Category: South America (Page 1 of 2)

Andean Skies

Could the skies possibly get any more blue? I’m wondering about this as I have just returned from another part of the world where the skies took my breath away, and where I was awed and mesmerized by looking up.

I’m certain that the high altitude has something to do with the deep clear blues of Andean skies, but a blue sky on it’s own is just that, a gorgeous blue sky. What makes the blue skies of the Andes all the more interesting to photograph are the clouds that float through, changing shapes and transforming the scenery as they pass. Sometimes the clouds form dark ominous storm fronts, other times they dance through as puffy white “happy” clouds. Both are stunning against the backdrop of the Andes mountains and plateaus.

As a follow up to the popular post African Skies, I present here the Andean Skies, showcasing new images from my recent journey through Peru from Cusco to Puno aboard the Andean Explorer Train.

Andean Skies

Could the skies possibly get any more blue? I’m wondering about this as I have just returned from another part of the world where the skies took my breath away, and where I was awed and mesmerized by looking up.

I’m certain that the high altitude has something to do with the deep clear blues of Andean skies, but a blue sky on it’s own is just that, a gorgeous blue sky. What makes the blue skies of the Andes all the more interesting to photograph are the clouds that float through, changing shapes and transforming the scenery as they pass. Sometimes the clouds form dark ominous storm fronts, other times they dance through as puffy white “happy” clouds. Both are stunning against the backdrop of the Andes mountains and plateaus.

As a follow up to the popular post African Skies, I present here the Andean Skies, showcasing new images from my recent journey through Peru from Cusco to Puno aboard the Andean Explorer Train.

AAA magazine cover shot: Machu Picchu

So I finally got my digital hands on a digital version, and here it is!

The current JAN/FEB 2011 cover of AAA Home & Away magazine (Ohio edition):

Like it? You can find this image

and many more available for licensing at:

Mira Terra Images Travel Photography & Services

Or, take a look at my Danita Delimont collection. Many thanks to Danita!

So if you wish to simply appreciate the image for what it is, read no further. And if you’re hoping to find the inside scoop on the technical details of exposure, ISO, focal length, and all that, look away now…you won’t find it here.

Still curious to know how this image came to be? Read on.

You see, my preferred camera to shoot with is the Canon 5D Mark II, backed up by the Canon 50D. But I also carry a small Panasonic Lumix which I’ve had forever, before the 5D came along, simply to shoot video clips for quick’n’easy web posting. It just so happened that when I saw this moment – the solo traveler in the mist overlooking Machu Picchu – I had been shooting video with the Panasonic. No matter where I am, I am constantly composing everything I see in my mind’s eye. So I snapped a couple of stills with the Lumix before switching the lens on my Canon 5D Mark II to get the same shot. Well, by the time I had done so, the person moved on, or was joined by a crowd, or the mist moved in, I forget exactly what changed, but the “moment” was gone. So this was it. And here’s my big secret. The above magazine cover was shot with an everyday point and shoot Panasonic Lumix.

It just goes to show that the camera doesn’t really matter all that much. The camera is simply the tool with which a photographer composes and records a moment in time. Had I not shot the moment with the Lumix I had in hand, and instead only fumbled around to grab the right lens on my Canon SLR, then there would be no cover shot, no license, no sale, and no point in this blog post.

Recognize the moment, compose, create.

Finally, before you scream “dumb luck”, here’s a moment that I did manage to capture with my Canon 5D Mark II which got it’s turn in the print publishing spotlight, featured in National Geographic Adventure magazine 2008/09, and re-licensed for National Geographic magazine (France’s publication) in 2010:

Various other versions and images from this shoot have also been published by Destinations & Adventures International, Wilderness Travel, and a few others. Here’s my favorite frame as it appeared in a 2-page spread in Cathay Pacific‘s in-flight magazine “Discovery”:

There’s no question that Machu Picchu is a special place for me…and my camera. If you’d like to experience it for yourself, perhaps even with me, here’s information about two trips Ill be leading to Peru in October 2011:

TRAVCOA’s Galapagos & Machu Picchu – October 5
TRAVCOA’s Peru & Bolivia – October 12
*note: the dates overlap and you can combine both itineraries into one comprehensive journey of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. How’s that for convenient?

