78 Photos - Jan 3, 2016
Photo: Santiago, Chile, viewed from the top of the funicular at Cerro Santa LuciaPhoto: Skillfully executed mural on a house in the Bellavista districtPhoto: Reminds me of San Francisco, but with the saturation slider cranked upPhoto: Playing chess in Plaza de ArmasPhoto: Catedral de Santiago.  Most of the pictures in this album were taken using a Sony a7II camera with various Sony and Zeiss lenses.Photo: But some were taken with a Nexus 6P smartphonePhoto: The Nexus 6P's HDR+ mode does well in many challenging lighting situationsPhoto: But for maximum sharpness and control it's hard to beat a full-frame camera and a Zeiss prime lensPhoto: Houses step up the hillsides above Valparaiso, a city on the coast an hour west of SantiagoPhoto: The vegetable market in ValparaisoPhoto: Photo: I remember getting a haircut in one of these when I was a kid growing up in New YorkPhoto: Volcanos on a flight south from SantiagoPhoto: Some of which are obviously activePhoto: A sheep farm in Patagonia north of Punta Arenas.  These plains remind me of Wyoming, but colder and windier in summer.Photo: This farmer immigrated from Croatia, bringing fine European furniture with him.  BTW, The Nexus 6P's HDR+ did well in this high dynamic range situation; the Sony camera failed badly, blowing out the outdoor scenery.Photo: If you tip a sheep back on its rump, it ceases struggling...Photo: ...and can be more easily shearedPhoto: A naked sheep and its former wool coatPhoto: Torres del Paine National Park, one of the few corners of Patagonia's vast wilderness with enough infrastructure to support casual trekking. Stitched panorama from two Nexus 6P HDR+ mode shots.Photo: Hosteria Las Torres is the only hotel located on the park's famous "W" trail, making it a convenient home base for short excursionsPhoto: I did a 2-day trek that began with a catamaran shuttle from Pudeto Landing to Refugio Paine GrandePhoto: View of the park's iconic Los Cuernos ("horns") from the catamaranPhoto: The downside of Torres del Paine's good infrastructure is its popularity.  These hikers were lined up at Paine Grande waiting for the catamaran to take them back to Pudeto.Photo: On the trail from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Los CuernosPhoto: Late afternoon sun on Lago NordenskjöldPhoto: Dinner in Refugio Los Cuernos, which is reachable only on foot.  Another impressive performance by the Nexus 6P.Photo: View at sunset from the deck of the refugePhoto: While the "W" trail is largely forested, the hills across the lake are semi-arid steppes, supporting only desert shrubs and tuft grassesPhoto: Mata Barrosa (Mullinum spinosum) flourishes at the boundary between forest and scrublandPhoto: Chilean firebrush (Embothrium coccineum)Photo: Andean Condor riding updrafts above a ridgePhoto: South American gray fox (Lycalopex griseus)Photo: No need for a zoom lens when photographing guanaco (Lama guanicoe)Photo: A gaucho (cowboy) leads a pack train to resupply one of the refugesPhoto: Sedimentary rock laced with granitic intrusions that look like fortified walls marching across the landscapePhoto: Mirador de Las Torres, climax of the "W" trek (or a strenuous day hike from Hosteria Las Torres).  Stitched panorama.Photo: On the way down, a snow squall blots out the mountainsVideo: And a windy snow squall it wasPhoto: Sony a7II on tripod, Zeiss 35mm lens, 1/2-second exposurePhoto: After 3 days of sunny weather, a storm descends on the park, bringing high winds and rapid changes in weatherPhoto: Torres del Paine ("towers of blue"), approaching stormPhoto: Caution - area of strong winds.Photo: While photographing this waterfall, I had to drop into a crouch several times to avoid being blown off my feet by gusts that exceeded 50mphPhoto: The aptly named "road at the end of the world" from Torres del Paine National Park to Punta Arenas.Photo: Dusk in the harbor at Punta Arenas 2 days after the longest day of the year.  It is just past 11:00pm.Photo: A full-size replica of the Nao Victoria, Ferdinand Magellan's flagship,...Photo: ...which actually sits on dry land in Punta Arenas, a few yards from the edge of the Straits of Magellan.Photo: On the main deck of the Nao Victoria.  The original was the first ship to circumnavigate the globe, in 1519-22.Photo: The Victoria was a 3-masted Spanish Carrack.  Although only 70 feet long, the ship had 5 decks.  This is the aft portion of the main deck, showing a portion of the rudder assembly.Photo: One of the builders poses in front of his ship.  The hull of this replica does not appear to be sealed, and is hence probably not seaworthy.Photo: Mausoleums in the municipal cemetery in Punta ArenasPhoto: Photo: The family names on these monuments reflects Punta Arenas's rich immigrant history:  Spain, Germany, Italy, Croatia, and the other countries of South AmericaPhoto: I booked a ferry trip to Isla Magdalena to see penguins.  However, the travel agency failed to forward the reservations of 30 people to the company running the boat, which was the only one of the day and already at maximum capacity.Photo: To force a solution, several people among the 30 convinced the rest of us to join in holding the boat hostage, refusing to let it leave the pier.  The company eventually caved and arranged for a second boat to take us to the island.  I would not have been so confrontational, but in the end I did benefit from this tactic.Photo: Isla Magdelana, which is uninhabited...Photo: ...except for 50,000 pairs of Magellanic penguinsPhoto: Pairs were easily identified; just look for two penguins standing together and in the same poseVideo: The penguins seemed unconcerned with our presence, and went about their business as if we weren't therePhoto: Parent and adolescentVideo: Unlike the better-known Emperor penguins, the Magellanic penguins live in burrows.  Their call sounds like the braying of a donkey.Photo: The island is shared by a few thousand nesting gullsPhoto: Flying north from Patagonia, the airplane flew directly over Torres del Paine National Park.  The smaller oval denotes the Hotel Las Torres; the larger oval denotes Mirador de Las Torres.Photo: Patagonia is isolated from the rest of Chile by ice sheets that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Argentine border. This makes road access to Patagonia impossible except through Argentina.Photo: The Viedma glacier, which flows east into Argentina's Glacier National Park (Parque Nacional de Los Glaciares)Photo: Pucon, a small tourist town in the Lake District, is dominated by Villaricca, an active volcanoPhoto: If you look carefully in this binoculars + smartphone shot, you can see smoke rising from the volcano's craterPhoto: These semaphores alert citizens to any change in the volcano's status, as do sirens that are "exercised" at noon each day.Photo: On each street is a map showing where to flee in case of an eruption.  The last major eruption was in March 2015, just 9 months ago.Photo: You can be sure I read this sign carefully. During a 3-day stay the volcano was quiet, but there was a 4.2 magnitude tremor at 3am one night.Photo: One of the classic hikes near Pucon is in Herquehue National ParkPhoto: In the park's higher elevations is a virgin forest of Araucaria trees.  Shown here is a seedling and the massive columnar trunk of a mature specimen.  These trees are living fossils dating to the early Mesozoic. It is believed that the long necks of sauropods evolved to browse the foliage of these trees. I looked around for brontosauruses, but didn't see any.Photo: Back in Santiago, the government museums were closed due to a strikePhoto: But the restaurants were open, including Boconariz, considered one of the best wine bars in South America.  Their wine list fills one wall of the restaurantPhoto: Each tasting glass comes with a labelPhoto: Their wine cellar, which customers are allowed to tourPhoto: Apt sign at the airport.  Even better than Pisco Sours are the deep maroon Calafate Sours, which was especially popular in Patagonia.