As intrepid travelers, we don’t only search for an adventure or a change of scenery — we also seek to capture fascinating moments in photographs and tell the compelling stories behind them. In this wanderlust-driven series for the Locations section, we showcase some of the most fascinating travel photos by our fellow lomographers, along with their tales from the trip.
The beautiful faux-panorama photo above looks so surreal, and even more fascinating once you find out the story behind it. Curious about the photo taken in the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world, I asked ghidini to tell us the story behind it:
“In 2011, I went to the Atacama Desert with my wife because we wanted to celebrate the New Year’s Eve in a unique and magical place. We were there for about 8 or 9 days. Getting to San Pedro de Atacama was not that easy. It’s a long flight from Brazil to Chile, then we flew to Santiago, then another flight to Calama, and traveled a few more hours in a van, until we reached the town. But nevermind, as you can see, it’s very scenic and unbelievable, like no other place on Earth — literally.
“Because I knew the light would be fantastic — open skies and no clouds most of the time, plus no civilization nearby — I was also expecting a very dark and clean blue sky. I decided to take with me only slow films, like ISO 100 or 50, with preference for slide films. But I wanted to keep some of the low-fi qualities that we all Lomographers love and bought a plastic fake panorama to do the job: a 2WayVista, basically just a disposable body that one can reload.”
Given the climate in the Atacama Desert, they were indeed rewarded with clear blue skies, but what about that blue his subject was standing on? I simply had to ask a couple of silly questions: Is it sand? Did the time of the day have something to do with it?
“That’s not sand, that’s salt and it’s as white as the clearest snow, but hard as a rock. The think is it has a very thin layer of salty water over it, that’s probably why it got that blue-ish color. Those tiny little dark spots you see on the photo are actually flares from the sun hitting the water and the salt.
“The shot was completely random. The two shadows you see are me and my wife, I saw that dude standing in front of me, so I knelt down quickly and shot from the hip. I was only lucky — or maybe I had one of the 10 rules in mind: Don’t think, just shoot.”
So, I looked at the rest of his photos in his Chile album and it was finally clear to me. He was right — it’s salt, as they were in Salar de Atacama, the largest salt pan in Chile. The salt crusts and the water pools creating them are more visible in the photos below: