The Two Glacial Lakes of the Southern Andes (and our experiment with a Real-Time Community continues…)

This was a hard spot to reach!

It was quite a hike to get up here early in the morning, just as the sky was still in a dawn of deep blue. The two lakes on either side are those pure glacial blue lakes that you sometimes see from airplanes and wonder, “What’s it like to be down there?” I’ll tell ya – AWESOME! I went down there and drank from the lakes like a guanaco on holiday. It was incredible.

Now, a few days ago I started to “Connect the Community“. There are so many clever and interesting people in the community, and I thought you should meet on another! Anyway, it’s really taken off and people from the community are taking it in nice new directions – thanks!

It seems a great many of you are on Twitter, and many of us have created a “Stuck In Customs” group in Tweetdeck or Lists in Twitter. This enables me to sit there and watch/engage in a real-time stream of community activity. It’s cool! I updated that post with a 4-step guide on the creation of this real-time community. It’s very loosey-goosey… as any fun community is! Come in, engage, stay a while… drift off… create… come back and share… drift off… comon back… it’s good and natural!

(and our experiment with a Real-Time Community continues…)

The Two Glacial Lakes of the Southern Andes  (and our experiment with a Real-Time Community continues...)

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One of the Ruskies in my D&D Party

There were 6 of us, which is more or less the optimum number for a good campaign. I was the only Reaganite-capitalist among the five Soviet interlopers. I think, if we broke down people by personality and skillsets, we had a warrior, a shaman, a monk, a bard, and two clerics.

This guy, Vulva, would have been the monk. I’m not sure how to spell his name for sure, but he did respond to the word “Vulva”, if you put a little “w” sound with the “v”. Remember how Chekov was looking for the nuclear wessels? It was something like that. I say that Vulva was the monk of the group because his fingers and wrists were richly festooned with all sorts of Buddhist paraphernalia that he had picked up while in Tibet. He’s the sort of guy that would be really intimidating if it wasn’t for his kindness and zen peace.

Behind him are the Andes on the southern tip of Argentina.

One of the Ruskies in my D&D Party

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Stopping for Lunch at the Emerald Lake in the Andes (and a new photo-sharing thing)

We started the hike before the sun came up. It was really cold, so I was dressed in layers. People always give you very silly advice. Actually, whenever anyone tells me to “dress in layers”, I always find it very condescending! Why is that? I don’t know why that bothers me. I mean, OF COURSE dress in layers. Oh, you mean, if I get too hot, I can just take off a layer? Oh, brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? Well… This is a concept everyone is already familiar with, so whenever anyone tells you to “dress in layers”, try not to let it annoy you as much as it does me.

Anyway, after removing many layers, since I was burning hot after the first five minutes from carrying 50 lbs of camera equipment over the Andes, we stopped at this mountain lake to relax and have a quick lunch. It was a good chance to drop off the bag, put together my camera and tripod, then break it all down again, repack, and get back on the hike.

Also, we have a fun new features opening today on the site. It’s a great and simple way for you to share photos on Facebook, Twitter, Email, or IM. You can probably see it when you mouseover a photo… I think it will be a good way for regular viewers to easily share the photos with their friends and family! Below is a short video showing how to use it (even though it’s pretty dang simple!). Again, the more you share, the better it is for the site… so thanks again, very much!

Stopping for Lunch at the Emerald Lake in the Andes (and a new photo-sharing thing)

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The Park in Buenos Aires

I didn’t get enough sunsets in BA, but I tried to make the most of what I had!  This picturesque park was enormous.  And I mean enormous.  We walked for miles before finding our final destination, which we made it to just in the nick of time.  The parks of Buenos Aires were pretty much what I imagined… the Argentineans stroll around parks with a certain sense of style.  It’s hard to explain…but kinda cool.

Also, Jim Austin has written a nice article about HDR for Apogee Photo Magazine entitled “Symphony in a Moment: HDR Nature Photography from Eight Maestros”. Very nice of him to call me a maestro – not sure I deserve that! The photo he included (“A Razor to the Sky”) I have put below… of that amazing mountain range called Fitz Roy. The way to catch that orange-pink morning light was to hike up another mountain in pitch-black conditions. It was certainly worth it, traversing the icy crest, catching that glimpse of the sun coming over the horizon of the Andes.

The Park in Buenos Aires

A Razor to the Sky

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The Massive Glacier at Dusk

This is the Perito Moreno Glacier that empties into Lago Argentina. It was simply awesome to be there, as you can plainly see.

