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Lost Tombs
of Peru

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Lost Tombs of Peru
Photograph by Gordon Wiltsie

Crowing the top of a 9,800-foot (2,987 meters) ridge on the eastern slopes of Peru’s Andes, the Lost Tombs of Peru rises anther 65 feet (20 meters), its walls pierced by entrances so narrow only one person can pass at a time. First documented in 1843, Cuelap is still the most famous Chachapoya site. Like most remnants of this pre-Inca civilization, which flourished between 800 and 1470 A.D., much of it remains unexcavated.

Camera: Nikon 8008s
Film Type: Fuji Velvia 50
Lens: Nikon 20mm 2.8 (manual focus)
Speed and F Stop: 125 @ f/8
Weather Conditions: Partly Cloudy
Time of Day: 2 p.m.
Lighting Techniques: Natural light with a graduated neutral density filter

When we reached the parking area below Cuelap, I ran most of the way up a trail to reach the fortress before growing clouds cast it into shadow. Unfortunately, I arrived too late. Just in front of the sun was one annoying cloud that just kept forming and reforming in place. I knew that it would now quickly blow away. To balance the shaded foreground with the beautiful, sunlit clouds overhead, I resorted to a graduated neutral density filter. This cut the light from the sky by one stop, but left the foreground unchanged. Without it, I could have created a picture of either the sky ore the foreground, but not one with detail in both.

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