Fotoeins Fotografie

location bifurcation, place & home

Posts tagged ‘Atacama Desert’

Pisco Elqui, Rio Claro, Estero Derecho, Rio Elqui, Elqui river, Region de Coquimbo, La Serena, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in La Serena: Pisco Elqui

I’m highlighting the La Serena-Coquimbo area in north-central Chile, where I lived from 2006 to 2011 after many visits to the area between mid-1990s and the early aughts.

On the paved two-lane road (D-485) next to the Claro river, this view of the Paihuano area by the side of the road faces south and upstream towards the town of Pisco Elqui. The colours provide reminders that (1) the Andes aren’t very far, and (2) this region is at the southern edge of the Atacama desert. Red-wine grapes don’t do well here, but unique soil chemistry allows pisco grapes to thrive from which pisco brandy and the very familiar “pisco sour” cocktail are made.

I made the photo above on 9 Aug 2008 with a Canon EOS450D/Rebel XSi and the following settings: 1/400-sec, f/8, ISO200, 55mm focus (88mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-jLp.

Embalse Puclaro, Puclaro, Rio Elqui, Elqui river, Region de Coquimbo, La Serena, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in La Serena: Puclaro dam & reservoir

I’m highlighting the La Serena-Coquimbo area in north-central Chile, where I lived from 2006 to 2011 after many visits to the area between mid-1990s and the early aughts.

In 1999, the Elqui river was dammed to control water flow into agricultural lands downstream and beyond to the twin cities of La Serena and Coquimbo. The reservoir behind the dam drowned a number of villages. The view above from the dam faces east to the Andes, the continent’s raised mountain spine.

I made the photo above on 13 Sep 2009 with a Canon EOS450D/Rebel XSi and the following settings: 1/80-sec, f/13, ISO200, and 18mm focal length (29mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-jLl.

Coquimbo, Cruz del tercer milenio, La Serena, Region de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in La Serena: the Coquimbo Cross

I’m highlighting the La Serena-Coquimbo area in north-central Chile, where I lived from 2006 to 2011 after many visits to the area between mid-1990s and the early aughts.

On previous visits to La Serena, I’d always been curious but never thought to ask. As new resident of the area in 2006, I finally make my way to the imposing cement structure. I’m up at the elevated platform where additional viewing areas provide a complete panorama of the area. At the foot of the cross there’s a chapel and a museum of religious art.

Inaugurated in 2001 on top of the hill Cerro El Vigía in the town of Coquimbo, the cross stands 93 meters high and 40 meters wide as one of the largest religious monuments to Catholicism in South America, and marks the calendar’s transition into a new millennium. That’s why the Coquimbo Cross is formally called la Cruz del Tercer Milenio (the Cross of the Third Millennium). In clear transparent conditions, the cross is visible to the naked eye from mountain observatories 60 kilometres to the east.

Avenida del Mar, Playa del Mar, La Serena, Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Standard view of Coquimbo from the beach in late-afternoon light – 15 Sep 2006.

I made both photos above with a Canon PowerShot A510 on 15 Sep 2006 and 1 Apr 2007. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-jLd.

Playa del Mar, Coquimbo, Cruz del tercer milenio, La Serena, Region de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in La Serena: February summer sunset

I highlight the La Serena-Coquimbo area in north-central Chile, where I lived from 2006 to 2011 after many visits to the area between mid-1990s and the early aughts.

5 Mar – Playa de 4 Esquinas (Beach at the 4 Corners).
12 Mar – Cruz del tercer milenio (Cross of the Third Millennium).
19 Mar – Embalse Puclaro (Puclaro dam and reservoir).
26 Mar – Pisco Elqui.

The shallow J-shaped bay and the 10-km long narrow strip of sand facing the Pacific Ocean is very popular in summer with visitors streaming into town from Argentina, Brazil, and other parts of Chile, ballooning both people- and vehicle-numbers. Always worth spending is time on the beach on a calm sunny morning or on a windy cloudy afternoon. The image here is late-afternoon on a beautiful warm late-summer day in February with the sun setting over the Coquimbo peninsula across the bay.

I made the photo above on 22 February 2006 with a Canon PowerShot A510. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-jtG.

Ruta 5, Carretera Panamericana, Panamerican Highway, Region de Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Under the desert sun

Above/featured: Ruta 5 (highway 5), a ribbon-like cut through the desert in Región de Atacama, Chile – 24 Nov 2009 (450D).

It’s an interesting question: how does one consider, view, or photograph what’s under the sun? There’s a lot of room for interpretation. Modifying the theme for the desert sun, I examine the “quality of sunlight” within the Atacama Desert in northern and north-central Chile, and within the Sonoran Desert in southwest United States.


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Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, Cerro Tololo, Region de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Andes in winter, a June day in Chile

23 June 2007.

A few days past the June winter solstice, the view to the Andes is illuminated by the afternoon sun to the northwest. It’s almost one year since I’ve moved to Chile to work at the Gemini South astronomical observatory, and part of my job includes shifts observing at the telescope for a duration between two and six nights at a stretch. For the time being, we’re sleeping in the dormitories at the neighbouring Cerro Tololo Observatory, and driving to and from Cerro Pachón where Gemini South resides. With less oxygen at altitude between 2500 and 2800 metres, it can be a little rough to sleep and work, but the views are always worth the temporary discomfort.

