Bahia Bustamante - Argentina

Our first big adventure after leaving Buenos Aires was to Bahia Bustamante. This large ranch was located on the coast south of the town of Trelew. The ranch, which is larger than the island of Kauai in Hawaii has 20,000 sheep, but most income there actually comes from a big seaweed harvesting business. My parents read a 2011 NY Times article and decided this was the place to come.

At the ranch, we stayed in rustic little cabins with a ocean views. The food was tremendous, and every day we went out on interesting tours. I'm not going to write much besides the captions, but as you can see, the four days at Bahia Bustamante were totally incredible. 


The blinds, in our rustic little casa near the ocean.

If you can use it to your advantage, backlighting can create interesting effects. Even the lens flare adds something. Oh, this is a real sheep dog, as there were 20,000 sheep on the ranch.

It's such a small element, but I think the presence of the moon over the chimney is what makes this image interesting.

Just metal doors, at just the right time.

During our first night at Bahia Bustamante, we were treated to an amazing feast, with fresh lamb. The "asador" or barbeque of the lamb, is often done with these crosses to let the fat drip down the meat. We also ate seagrass, which was in a cold salad with vinegar. Crunchy and salty, yum.

Julia tried to get one of these things going. No luck.

This is actually rockbed, although it's fairly unconsolidated. Hard to believe there was a forest here a long time back. Petrifying!

These are all pieces of petrified wood. Some have these mineral deposits that don't look like wood, but many of the pieces really look like chunks of wood. In a deoxygenated environment, the carbon in the wood was replaced by silicon, creating wood rocks. Because this is a special site, we were told not to remove any pieces and put back everything exactly as we found it. Seems reasonable, but wish I could have taken back a piece. It's so cool.

Some of the petrified wood created really abstract shapes.

Here, this rock looks just like a log. Probably because it used to be a log.

Nature is crazy. Rock or wood, you decide.

I find images of animals always look better when you're shooting from their angle. Now with a flip-out screen on my Sony a77, I don't even need to lie down on the ground, and I can get shots that I would have previously missed.

This will not burn.

A good example of minerals on the inside of this former log.

Even when surrounded by amazing scenery and crazy petrified rocks, it is still always worth looking at what else is around. Sometimes the most seemingly mundane subject can make for a great image.

I'm not much of a black and white guy, although I appreciate when it's done well. I just thought this shot did not gain anything from the color. You can see the sheep all penned in the back, and this is the series of pens that they go through before being sheared.

I saw more rainbows and incredible sunsets and sunrises in Patagonia then anywhere else. This is literally twenty feet from our dinner table. The rapidly changing weather created incredible creations of light. I think the brown of the water just adds to the moodiness and the seagull adds a little bit of life. I'd love to see this image printed large.

Same time as image above, but here I'm using the receding shoreline along with the angle of the clouds on the left getting smaller as they point to the sun rays on the right, to create different directions for your eyes to follow into the image. Or maybe it's just a pretty picture.

I'm not religious, but sometimes...

One of my favorite images from the trip. It's the shape of the water into the negative black space, that I feel turns this image from a pretty sunset image to one that makes you think a little more about what you're seeing. This is another one I'd love to see printed large.

I love shooting during that brief period where the natural ambient light and artificial light are fairly equal in brightness.

I love this little tarn like pond. On cloudy days, greens can pop. This is also another example of my belief that many great photos come from looking away from where everyone else is looking. We were at a penguin colony, and had limited time, but I still felt this was a worthwhile image enough to forgo shooting the penguins. Look the other way.

Magellenic penguin chicks. On the property of Bahia Bustamante is a small but incredible little island filled with penguin nests. Again, I found the flip-out screen to be very helpful in both getting images at tough angles, and being less intrusive (slightly) to the penguins. Surprisingly, these penguins were pretty comfortable with us walking around. We were told not to get in between them and the water when they're on open ground though, as that can freak them out.

My mom, crossing to Penguin Island during low tide.

It's incredible how many more colors are there besides black and white, when you get a chance to really look.

My first guanaco sighting! These are basically wild llamas. On the ranch, it is permitted to occasionally hunt them for food, but in the national parks they are protected and are flourishing. Apparently these are wild and are not used for their fur.

The guanacos seemed to hang in groups.

I have a really hard time getting up for sunrises. Especially during the long days of mid summer. But when I got up to go to the bathroom and saw this, I had to grab my camera and dash outside.

Sunrise photos can become tedious at times, which is why elements such as the silhouette of birds, can add a little "life" to the image.

Same sunrise, different direction.

I like long walks on the beach...

Our home away from home, for a few nights.

This is one penguin who knows where he's going.

They're getting all the angles.

You've got to stand up for family!

Their nests are under little trees. I think the only way to photograph these and still have some depth in the image is to get down at their level.

The penguins swivel their heads from side to side in order (so we were told) to create a better image with more dimension.

Some of my favorite images are like this, almost black and white in real life. Yet the slight change in tone, from cool on the outside to warm in the center is a subtle yet effective use of color.

The seaweed compressing thing.

Mom and dad. Seaweed and cameras.

I blew out the highlights here on purpose in post-processing. I think by making it look much brighter outside, it gives the impression of being darker inside, without having to deepen the shadows and maintaining detail.

Many different types of seaweed are in this pile...

...and this guy's gotta sort 'em.

The ranch, or estancia, has a lot of buildings. It used to be a town of sorts, when the seaweed business employed more. There are still about seventy seaweed workers but the buildings here are vacant. I think the dog was posing for me. Maybe he's trained to do that.

A standoff...all bluff.

The Argentinian flag.  Simple composition, and I like the blue against blue. Who knew? Did you?

Even a non-macro lens can create macro like images if you use selective depth of field and get as close as you can.

Hardy plants survive in the sand a fee yards from the ocean.

This mass of seaweed has a surreal feeling to it. It's impossible to get any scale, and that forces you to look at it longer, searching out clues. If an image can hold your interest, it's successful in my mind.

The water was so clear that it appeared that the algae almost waved in the wind, not the water. Again, I removed the horizon from the composition in order to eliminate an easy sense of scale.

The salt water created really interesting paths of algae that clearly stay wet through most of low tide.

The water was crystal clear, but darn cold.

I think our guide told us this was a great-horned owl. I can't believe he spotted it! This was one of my aha! moments with the Canon SX50 HS. 1200mm equivalent, hand held.

I think these birds are called oystercatchers. Again, another shot I couldn't have captured without the crazy 1200mm equiv. lens on the Canon SX50 HS.

Color didn't add anything to this photo, but I think the toning did.

Low tide reveals interesting surprises. I purposely selected an aperture that rendered the background increasingly out of focus, making the island in the background seem very far away.

The penguins made some interesting noises.

Isn't adolescence awkward?

A lot of the penguins appeared to be transitioning from the juvenile to the adult stage.

Dude, personal space.

You can't help but to personify these creatures. I swear this image looks as if the penguin is stretching out to enjoy the sun after a nice little nap and a snack of sardines.

This penguin was probably about two feet tall. By the way, the sea grass that it is walking on is the same type of sea grass that we ate the first night at Bahia Bustamante.

I'm probably the only landscape photographer who doesn't often use a lens wider than 24mm (equiv.) I think 24 is plenty wide and can make a 100 foot shoreline appear huge.

A simple but interesting image, between the rocks and the ripples, as well as the cool (top) to warm (bottom) tone.

Our group gets ready to head back. We spent a good bit of time in these Landrover Defender 110.

My dad's got style!

This sea lion was one of the first we saw. There was a little island with maybe twenty dejected males. I think he was saying hi, but I don't speak sea lion.

My wife, amazed at what she sees.

I don't know the names of these ugly birds, but clearly they don't like looking at each other either.

Not all penguins live on the ice.

We heard it first. Then we smelled it. Then we saw it. It's really cool seeing another mammal with a sort of society. We saw a few battles over the ladies as well. This was one of those scenes that I'll never forget. Luckily, we were viewing from about 100 feet out in the boat, but they came pretty close and checked us out.

Sweet love.

Apparently they can see their surroundings better when the stick their heads up vertically.

You've got to love inter-species harmony.

I wish this photo had sound.

A cormorant colony.

Not a lot of room here to land.

I thought it was cool how similar the penguin coloring and the cormorant coloring are. Evolution is cool.

This bull had a harem and a fair number of pups. Apparently a good number of pups get crushed while their overweight fathers carelessly role over them.

Our guide parks the boat. It's actually a very stable catamaran, and fit eighteen of us!

A simple image that contains many elements. Gradations of color, lines, and shadows.

One of my father's many 70th birthday cakes on this trip.

Our first sighting of a Rea, which is like an ostrich. Pretty camouflaged.

Look at those sheepish grins!

I went back to shoot penguins a second time, as I couldn't get enough of them.

Surprisingly, even the small sensor Canon SX50 HS can render background bokeh in a fairly acceptable way.

Damn, I look good.

I think they were talking about me.

Shooting wildlife against a uniform background can make the animal pop off the photo.

The penguins looked like people on the land, like traditional water birds when swimming like this, in formation, and under the water, they literally rocket around as if they're flying.

I think this is an egret with the cormorants.

There were many kinds of ducks in Argentina.

Another nice shot with the SX 50, big zoom from the boat. I was impressed with the quality of the stabilization built into the camera.

Nothing special, but it does show off the zoom of the SX 50. Believe it or not, this was just hand held at 200 iso.

Our group poses before getting on the bus for a full day of travel.


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