The Santa Clara – a – Velha Dam – 50 years old

During the first half of 2019, I have been photographing a lot inside the area of Odemira municipality in Alentejo. This is a region that combines a beautiful coastline and beaches, with more interior plains and hills. Thus, it is often described as a “different Alentejo”. Several reasons have contributed to these photographic endeavours: doing several of the various trekking paths; assembling a portfolio for an exhibit; attending more local events; or simply taking more weekends off. There are many highlights in the region of Odemira, and you can get a very good idea from this institutional video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0ZqjNZ8o7w

One of such highlights is no doubt the Santa Clara – a – Velha dam, located about 50km inland. Simply getting there from the coast is a wonderful drive, best negotiated in a leisurely fashion. This is not a land to be appreciated, and understood, at a social network pace. From the coastal road that stretches south from Milfontes, simply follow the directions to Odemira, Boavista dos Pinheiros, until you reach Sabóia. Along the way, you will pass rolling hills and farm country which, depending on the season, will be covered with fresh green grass and trees, blooming flowers, or golden and dry hay. Dotting this landscape, you will notice the conspicuous cork oak trees, some of them very old and majestic, plus grazing cattle.

Now and then, a road sign will seemingly point to nowhere, but by investigating more carefully, you will often arrive at a small village, with just a few houses. It is a great opportunity to spend some time with the locals and witness old and traditional ways of living. In Sabóia, the train station has a couple of beautiful painted azulejo panels depicting the nearby scenery. We are very close to the transition between Alentejo and Algarve provinces, but such border is smoothed by a succession of increasingly higher mountains to the south, culminating in the second highest peak in continental Portugal, Monchique (900m altitude).

After Sabóia, it is a short drive until the quaint little village of Santa Clara – a – Velha. It is worth visiting the small church, with its traditional blue and white facade, and walk slowly towards the river Mira, which winds its way under large willow trees. This village is the starting point of two circular walking trails, each about 12km long. One of them goes to the east, towards the dam, so it is a good choice when the weather is pleasant. Otherwise, it is another short 3km ride until the dam.

The Santa Clara – a – Velha dam was inaugurated in May 12, 1969, so this year marks its 50th anniversary. It was the largest dam in Portugal until the more recent Alqueva was built. It reaches a depth of 83m, with a total capacity of 485,000,000m3. The lake is a true haven of peacefulness and quiet, and a respite in the hot summer days. The only sounds that disturb the quietness are the ones coming from the wind rustling the trees, and the birds singing. It is amazing how quiet it gets. And dark too, which was one of the reasons I visited recently. Coincident with a new Moon, I shot a star trail over the lake. Having previously scouted the area, I set up my tripod with camera and lens facing north; the plan was to shoot for a total of about 1 hour exposure time, to obtain a nice star trail around Polaris.

Many other photographic subjects of interest are available, from the mountain scenery, to some of the infrastructure of the dam. Sunrise and sunset are particularly good times to photograph, as the light is more interesting. For example, sunrise is quite nice looking to the east, as the light is reflected from the calm water. At sunset, it is worth to relax in the balcony of the local hotel, while admiring the view; in this occasion, the warm day was coming to an end, and the golden light was filtered by the haze, bathing the hills in a surreal atmosphere. Visiting this dam is no doubt an enjoyable experience, as it provides a stark contrast with the coastal region.

Location
Location
Church
Church
Trail
Trail
Mountainscape
Mountainscape
Fluvial beach
Fluvial beach
The lake
The lake
Morning
Morning
View
View
First light
First light
Morning quiet
Morning quiet
Start trail
Start trail

Southwest Alentejo in June – part 3

This is the third and final instalment of a set of posts I wanted to make about my recent vacation in the area of Longueira, Odemira municipality, Alentejo. The first post talked about photographing the river Mira and the countryside near Vale Figueira, and the second post addressed the small fishing harbour of Lapa de Pombas, in the coast.

For this final piece, I want to take you to Milfontes, which is one of the highlights of the region. This is a village that is rich in history, from its colourful 16th century stories of pirates, to more recent “invasions” of peaceful tourists. From the three photographic sessions I wanted to carry out during this time – off, this was the one I had really planned: I wanted to photograph the interesting polygonal coastal rock formations at low tide during sunset. When the conditions are right, the water remains in small tidal pools and reflects the colours and light of the sunset, making for a truly spectacular scenery.

