Gauchada Week: Diego Meier

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 For this Gauchada Week we have the pleasure to introduce you to Diego Meier, an Argentine mountain guide and biologist with a masters degree in ecotourism, who lives in Villa La Angostura. Diego is passionate about all things involving nature and the outdoors. He especially enjoys skiing, climbing, trekking, and mountain bike. He is also active in promoting conservation of native forests in Patagonia and helping rural communities develop sustainable tourism.



1. Getting to Caleta Condor on the Osorno coast is not easy, you must sail on a fishing boat for two hours on the ocean or walk an entire day and then sail up a river. Its landscape, the Huilliches rural families, and the native forest captivate you. We are currently working together with the local people on a plan to organize tourism in such a way that the beauty of the place will not be destroyed because of over-development. In the photo: paddling in a "chalupa" at Condor beach.

Place: Caleta Cóndor, Huilliche territory of Lafquen Mapu Lahual, Los Lagos Region, Chile.

2. The Mapuche life in Cholchol. I was fortunate to stay overnight and eat meals in a traditional ruca with the Paine-Catrin family. These traditional rucas, made out of a structure of sticks and reeds covered with a mat, almost always have a fire in the middle that seemingly never dies and leaves one entranced. 
3. This photo was taken during an ascent of Volcano Lanin. We set off before sunrise from the base of the volcano, using head torches. The hike wasn’t easy. The slope is 2,700 meters high, and we were carrying skis and heavy backpacks. The effort was worthwhile though because we enjoyed incredible skiing on the way down. 
4. Werner Diem is 78-years-old and as a kid he made his own wooden skis. Today, he still enjoys the mountains and together we have shared many adventures. He has passed on to me the most essential thing of all: to learn how to feel alive. I went up Osorno Volcano with him. In this photo, the peak is Puntiagudo Volcano and the clouds are coming in from the Pacific Ocean. 
5. It was cold, and the South Pacific was especially rocky, as the full moon made for a very special atmosphere in front of the island where the deity "El Abuelito Hueneteao” lives, according to Huilliche mythology. For me this photo transmits some of the magic of this place. 
6. Cerro Dormilón refuge is located in Nahuel Huapi National Park. To get there you need to cross the lake by boat and hike up the forest. My grandmother was here during the 1930s, during the first period of construction here. Years later we rebuilt this place practically replicating the original construction, in the blockhouse format. This photo was taken in autumn, when the colors in the larch forest are spectacular.



Remote landscapes and people: Interview with Céline Frers

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 Photo: Céline FrersPhoto: Céline Frers
By Clara Ribera
Translation: Rebecca Neal
Céline Frers' work is full of color and depth. With a personal touch in every photograph, she captures landscapes and people with visible affection. An Argentinian, Frers grew up in the countryside before living in Buenos Aires, where she went on to study at the Fundación Universidad del Cine film school. She later moved to New York to study photography at the New York Institute of Photography, and then travelled around the world doing a variety of jobs. She then moved back to Argentina to work in the commercial and film world. Her first book, Colores de Corrientes, marked a turning point in her career. Since then, she has focused almost exclusively on still photography, primarily shooting landscapes, people and culture in Argentina. One of three members of the panel of judges for the 3rd Patagonia Photo Contest, Frers spoke with Patagon Journal. Excerpts:

What are the key events in your life that have influenced you as a photographer?
One landmark moment for me was when I started my first professional photography work, with my book Colores de Corrientes. I loved the freedom that I felt and the fact that I could absorb myself in my work and get to know the remotest landscapes and their people. Photography allowed me to do much more intimate work, which was a big contrast with the world of cinema and advertising that I was coming from. There, you always work with a big team, which tends to distance you and limit your movement. It was also in this first work that I discovered a lot of good people, who have always welcomed me with open arms. This really touched me. Since then, thanks to the subjects I choose, I have met some incredibly kind and wise people.

All your pieces have a similar look. They define you as a photographer. How would you describe your photography?
Whether I am working in a commercial or a personal capacity, my photography is always closely linked to the landscape and to nature. It is an intimate style of photography, which tries to convey not only beauty but also an underlying strength and power.

You have spent much of your photography career in Patagonia. What do you like the most about this region in terms of photography?
I have spent quite a lot of time in Patagonia. I am fascinated by it because it is so unspoilt, solitary and remote, and because it has such beautiful and powerful landscapes. It is majestic.

Some of your most important photographic work has been with the gauchos. How has photography brought you and them together?
My affinity with the gauchos began when I was a child. I lived in the countryside for the first years of my life and then I spent all my holidays there. I spent whole summers going out horse riding morning and afternoon with the gauchos. I wanted to be one of them. All these experiences led me to take my photographs of gauchos and then to produce the book. When I am on the land and with the gauchos, I feel at home.

As a member of the panel of judge for Patagon Journal’s photo contest this year, what are you going to look for when judging the participant’s photos?
I want to see photographs that make me feel something, that touch my heart. To do this, they need to have the right framing and lighting and create an atmosphere.

