Ushuaia Photography: Worth It For One Picture

ushuaia

This is my first blog style post, in which I talk about one day, episode or moment of my life I think is worth telling. I hope you enjoy it.

This blog begins in Buenos Aires, passes by Bariloche, Ushuaia, Calafate and ends back in Buenos Aires. But I will be talking exclusively about Ushuaia.

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Those who have read my page “about” page should already know that I’m a flight attendant. Well, the thing is I had a layover at Ushuaia. A layover is when you stay for a night at your destination,  returning home the following day. The going flight had a stop at Bariloche and the coming back fight had stops at Calafate and Bariloche. Now you understand why I’ll be talking only about Ushuaia right? Because at Bariloche and Calafate I didn’t even get off the airplane.

We landed at the city at the end of the world at noon. I was feeling like taking some pictures but was almost falling asleep standing because I had left my home in the Buenos Aires suburbs at 4 in the morning. So I decided that first, I was going to recharge my batteries with a good old nap.

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Four in the afternoon I was awake. I prepared my 100% amateur photography equipment – in fact nothing of what I have actually belongs to me, the camera belongs to my beautiful girlfriend Micaela and the lenses to my friend Antonella (thanks girls!) – I put everything into my brand new backpack (CHECK PUT MY TOP ESSENTIAL BACKPACKING EQUIPMENT TO LEARN MORE), put some powder coffee into the Starbucks thermo mug Mica gifted me, went to the hotel’s restaurant to ask for some hot water, stole two packets of sugar and thus started my photographic expedition.

I left the hotel at around 5pm. I knew where I wanted to go to capture Ushuaia with my camera (Mica’s). To the west of the city extends a kind of peninsula where the airport is situated; from this peninsula, you have an excellent view of the city, with water in front of it and the mountains behind it.

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I hadn’t had lunch on the flight because the chicken with mashed pumpkins and the ricotta cannelloni have already saturated me – I start using photographic terms to describe my feelings.

This gave me the need to stop on the way to buy half a dozen pastries, to eat along with my coffee. The plan was to set up myself with my Canon T1i (Mica’s) until nightfall for some good photos with the illuminated city. What I didn’t expect was the cold… of course I had brought plenty of jackets, I had come to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world; but I didn’t expect THAT much cold. And the wind!

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By the time I got to my spot, I realized that I got there too early. It was 5:30pm, and if I wanted to take night-time pictures I would have to stay there until 8:45pm, time when the sun went down. An hour passed and I knew there was no chance of staying there until 9 in the evening. So I decided to go to center Ushuaia to recover some warmth and energy, in order to return later and with less light.

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First picture of the ship

During the hour I spent on the peninsula, I ate the pastries while fighting off some seagulls who wanted my chocolate croissants. There were two seagulls that seemed to be the neighborhood bullies and wouldn’t let the others approach. I threw the croissant remains as far as I could, so the victims would get them and not these two a*holes. After my act of justice, I identified which were the best perspectives of the city, took some pictures and memorized the places for when I was to return later.

I was in center Ushuaia looking at the shop window of the Triumph motorcycles store (when this blog makes me millionaire I’m going to own one) when the 8 o’clock alarm rang, meaning I had to go back to that barren and freezing place.

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Waving flag at the end of the world

I found the rock I had marked, so I wouldn’t forget the spot, and set up – this time with a tripod – for taking some after dark pictures. I started taking pictures while the sun was going down, switching between the angles I had previously selected.

Honestly, nothing really satisfied me. The city looked tiny and the masts of the sailing ships in between were getting in the way. If I increased the focal length of my 18mm – 135mm lens (Anto’s), I could see the city more closely, but I lost the towering mountain background. My mood was getting bad and the cold and wind seemed to be getting worse. My new hobby was revealing its dark side.

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Night-time Ushuaia

After multiple failed attempts, frustrated and tired, I decided to try out a shot from a point that during the afternoon had seemed mediocre. I was about to leave, but I chose to give myself this one last chance. This angle had an abandoned ship as the subject. She was sitting to the left of the image and to the right you could see the city growing up into the mountain. I had already photographed this ship during the afternoon, but I had done so from a point that generated a much more attractive setting. The problem was that for this picture I had had to climb up on some kind of platform, from which someone had shouted at me to get off.

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Here’s where I was shouted at

There were still some people hanging around, so I didn’t want to try that again for fear that this time they would straight up kick me out of the place.

So I placed my tripod in front of the ship, in a spot not so ideal as the first one, but where no one was going yell at me.

Without much hope, I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds, as to absorb as much of the faint light emitted by the city, focused the lens manually, and gave the final click to the snapshot button. The first few seconds passed and everything was going all right, when suddenly but at the same time slowly, a damned cloud began to slide over the water and in front of the scene, covering up the magnificent city and mountain background. The 15 seconds left for the camera to complete its job, I spent them cursing in every language there has ever been and ever will be.

I had almost given up on landscape photography, when the camera made the sound indicating that the mirror had returned to its place and the image had been captured. The display went black for a split second and then revealed a completely unexpected picture.

The cloud had generated a lighting enhancing effect, illuminating the ship in a way that without it, she would have been much darker. The warm lights of the city had gifted the ship with an orange glow that revealed all the details of the graffiti. An aura of the same tones invaded the rest of the image, except for some gaps in the cloud that allowed us to see the deep blue of the night and the mountain.

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The picture

I’m no expert on photography yet, but personally, the results left me amazed. My mood changed immediately. I began my walk back to the hotel, the wind seemed to be going down and the cold seemed a little less harsh.

For now, I’m gonna keep shooting landscapes.

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Bonus track/picture
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