A quick research about tide, sunset, and Moon rise conditions, led me to reserve the evening of 15th June for this objective. There would be an excellent combination of a 70 cm low tide close to sunset at around 9 pm. The Moon would rise near full within that time period, perhaps providing more opportunities. The only thing that was more uncertain was the presence of dramatic clouds to fuel the interest during sunset; the only thing that was persistent during the day were some strong winds and clear skies… hoping for the best and keeping my fingers crossed, I pickled up my backpack and tripod, and made the short 10 km drive between Longueira and Milfontes, arriving about 1 hour before sunset.

I parked near the small lighthouse in the northern bank of the river mouth, which is not a bad location for nice views of the coast to the south, and the village proper, to the east. I spent some time making a few photos with the new Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 lens that I am testing (and that I have used for the photos in the previous two chapters of this essay). Even though this lens is larger and heavier than the 14mm f/2.8 lens (that I have used for years), after a few days of using it I was very comfortable – it basically feels and handles like a grown up version of the 14mm lens (same set of controls) – with the bonus of being more robust (it has Fuji’s Weather Resistant construction and labelling), and 2 stops faster (which can be handy sometimes). One other important change is that the aperture ring is a lot less “free rotating” in the 16mm lens, compared to the other.

Anyway, enough of gear talk… From the vicinity of the car park and after a few photos, I walked down to the beach, where the tide was already very low; I think that the combined effort of near full Moon plus the approaching summer solstice were contributing to such low tide levels. Even better for my plans. Walking along the sandy shallows and the rocks, I managed to reach a good distance away from “land”; this allowed me to make some photos that were completely new to me, which was excellent. In some places, the sand had consolidated into sharp – edged rock formations, so be sure to wear good shoes (summer – type flip – flops will not do!). There were plenty of interesting sand patterns, waves, and the view of Milfontes from this far away to keep me busy for a while.

As the Sun was approaching the horizon, I made my way back and entered the area that I was really interested in, featuring the above mentioned polygonal tidal pools. I took a few test shots to get a feel for the compositions, and finally decided on a location to set up the tripod. I already had a few filters ready in my pockets, as being prepared and ready helps a lot, especially if working over water – you don’t want to drop your precious Lee Big Stopper ND filter on the tide pool, or fumble in your backpack when the light is just great. My greatest fear – lack of an interesting sky – went away, because as the sunset approached, there were long and wispy clouds reflecting the light. This turned out to be a highlight of the session for me, and I was soon shooting frame after frame, as the light changed colour and intensity. I spent more than 1 hour in that place, shooting well after sunset. What a fantastic way to end the day, and I felt blessed to be able to witness this show of Nature.

Milfontes - location
Milfontes – location
Arriving view
Arriving view
It's looking good
It’s looking good
Estuary low tide
Estuary low tide
Sand waves
Sand waves
End of the road
End of the road
Erosion
Erosion
Tide pools - general view
Tide pools – general view
Tide pools
Tide pools
Touching
Touching
Moon bonus
Moon bonus
Colour harmony
Colour harmony
Stripes
Stripes
Exit
Exit
Two banks
Two banks

Southwest Alentejo in June – part 2

This is the second part of a three piece article that was started with the previous post.

A couple of kilometres South of Almograve beach, on the Alentejo coast, one can find the small and secluded fishing harbour of Lapa de Pombas. The harbour and its associated infrastructure provide support to the activities of a handful of fishermen, who brave the nearby ocean in small boats to help make a living. This small harbour is one of such locations that still exist along this coastline, providing a window into the hard-working ways of fishing, typical of days gone by. Other such fishing hamlets can be visited to the North, near Milfontes, and to the South, near Zambujeira.

When I am staying in the region, I often visit Lapa de Pombas, either for a simple relaxing stroll, or for photographic reasons. The place can be reached via a dirt road by car, or even better, by walking; this last option allows the visitor to appreciate the beauty of this rugged coastline, with its succession of small inlets and bays, where the waves crash against the cliffs. Along the way, it is also possible to see the coastal dune system, that has developed over geologic times in the area. Between March and June, patches of wildflowers bloom in the dunes, providing an added colourful backdrop to the scenery.

