Photo Inspirations – Chopicalqui
Nikon D90, 18-50 f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/8, 1/2500 second
This was shot while descending from the summit of Nevado Chopicalqui, a 6345m/21,000ft mountain in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. The northwest ridge is a much more serious route than the southwest ridge we had taken to the top, and it is rarely climbed, notably because of the often unfavorable snow conditions.
The ascent had been hard on me, especially with the thin air from the high altitude, and by the time I reached the summit, I wanted nothing more than return to camp and collapse. When I saw this ridge, however, about an hour into the descent, I stopped dead in my tracks, got my camera out and snapped a couple of pictures. The combination of the Andean snow flutings, the gentle curve of the ridge and the rising clouds announcing bad weather had caught my eye instantly. As a sidenote, the only reason I got the shot was because all my camera gear was strapped on the outside and not inside my backpack, even though I believed I was done with photography for the day.
Since publishing this image, I have received many questions (and sometimes accusations) about its post-processing. One person even told me there were artefacts from the CGI program I had used to generate it from scratch! The truth is that, apart from minor brightness and contrast adjustments, this is straight out of camera, and this is exactly how I remember the scene. The secret to the making of this picture was simply that it was necessary to climb the mountain!
~ alexandre buisse