Quebrada de Humahuacha | February 2017
Published on: 17th February 2017
By F11 Magazine
By the time we reached Leon I was starting to wonder why we were there. The guidebooks positively glowed about the region north of Jujuy (pronounced HcchHcchoy, with lots of spit), yet so far all we were seeing was mines, landslides, industrial grime, mud, sombre grey skies and drizzle; had it really been worth the 13-hour flight to Buenos Aires, then another 3 north to Salta, and then the half-day drive from there? As so often happens the combination of travel fatigue and Mother Nature's perversity were skewering our first impressions. We pressed on, and slowly the Quebrada de Humahuacha revealed its grandeur, muted under the leaden skies, but increasingly impressive.
By the next morning spirits were soaring as we trudged laboriously up a hill in the thin air, our head-torches lighting the way in the darkness before dawn. The reward was the spectacle of the first light painting the multihued rock formations of the narrow mountain valley below, serenaded by a couple of indigenous Quechuan ladies perched on a nearby rock, singing as the sun rose. Oh yes; South America always delivers intoxicating adventure, why did I ever doubt it would?
But that was weeks ago. Since then we've waited for the light on dawn and dusk patrols in rugged landscapes all over northern Argentina.
After the Quebrada de Humahuacha came another dramatic gorge; the Quebrada de la Conches; a region of stunning desert landscapes not dissimilar to Utah. At Cafayate we stayed on the very wine estate, Bodega la Enteco, that makes my favourite Malbec; Don David.
In Buenos Aires we watched posturing tango dancers while tackling an unfeasibly large parillada (mixed grill). Oh, the food; empanadas on the road, llama stew in Tilcara, solomio (pork tenderloin) near Mendoza, the best steak I have ever tasted at Tupungato, and yes, the odd glass of vino tinto. I've shot the Cerro de Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colours) at Purmamarca, the Mirador Tres Cruces in Valles Calchaquies, the vineyards of the Uco Valley beneath the towering Andes, flocks of parrots alighting in trees, empty roads disappearing into the receding planes of arid mountains, lush valleys, red-rock panoramas, crepuscular rays of light over the highest mountains in the Americas, grapes, a cat in my camera bag, tango dancers, and the Obelisk in Buenos Aires.
We've had our bank cards refused in ATMs across the country, braved the crossroads in Salta, dined in a monastery, slept through an earthquake, ended up in Rosario when we should have been in Buenos Aires, met Argentina's answer to ZZ Top, hired the world's worst rental car, marvelled at the skills of the professional dog walkers of Palermo, muttered under our breaths at a pretentious art gallery, and learnt the Spanish for scrambled eggs; huevos revueltos, although my pronunciation needs a bit of work. What a trip. What an adventure. This was my seventh visit to Argentina yet I never knew it had so much to offer. We'll be back...
You will be hearing and seeing all about our Argentine adventure in the next two issues of the Chasing the Light Online Magazine in the form of Behind the Lens features and Video Blogs. That is of course assuming you're already an f11 Member. If not, well there's now a sample edition you can view, plus a video explaining what f11 Membership is all about, and what you really are missing out on.
Take this month's issue of the Chasing the Light Online Magazine for example; there's my Behind the Lens feature from the Jurassic Coast, a video on using an app to control my camera remotely from my phone while on a cliff-top, a How its Done on Being There on a frosty morning above the Piddle Valley, So You Want To Go Pro? on the challenges and pitfalls of embarking on a career in photography, two Post-Production videos, reports from regular columnists Ross Hoddinott, Bas Meelker and Ben Pipe in Glencoe, Madeira and Shanghai, and a superb Guest Feature by Australian travel photographer Tim Gerard Barker.
There's also your images in the f11 Member's Gallery, plus all the details of the f11 Member's Your Vision 2017 Photography Competition. We have some tasty prizes on offer and entry is free for f11 Members, but the deadline for that competition is fast approaching, so get your most imaginative images to us muy rápidamente. Remember if you're an f11 who has already had your images in the Member's Gallery you will need to re-submit for the competition.
Join f11 Columnist Ross Hoddinott and I for three days of photography and tuition in one of my favourite of English landscapes taking you right through the process of photographic fulfilment from standing on a hill top before dawn waiting for the light, the capture of the decisive moment, the processing of the RAW in Lightroom, the fine-tuning in Photoshop and finally the output of your image as a Big Beautiful Print as consummation. If post-production is a daunting black art this is the course for you.
Alternatively you could join us for 3 days of photo-exploration in the limestone gorges, woods, vineyards and villages of the beguiling yet little known region of Franche-Comte in eastern France in autumn, October 20-23, 2017.
Once again I'll be running this course with the help of local photographer Nicolas Logerot. We had a great time there last year. Wendy and I are looking forward to visiting that beautiful area again this year when the fall colours should be at their best.
On all our courses this year and every year, Yorkshire, Franche-Comte and Exmoor, partners are positively welcomed with open arms.
We're now just back off the plane from Buenos Aires. Our next event is at Winchester, where we'll be staging the latest incarnation of the Chasing the Light Road Show on Tuesday March 14; tickets and details from Winchester Photography Society. Following that comes The Photography Show at Birmingham's NEC, March 18-21. I'll be presenting daily in the Adobe Theatre on the Fundamentals of Post Production; see you there, or at Winchester, hopefully.
Lastly I'd like to pay tribute to our Chasing the Light Online Magazine Editor, Freya Dangerfield, who after five years at the helm is moving on. Dealing every month with us temperamental photographers with hazy concepts of deadlines has not been easy, I'm sure, but she's brought invaluable guidance and direction to the whole f11 Project virtually from inception to its present maturity. She'll be missed. We'll be announcing her replacement next month, meanwhile, the adventure and photography to inspire and inform carries on, in the Chasing the Light Online Magazine, on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram. First though I've just a bit of editing from Argentina to get through.