At the end of the dirt track, going down a small stretch of cobbled road, the harbour waits, with its half-dozen woodsheds, that house the fishermen’s equipment. Close to the water, at the end of a concrete slab, the small boats lie in wait. With their vivid colours, they provide an interesting contrast against the rocky background. After a while, it is clear why the harbour was built here, perfectly protected in this little cove against the rougher weather occasions. From near the water’s edge, the wood houses seem to be part of the landscape, disguised against the brown and green hues of the cliffs.

There are plenty of interesting subjects to photograph in this harbour, from the landscapes and seascapes, to the details of the boats and fishing traps, to the locals getting the boats ready for the next fishing trip, or negotiating the rocks at low tide to venture on foot into the best fishing spots. No wonder I got lost track of time walking around the area and playing around with several compositions. One familiar subject from previous visits was the local cat population, that just lies around leisurely, and are very friendly. They must have a good diet of fresh fish, as they are often the first ones waiting for the fishermen’s return.

On the way back to Almograve, with the approaching sunset. I stopped many times to take some photos of the seascapes, simply enjoying the spirit of the place, and playing with some long exposures, one of my favourite techniques with such subjects. In terms of photo gear, I am always surprised by the current options, particularly from mirrorless systems; they offer a perfect combination of high image quality, light weight, and portability for those like me who prefer to carry lighter weight gear. These photos were taken with the Fuji X system, namely just a couple of cameras (XT-2 and XH-1) and lenses (16 f/1.4 and 50-140 f/2.8). And a small travel tripod, of course.

As a final note for those who visit the area, this short trek is part of the larger Rota Vicentina, a network of trails that span the entire Alentejo and southwest Algarve coastline, totalling around 180 km. More information can be found here:

http://en.rotavicentina.com/

Location
Location

 

General view
General view
Fishing traps
Fishing traps
Low tide
Low tide
Rowing
Rowing
Transfer
Transfer
Fishing
Fishing
Boats
Boats
House cat
House cat
Work - life balance
Work – life balance
From afar
From afar
Sunset
Sunset
Secluded
Secluded
Looking down
Looking down

 

Southwest Alentejo in June – part 1

I recently took a few days off work and spent some time at my house in Longueira, in the Alentejo coast, during the first week of June. I had no firm photographic plans, but of course I packed my small backpack and tripod, just in case. Often I simply enjoy to see what opportunities come up my way, especially in areas that I know so well after many years of strolling around neighbouring beaches and hills. As it turned out, at the end of my short vacation, I realised I had photographed in a few new places (Vale Figueira), and other already known ones (Lapa de Pombas and Milfontes). Also, I managed to make some really interesting photos, approaching familiar locations from a different angle. I am going to split this set of locations into threee different posts, just to make them more manageable and organized. Thus, I will start with Vale Figueira, and how this new location (to me) proved to be worthile.

While driving from Milfontes to Odemira, a couple of kilometres after passing the turn out to Almograve, one sees a sign post indicating Vale Figueira, on the left hand side of the road. Taking the turn off, it is possible to drive until the end of the tarmc, which is replaced by a dirt road. After a while, the road ends, and it is necessary to proceed on foot. The objective here is to reach the river Mira and its left bank, as it snakes its way towards the mouth at Milfontes. Before reaching the river, the track crosses some farm lands, where the golden wheat is gently balanced by the wind, with scattered cork trees. It always amazes me this coexistence between a rural geography so close to the coast; we are maybe 10 km inland, and already immersed in the typical Alentejo countryside.

I keep walking towards the river, while mentaly taking note of some interesting potential photographic subjects, like the larger cork trees, a few farm houses, noticing the shadows getting longer, as the day gets to its close. Approaching Summer, days are of course longer, so I know I can profit from the extra time. Sunset will be around 9 pm. After a curve in the road, the river Mira appears at the bottom of the valley, a indigo blue strip amongst the greenery of the trees and shrubs. From its Eastern bank, a succession of hills rolls up towards the sky; the Moon has already risen and is close to being full. I make a few exploratory photographs, framing the river, the hiils, and sky, evaluating the scenery. I like to photograph this way, at my leisure, absorbing what the Nature offers in terms of sounds, smells, colours, subjects, different elements.

By the time I reach the river, I already have lots of ideas to try, and I get into my natural flow of photographing. It is almost eerily quiet around me, apart from the occasional bird chirp, fish splash, or wind undulating the tall grass. I spent some time photographing near the river, and I return up hill, to photograph what I had enviaged before – the trees and the landscape. I attempt a long exposure of the wheat flowing in the wind, about 30 seconds, works fine. Right at sunset, I happen to spot an old abandoned house, seemingly guarded by a large eucalyptus tree, with the Moon in the sky. My final shot of the day.

