Photographing Patagonia In The Fall

April 2017

Patagonia is an area at the southern tip of South America. It is comprised of two large national parks and has some incredible mountains. Being in the southern hemisphere, it is the fall season in April. This is a great time to go there, with cool weather, some fall color and the summer crowds are gone.

For a variety of logistical reasons, it is best to go with a photography group. This was my first trip there and it didn’t take long to realize that the group deal was the right decision. I departed Miami on a 9 hour night flight to Buenos Aires, followed by a 3 hour morning flight to El Calafate, Argentina to meet up with the group. We had a group of 12 photographers plus two guides and a great bus driver.

The next day, we headed out to our first location, the Perito Moreno Glacier. I have been to and photographed quite a few glaciers, from Alaska to Norway, but have never seen one this clean from dirt and debris. We were there all day, but the good light on the face of the glacier came in the late afternoon. The large area of floating ice in front is from a part of the glacier that calved (fell off).

Pedro Moreno Glacier
"Glacier Glow" - Prints Available



Our next destination was the small town of El Chalten, about 3 hours to the northwest of El Calafate. Just outside of town is the famous mountain known as Fitz Roy. Our morning at the canyon, we had a clear sky with the sun rising behind us. This gave us the pinkish-orange glow behind the mountain just prior to the sun rising. This trip was a year in the making and it was truly exciting to be standing there.

Fitz Roy mountain at sunrise
"Simply Fitz Roy" - Prints Available


From El Chalten, we also made the 4km hike up to Laguna Capri. I was told it was a 1,200 foot vertical climb and it seemed like every bit of it during the two hours it took me to hike up there. We started out in the dark two and a half hours before sunrise so we could catch early light on the mountain.

Unfortunately, the mountain was covered by clouds, which took another 3 hours to clear away enough to photograph. They didn’t stay away long, but the wind subsided at the same time to give us reflections. It was a hard day, but all’s well that ends well.

Fitz Roy mountain from Laguna Capri
"Bright Morning" - Prints Available


While in El Chalten, we had an afternoon trip to another angle of Fitz Roy. Although it’s not the typical angle, this mountain just doesn’t take a bad picture.

The view of the back side of Fitz Roy mountain
"Another View"


We left El Chalten and headed back south, past El Calafate, crossed the border into Chile and on to Torres del Paine National Park. It was about a nine hour trip on our bus, but I knew it was going to be worth it.

Whereas Argentina had somewhat of a brown desert look, like Arizona, Torres del Paine had much more greenery with wonderful rolling hills. The iconic mountain in the park is Cuerno Principal (Main Horn), distinguished by its jagged horn-like peak.

Stormy mountain peaks in patagonia
"Stormy Peaks" - Prints Available



My main goal was to photograph it from below the river. It is so rare that you can photograph jagged mountain peaks from rivers or lakes that are so close to them. The rapids and cascades are a perfect compliment. Nearby, there were other options with the rolling hills.

river cascades in front of mountains in patagonia
"Sunrise Cascades" - Prints Available


mountains in patagonia
"Former Life" - Prints Available


We also headed out before dawn to a lake at the north end of the park to shoot the mountains with the three iconic towers that are to the right. The wind picked up and prevented us from getting the reflection, but this was more than made up for by the cool lenticular-like pink clouds over the mountains.

sunrise lenticular clouds on mountains in patagonia
"Morning Glory" - Prints Available


Our other good morning, we went before dawn to an area with lakes called Nordenskjold. The morning wasn’t looking great, but with a little patience it delivered what might be my favorite image of the trip.

cloud burst at sunrise over mountains in patagonia
"Morning Burst" - Prints Available


It was another long day on the bus to get back to El Calafate and two long flights again to get back to Miami. This was one of those photographic bucket list trips.

I have a few more of those yet to do, so I don’t know if I will make it back to Patagonia. Even if I don’t , I couldn’t have been more pleased with how this one worked out.

Next up are the rhododendrons near Roan Mountain in North Carolina and Tennessee in mid-June. These flowers make for great foregrounds for sunrise and sunset.

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