I’m a Believer

Cielo En Fuego

I want to apologize in advance for subconsciously inserting into your head the catchy yet annoying refrain from that 1966 pop tune performed by the Monkees. Rest assured it will remain there all day.

But those three words were innocently uttered after a seminal moment during last week’s Patagonia workshop in Chile and it wasn’t by me.

I’m convinced that the photo above represents one of the most fantastic natural views in all the world. The image itself, however, is flawed. Sure it has some great light and color in the sky but the composition leaves much to be desired: Too much visual weight on the left side  (the highest peak and the cascades of the Paine River); the obtrusive, burned-out bank in the middle ground that dominates much of the scene; the rocks in the lower right corner that are half-in, half-out. But with limited ability to move about (I am standing on a jagged rock outcropping with several of our workshop students in the middle of some very strong river current) it was the best I could do.

But aside from all of that, the light was sublime. The timing was exquisite (5 minutes after this was taken, we were being rained on). The colors were magical. During the walk back to the bus, Phil – one of our students on the workshop – made a confession of sorts. In the afterglow of one of the best sunrise shows I had seen in quite some time, he admitted that he had assumed such light and colors he had seen in landscape images (including mine) were “computer aided.”

That was a charitable way of putting it. But now he had experienced a taste of that sublime light in person and he then went on to carelessly let those three loathsome words fall from his lips in his distinctive Aussie accent. A believer indeed.

Canon EOS 5D MarkIII, Canon 24-105 f4 at 35mm, 1 second @ f11, ISO 125

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  1. Posted April 2, 2013 at 7:44 am by Aidan Oliver | Permalink

    Great photo and post Richard….

  2. Posted April 2, 2013 at 8:26 am by Sebastian | Permalink

    Great post Richard, and I agree with your student, the colors you get to see down there are “enhanced” by nature, even before getting to the computer. That’s the good thing of not having anything in the horizon that blocks the sun rays, just when the sun rises over the horizon, you get that first ray of light, completely unpolluted. Except for clouds, that are very common in Patagonia. I didn’t believe the colors til I went there. Now I’m a believer as well.

  3. Posted April 2, 2013 at 9:56 am by David Culp | Permalink

    Richard, this is a great post and what a fantastic location. I understand what you are saying about the composition but at times I think we photographers try to make things too perfect and nature is not perfect. It is rough and some places are burned out and some peaks are higher than others and thats what makes it different. I think the shot is fantastic and I’m glad to see you guys had great light this year.

  4. Posted April 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm by Jeffrey Rich | Permalink

    Great image for a square format. Unless cropping is not an option for you


  5. Posted April 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm by jeff fedor | Permalink

    I like to look at photos like this and put myself into the scene ride the waves,climb the mountain,feel the wind and run through the fields.

  6. Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:54 am by Lance Warley | Permalink

    I loved The Monkees! It was great listening to them on the radio and on vinyl in 1967.

    Sweet light, Richard. I’m a believer too.

  7. Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:07 am by Linda House | Permalink

    I am very thankful that I could experience this photograph and your description of the morning. It shifted my reality. Thank you Richard.

  8. Posted April 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm by Margo Tracey | Permalink

    Thanks for reminding us that you are human, Richard. I wouldn’t have caught any of those “flaws,” myself. This is absolutely magical, as are most of your compositions. I am a believer too.

  9. Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm by Phil, the student | Permalink

    Hi, I’m Phil the student. Lucky enough to have the companionship of Richard and Ian Plant in Patagonia.
    This sunrise was totally surreal in terms of the burst of reds ans oranges for around 10 mins as the eastern sun touched the clouds and mountains above. The colors in Richards masterpiece above we’re very real and in fact I suspect he’s actually desaturated the reds a tad to avoid blowouts. Around 15mins after this shot, drizzly rain set in and the sky was bleak, cold, and grey with no color whatsoever. Patagonia is a Tokinian middle earth kingdom !

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