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Photo Notes

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works are situated in the heat and dryness of the Atacama desert in the far north of Chile, at over 1000m above sea level. The site includes two nitrate mines and the associated towns that were finally abandoned in the 1960s. The extremely dry atmosphere has resulted in much slower deterioration of the town and buildings than would normally be expected.

Long abandoned, this classroom still felt as if a class had finished only the day before. I used the great LUMIX wide zoom lens to capture the desks and feeling of the room. A higher ISO enabled me to use a faster shutter speed in the dark classroom.
DMC-G1. Shutter: 1/60 sec. Aperture: f/4.5, ISO: 400

Once again the 7-14mm (14-28mm, 35mm equivalent) wide-angle lens enabled me to give some perspective to the abandoned train in the wide expanse of the desert. I choose a small aperture to retain some focus in the far background.
DMC-G1. Shutter: 1/320 sec. Aperture: f/8.0, ISO: 100

I climbed to a high vantage point and waited until the last light to make this image of the residential area and its location. The light catching the theatre and houses gives the buildings definition. I had failed to realise that there would be a strong wind from the sea as the air rose across the desert and it was extremely cold as I took these last shots of the day. I was dressed for the warm day and it was too far to retrieve my jacket before the light disappeared.
DMC-G1. Shutter: 1/100 sec. Aperture: f/8.0, ISO: 400

I had decided to capture the site as empty as possible to reinforce the feeling of abandonment. However when I saw a school group arrive in period costume, it was an opportunity not to be missed. The difficulty was to catch a still image of 10 or so very active children in my chosen location. The high contrast light was also a challenge. The small and lightweight G1 enabled me to move quickly without intimidating the children. It was still bright enough to capture them with a 1/640th shutter speed.
DMC-G1. Shutter: 1/640 sec. Aperture: f/8.0, ISO: 100

My years of landscape image making have always drawn me to long exposures at the end of the day. The lack of clouds over the Humboldt Current off the Chilean coast creates many great sunsets and this was no exception. Here I used the G1 on the tripod, and a 16:9 format to capture the vivid sky.
DMC-G1. Shutter: 2/5 sec. Aperture: f/9.0, ISO: 100

Photo Notes:
Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area - China
Rapa Nui National Park
Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso
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