higher end digital cameras. For all these shots I used a Nikon D600 with a 20mm wide angle lens. The camera was set on manual for an exposure of 20 seconds at an aperture of F2.8 and the with the ISO set at 5000. Important: Beforehand I activated the high ISO noise reduction feature which is found buried in the menu settings someplace. The camera was mounted on a sturdy tripod and I used a remote control to trip the shutter. During the exposure I used an led headlamp to paint the rocks and cactus in the foreground (shined through my sunglasses to warm the blue light of the leds some).
* Tip: I scouted this area out in the daytime first and marked the spot I wanted to shoot. Stumbling around in the dark on a rocky slope among prickly cactus, it’s best to know where you are going! Also, one needed to find just the right angle in order capture the best view into the heart of the Milky Way (the center of our galaxy). In this case looking towards the Southwest. So a compass was useful for that.
The following image was made with the same settings as the previous but, instead of using a headlamp to paint the foreground, I allowed the ambient light at our hotel to illuminate the adobe building. For this image I needed to find a spot where there were few strong lights directly in the image as those would tend to get blown out. I had to experiment with several different locations and angles to get everything to come together just right. BTW: the bright object in the night sky is Venus.
My recent post on Condors got me thinking more about the amazing birdlife we have here in Patagonia. Most visitors to Patagonia come well aware of the amazing mountains and glaciers, the vast windswept “pampas” or the weather-beaten gauchos they’ll likely see but, few realize they’ll also encounter a truly unique array of extremely photogenic birds along the way. Here I’m posting a gallery of some of the more prominent species we’ll typically see on one of our photo safaris.
This is a shot of Alejandro Galilea the owner the estancia where we go to shoot Andean Condors (Vultur gryphus). Alejandro goes by the name of Jano and I call him the Condor whisperer. He grew up on this ranch and seems to be able to attract the Condors in. It’s certain they all know him well and understand he poses no threat. On this particular day these massive birds put on a beautiful aerial show for us but, with overcast skies and low light, it was tough to get many good sharp images. However, I did manage to nail a couple shots. What’s really cool about this shot is that I was fortunate enough to capture some good detail as you can see in this zoomed in shot of the bird’s face. Amazing creatures!
The Arrayan or Chilean Murtle is a very beautiful and exotic red barked tree which grows in very specific areas throughout southern Chile. They grow very slowly and form interestingly twisted and deformed trunks. I had attempted unsuccessfully to photograph them on several earlier trips but, finally got around to trying some HDRs on them recently and that appears to be the key to effectively capturing their beauty. Technology to the rescue!