More about my past life

•   What it was like to be “up top”
•   What it meant to leave, both astronomy and Chile
•   My past research


I made the above photo 10 years ago today on 23 June 2007. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9To.

ANF airport, Aeropuerto Nacional Cerro Moreno, Region de Antofagasta, Atacama desert, Desierto de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Into the Atacama from ANF

We left the last traces of green behind in La Serena. After the 90-minute flight from LSC to ANF Antofagasta airport, it’s abundantly clear anything green has a tough-tough-go, and has to hold on to every hint of moisture. Here in the Atacama desert, shades of dust scatter across the barren landscape, switching quickly from plain brown to copper, from rust to sienna. Our vehicle turns gently south onto Ruta-1, towards the city of Antofagasta. Through traffic, we wind our way through the city, eventually onto the Ruta-28 spur, and beyond to the Panamerican Highway, which in Chile is known as “la ruta cinco” (Ruta-5).

ANF airport, Aeropuerto Nacional Cerro Moreno, Region de Antofagasta, Atacama desert, Desierto de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Leaving ANF airport towards Ruta 5

ANF airport, Aeropuerto Nacional Cerro Moreno, Region de Antofagasta, Atacama desert, Desierto de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Leaving ANF airport towards Ruta 5.

Ruta 1, Atacama desert, Region de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Ruta 1, approaching Antofagasta from the north.

Ruta 1, Antofagasta, Region de Antofagasta, Chile, fotoeins.com

Ruta 1, heading south through Antofagasta.

I made the above photos on 24 November 2009 with the Canon 450D camera, EF 70-300 zoom-lens, and the following settings: f/11, ISO200, and 70-140mm focal lengths (112-224mm full-frame). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6SU.

Chilean Andes, Cerro Tololo, Cerro Pach贸n, astronomical observatories, Chile, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Chile from 10000 feet, summer light on the Andes

20 February 2006.

With the light of the setting summer sun striking the foothills and the mountains in the Chilean Andes, this was the view east outside the plane from about 10000 feet (3000 metres) prior to approach and descent to LSC La Serena airport. This place was already familiar: I’d been coming here for astronomy research semi-regularly over the last ten years (since 1995), and it’s where I would live for the next five years (to 2011). It’s a fascinating individual experience to internalize the day-to-day surroundings which eventually become routine over a period of weeks, months, and years. On occasion, I still have difficulty grasping my own history.

At a latitude of 30 degrees south, the area shown here is near the southern limit of the Atacama desert in Región de Coquimbo. A group of white domes (telescopes) is clustered at the summit of Cerro Tololo (centre-left); the domes for the SOAR Telescope and Gemini South sit along the ridge of Cerro Pachón (centre-right). The mail-drop or “buzón” for the observatories is at the bottom of the ridge where the unpaved graded dirt road splits to Tololo and Pachón. To the east in the background are the north-south spine or ‘cord’ (Cordillera) marked by the Andes mountain range, and towering thunderstorms looming over the Argentina-Chile border. Directions to the nearest cities are marked: Vicuña (north), La Serena (northwest), Andacollo (west), and Ovalle (southwest).

I made the photo above with a Canon Powershot A510 camera on-board the LAN 1-hour flight from Santiago to La Serena. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6Rq.

Southern Atacama desert, between Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachon, Region de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Standing on the tall shoulders of the Chilean Andes

It’s a long road to a latitude of 30 degrees South to stand at an elevation of 9000 feet up on the mountainous spine of South America.

Over a period of 11 years, I visited telescopes in Chile to collect research data, before I moved to Chile to live and work there for 5 years. This is a brief look at the journey an astronomer makes to telescopes in Chile.

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Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, CTIO, Cerro Tololo, Regi贸n de Coquimbo, Chile, fotoeins.com

Chilean Andes: morning send-off with Atacama minions

Above/featured: Morning fog in the valleys below, facing north-northeast from Cerro Tololo Observatory – 9am CLDT (12pm UTC), 22 Sept 2011.

Late-2011: Cerro Tololo Observatory, Región de Coquimbo, Chile.

The morning creeps gently forward, up and over the desert sky. Sounds? What sounds? What scarce sounds there are, they pierce the silence with soft whistles and drawn-out wails. Alternating light and dark horizontal streamers, known also as “the rays of God,” mark the first light of dawn. Small clumps break loose, as the overnight shroud of valley fog pulls back slowly from view.

The sun climbs higher, the shadows grow shorter, the cotton patch dissolves. It isn’t long until a spectacular sight is revealed. This is what you get from a height of 7500 feet above sea level.

Dry river beds twist and sweep and stretch along canyon floors. Cactus and desert scrub carpets the surrounding hills in faded greens and dusty browns. To the east rise jagged rocky teeth capped with white frosting, fixing the location of the Andes along the Chilean spine.

In this desolate and isolated part of the world, I’ve often wondered about the few brave souls who make this place their home. They’re prospectors, miners, even some farmers, all of whom carry their burden for financial endeavour. People have been digging around in these parts for centuries, whether it’s plant, mineral, or some kind of monetary paydirt.

But there’s another human enterprise with different rewards, a quest that asks questions on a much larger scale.

How do planets take shape?
How do stars form?
How are galaxies assembled?
Is there life elsewhere in the universe?

These issues occupy astronomers from all over the world. Many astronomers go up onto mountains, just like this one, onto the summit of Cerro Tololo, peering into the skies. The telescopes point straight up, reaching out like outstretched hands, wanting more.

( Click here for images and more )

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