Expectations are a killer of creativity.

If you caught my Five Favorite Photos from 2018 post, you’ve seen this picture before.  The picture was not only a favorite of the year, but the trip itself was a highlight of the year.  Patagonia is such an amazingly beautiful place.  What I didn’t share, however, was the story behind the photo.

I’ve mentioned before that before I go to a new place, I try to get an idea of what I can expect, which includes ideas on what to photograph. I’ve seen plenty of awesome pictures of Mount Fitz Roy, so I had an idea of what was in store.  What I didn’t know, however, was that photographing the mountain requires a bit of luck.  It turns out that Mount Fitz Roy is tall enough that it tends to create its own weather, which in turn means that odds are pretty good that the top of the mountain (at the very least) will have a cloud sitting on it.  That’s a bit of a problem if you, like me, want a picture of said mountain with no clouds on it!  On multiple days I went out and watched the sun rise and then later set, casting its rays onto a cloudy canvas atop Fitz Roy’s mighty peak.  On my second to last morning in El Chalten, the town at the base of the mountain where we were staying, I pulled up to my spot on the side of the road and stared at the mountain, covered yet again by clouds.  I sat, frustrated, when brilliant colors caught my eye in the rear view mirror.  I turned around to find the most spectacular sunrise happening behind me… and Fitz Roy… nothing.

I didn’t take any pictures at first because I was so intent on getting a picture of Mount Fitz Roy that I didn’t really want to shoot anything else.  I finally told myself though, that if I were at home, photographing the Smoky Mountains, I’d be perfectly happy and excited about shooting the sunrise happening behind me.  I packed up my stuff and abandoned my post on the side of the road and drove away from town until I spotted the scene below.  I setup shop and started clicking away.  Such a beautiful morning!  As the sun started popping above the horizon, I just happened to glance over my shoulder towards Fitz Roy, and to my surprise, in the time I’d been photographing the sunrise, the clouds had almost completely lifted off the top of the mountain!  I quickly grabbed my stuff and drove back to my spot, as the clouds continued their retreat.  I was then treated with the most spectacular views of the mountain with blue skies that we witnessed the entire trip!  After I’d shot the mountain from every angle and spot I could think of, I took some time to sit and just admire the scene.  Had I thrown up my hands and given up altogether, rather than just changing gears and focusing on something else for a while, I would have totally missed the gift of that morning!

More Patagonia next week!

–Dan Thompson

Cades Cove

Cades Cove
RP23, Santa Cruz, Argentina
Direction

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