Machu Picchu, Lost City of the Incas
Lizard on the stone wall of Machu Picchu, the ancient "lost city of the Incas", 1400 CA, 2400 meters. Made know to the world by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Huayanapichu (young mountain) in the distance. 17-40mm f/4L IS (19mm) 1/50 sec. @ f/14, ISO 100, Hand-held leaning over the wall ever so slowly as to not scare the lizard. I was in a pretty precarious position when shooting this and I wanted to try one more shot at f/16 or f/22 for some more depth of field but the lizard scurried off before I could execute a few more frames.
I’ve seen pictures of Machu Picchu over the years, but none of them really prepared me for the first hand view. This “lost city of the Incas” is a commanding site, filled with mystery, and perched in the most spectacular mountain jungle location. I shared a few pics on a post a while back, just after the visit, but they were just Iphone snap shots. Here are some more vivid images from my real cameras. I know this place has been photographed over and over again, but I was happy to have my crack at it, and the moody clouds and lighting falling on the stone city was impressive. I was there for less than 24 hours, with one try at morning light. The disheartening clouds slowly dissipated, and in the course of 1.5 hours, I ran around frantically assessing the scene and attempting various compositions.
Here are a few of the many keepers that resulted from that brief visit. They were shot with the Canon 5D Mark II, with an exposure optimized to extract the greatest dynamic range out of one file, without the use of a split-graduated neutral density filter. I’ll discuss how I achieve this in an upcoming post.
Both Llamas and Alpaca roam the grounds of Machu Picchu, serving as efficient lawn mowers with the added bonus of being able to graze all the grass that grows on some of the terraces and vertical walls. This splash of late evening sun did not last long, and I waited quite a while for people to clear out of this scene. 17-40mm f/4L IS (17mm) 1/250 sec. @ f/10, ISO 200
When I woke early, the solid gray clouds and rain did not give me much hope for the few hours I had to photograph before departing at 9 A.M. However, about an hour after initial sunrise, the skies began to brighten and the sun slowly burned its way through as the clouds dissipated. The slow revelation of the ruins was mysterious and it truly felt like discovering the "lost city of the Incas" all over again. 24-105mm f/4L IS (45mm) 1/40 sec. @ f/14, ISO 100
Morning fog and clouds reveal Machu Picchu, the ancient "lost city of the Incas". The Urubamba river arcs around the back side of the mountain, making for quite a strategic situation for its former inhabitants. 24-105mm f/4L IS (24mm) 1/80 sec. @ f/10, ISO 100
Evening light on Machu Picchu, Huaynapicchu (young mountain) in the distance. 17-40mm f/4L (17mm) 1/100 sec. @ f/10, ISO 200
Morning light falls on Machu Picchu. 17-40mm f/4L (20mm) 1/250 sec. @ f/10, ISO 100
Machu Picchu, the ancient "lost city of the Incas". 17-40mm f/4L (17mm) 1/50 sec. @ f/8, ISO 100