Waterfalls and Hiking, Torres del Paine Day 2

I started this day with a very cold and windy wait for sunrise at a waterfall on the Rio Paine with the mountains in the background. I had set up my tripod and then sort of just hopped around trying to be warm. At this roadside overlook, there is a gorgeous (and loud) waterfall with the mountains in the distance directly to the west. This should make for a great sunrise photo under ideal conditions. But, there were just a few clouds to pick up the predawn sunlight above the mountains and this led to a photographic problem: take a wide shot to capture the waterfall in the foreground and have a bunch of featureless sky above OR zoom in and get the mountains and distant clouds. So, I did both in the two photos below (that orange color was not enhanced by me).

Wide shot of Cascada Rio Paine with mountains in distance (shot at 18mm)
Zoom into mountains beyond waterfall to focus on the color (shot at 72mm)

Sunrise was a bit lacking in color, but I enjoyed it all the same. We spent most of the rest of the morning watching more pumas and visiting some overlooks. The mountain slopes we covered with fall color and every day I tried to find a way to capture this. The pano below is a stitch of several photos to capture the snow-capped mountains with their reddish slopes and some lakes in the foreground. I would have liked to have walked down to the edge of the water, but that wasn’t allowed. The sun stays pretty far north this time of year, so I still got some good shadows for depth and contrast even at midday. This is probably my favorite photo of the day as I just love the autumn color on the slopes.

After lunch, we went for a nice hike. This hike would lead past another waterfall from the same river, then along the lake and out to an overlook. Along the way we also saw a couple of interesting birds that were content to let me photograph them. The first was a Caracara which is a relative of the falcon, shown with mountains in the distance below. There is a kind of Caracara that lives as far north as Texas though I don’t think I have ever seen one before, but I saw several in Torres del Paine. Next we happened upon a pygmy owl (Austral Pygmy Owl I think) passing the day on the branch of a dead tree. He didn’t seem to mind a dozen people shooting his photo. Both birds have a conservation status of “Least Concern” and I know what they are because our trail guide is quite familiar with the area.

When I got to the waterfall, the sky was clear and the sun was bright, so there was a rainbow in the mist. I tried to shoot photos of this rainbow three or four times wondering what the problem was until I remembered that I had a polarizer on the lens. After dealing with that, the rainbow appeared in my photos.

I think the best composition would have been hovering over the rocks and water just downstream of the waterfall to get the mountains in the background, but that wasn’t an option. Off to the right of the waterfall imagine the two-peaked snowy mountain the you see in the next photo, taken from further down the trail on the edge of a lake that feeds the waterfall.

When I got to the lake in the photo above, the wind was blowing ripples across the water, but as if on demand it all calmed down for a few minutes so I could get a nice reflection even shooting hand-held. A few minutes later and it was windy again and the lake was all ripply. Sometimes it is just better to be lucky.

The rest of the hike was very nice as the weather was perfect. I once again got to set off and hike alone for a while as the rest of the group was scattered out along the trail. Though this was a well-trafficked trail for good reason and I was never alone for long. It’s always nice to see real waterfalls when you are from a place like central Texas. Thanks for reading.

P.S. I apologize for the dynamic range and lens flare disaster that is the next photo, but I like the sign with the lake in the back.

15 thoughts on “Waterfalls and Hiking, Torres del Paine Day 2

  1. That’s ‘our’ Caracara, all right. It looked similar enough that I went off to check the species, and it seems it’s the same. Texas is the farthest north the Crested Caracara ranges, but it’s also found in Patagonia. I see them regularly in Brazoria county, and I’ve seen them occasionally on Galveston Island. That blue beak is a sure field mark that can be spotted at some distance if they’re just sitting around.


        1. Yeah, and so far he has been correct according to Wikipedia.

          The Torres del Paine guide lives in the area and said he often guides long hikes of up to 10 days through the park. Sounds like a great job to me.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. All wonderful photos. What a picturesque place to hike. The rippling water reflection one is my favorite, its amazing!
    The Cara ( good name) bird is a pretty bird, and I always thought pygmy owls were cute. Its looking right at you.
    Good catch with the rainbow and no apologies needed for the last pboto!

    Liked by 2 people

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