Meanwhile, back at the camp with the five Russians, Trey kicks Yuri in the face

This is a shot from one of our campsites.  I set up the camera with the intervelometer to automatically take a shot every 30 seconds as we set up camp and did our best to stay warm.

Here is the cast of characters from left to right.  Sitting on a bump on a log on the left is Yuri.  He is in the process of getting a jackboot to the face.  I tease Yuri, but he is actually a very nice guy and I like him.  That doesn’t mean you want to room with him or share a tent, mind you.

Second from the left is me.  Don’t you like my hat?  I got it on Etsy.

Third is Irina. I hope I spelled that right. She was our chef and handled most of the cooking, keeping me well fed and warm. She also came out on a few photography adventures too and was always there to lighten the mood by making Russian animal sounds. For example, did you know that Russian frogs don’t say “ribbit ribbit” and Russian dogs don’t say “ruff ruff”? This is only a small sampling of the campfire discussions. You can try to guess down in the comments what they say…

Fourth/Fifth is Yana and Dima. They had no trouble keeping warm. Their sleeping bags could be zipped together. Dima tried to be helpful and suggested that perhaps I could do the same thing with Yuri. After saying that, he reared back, laughing like Brezhnev, and then drinking like Yeltsin.

On the far right is Vulva. Again, I can’t quite say his name properly, but it’s very close, within the delicate region of “Vulva”. He was a very cool dude, richly festooned with silver Buddhist paraphernalia from his various expeditions to Tibet and Nepal.

They are all great people and I enjoy my time with them tremendously.

Meanwhile, back at the camp with the five Russians, Trey kicks Yuri in the face

I’ve Made it to the Edge of the World

Daily Photo – I’ve Made it to the Edge of the World

This was shot in the final hours of daylight, near the southern tip of Argentina and the edge of Chile, just a glacier’s throw from Antarctica.

In the morning, we woke up at 4:30 AM in -7 degree cold. I hardly slept 30 minutes the whole night. I was in a tiny 2-man tent with Yuri. The noxious fumes of our tiny prison reminded me, if you will, of the inside of a tauntaun that had spent its life consuming cognac and cigarettes. Furthermore, his snore had the sonorous bass and carrying power of a humpback whale with none of the beauty.

I started on one edge of these rugged peaks and moved around to this side, to get the view from the glacial lake. The spiked mountains there are Cerro Torre, and I was very lucky to see them without cloud cover. I understand they are covered up 90% of the time, so to have crystal clear air was fortunate. The glacier there, which presents on the right but really goes back behind many more mountains, is called “glacier grande”.

I did a lot of other things this day too, including a 45-minute 1500-foot ascent up an icy trail that was not really a trail at all. Dima and Vulva (Vulva is one of the other Russian gentleman who joined us on the trip — it’s hard to pronounce with a strange V-W sound, but he seemed to respond when I called him “Vulva”) went up the mountain with me in the pitch black, using only headlamps. I’ll have more on that story later because it was pretty sketchy. But, alas, we were able to see Fitz Roy as the sun turned the tips pink. After that, we began the long additional 10km hike that brought us to this location. I stayed here watching icebergs float by until the last morsels of dusk remained.

Last, I hope you like the new theme – it should come online sometime today. There are still minor little probs — the comments will get better, etc… but we will ease into it. The new design was done by one of the top graphic designers in the world – a Frenchman named Fabian Barral. He used images from my passport to create the look and feel. I think it’s great — let’s hope you do too! :)

I've Made it to the End of the World Patagonia Wilderness Photo

I’ve Made it to the Edge of the World

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/16.0
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length28mm (28mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

About 13km into the Andes Trek

Our hike is starting to get closer to our quarry. The destination inside the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares are the isolated peaks of FItz Roy.

Every few kilometers the terrain can change drastically. Because all the land around here is recently glaciated, the soil is very fresh and full of life. The strange mountain formations make for unpredictable weather patterns and cloud/fog formations across the landscapes. Even better, we are here in the middle of autumn, so many of the leaves are turning.

It’s always a welcome relief to take off my pack, set it down, and then wander about for some photos. I grabbed this one along the way to share with you all.

I noticed that the Wikipedia entry for Monte Fitz Roy said, “the weather in the area is exceptionally inclement and treacherous”. No shit. Wait until you see the shot I upload tomorrow. It was taken after 16km of walking in a single day after waking up to -7 degrees at 4:30 AM from a tent that contained the heavily scented noxious scents of the one and only Yuri.

About 13km into the Andes Trek

Beginning the trek to Fitz Roy on the edge of Chile

This is the start of what would be a 40km backpacking trek through the Andes. And I mean THROUGH the Andes.

I have come with my friend Dima, who is ex-Soviet miltiary. He’s tough. At 23, he led a 3-week expedition through Siberia to find the rare Siberian Tiger. Now he is 43 and he hasn’t slowed down any.

If you look closely at this photo, over on the middle right you can see some very sharp vertical peaks. In there is Fitz Roy, one of the hardest places to reach in the world and even harder to photograph. That is our destination.

Beginning the trek to Fitz Roy on the edge of Chile

Leslie walks across her farm in Texas

I spent that afternoon and evening with Leslie out at her farm and her animals in Brady. She has a bunch of animals that she lightly calls pets. Featured in this menagerie are about 50 goats. I never thought about how a goats head is exactly at crotch level until I walked amongst them.

