“I’m a-leavin’ tomorrow, but I could leave today
Somewhere down the road someday
The very last thing that I’d want to do
Is to say I’ve been hittin’ some hard travelin’ too”
Bob Dylan – ‘Song to Woody’
I was here for the mountains, Mt Fitz Roy (3441 metres) in particular, this bad boy is a mean looking mountain. Its razor sharp, jagged peaks very much reminiscent of the Torres del Paine range a few hundred miles to the south. For the first 5 days I work locations near the ranch, heading up to the hills and out to the main highway. I’d spotted a potential shot on the bus journey to El Chaltén. The idea was to use a long lens with the highway in the foreground, leading the eye towards the mountains. Each morning I would walk the 2 miles before dawn to get to the chosen spot on the road, and on the 3rd attempt finally got the first light on the mountains.
After enjoying the relative luxury and hospitality of La Quinta, I slummed it in a cheap hostel (£4.50 per night) on the edge of town for the last 2 nights, missing the comfortable bed, the owners pet bulldog (Gutierrez) and en suite bathtub greatly. The Hostel was only 50 yards from the start of the Sendero Fitz Roy trail, and over 24 hours I hiked the one hour ascent to Lake Capri 3 times: for dusk, dawn and a (futile) second dusk. The final visit was a waste of time but on the dawn shoot I got lucky – the weather conditions were perfect – clear, and calm. At 7.40am the first, red light touched on the peak of Mt Fitz Roy, and gradually spread down the east face of the mountain, with its image reflected in the still waters of Laguna Capri. My equipment was already set up, I’d arrived half an hour before sunrise (to my dismay and disbelief there were already a few other people set up with tripods!) Alternating between the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 I fired off the frames in the sub zero temperatures. The Nikon lens doesn’t accept filters because of its bulbous front end, but with the sigma I used a 6 stop Neutral Density filter to slow the shutter down – which softened the slight ripples in the lake. Having shot from exactly the same spot at dusk the evening before I knew exactly what I wanted compositionally from the scene. With a sight as beautiful as this there are always many ways to fit in a frame but I keen on a panoramic, shot as 3 horizontals left to right. By 8.15am the sun was high in the sky and the light had lost its magic, a few pictures of the frosty grass in the foreground and I was on my way back down the hill, keen on a coffee and hot shower.