Both of these journeys include an overnight at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, allowing for early access to the citadel before the buses and crowds arrive. No matter who you travel with or how you get to Machu Picchu, fork it out and DO THIS. You’ll be so glad you did and you’ll thank me later!

I’m very much looking forward to returning to Peru again this year. No matter how many times I’ve been, I’ll never tire of Machu Picchu – it’s always a new and wondrous experience. I hope you can join me…and be sure to bring your camera (any kind)!

Clams & Cockles of Chile – Puerto Montt

There’s more to picturesque Puerto Montt than brightly colored boats decorating quiet little harbors. A closer look reveals people living and working on and around those boats, so I decided to follow along with my lens and see what life was all about for these people.

Clams. That’s right. Clams. And Cockles too. Mussels, scallops, urchins, and a few other crustaceans were evident, as were freshly caught Congrio and Salmon. But mostly, for the purpose of this post anyway, it’s all about the clams. And cockles.


Basically they’ll come off the boat carrying a big load on their back, then they take it right into the market where it is put out for sale. It really doesn’t get any fresher than that, does it?

At some point along the way, some lucky clams and mussels get picked to be dried and smoked for later consumption. As I wandered the market stalls, I nearly tripped over this lonely little hot smoking pot next to a stand – whether or not it actually has anything to do with the smoking process or if it just stood as a foot warmer, I really don’t know – but if you do, please share in a comment!

Ultimately, the dried molluscs are strung and hung like garlands throughout the market street. Although I didn’t have a taste, I certainly thought they made worthy eye-candy for the lens!

More:

Chile Gallery

Visit Puerto Montt with Travcoa

Hope your eyes enjoyed a taste of southern Chile! This post has joined the gang of food-related posts over at Wanderfood Wednesday, check them out! And if you missed that, it’s also posted over at Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday!

Beyond Rio….a look at the favelas

Most visitors to Rio do their sightseeing by checking out views from Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, or the deck of their hotel overlooking Copacabana or Ipanema Beaches. Well that’s all fine and good, but did you know that some of the best view properties in Rio are rarely visited at all by camera-toting tourists? What are those brightly colored buildings clinging precariously to the hillsides, anyway? Aren’t they the slums – the favelas? Aren’t they ridden with crime and poverty and machine guns and drug lords?
Actually, favelas are neighborhoods with people and kids and schools and stores and restaurants and businesses, much like any other neighborhoods. Sure, they have a crime-ridden reputation which is based partly in fact, but which is widely exagerated by films and media. Yes, they can be dangerous, and you wouldn’t want to go wandering into a favela on your own. But if you so desire to see “the other side of Rio”, then book a favela visit with an experienced and reputable outfit, such as Marcelo Armstrong’s Favela Tour.

Of course, there are the views of Rio you don’t get elsewhere.

But the best experience is to wander through the streets and alleys and get a glimpse of every day life in a favela. I did just that, and was charmed by the colorful buildings and people who make the favelas their home.

For more:

Feathers and Food (Rio and Carnival)

Favela Photo Gallery

Brazil Photo Gallery

Kids Around the World: Hang In There!

Two young girls can’t resist a peak over the wall of the local futbol stadium in Puerto Natales, Chile. Caught in mid-hang, did the little one fall before the other girl got the bike seat under her feet? No! She didn’t! I still can’t figure out how no feet are touching the ground anywhere in the shot.

I took this back in the days of film, and I remember it was the last frame on the roll. It was one of those moments I just grabbed and forgot about, and was pleasantly surprised when back I got the slides back from the lab weeks later. The whole scene unfolded so quickly, by the time I changed rolls both girls were on the bike halfway home, smiles and laughter all the way.

See what other bloggers are up to at Delicious Baby.