Do you have any advice for the participants in the photo contest?
Patagonia itself is incredibly beautiful, but sometimes this beauty is, paradoxically, a big challenge as it is difficult to convey it in a photograph. I would suggest that participants move away from the typical postcard scenes and look for those special, unique moments and the little details that convey Patagonia’s strength and spirit.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a book about Argentina and its people. It is about the people who are still deeply rooted in their culture, such as the Mennonites in La Pampa Province, the various colonies and communities, the Wichí, the Mapuche, the Qulla in the North, etc. At the same time, I’m also working on exhibitions and commercial projects.

Gauchada Week: Rodrigo Sandoval

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Rodrigo Sandoval is a Chilean photographer, fly fishing writer, and computer scientist. He is co-author of two books about fly fishing, and is a contributing editor to Patagon Journal. He and his wife, Isabel Margarita Anaya, also run, an image bank of nature and adventure photos, whose photos have been published in other media such as National Geographic, Outdoors, Revista Domingo, and El Mercurio, among others. As a computer engineer, he is founder and CEO of R:Solver, a software company focused on artificial intelligence, based in Santiago, Chile, and also is associate professor of engineering at Catholic University. Check out more of his work at 

"It even smells like Patagonia"
I know frequent visitors to Patagonia that fondly recall a big part of their trips were the “smells of the southern forest.”  That smell might come from the mist of the deep forest and the intensely pure air of the wild Patagonian places. Among the different plant species in the Patagonian forest, the nalca is one of the most representative ones. With a deep green, rather large leaf, called “Pangue,” the nalca gets only better with the blooming of the colorful and beautiful flower that appears at the end of the winter.
This photo was taken at Fundo Pillan, which was originally part of the original Pumalin Park project. 

"The best of the Cochrane River"  
The upper section of the Cochrane River carries its crystal clear waters downstream toward the famed Baker River, a real icon of the Aysen region in Chilean Patagonia. Along the way, especially in springtime, life seems to concentrate on the big trout that spawn here. This video aspires to give a glimpse of this magnificent event. 


"Always an open eye"  
Frans Lanting, one of the world’s finest nature photographers, says that “the biggest compliment an animal can give you is relaxing in your presence.”  Something like that happened when we ran into a couple of foxes that had recently fed from a guanaco carcass; I discovered them by the road that goes to Lago Sarmiento in Torres del Paine. With only one eye open, the fox never lost sight of me, but the rest of his relaxed, restful posture was the true highlight of the day, allowing us to shoot photos just a few meters away. 

"Super Green"
You don’t have to go very far from Coyhaique to find deep green scenes like this one. This is a view of the Coyhaique River. It’s a wonderful prize for the locals, at least it is from the perspective of people like me who must live in the bigger, darker cities. 

"The angler in the river" 
A typical and expressive fishing scene at the Picaflor River, not far from Villa Manihuales, in Aysen Patagonia. Even an alternative version of this photo, in black and white, may seem timeless; a moment that could have been captured yesterday or 50 years ago. Its because some things don’t ever change in the Patagonian fishing experience: pure water running in between the rocks, the surrounding green forest, and the adrenaline of fooling a trout with a well-presented imitation. 

"The Clouds and the Peaks"
The Cuernos del Paine can perfectly be the most recognizable and photographed peaks in Patagonia. But part of the experience of visiting this iconic section of the Torres del Paine National Park is being exposed to the harsh and variable climate. Just as a day can start with clear skies, it might change in just 20 minutes. Strong winds bring clouds and rain. Even snow can be part of a typical spring day. That’s why this photo features the complete Paine experience in a single frame: the Clouds and the Peaks.

Look with new eyes: the photography of Pablo Valenzuela Vaillant

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Editors Note: This article originally was published Nov. 15, 2016. The "Habitar la inmenisidad" photo exhibition by Pablo Valenzuela Vaillant will be on display at Centro de Arte Molino Machmar in Puerto Varas, Chile, from Jan. 20. - Feb. 20, 2018. 
Chilean photographer Pablo Valenzuela Vaillant’s work has always been known for its grandeur and beauty in showing the Chilean landscape. A mountaineering enthusiast with a degree in civil engineering, the native of Santiago (52) has been working primarily in photography for almost of his professional life, since 1992, and this week at the Ekho Gallery in Santiago will open his latest exhibition, "Habitar la inmensidad."  This exhibition depicts, from an abstract point of view, the presence of the Chilean inhabitant in the vast Patagonian landscape. One of the judges in our upcoming 3rd Patagonia Photo Contest, and a contributing editor to Patagon Journal, Pablo spoke with us about his new projects and photography.

A horse called Coihueco

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Jimmy Langman/Patagon JournalJimmy Langman/Patagon Journal
Author's Preface: Horses and gauchos are synonymous with Patagonia: solitary, perpendicular figures in a horizontal landscape, riding across the steppe with a pack of woolly-haired dogs yapping at their heels. Like knights in medieval Spain, they are somehow emblematic of the place.
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