Leslie has many creative pursuits going on, including but not limited to: acting (see her IMDB (see the IMDB ink here), photography, writing, and a swath of other creative activities that come in handy on a farm in a pinch.

Leslie Walks Across Her Farm

Adventuring Deeper into Patagonia – the Perito Moreno glacier

After a four-hour plane ride deeper into the Andes, we started to get further into the wilds of Patagonia. Perhaps I should explain that I was on this trip with a very good Russian friend named Dima, who is also a photographer. He brought four other Russians with him. Despite our friendship, he had given me a non-English-speaking roommate named Yuri that never ceased to amaze. Within five minutes of dropping him off in my room, Yuri was in his underwear and I noticed his approximate size to be that of a smallish beluga whale. This ended up propagating many other problems For example, on the flight to El Calafate, our small plane had a bit of a hard landing because I was not sure the pilot was fully informed of Yuri’s weight.

After setting up camp in El Calafate, we went out to the edge of Lago Argentino tonight to shoot the sunset to shoot the Perito Moreno glacier. Every few minutes, you could hear giant shards of ice cleave off and drop into the lake below.

See all of the dark bits of ice floating in the water? Those are actually the clear bottoms that were once underwater, but recently flipped over. In the midst of all this, and from out of nowhere, Yuri produced a giant bottle of cognac, which seemed to keep the Russians happy in the freezing cold. When I posted this photo on the blog and across the various social networks, many of my Facebook and Twitter friends requested a photo of Yuri. That night, while he slumbered, I endeavored to take a panorama of him. I considered the glacier as practice, since it was also big, white, and cracked.

This was shot with the Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 lens. The second of the five exposures (the -1 EV shot) was at f/8.0 with a shutter speed of 0.033 secs and a 250 ISO. As for the coal length, I think I had it cranked all the way to 14mm to take this shot. I’m always flummoxed as to whether or not I should take a panorama of these places, which essentially means I’d have to map out an invisible grid and then take a photo in each cell for later stitching using post-processing software. For this photo, I did use a Nikon D3X, which already has a 24 megapixel sensor, making the final product a fairly detailed 6000 pixels across or so. There is some invisible point when enough is enough, and I never quite know what it is. One limiting factor is time-of-processing. Panos take a long time to both shoot and post-process, so that comes into the decision making tree fairly early on.

Adventuring Deeper into Patagonia

Argentina’s City of the Dead

This is one of the many dead city blocks in La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. This place was filled with ornate mausoleums which ranged in style from the gothic to Victorian, each as macabre as the next.

The graveyard hosts some of the most famous people from Argentina, including Eva Perón. I spent about an hour walking down narrow alleys and broad boulevards of this eerie city. I could have spent many more hours, and I have an idea to sneak in one night after dark and bring my own lighting equipment. Any takers? Let’s do it… what’s the worst that can happen? (These kind of questions often get me in trouble).

In other news… I was taking a siesta today and in barged two Russians. One, my friend Dima, announced, “This is new roommate Yuri. He does not speak English.” Yuri is the size of a smallish Beluga and he is currently in his underwear.

Argentina's City of the Dead

Evening Storm Approaches the Temple

This is an old temple near the main complex of Angkor Wat that sits high on a hill.  At the bottom, a man gave me an option of riding an elephant to the top.  I don’t know why I didn’t!  I think I might have been in a hurry to see the sunset and the elephant looked old and ponderous.

It was a bit sketchy up there with the storm, but there was nothing metal so I didn’t feel like there was much danger of lightning.  I was used to Texas thunderstorms with big lightning, but maybe they didn’t have those sorts in Cambodia – who knows?  Not me.  Anyway, it was too cool to stay up there and watch the storm as it rolled in…

Evening Storm Approaches the Temple

Her Evening Elegance

A Texas sunset settled on the farm as we patiently waited for the sky to repaint itself every few minutes.

It was a very relaxing hour, watching the sun slowly descend through the clouds, interrupted on occasion by a stressful swapping of lenses.  I hate to get dust in the chamber, so the changing of lenses is always a high-anxiety event!  But the anxiety faded away pretty quick as we started watching the sunset again.

My friend Leslie had invited me out to her parent’s farm near Brady.  She’s an actress, a model, a photographer, and a bunch of other creative things…  so I had told her I would spend equal amounts of time shooting the farm, her animals, and her. It’s the old 33/33/33 rule of farm-shooting.    Anyway, I am sure some of you would rather see photos of her…  and still others of her animals…  but I can’t make everyone happy at once, so you’ll just have to wait a few weeks for me to sprinkle those in!  Until then, I hope you enjoy the sunset.

Reaching for the Sky

The Haunting Textures of the Hotel Sax

The Crimson Lounge sits behind some ornate doors in the lobby of the Hotel Sax in Chicago. I was lucky enough to get a private tour of this beautiful and secret place. It would be callously gauche to call this a hotel bar, because it is so much more.

There are about a dozen little rooms, enclaves, and velvet-curtained grottos that make up a textured complex of rooms that are just waiting around for me to lounge in while drinking something with an absurd name.

I collected a variety of other shots from this little gem of a place that I will be sprinkling into the blog over the next few months and years…

Shall we retire to the den for some port?

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x