Shoot the moon—and more
Andrés Dip, Maintenance Lead Supervisor, is a keen amateur photographer. In this article, he tells us about his photography, his passion, and how he plans his pictures.
Andrés is a supervisor whose main task involves being alert to everything around him. He splits up his working day between the CPF (Central Processing Facility) and the EPF (Early Processing Facility) at Fortín de Piedra, checking out pads and fiscal measurement points, and visiting Tratayén and Los Bastos, for instance. Wherever he goes, he takes his camera: "My photography equipment is quite cumbersome, which is why when I travel in the minibus with other work colleagues I don't take it, but when I'm in my truck it comes with me, in the passenger seat, strapped in with the seat belt on."
“Many of my photos are spontaneous shots, as I always have my camera on me. When I’m touring a site, I always keep an eye on what’s happening around me. I’ve captured a fox leaping in mid-air, horses frolicking, South American ostriches or rheas, an armadillo crossing the road, all kinds of spiders and snakes, a lot of animals: it's what I like to photograph.”
But it’s not all about being spontaneous and grabbing the moment. Some photos take a lot of planning: months of preparation, learning, and special software. “There’s this page I go to that tells me about moonrise, times, and places. For example, it tells me that at five in the morning, the moon will be seen rising over a certain plateau. I can see the landscape in my mind’s eye. And that’s an advantage because I can get ready to capture the moment.”
Andrés taught himself photography as a way of creating a relationship with things around him. When he had to decide what kind of images and style he wanted to create, he chose to immortalize the scenes presented by nature and wildlife. He lives and works in regions that give him what he needs: if he’s not working in Fortín de Piedra, he travels a lot to Plottier, close to the city of Neuquén. ”I often go and visit the botanical gardens early in the morning when I’m in my hometown, and there I see all kinds of birds and animals. Always with a great deal of patience. That's the key".
Patience and context. “This happened one afternoon: I saw this breathtaking landscape through the lens, in Los Barreales. I needed to know at what time I would be able to see the moon rising from behind the mountains surrounding the lake, in an area where there is a drilling rig just a few kilometers away. Thanks to the application, I was able to program exactly when to take the picture: it informed me that I had a six-minute window when the moon and sun would coincide in the sky. The moon was rising like a golden disk in front of the setting sun, which enabled me to see the entire landscape lit by both. The picture took me a month and six minutes: a month to plan, six minutes to shoot,” he laughs.
“As you gradually learn more, your head begins to think differently, you see things differently. I'll give you an example: today, I was traveling through Cutral Co. There’s an abandoned house two hundred meters off the road and the light at six am is perfect for taking pictures. Although I didn't have my camera with me, I know that next time I need to spend fifteen minutes beforehand getting ready, and then just wait for the right moment. It's a matter of planning."
“At the CPF there are all kinds of spectacular photos I could take, but for security reasons I don’t access the premises with my camera. Although I do have a drone and I’ve taken some amazing pictures with the sun going down, shining through the air which is thick with floating dust, like a filter. I don't actually use it for that, but for when a specific image is needed (such as an aerial survey of an area where a road needs to be made) as people usually ask to borrow it.” He insists that he never uses his camera for work. For him, the pleasure lies in getting the perfect photo. What would that be? He pauses and thinks for a moment. "My dream picture would be a wild puma, or a horse silhouetted against the moon." For him, that would be the perfect moment, immortalized by a restless eye, constantly searching for new things to learn.