Happy Photo Friday, and hang in there!

Photo Friday – Kids Around the World: Portraits of Peru

Children in traditional dress hold special appeal, and there are many to be admired in Peru. These kids were both spotted at Awana Kancha, a Quechua word for “Palace of the Weaver.” Awana Kancha is a living museum for any visitor seeking a rich understanding of the colorful Peruvian textiles and traditional weaving techniques of the Andes. From caring for the llamas to selling the sweaters, every step of the process is not only demonstrated for visitors, but also passed on to the next generation. These children are the traditional weavers of tomorrow.

Be sure to visit my extensive gallery of llamas, weavers, and textiles of Peru. And take a look at other Delicious Baby Photo Friday Bloggers!

Life on the Amazon – Part II: The Experience


The meeting of the waters on the Amazon, as seen from the plane

Preface: I wrote this blog (as well as “The Pantanal” article) on a napkin in a brand new wine bar at the Tropical Hotel in Manaus, where I was entertained by a wide screen tv playing a DVD of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” concert live in Berlin. I must say it was a very surreal experience, made all the more wondrous by an endless stream of complimentary house drinks – the first because the wine bar was new so they offered a “welcome drink” for checking it out. The second came compliments of the front desk because I was ending a 2-week tour with my guests at the Tropical and had already seen them off at the airport – they knew I was finally off the 24/7 clock. And the third because I had simply made myself so comfortably engrossed in my napkin writing that the bartender thanked me for being the only one there most of the night. By that third drink, I was feeling like Joni Mitchell “…in the blue tv screen light….I drew a map of…”, so my table, and napkin, looked like this:
Point being, the Tropical Hotel is simply the place to stay in Manaus. The heavy metal rock band Metallica just checked out, and now Prince Charles and Camilla were there; the staff were already buzzing about news of hosting Obama in the next month (has that happened yet?). Meanwhile, I was finally adjusting to working without my overheated mac, and here at last, I present the final publication of the Amazon napkin blogs. As hand-written.

Amazing Amazon

So, if I lacked for rain in the Pantanal, the Amazon surely made up for it. Manaus is probably the rainiest city I have ever been (and I lived in Seattle for 3 years). Well, it is in the middle of the Amazon, which is a rainforest, afterall. And if nothing else, you can be sure of rain. Lots of rain.

I boarded the luxurious Iberostar Grand Amazon in the company of 30 fellow passengers, on a boat that accommodates 150! How lucky was that? It felt like a very exclusive cruise, like we were the personal guests of the Brazilian captain – who, as a matter of fact, had his family on board too! And the crew were no less attentive to the rest of us, they were positively welcoming. By the end of 3 days I felt I’d been adopted into a Brazilian family, with lots of brothers, cousins, and a few crazy aunties.

Our first outing by small boat expedition began with blue skies and warm temperatures. Forget about jackets and raingear, “it’s gonna be gorgeous” was the attitude everyone had as we left the Iberostar.


The first 40 minutes were, then suddenly, out of nowhere, a massive tropical downpour. Rain so thick and dense it made for white out conditions! And there we were on an open-air excursion boat, no roof, no cover, nothing to protect us from the elements. It was a first for me to experience getting completely drenched – socks, knickers and all!
Fortunately, I always carry a drysack for my camera and lens – a lesson I learned in the 90’s when I forded a river in Guatemala, and ended up treading across neck-deep with one arm while the other held my camera over my head. I’ve only used the drysack once since, in Costa Rica, but I always carry it, several in fact, when I am cruising. It’s the most valuable accessory in my photography travel bag by far.
But you know what? Rain in the rainforest is good. It just feels so good, so pure, so real. Better than a hot shower after a cold surf…and that’s heavenly. So as long as I have my drysack with me, let it rain all it wants. Bring it on! There were certainly enough breaks in the clouds to pull the camera out and spot a few animals – here are some of the more exciting sightings:

