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Top Five Photo Opportunities in Chile

For anyone with a special interest in photography, Chile is a tantalising muse, with subjects as diverse as the parched desert, glittering glaciers and row upon row of mountains. The staggering backdrop of the Chilean landscape almost does the hard work for you, so even the amateur photographer will come away with an array of breathtaking shots. To help you navigate the host of inspiring locations for photo shoots, we've chosen our five favourite photo opportunities in Chile:

 

Easter IslandEaster Island's Moai at Dawn

The monolithic statues of Chile’s Easter Island are a spectacular vision, with the handiwork of ancient man contrasted against the rugged natural landscape. At one time, all of the 887 Moai had been toppled in tribal conflicts or by earthquakes and there were none left standing on the island. However, some have now been restored to their original positions on platforms around the perimeter of the island, lined up in rows with their backs to the sea. This presents an imposing shot at any time of the day, but it is perhaps at its most spectacular as the golden light of the early morning breaks over the horizon, casting the impossibly long shadows of the statues far across the grass. The only challenge for the photographer here is to find a way of capturing this magical atmosphere in their photograph. Elsewhere, other Moai still stand in the quarry from which they were carved, whilst others lie where they fell, semi-submerged in the grass, allowing the photographer to tell a very different story.

 

Valparaiso ChileValparaíso in the Sunshine

Located on the coast, some 70 miles to the west of Chile’s capital Santiago, Valparaíso is a city with its own quirky photogenic charm. The city, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, is a sprawl of labyrinthine streets climbing away from the port, up hills so steep there are flights of steps and lifts to help you on your way. Its often crumbling buildings are painted in a myriad of bright colours and you get the impression that anything left out in the open for too long will soon be decorated with its own brightly coloured graffiti. The so-called ‘open-air gallery’ is a marked route of pathways and stairways that meander up and down the hills and in between houses painted with familiar scenes from famous works, such as Van Gogh to Mondrian. It’s best to photograph Valparaiso on a sunny day, when the bright light brings out all of those striking colours to their best effect. There are various miradors or lookout points strategically placed across the city, setting up perfect shots out across the bay and, for an alternative perspective, catch a boat down in the harbour and see the whole of the steeply rising city from the other side.

 

El Tatio Geysers ChileThe Tatio Geysers Erupting at Daybreak

The Tatio Geysers are found 4,200 metres above sea-level, in the Andes near to the Atacama Desert. In fact, the site is actually made up of over 80 active geysers, along with springs and fumaroles - which spurt gas and steam - and mud pots filled with bubbling mud. You’ll have fun experimenting with your camera to capture all of the different moods of this volcanic area, but the stars of the show are still the geysers. They force naturally boiling water out of the ground every few minutes, depending on the geyser, and can reach anywhere from a few centimetres to seven metres high. To see the site in all of its glory, you’ll need to make an early start. The very cold temperatures of daybreak show off the gurgling landscape to its best advantage, with the clouds of steam most visible in the crisp morning air. Aim to arrive at the geysers between 6:00am and 7:00am to catch the light as it breaks through the water vapours and lights up the clearest of blue skies.

 

Torres del Paine Patagonia ChileThe Towers of Torres del Paine at Sunrise

Located in Chile’s epic Patagonia, the natural granite towers are so iconic that the National Park in which they stand, Torres del Paine, is named after them. The three jagged granite teeth dominate their surroundings, peeking out sporadically from their shrouds of mist. A photograph of the Towers silhouetted against the rising red sun is the crowning glory of any hiking route around the park, including the popular W Trek and Paine Circuit. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch them on one of Patagonia’s sought-after clear, calm days, and you’ll be privileged with an unhampered shot of rock against sky. But even under cloud cover, the brisk winds playing with the storm clouds create dramatic light conditions that can lead to a once-in-a-lifetime photo. In any event, to capture these majestic peaks on film, you’ll have to go some of the way on foot, as they’re buried deep within the National Park without access to motor vehicles. Along the way, you’ll have any number of opportunities to snap away at incredible geological formations and climatic conditions, a backdrop that looks photoshopped before you’ve even had a chance to tinker with it.

 

The Andes MountainsThe Andes - Anytime, Anywhere

The monumental and mystical Andes run more or less the whole length of Chile, and encompass the many different climates that they traverse on their way. From the dry mountains of the north to the jagged rock spires of Patagonia, via the lush and verdant slopes of the Chilean Lake District, there is a length of the Andes mountain range to suit every mood. For those with limited time, the mountains can even be photographed from within the capital Santiago. But as the nearby frozen peaks beckon the budding photographer out into the cordillera, you’ll probably find yourself drawn out into the heights themselves sooner or later. Exploring the tracks and trails on foot will get you so far, but if you want to concentrate on looking around rather than focussing on where to put your feet, a horse ride in the Andes is a great solution for the photographer in you. Remember to look up as well as around, there all kinds of stunning birds of prey wheeling overhead and posing for those who can click the shutter quickly enough.
 

Do you agree with Cascada’s top photo picks? Where did you take your best photos in Chile? Do you have any other top tips for photographers in Chile?