I was there with a bunch of Russians who had brought an insane amount of cognac. Between shots, they would all drink cognac, yell, and try to bring down the next ice wall. We were the only ones there, and we stayed until the last moments of dark to eek out every last bit of light from the sky.

Also, I wanted to point you to an article over at Abduzeedo yesterday about the new book. It was written by good man Paulo Canabarro (his Twitter account here). You can also follow @Abduzeedo if you are looking for another good set of Tweets. I notice that people that complain about Twitter always have the same sort of complaints: “I don’t want to know when everyone is standing in line at Starbucks!” Well, then, I say, you are following the wrong people! Once you get 50-100+ people to follow, it becomes a nice source for information, fun, and inspiration. It might take a while to build your personalized list, but then you will be hooked. (I am @TreyRatcliff, in case ya didn’t know).

The Massive Glacier at Dusk

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Exploring South America, a river from the Andes

This is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I knew it was going to be pretty beforehand, but I wasn’t really prepared for the non-stop grandeur of the landscapes. We chose the perfect time to go, right in the middle of Autumn. The backpacking took about twice as long as expected. I couldn’t stop myself from holding up every few minutes to set up for another photo. It was irresistible!

In other news, I’ve cleaned up and updated the “About Me” page here on the site. That thing gets longer and longer… I’m sure it looks like I’m some kind of egomaniac! Hehe… but people keep asking me the same sorts of questions over and over, so it’s kind of grown organically over time. Plus, my publisher was asking for a photo for the back cover of the book. We’re leaning towards that first one… they kind of like the little story that was related to it (which, in turn, is related to this photo!).

Exploring South America

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The Tree Alone Against the World

Two textured shots in a row! Sorry, I usually don’t do this (put two very similar things back to back on subsequent days) but I’ve been spending my weekend evenings here recording these videos. I just finished this one and was happy with the way it turned out.

There was this interesting tree sitting alone after a morning snow. The snow had melted, but the skies still had these white-out conditions. Those skies normally make for very dull visuals, so I thought this would be a good candidate for textures. I think, by now, you guys know I can’t stand a boring sky in my photos… and since you can’t always have a four-star sunset, maybe it drove me to use the world around me to find textures to re-purpose inside these photos. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll figure out that bit in a while.

The Tree Alone Against the World (by Stuck in Customs)

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The Glassy Lake Near Antarctica

I’m in the middle of working on a full upgrade for the Stuck In Customs Textures Tutorial. I think it’s already very good (only had ONE return in over a year!), but I can do even better. I’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months about this stuff and the technique continues to evolve. As I am working through some new shots for the tutorial, I thought I would go ahead and post this one. It was taken late one afternoon near a glacial lake on the southern edge of Argentina.

We have put together a fair upgrade plan if you have purchased the current Textures Tutorial and you want to a new set of 50 Textures taken from secret locations along with the new video. I’m excited to get it out there… not sure how much longer it will take. I want to give it a professional touch. In the meantime, I wanted to share this one with you!

The Glassy Lake Near Antarctica

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Circumnavigating the Lake

This is yet another glacier-filled lake in the mountains between Chile & Argentina. I got up pretty high on a short hike to get this shot. I had seen this bright tuft of red leaves and wanted to work it into the final product. We were on the edge of autumn and a few leaves were starting to change colors. Most of the leaves were not in any interesting compositional angles or were impossible to get near! So this one took a bit of a hike to find and set up…

Also, thanks to everyone on Twitter and Facebook that became agitated when the cop threatened to arrest me because I looked like a professional photographer with my tripod in front of the Coke museum. Anyway, Coke saw the message on Twitter and via several emails that were sent in – so thank you Gail and all the others that helped! Props to Coke Social Media (see down in comment 55) for the response.

And last, I’ll be on FOX here in Austin this (Tuesday) morning for the morning news… A little interview at sunrise. It’s midnight and I should be asleep right now… okay here I go.

Circumnavigating the Lake

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The Worst Way to Cross the River

After we set up camp in a little wooded area, we headed off to see if we could get to one of the glaciers by sunset.  This is near Cerro Torre, a region that is disputed between Argentina and Chile.  I didn’t see much of a dispute while I was there — no armies or anything.  I did see some wayward Guanacas, but I was not sure which side they were on.

I walked along the river until I got to a stopping point, where I got stuck.  I couldn’t cross because it was too sketchy, even for me.  So I set up here to prepare for the sunset.  This was shot about two hours prior to the sunset while I was exploring the area.  I’ll be sure to edit the other photos soon (ish) and get them up!

The Worst Way to Cross the River

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