The Labyrinth Desert, Puna de Atacama

I've often felt that the more I get to know a place, the deeper the connection becomes. Over the years I've been traveling and making images, I have slowly built up a collection of places I love and keep returning to for that very reason.

This summer I visited the Puna de Atacama. It is a new location for me despite being, on the surface, similar to the Bolivian altiplano that I know and love so well.

One place in particular that I really found most interesting is named 'the labyrinth desert' - it's yet another high elevation landscape, but it was so far removed from all the other kinds I've experienced to date in the Altiplano of Chile and Bolivia, that I felt it has been overlooked somewhat.

It's difficult to get some scale to this landscape, and you may be forgiven for thinking that this area only encapsulates the mountains you see in my shots. The mountains are actually small pink clay hills - approximately around 30 to 40 feet high. Not that big at all, and so the scale of these photos is maybe a little deceptive.

But what you can't gather from these shots is just how selective I was in making them. This is only a very tiny section of the entire area. Due to the limited time I had here - one evening of good light which lasted for about 10 minutes, I had to quickly make these shots with the time and limited positioning I had. 

Research is key to good landscape photography. I only feel I've just become acquainted with this place, and really need to spend a lot more time here - because it's the only way I will know where the best locations are for the kinds of light that I like to shoot in (often with the sun behind me).

The other complication to this landscape was its fragility. It is made up from a very soft pink clay and gypsum. The gypsum is scattered all across the surface like broken shards of glass and the terrain is really fragile to walk on - when you do go anywhere, it's like walking across the crust of a chocolate pudding. Each footstep breaks through the surface and seems to leave what I was convinced was a permanent scar on the landscape.