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Posts Tagged ‘trip’

Laguna Blanca and Cerro Corona

Laguna Blanca and Cerro Corona

The Somuncura Plateau is a large and almost unexplored part of the Argentinian Patagonia. It’s between the coast on the East popular for the beaches and the whales and the mountains on the west popular for the ski, snow, lakes and glaciers. In the middle we have this gigantic piece of basalt formed millions of years ago by volcanos that are now extinct.

Somuncura

Somuncura

In this remote location at about 800 meters above sea level the weather is very extreme and random, you can have more tan 40C in the Summer and -20C in the winter, it can snow at almost any time of the year and winds above 60km/h are constant. Rain is very rare making water a very precious resource.

Difficult Roads

Difficult Roads

Only a few brave people live in this place where distance is measured in horse-hours, sometimes in days. The roads are made by hand removing the rocks one by one until a path is cleared, they are difficult and only accessible with 4×4 vehicles and horses. Most people live from their animals struggling to survive day after day without electricity, gas or any form of service. At some points of the plateau you will be more than 200km away from the nearest inhabited place.I’m not a “people” photographer but their stories really deserve attention and respect, a lot of respect.

The Centinel

The Centinel

Only a few species make the Somuncura Plateau their home, there are a lot of Guanacos, very shy from people as they are hunted for their fur and sometimes meat. The majestic Condor can be seen at some specific locations of the Plateau. All the other forms of life are small rodents, mammals and the typical plants you can find at the desert.

The Pointed One

The Pointed One

The terrain is mostly flat with a few volcanic cones here and there. The highest elevations are from “Cerro Puntudo” at around 1600 meters, “Cerro Corona Grande” and “Cerro Corona Chico” are also prominent. All these are extinct volcanos with the classical conic shape of a stratovolcano, that’s why basaltic lava is so common in the soil. You can also find very large rocks in the middle of the plateau that could have been ejected from a volcanic eruption many millions of years ago.

The Pearl

The Pearl

There are only a few permanent bodies of water at the plateau, “Laguna Azul” is one of the biggest ones connected perhaps to an underground reservoir but even the it’s becoming smaller and smaller year after year. The lagoon is in the middle of an almost perfectly circular volcanic crater. Basalt, pumice and obsidian rocks are commonly found and used by the people that live here to make tools and construct their homes.

The Somuncura Plateau has one of the best night skies in the world but I’ll leave that for the next post.

You can find more photos about this magical place at my website. I’ve made a slideshow here: http://www.luisargerich.com/somuncura-2011

If you want to visit this or any other place in Patagonia I recomend this company: http://www.rupestrepatagonia.com.ar/ I think they are the only company with a real permit to visit the Somuncura Plateau as the area is protected.

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Boca de la Sierra

Fog at the Sierras

Fog at the Sierras

Boca de la Sierra is the name of a place near Azul in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The place is just 330km away from the city but is so exotic and interesting that it seems you have traveled ten times that distance.  The sierras are part of the Tandilia system extending from Olavarria to the atlantic ocean between Mar del Plata and Miramar.

How it Happened

How it Happened

The rocks are more than 2000 million years old, they are among the oldest rock formations on earth. Many millions of years ago this system was as high as the Himalayas or even higher but today the highest peaks are just 500 meters high. That’s the effect of millions of years of erosion. Boulders such as the one in this picture are mysteriously scattered around the peaks, they were probably shaped by wind and water and then fell from their location to the places where they rest today.

The Great Light Slide

The Great Light Slide

On a foggy morning light can play many tricks with the fog and the hills,  in this photo the sun was just rising behind the hills and the patch of fog created the effect of light sliding down the hills. I think the conditions for this are not very frequent so I consider myself lucky to have been there.

Twilight Conjunction

Twilight Conjunction

At twilight the sierras create shapes that can be used as silhouettes for the sky, the clean air and an earlier storm depleted the atmosphere from dust particles so the sunset wasn’t very remarkable, just a band of color above the horizon. The Moon and Venus were in conjunction just above the landscape. Venus was very bright casting weak shadows.

Sunset at the Sierras

Sunset at the Sierras

The combination of hills, rocks that are millions of years old and clean air make this a very special place that is really worth visiting for landscape photographers near Buenos Aires. I plan to visit this place quite often as I found it really an enjoyable experience.

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Miramar

Miramar Equinox

Miramar Equinox

Miramar is a coastal city at about 450km from Buenos Aires. It’s 50km south of Mar del Plata, the main coastal city in the province of Buenos Aires and a popular touristic destination in the Summer months: January & February in the Southern Hemisphere.  Miramar is a short drive from rocky beaches, surf spots, cliffs, hills and coastal forests and that means I really like the city for landscape photography.

