<< Previous Next >>

Early Light on the Cuernos del Paine

Early Light on the Cuernos del Paine
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 1999-09
Categories: Mountain
Camera: Canon EOS 1vHS, Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Blue Things II, The Wildlife, Plants and Scenery of Chile [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-07-17 7:48
Viewed: 6974
Points: 46
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is a scanned slide.

I have Paul Theroux to thank for this shot. We were staying in the magnificent Explora Lodge (advertised as 'A view with a room') and were woken up at 4am by the people in the next room crashing around as they were leaving - I later learnt that it was the author Paul Theroux! Well at least we got to see the sun rise over the Cuernos (horns)!

Torres del Paine National Park is a Chilean National Park comprising mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers. The Cordillera del Paine is the centerpiece of the park. It lies in a transition area between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes. The park is located 112 km north of Puerto Natales and 312 km north of Punta Arenas. Bernardo O'Higgins National Park is its neighbour to the west, while Los Glaciares National Park is located to the north in Argentine territory.

The landscape of the park is dominated by the Paine massif, which is an eastern spur of the Andes located on the east side of the Grey Glacier, rising dramatically above the Patagonian steppe. Small valleys separate the spectacular granite spires and mountains of the massif. These are: Valle del Francés (French Valley), Valle Bader, Valle Ascencio and Valle del Silencio (Silence Valley).

The head of French Valley is a cirque formed by impressive cliffs. To west rise abruptly the colossal walls of Cerro Cota 2000 and Cerro Catedral. The former is named for its elevation (the highest contour line is about 2,000 m) and the latter is named so because its east face resembles a cathedral's facade. To the north stands the granite aręte called Aleta de Tiburón (Shark's Fin). To the east, from north to south, lie the peaks Fortaleza (Fortress), La Espada (The Sword), La Hoja (The Blade), La Máscara (The Mummer), Cuerno Norte (North Horn) and Cuerno Principal (Main Horn).

Silence Valley is where standing face to face the gigantic granite walls of Cerro Fortaleza and Cerro Escudo (Shield Hill) with the western faces of the Torres del Paine. Ascencio Valley is the normal route to reach the Torres del Paine lookout, which is located at the bank of a milky green tarn. The highest mountain of the group is Paine Grande, although its elevation has not been determined with precision.

Much of the geology of the Paine Massif area consists of Cretaceous sedimentary rocks that have been intruded by a Miocene-aged laccolith (A laccolith is an igneous intrusion (or concordant pluton) that has been injected between two layers of sedimentary rock. The pressure of the magma is high enough that the overlying strata are forced upward, giving the laccolith a dome or mushroom-like form with a generally planar[flat] base. Laccoliths tend to form at relatively shallow depths and are typically formed by relatively viscous [runny] magmas, such as those that crystallize to diorite, granodiorite, and granite. Cooling underground takes place slowly, giving time for larger crystals to form in the cooling magma. The surface rock above laccoliths often erodes away completely, leaving the core mound of igneous rock. The term was first applied as laccolite by Grove Karl Gilbert after his study of intrusions of diorite in the Henry Mountains of Utah in about 1875). Subsequently, orogenic and erosional processes have shaped the present-day topography, being the glacial erosion the main one responsible for the sculpturing of the massif in the last tens of thousands of years. A good example of the latter are the Cuernos del Paine, whose central bands of nicely exposed granite strongly contrast with the dark aspect of their tops, which are remnants of a heavily eroded sedimentary stratum. In the case of Las Torres, what once was their overlying sedimentary rock layer has been completely eroded away, leaving behind the more resistant granite.

Southern Patagonian Ice Field mantles a great portion of the park. Glaciers include the Dickson, the Grey and the Tyndall.

Among the lakes are the Dickson Lake, Nordenskjöld Lake, Pehoe Lake, Grey Lake, Sarmiento Lake and Del Toro Lake. Only a portion of the latter is within the borders of the park. All of them characterize vivid colors due, in most of the cases, to rock flour suspended in their waters. The main river flowing through the park is Paine River. Most of the rivers and lakes of the park drain into Última Esperanza Sound via Serrano River.

Guanacos are one of the most common mammals found in the park. Other mammals include Cougars and Foxes. It is also home to the endangered Chilean Huemul(this is a small species of deer which I was lucky enough to see).