Three-toed Sloth

Boto – Pink Amazon River Dolphin
Green Iguana
Squirrel Monkeys
Caiman (immature)
…and another Three-toed Sloth

This is not a showcase of amazing wildlife stock photography – consider this a very realistic Amazon wildlife portfolio for 3 days from a boat. If you go to experience a cruise on the Amazon, then you’ll love it – you’ll return home with lots of pictures of trees which you’ll share with friends explaining “there’s a bird or monkey there somewhere”, and the joy is in the story told. But if your intention is to get decent wildlife pictures, then head to the Pantanal, where you’ll find the same animals in more open areas and easier to see close up without neck strain. My advice? If you’re in Brazil, or planning to go, do BOTH.

The great thing about cruising the Iberostar Grand Amazon is that you always have a plenty of food to come back to. And it’s easier to photograph, too.

And now, a tribute to the Iberostar staff, particularly the bartender, and those fun-lovin Brazilian aunties of mine!

Life on the Amazon – Part I: The People

To put the Amazon experience into words is an intimidating task, but one that is overcome easily with a lens instead of a pen. So here is the first of two parts of my “Life on the Amazon” article, in which I’ll let pictures tell the story. Enjoy the journey!

















These images, plus many more in vertical composition, are available for licensing. Please visit the complete gallery at Mira Terra Images Amazon Stock Collection.

Feathers and Food – Carnival alternatives in Rio

Ok, so you’re in Rio de Janeiro, and you’ve missed Carnival. You still want to experience the music and see the costumes, but without spending days and nights sitting on a concrete stadium bleacher surrounded by crowds and a giant party. Out of season, but are you out of luck? What to do?

Well, depending on the time of year, it could be worthwhile to visit a Samba school. I didn’t do that, as I was in Rio only a week or two after Carnival, and the schools were just re-forming and classes re-grouping to begin preparation for next year’s celebration. So there wouldn’t be all that much in the way of performance going on. But that’s a link worth following anyway.

Any time of year, however, there is an excellent option at the Plataforma Theater in Leblon. There are many websites, reviews, and youtube links which refer to this venue/show, so Search away. Or if you’d rather just take it from me, here are the details:

Plataforma I
Rua Adalberto Ferreira, 32
Leblon Rio de Janeiro
Phone: 2274-4022

In researching links for this article, I discovered many are of the opinion that this folklore show is just a big tourist trap. Well, I am of the opinion that shows attract tourists with good reason, and nothing about this show had me feeling trapped. In fact, quite the contrary, it had me dancing for weeks following!

I didn’t have dinner there, but that is an option. I just went for the show. What a show it was! Amazing mulata dancers, Capoeira (a mixture or martial arts and dance), and of course Samba, accompanied by a cultural journey of Brazilian music….and live singers! The grand finale is a parade of colorful feathered Canival costumes, and apparently this particular show is the venue for the winners of the 2009 Carnival Schools Samba Contest. The Samba Schools are judged in the following categories:

* Samba Song
* Harmony
* Flow and Spirit
* Theme of the Year
* Overall Impression
* Floats and Props
* Costumes
* Vanguard Group
* The Flag Bearer

They all looked pretty fantastic. Here’s a slideshow of some favorite costumes:

And of course, what blog about a Samba Show would be complete without a video clip, just to give you an idea of the rhythm, energy, and pulse of the evening!

And before I abandon the subject of Carnival, I feel compelled to share a link to some pictures of the real deal, Carnival in action, by my good friend, great photographer, and Brazil enthusiast, Mark Whitley. Take a browse around his website to see more travel and people pictures from Brazil – for years his images have inspired me and fed my dreams to visit this colorful country!

As for dinner, well, Rio is full of excellent dining options. ZUKA is my choice to mention here, because the food presentation was a Carnival in itself. Don’t panic that the website is only in Portuguese – the staff speak and understand english, and the menu is bi-lingual, but it is anything but a “tourist menu”! The food looked as good as it tasted, so of course, I’ll finish my short review in pictures instead of words:

« Older posts

© 2020

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