About Clouds, Water and Rocks

About Clouds, Water and Rocks

The Tandilia System enters the Ocean between Mar del Plata and Miramar creating low rock formations near the coast, those rocky formations create small tidal pools, arches and other small geologic features that can be used as foreground elements in landscape shots. I specially like to search for reflected sunrise or sunset light in the tidal pools.

Electric Sunrise

Electric Sunrise

The Ocean is quite unpredictable at Miramar, it can be calm most of the time and quite brave during a storm or when the wind blows high. Waves are never really big but the conditions can get quite rough. This leads to interesting photographic opportunities but it also means a lot of trouble protecting the gear from the sea mist, sand and the winds. One problem I always have is that the sand moves with each wave creating problems in long exposure shots as the tripod is never totally stable.

Not in Mars!

Not in Mars!

Small sandstone formations surround part of the coastal area of Miramar, the cliffs are really small to the south of the city and get bigger to the North. The small sandstone formations can create beautiful shapes to be used at night or when the low light of the rising sun hits the rocks.

The First Wave

The First Wave

Since the city is facing East / NorthEast the best photo shots at the beach are in the morning with the sun rising above the ocean however there is a small window in the month of December where the sun sets over the ocean in the southern beaches, those are mostly empty and surrounded by rocky formations. December is also a beautiful  month to visit Miramar, the weather is warm and the tourists haven’t arrived yet.

Peninsula

Peninsula

One interesting thing about these rocks is that they are among the oldest geological formations on earth. The tandilia system is actually more than 2000 million years old, it was as high as the himalayas many millions of years ago but today the highest formations are about 500 meters high. The rocks that enter the ocean are eroded remains of mountains that were as high as mt Everest, that’s something to think about when you take or see a picture of them.

I have more images from Miramar on my website: http://www.luisargerich.com

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The Forest's Energy

The Forest's Energy

 

 

This is a very strange forest between Miramar and Mar del Sur in Argentina.  Some people claim this forest is on top of a geomagnetic anomaly and that it is one of just a few “energy” spots in the planet. So they visit the forest, hug trees and arrange strange balancing experiments with branches. They also claim the place was studied by NASA and scientists from different institutions around the globe. You can believe or not, I have my doubts.  What is true is that it’s a very nice closed forest just next to the ocean, the trees are so packed that almost no light reaches the ground even on a sunny day. For the first photo I used the old-fashioned zooming method trying to depict the “energy” of the place. It took me several attempts to get a result I liked.

 

This Way Out?

This Way Out?

 

 

Every place inside this forest looks almost exactly the same so you can get disoriented quickly. The good news is that the forest is small so there is no real risk of getting lost. You just walk in a straight line and you will find the ocean, the highway or the end of the forest.

 

The Location

The Location

 

 

The Satellite image shows how close to the ocean the forest is, I think there are not that many closed forest right next to the ocean in the world so there you have a fact that is really interesting and doesn’t rely on any belief.  The place even has a nice sign reading “Bosque Energetico” (“Energy Forest”) so it’s very easy to find.  After many visits to photograph the forest my energy level must be quite high!

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Mechita

Tranquility Base

Tranquility Base

Mechita is a very small town at about 160km from Buenos Aires. It was now a very busy train station where formations were stored, mantained and dispatched to several different destinations. Today it’s a museum of train formations, some of them being restored for public display. The collection of trains and equipment made this small town a great place for movies and photo shootings, while the trains are nice I usually focus on the landscape around so here we go.

Dry trees at Mechita

Dry trees at Mechita

The landscape around Mechita is characterized by the typical infinite visibility grasslands of the Buenos Aires plains, some trees can be found most of them planted to provide some shade for the cows and horses. The plains are characterized by dry and wet cycles, when the season is dry many trees die because of the lack of water. On a rainy season everything is wet, full of mosquitos and the rivers flood the nearby terrains.

Unforgiven

Unforgiven

If you like to see trains in really different states of abandon you should really visit Mechita, they are all over the place, some of them are in garages being restored but others are just on the field alone at the mercy of the weather. It’s interesting to study how quickly the heavy machines are attacked by nature, the paint peels off, plants start to grow from small oxidation holes on the floors and wasps make their nests in the shaded corners. Every abandoned train is now a small ecosystem.

Gate to rural road

Gate to rural road

On the side of all the routes crossing the Mechita landscape you will find rural roads, many of them are public, others are private and some of them are a mystery. As the lands are mostly cultivated some landlords put gates and locks on the roads that lead to or border their properties.  Without a lock you are usually welcomed to cross gates and drive around but it’s really difficult to know when you are in public open space and when you are inside a private property.