The park contains breeding populations of 15 bird of prey species and other two are likely reproducing here. Among them are Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Rufous-tailed Hawk, Cinereous Harrier, Chimango Caracara, Magellanic Horned Owl, Austral Pygmy-owl, to name but a few.Other birds occurring in the park include the Chilean Flamingo, Darwin's Rhea, Coscoroba Swan, Black-necked Swan, Magellanic Woodpecker, Magellan Goose and Buff-necked Ibis.

PaulH, jaycee, Alex99, eqshannon, Arjun, SelenE, boreocypriensis, rcrick, CeltickRanger, Dis. Ac., Royaldevon, zulfu, albert, nglen, rousettus has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Evelynn: ThanksJamesp 4 07-17 23:43
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-07-17 8:09]

Awesome, love the early light and blue hue here...congrats on reaching 13,000pts too :o)

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-07-17 8:45]

Hello James

Another awesome exotic locale.
The colours are vivid and well saturated.
The blues create a lovely ambiance and atmosphere.
Excellent pov and dof.
The focus is spot on.


  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-07-17 8:46]

Hi James,

Wonderful story about Paul Theroux. Did you send him a thank you note? Paul took the word out of my mouth - this shot is truly awesome. The light on the mountain is beautiful making the snow glisten. I love all the shades of blue.


  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-07-17 9:09]

Hi James.
When I was out of the city your collection has replenished with new shots. Sorry, I cannot comment all them. I am impressed with lights and shadows of the shot and fine cold colour palette as well as with suitable for pictured scene razor sharpness of the shapes. Thanks a lot and compliments.
Yours Alexei.

There is not an image I like better than mountains with snow blue! It is simply superb James. what majesty you have managed to capture...the grandeur of something so old and yet so proud! No Krakatoa here eh?

hello james,
the light has created magic here, the colors look so lovely with all the shades,
well done,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • Arjun Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 358 W: 7 N: 1237] (7593)
  • [2008-07-17 10:21]

hello sir,
Snowy mountains are a treat to watch.this picture has all essential details in it..the colours are pleasant.

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2008-07-17 10:26]

Ola James
Belissima foto com uma paisagem calma e muito atraente, a nitidez estamuito boa e a luminosidade e cores excelentes.

Hi James...Amazing mountains and fantastic colors,...Thanks to share.
Kind regards, Cypturk...

Hello James..
Fantastic picture...Amazing look, sun shine reflected color on the mountains beautiful....Exotic blue make photo very attractive Thanks to share James...
All the best

The mountains in Patagonia often defy description. These are magnificent. I see that most critiquers like the saturated blue that film often imparts to shots like this. I, on the other hand, find it a little distracting. I did a quick workshop to see if there was another option.

Evelynn : )

hello James

what a superb landscape shot of Mountains
with beautiful blue tones, with the cold colour tone
we can feel the snow and cold of your image, TFS


Hi James,

Just awesome what a view to wakeup to, amazing colours, excellent detail, just stunning.

Cheers Rick :)

Hi James,

Wonderful story.
Very good composition and pov.

Personally i found the picture to blue or is it these so blue?


Hello James,

What strength and magnificence to greet your eyes at that time in the morning! It must have all felt like a wonderful dream!
The blue tone is perfect and I like how the rising sun is casting a sheen on the right facing slopes.

Kind regards,
Bev :-)

Hi James, my dear friend,
Though this scanned from a diapositive, still a great resolution is present. A really adorable landscape capture of this montane scenery with great depth. Colours superb.
TFS and warm regards,


  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-07-18 1:41]

Hi James,
Beautiful scenery. The hills look really impressive by the morning light. DOF, composition and color tones are very good. TFS

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2008-07-18 1:55]

Hello James, great landscape capture. TFS. Regards,

One day if I have money the first place that I go is Chile. You live in a wonderful country. like Victor Jara, Unidat popula.

Hello James,
They are not many hotels in the world with such a view from the room !
Well captured light
I guess that the blue is a nice reflection from the sky under the morning light?
Kind regards,

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-07-18 11:25]

Hi James. This ia an amazing picture woth getting woken up for. The light and blues are beautiful. i keep going back to have another look .very sharp with fine detail. TFS.
Have a nice weekend.

Hello James,
wonderful mountain landscape shot. perfect composition and presentation. amazing super bluish colors. Thanks for sharing, have a nice weekend

This has an eerire stillnes to it, very well composed, and shot, James!

Calibration Check