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The Day of the Condor


It was a miraculous day at the bottom of the world. Days of clouds and rain finally gave way to brilliant sunshine among the peaks and grasslands of Torres del Paine National Park. And best of all, the sky was filled with Andean Condors. We must have seen 50 or more over the course of the day, hanging in the updrafts and soaring past the dramatic, snow-covered mountains.
I knew I wanted more than simply a shot of a condor against the plain blue sky; I wanted to capture an iconic shot of a condor in the context of its high Andean home. I tried for some time to track the birds across the sky, hoping to get one in the right position. But with my focus point set in the middle of the viewfinder, all I was ever going to get was a bird smack in the center of the frame.
To get a more dynamic composition, therefore, I moved the camera’s focus point to where I WANTED the bird to be, in one of the “power points” of the frame, e.g. roughly one third of the way from the top and right, and flying into the picture.
Locked on to the condor, I simply had to fire the shutter whenever the background composition looked flattering. My favorite shot of the series was this one, with a misty, snow-covered peak as a background. To me, it captures exactly the wild spirit of the place – and the bird itself.

Andean Condor, Torres del Paine National Park