Moulin

Moulin

As you can see there is not even a hint of a minimal hill in the landscape. The terrain is so flat that on a clear day the visibility can break world records, you can see more than 50 or 100 miles ahead sometimes and distances become hard to judge. How far this windmill is? It can be 2 miles ahead or maybe 60. When driving visibility makes you feel everything is close but once you have driven for an hour and you are still seeing your goal at the same distance things change.

Mechita is the forgotten trains land, right in the middle of the flat Argentinian plains and near the city of Bragado, a nice place to visit and certainly a different place if you are not used to the Argentinian countryside.

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Pinamar

The End of a Cold Night

The End of a Cold Night

Pinamar is a very nice beach town abut 300km away from Buenos Aires. The city is very busy with tourists, restaurants and activities during the summer. After the summer it becomes a very quiet and nice place where you can relax on a weekend and take some photographs.

Exile to Hell

Exile to Hell

Between Pinamar and the neighbour city of Villa Gesell you can find beaches with Dunes where several nice landscapes can be found. The dunes are visited by ATV vehicles and on a summer afternoon it’s hard to take a picture without marks or tracks of vehicles. It’s a lot nicer and easier to photograph the dunes during the winter and the weather is better too.

Dune

Dune

The beaches at Pinamar are empty of features, not a lot of dunes and there’re no rocks to shoot either, the waves are small to medium size but can become bigger and more interesting for pictures -as long as you are careful- during a storm. Even without a storm you can sometimes find forms and shapes created by the tides like this small stream of water. It lasted less than a day and then it was gone with the next tide.

Towards the Sea

Towards the Sea

Summer Storms can change the conditions in a dramatic way, clouds roll in fast, rain starts and hail is common, then as fast as it begun it ends and the sun shines again. This creates a lot of interesting photographic scenarios, the next picture was taken at the arrival of a storm front to the beach, the clouds look really threatening!

Stormy at the Sea

Stormy at the Sea

This time the storm just brought some mild rain, it lasted about 20 minutes and then it was gone with the wind -literally-. As the storm retreated the first rays of light started to shine. There was no rainbow this time but I could get a shot of this wild flowers in the Dunes lit by the first rays of light after the storm.

Clearing Storm at Pinamar

Clearing Storm at Pinamar

A beautiful combination of empty beaches, clean yellow sand and dunes make the city of Pinamar a very nice place to visit, you are also very close of several other locations like Carilo and its forest, only five minutes away from Pinamar. If you plan to visit the city with the idea of taking pictures remember to avoid the summers, it’s impossible to shoot anything but people during January and February.

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Azcuenaga

Search Light

Search Light

Azcuenaga is a small town located near San Andres de Giles, it’s a short 7km dirt road ride from Giles or about 110km from Buenos Aires.  Once a very active town it receded as so many other towns when the train service stopped.  Today agriculture and tourism are the main activities, the town is surrounded by cultivated fields, mostly soy, wheat or corn; and on the weekends turist from nearby cities visit the town for some fresh air and food.

The Great Plains

The Great Plains

The terrain is totally flat at this place of the Buenos Aires Province, on a good clear day visibility is near perfect and you can see miles and miles ahead towards the horizon.  Severe storms are common during the spring and fall, the winters are quite dry and the summers hot and unpredictable with scattered storms and really sunny days. This picture was taken during the summer and shows an interesting cloud formation that just passed by without producing rains.

The Streets of Azcuenaga

The Streets of Azcuenaga

The Streets are unpaved the houses are nice and small. The main feature of the town is the church at the really small central plaza. You can’t avoid  feeling out of place when you see the big church with brick walls in the middle of such a small place.

The Church at Azcuenaga

The Church at Azcuenaga

After the church the train station and the old barn are the most visited places. The station is constructed in english style as most train stations in the country. It features a small building that acted as a terminal and a big barn that was used for storage a broken old mills reminds us that the place is no longer active.

Azcuenaga: The Old Station

Azcuenaga: The Old Station

In this visit the full moon was setting early so we took a ride to the old barn at night to catch the moon set, the town lights are mostly tungsten bulbs and it was curious how the big orange moon setting had the same colour as the town lights, in this picture the barn is lit by the street lights on the right, not visible on the picture. Then moon is about to set and the whole scene was enchanting.

Moonset at Azcuenaga

Moonset at Azcuenaga

At night the absence of light pollution makes the place wonderful for star-gazing, you just have to walk outside the town lights to have a spectacular view of the stars.The picture below shows the milky way at Azcuenaga intersected by high clouds. Normally you don’t want clouds when shooting the stars but sometimes they can be nice.

Intersection

Intersection

Azcuenaga is a very nice small town to visit, it offers a nice selection of old places like the Church and the Station and beautiful landscapes all around the town, being a short ride from the big city of Buenos Aires I hope it gets more attention and that tourism can provide for the wonderful people who live there.

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