Making of 40 Photographs #18

This is #18 in my series ‘Making of 40 Photographs’. I love new adventures. Setting yourself a new project is a great way to further your photography and for me, I love nothing better than falling in love with a new region of the world, researching it, and then planning on how I will tackle it from a photography point of view.

Marconi Pass

Not all locations are created equal. Some of them need to be treated with more care than others while some I love to discover by just turning up and seeing what happens. The southern patagonia Ice Field falls into the former camp. It is a harsh, unforgiving, dangerous place which requires a lot of investment in yourself before you go there.

I trekked on the ice field for 5 days, in which time I had to carry an 80 litre back pack full of my camping gear and also a full Mamiya 7 outfit comprising the 50, 80, 150 and 210 lenses. An outdoor trainer friend of mine had told me I needed to get fit for the journey as it would make it enjoyable, rather than a painful 5 day existence. I’m so glad I listened to her about this because I did find the trip demanding.

This is the Marconi pass. The foreground is littered with erratics - boulders that have been left behind by a retreating glacier, and in the mid-ground is the Marconi glacier. We arrived here after my first day of walking for 7 hours with a fully laiden backpack. Just before we arrived at this location where we would spend the night in tents, I’d had to ascend the face of the Marconi glacier and this is where my winter-skills course in ice-axe arrest and traversing gradients with crampons on had come into good use. It’s very easy to impale yourself with the teeth of a crampon boot and so learning to walk like a crab, up hill seems to be a mandatory task.

I shot the Marconi pass in the late evening light. I was just drawn by the grooves of crevasses in the glacier’s face. Each one of them several hundred meters long and possibly just as deep.

Fitzroy, Cerro Polone, Torre Pier Giorgio & Cerro Torre

But at 180 degrees to this shot we had a view of Fitzroy, Cerro Polone, Torre pier Giorgio and also a hint of Cerro Torre (far right white tip)..... while below you can see the valley we had just ascended.

I used a 3 stop hard grad for this shot, and metered for the granite, as I believed this to be around 18% grey.

Certainly, our first camping night gave commanding views in two directions. I think that’s the beauty of travel. It opens up new doors for you in more ways than I can think of. There is the natural escape from your little bubble that you live in back at home, and the feeling that home is but a distant memory, almost dream like. And then there is the wonder of experiencing something new each day. I often find it surprising how quickly I settle into my new surroundings and they become my norm.... It is only when I am entrenched back home in the humdrum of a normal existence that I’m capable of truly appreciating just how rare a place like the southern patagonian icecap is and I often have to pinch myself to believe I really was there.