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Leaving Golfo Nuevo and Puerto Madryn behind, we again sailed out into the open waters of the South Atlantic before turning to starboard to again parallel the coast of Argentina to head south toward the Estrecho de le Maire, the strait that separatets the tip of Tierra del Fuego from Isla de los Estados to the east.



After departing Golfo Nuevo between the Punta Ninfas and Faro Morro Nuevo lights at the mouth of the gulf we made our way out into the South Atlantic and for the next approximately 36 hrs we sailed in a southerly direction.


We were out of sight of land most of the time and one had the horizon or the cloudscapes to watch.  As we went further south, the clouds became heavier and thicker.  At first the sky was blue punctuated by patches of clouds that drifted overhead.  As the first day at sea wore on, the sky became mostly cloudy punctuated with patches of blue.


We spent a good bit of time in the Cloud 9 spa that day in a giant hot tub, the motion of the Splendor causing a small wave to roll back and forth along the length of the hot tub.  Lying in the warm waters, the wave gently moving you to and fro as it washed back and forth did allow your mind to drift...  Cloud 9 was probably an excellent choice for the name of that spa!



Looking west from the balcony of our stateroom in the late afternoon as time was moving toward dinner, the sky was heavily overcast.  Periodically there were bright spots in the cloud where you could see a dim sun.  Those bright spots eventually gave way to patches of sky where you could see blue through openings and in some case there were spectacular crepuscular rays streaming down through gaps in the clouds to light the waters of the South Atlantic beneath the clouds..




The image just below is probably my favorite cloudscape as we were making our way southward to the entrance to Estrecho de Le Maire.  It is a single exposure...  everything came together and just worked in that image as far as I was concerned.


The two images below were more complex undertakings.  These are HDR or High Dynamic Range images that were both prepared by combining five individual exposures of the same cloudscape shot back to back.  Both of these HDR images were prep'd from images with values of +1.3, +0.7, 0.0, -0.7, and -1.3 EV.  In both cases, single exposures were incapable of capturing the range of light and the texture in the darker regions of the image.  I'm by no means a master when it comes to doing HDR images, but these were fun to try.



And so it went that afternoon...  one cloudscape dissolved into another, and then another...  I quit shooting when it was time for dinner and we wandered down to our table on the port side of the ship.  There wasn't much of a sunset to miss that evening.


click photo for a larger view


I was up well before dawn the next morning in anticipation of our entry into Estrecho de le Maire and the possibility of seeing off in the distance the lighthouse at Cabo San Diego on the tip of Tierra del Fuego to the west or the small Faro le Maire light on the west end of Isla de los Estados to the east.

Before the mountains of Isla de los Estados or the Cabo San Diego headlands came into view, however, the predawn offered up a treat for those who were awake and out on their balconies on the port side of the ship or up on the upper decks... a sun pillar!




As a photographer, you sometimes need to remind yourself to look away from the sunrise or the sunset to see what's going on behind your back.  At times that can be even more interesting and potentially more colorful than the event that you're photographing. 

The clouds to the west that morning weren't outrageously spectacular or anything, but the color that they were carrying from the sunrise was beautiful none-the-less.


click photo for a larger view




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The top satellite image above from Google shows the tip of Tierra del Fuego to the west and Isla de los Estados to the east.  These two land masses are separated by Estrecho de Le Maire.  The distance from Cabo San Diego to the Faro Le Maire on Bahia Crossley is approx. 20 miles.  Estrecho de Le Maire was discovered by the explorers Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten on January 26th, 1616.  The bottom satellite image is from NASA's World Wind globe software.

A distant early morning photo of Cabo San Diego is shown to the right.  The Cabo Sand Diego lighthouse is located approximately in the flat spot atop the bluffs to the right of the land mass.



One of the interesting features on the ship was the continually updated ship's position on the flat screen in everyone's cabin.  You could walk out onto your balcony, photograph something, and then walk back in and take a look at the monitor and know exactly where you were.  The photograph to the right shows were the ship was located when the shot of Cabo San Diego above and the photographs of Isla de los Estados below were shot.

I was struck by the tremendous changes in lighthing and contrast that occured in just a few minutes while looking and photographing to the east and Isla de los Estados.  The image above was shot after the sunrise images below characerized by soft pastels.  When the images below were shot, I was aiming my lens more or less to the southeast.  The image above was shot due east when the sun was well above the horizon.





The photograph above is a wide angle view of the sunrise over the mountainous backbone of Isla de los Estados.  The entire island is now set aside as an ecological preserve.  The photographs below were shot at focal lengths of 300 and 900 mm.




The dawn images above were all shot with telephoto lenses at focal lengths that varied out to 600 mm.  The image below was shot some minutes later and shows all of the breadth of Isla de los Estados in a fisheye view of the eastern horizon.  As you can see, the clouds were darkening overhead as we made our way further south.

As we passed through Estrecho de Le Maire, unfortunately, low hanging clouds blocked any chance of a clear view of the small light that replaced the original Faro Le Maire located at Bahia Crossley on the western end of the island.  Isla de los Estados, an island approximately 40 miles in length by 9 miles wide has an extremely mountainous backbone and has been entirely set aside as a provincial ecological preserve.  Ecoadventure tours can be taken to Isla de los Estados from Ushuaia.  The only full time inhabitation on the island is a small naval station with a rotating staff.

Emerging from the southern end of Estrecho de Le Maire, looking east I was taken by the vista that unfolded with the sea stacks if one can call them that sticking up out of the cold waters of the South Atlantic off the south flank of Isla de los Estados with the somewhat meacing looking sky and clouds aloft in the images below.











When the photographs above were shot, the vessel had turned toward the south west and was paralleling the coast of Tierra del Fuego.  The landscape, despite being miles away was still dynamic and you could watch clouds spilling through the openings between the mountains, flowing down the eastern flanks toward the waters of the Beagle Channel and the South Atlantic.
At some point not too long after the photos above were shot, a member of the crew changed the flag that the Splendor was flying from the Argentine to the Chilean flag and we knew that we were in Chilean waters for the first time and headed toward the Hermite Archipelago and Cape Horn!



... which brings this segment to a close... sorry no sunset for this portion of the journey!







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All images are Copyrighted by Gary Martin, 1996-2009. No images can be downloaded or used for any purpose without premission in writing from the copyright holder.