The perils and rewards of photographing the commanding Andes ranges
Chris Gooley | AUSTRALIA
Home to 20 peaks over 6000m Peru’s Cordillera Blanca is the world’s highest tropical mountain range, forming a barrier between the Pacific and the Amazon. It’s a place of such incredible magnificence, cultural intrigue and wild inspiration. If you’re into Outdoor Photography, you won’t be able to put your camera away.
Taking yourself deep into the heart of the ranges provides a sensational wild abandon and your photography reaps the benefits from this invigorated frame of mind.
The volatile weather of high Andes provides continual excitement, momentarily revealing the true heights of hidden peaks, blasting winds that morph the clouds and the sun-drenched times where all is exposed in jaw-dropping majesty.
Condors ride the heat thermals using their enormous 3m wingspan, seemingly always at a distance, when one finally swooped by at close range, it’s thrilling to grasp their true enormity. Everyday walking through the Peruvian Andes reaffirmed our desire to see more of the world’s breathtaking wilderness.
Recommended travel months: April – October
Early season the valleys are verdant, the snowline is lower and the crowds are smaller. However, your chances of witnessing the huge peaks unhindered by clouds are best around June & July.
Good spots for Outdoor Photography:
Heavy rain and shrouded the view up the valley. Dissipating as quickly as it arrived the rain had cleaned the air, polished the mountain and the dark storm clouds arrear helped contrast and illuminate the snow line.
We’d spent all day taking photos and filming through Peru’s Santa Cruz trail, it was impossible to put the camera away. Sitting at camp, just about to call it a day, the last rays of light dyed the spindrift and illuminated the glacier on the peak above us.
We said goodbye to our donkey driver, one of the many friendly, weathered local residents carving out a living in this hostile and beautiful environment.
The southern peaks of the Huayhuash National Park. A fitting farewell to arguably the most incredible trek on Earth.
Machu Picchu: make sure you go after midday and you will have this amazing place for yourself.
A final note on safety: Make sure you acclimatize properly; our friend Charlie suffered quite a serious altitude sickness during our Huayhuash trek. He had blue lips, was coughing up blood and only able to stop coughing when braced in the prone hold. Also, an Israeli man died from acute altitude sickness during our stay in the region.
Camera gear you’ll need for this Outdoor Photography trip:
Polarized Filter – To reduce the glare from the snow and lakes, creating the rich blue sky and accentuating the rich colours on the mineral-laden mountains..
UV filter – General lens protection as you should have your lens cap off all day. Who knows when a majestic Condor will glide by…
ND Filter – To block out excess daylight and allow longer exposure. This can be great in the Andes to emphasize spindrift or waterfalls.
Tripod – For long exposure shots. A necessity when presented with moonlit peaks and starry night skies.
Many batteries – The treks can go for up to 10 days.
Memory Cards – Both for the sheer number of photos you’ll be taking but also as a means to split your photos across multiple cards, securing you against losing all your photos if you lose the one card.
Intervalometer – The Andes are an awesome spot to enjoy time-lapse photography. You’ll find amazing skies void of light pollution creating incredibly vibrant stars.