Repeat photography in Los Glaciares National Park – El Calafate

Panoramica ghiacciaio UpsalaHere we are again, just about to set off from Puerto Natales in Chile to make our way to El Calafate in Argentina, the glacier capital, where we will be carrying out expedition work in the Parco Nacional Los Glaciares.

The next morning we go straight to the park headquarters to complete the lengthy paperwork and finalize the logistics of getting to the glaciers. Given our shared objectives, the park authorities kindly confirm their backing and invite us to take advantage of their vehicles and park rangers, who are willing to lend us a hand in the field, which is essential as the places we are heading for are in the remotest and most protected areas of the park.

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First repeat photography in the Torres del Paine National Park

FAB0927_05000000637_1024February 21st – we are now getting into the heart of the expedition in the Torri del Paine National Park in Chile, drawing up initial plans to find the exact spots where Alberto De Agostino took his photographs of the park’s glaciers. I was here in 2005 and can clearly remember that there was once a glacier where now all I see is a valley and a large lake. This convinces me that a simple comparison of archive images with shots taken now will have a powerful visual impact.

We ride off on horses provided by “Hotel Las Torres”, regardless of the heavy rain and strong wind buffeting the lower valley. After climbing 500 metres in altitude the gradient becomes even steeper and the horses’ hooves begin to slip. It takes all the effort we can muster to convince them to continue the climb. After a few stumbles we come to the end of the woods and decide to continue the ascent on foot. Miguel, our horseman, stays with the horses while I continue the climb on my own with my heavy backpack. Read all

Iconographic research in Punta Arenas and logistics

_DSC0409Today the expedition team arrived in Punto Arenas to dedicate the first week of the expedition to photographic archive research and last minute logistics. Fabiano Ventura met Carolina Vidal, the woman in charge of the Maggiorino Borgatello Museum photographic archive.

Fabiano Ventura writes:
“What a thrill to be here! At last I can study the original photographic plates that belonged to Alberto Maria De Agostini, the Italian explorer, photographer and Salesian missionary who worked in the Tierra del Fuego for over half a century (from 1910 to 1960). I am already familiar with these photographs, and have pored over them for years, but now that I am actually in the museum that houses his entire collection of photographs and film footage, I gain insights into how he archived this material and can clear up a number of doubts and, as I had imagined, I have come across new photographs that add information that is going to prove invaluable for the comparative photography project I am about to embark on.

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B PLB 00301Thursday 11 February, the “On the Trail of the Glaciers – Andes 2016” expedition will set off for the “deep south” of the planet – the Tierra del Fuego and the Patagonian Andes. The team of photographers, filmmakers and researchers will spend over two months in this unspoilt region.

The expedition, organized thanks to the support of Enel Green Power, MC-link and Gitzo, aims to continue the photographic documentary work carried out in the three previous expeditions to Karakorum, the Caucases and Alaska.

Thanks to this new expedition, the archive established by Fabiano Ventura can be considered one of the most important sources documenting the world’s glaciers using the technique of comparative photography (repeat photography: the photographic comparison of historic and contemporary photographs taken from exactly the same spot to enable the precise superimposition of images).

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Video preview of the expedition to Alaska

Copertino-articolo-videoIt has been almost three weeks since the beginning of the ‘On the trail of the Glaciers’ expedition -  Alaska 2013. Three intense weeks of moving around, long missions in the very dense rainforest, freezing mornings on tiny boats that brought us to the heart of one of the most spectacular wilderness reserves in the world. Just think to that the magical fjord that is Glacier Bay National Park, was buried entirely by an ice cap back in 1750. After the most intense glacier retreat in the history of the planet, it has become home to a huge number of different species. Bears, whales, seals, killer whales and sea lions were present during  the mission to re-create the images taken by explorers, naturalists, and American geologists who set out to explore Alaska at the end of the 19th century.

Below is a summary of the first moving images of the expedition.

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Destination Eastern fiord of Glacier Bay National Park

copertina_articolo3_alaska2013Our captain has yet to repair his boat’s engine, but a beautiful day is awaiting us and we do not want to waste it. Jim, the man who had brought us here a few days earlier, agrees to accompanying us and so we decide to set off on a mission to the Eastern peninsula of the Park’s Bay. The day’s objective is to re-take some photos of the terminus of the Muir Glacier, taken in 1891 and then in 1941. Travelling at 40 miles an hour we reach Wolf Point beach in two and a half hours.  After scouting the area to find the exact points of the mountain view in the historic photograph, we decide on a place. Just as we are getting off the boat Jim, holding his binoculars, screams at us to get back on for he has spotted a mother grizzly bear with three cubs approaching.

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Following the footsteps of Frank La Roche, mission Muir Point

DSC_2850_x_copertinaWe set off again on the evening of the 29th of July. We make our way towards Muir Point with the aim of climbing up the slopes of Mount Wright and repeating history by taking a photo of Muir Glacier, like the famous one taken by Frank La Roche in 1893, exactly 120 years ago.  Jim and his Alaska Dream drop us off on a beach just before sunset. As soon as he leaves we find ourselves alone for the first time in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness. Feeling a little wary, we put up our tents and prepare dinner. Wilderness rules have it that you must cook and eat on the shore where the sea can wash away any smells, so as not to leave traces for hungry bears.  The following morning we venture into the fir and alder forest, taking advantage of the passages used by bears and deer.

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The expedition arrives in Juneau

DSC_2317The ‘On the trail of the Glaciers’ expedition arrived in Juneau, the capital of Alaska, on the 23rd of July. During the first week efforts were focused on organizing logistics, selecting some images at the Juneau State Library and meeting local researchers (Roman Motyka and Jamie Womble) who will work with us often on the field. In the very few days of good weather the team managed to reach the terminus of the Mendenhall Glacier, an enormous glacier that ends in a lake basin, and evaluate it’s notable retreat that started over a century ago. On the 27th the team embarked on a four-hour ferry journey to the Gustavus base camp, a small village that serves as a logistics base and entrance point to the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, place where the team will carry out most of their photographic endeavors.

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