Location
Location
Branching
Branching
Layers
Layers
Slow
Slow
Reflections
Reflections
Cork tree
Cork tree
Thorns
Thorns
Golden wind
Golden wind
Old
Old
Hills
Hills
Countryside
Countryside

 

 

Fujifilm X100F – initial impressions

The Fujifilm X100 series of cameras has been a great success since it first came in the market a few years ago. With its retro design and controls, plus the classic 35mm field of view, it looks like a camera from many decades ago. It is no surprise that has won over the hearts of many photographers, including mine. I was a user of the original X100, and over time I have tried their successors for several shots. Given its small size and high capability, the X100 series is a favourite of mine when to comes to always having a camera with me. Or when I wish to travel light, just documenting daily life. I recently had the chance to try the latest incarnation, the X100F, for a weekend.

It also happened that during said weekend I was going to a favourite region of mine, Odemira. I had made plans to attend the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Santa Clara a Velha dam, near the village with the same name. There were several activities planned, and I also wanted to make a small trek in the area, scouting for locations to shoot starscapes in the coming Summer months. I did attend some of the celebratory events, but because the weekend was very hot, I ended up not trekking much. I shot a few frames of the celebrations, including the students of viola campaniça (a traditional local guitar) and Phillipe (a local Belgian painter) teaching how to paint. On the way back I stopped at the village of Santa Clara a Velha for a short stroll. The town’s church is famous for its typical blue and white colours of the Alentejo. Then I ended the day in the town of Odemira, shooting a 16 frame panorama from the top of a hill.

I compensated for a couple of sunset and sunrise photo sessions in Cabo Sardão and Milfontes, two of my favourite spots. With just a small tripod and a set of neutral density filters, the small X100F makes for a perfect light companion to shoot the area. The first session was sunset at Cabo Sardão, a place that I simply love. I go there often during the year, but every time the feeling is different. This time the sea was calm, and there was just a light breeze. So, I simply set up the tripod, placed my 10 stop neutral density filter, and played with exposure times. The X100F’s operational speed is a step above the previous generations, and the little camera just begs to be used. The light of the sunset bathing the cliffs was fantastic. I spend more than 1 hour just experimenting. As I was packing to leave, I noticed a pair of seagulls framed against the colours in the horizon, so I grabbed one last shot.

The next morning, I woke up very early to catch the sunrise on the river Mira estuary, in Milfontes. I parked in the southern margin of the river and walked along the beach looking for interesting compositions. The tide was low, with the gentle waves lapping against the sand. I took a few long exposure photos just to run a few tests. Having just one focal length makes it necessary to try out compositions and work around the subject; a few steps forward or backward can make a big difference. As the sunlight was coming up, the small chapel in the promontory was bathed in golden light, making for a nice subject. Shooting against the rising sun also tested the quality of the lens; I have one shot that I am particularly fond of: a long exposure using the 10 stop ND filter, with the sun rising in the background. In the Spring, the dunes also make for good subjects, with the sand featuring patches of flowers, like the Armeria maritima, also known as sea thrift. At the end of the day, the little X100 series camera just got better, with the latest release, the X100F, being the best one until now. For sure it is a camera that I will keep, for the occasions where I want to travel lighter.

Cliffs, wind, and sea - Cabo Sardão
Cliffs, wind, and sea – Cabo Sardão
Lighthouse at sunset
Cabo Sardão lighthouse at sunset
Guardians of the light
Guardians of the light
Mira estuary - Milfontes
Mira estuary – Milfontes
Long exposure sunrise
Long exposure sunrise – Milfontes
Armeria maritima
Armeria maritima
Silhouette near Odemira
Silhouette near Odemira
Odemira panorama
Odemira panorama
Celebrating 50 years - students of viola campaniça
Celebrating 50 years – students of viola campaniça
Phillipe's live painting lesson
Phillipe’s live painting lesson
Church of Santa Clara a Velha
Church of Santa Clara a Velha

My photo exhibit in Odemira

This new post is all about my new photo exhibit that just opened on May 3rd in the Municipal Library José Saramago, in Odemira. As you may recall, I have been working hard on the preparation steps, involving a selection of 15 photos, and engaging with the Library’s staff to ensure everything went smoothly. I can now say that the opening was a relaxed and fun event, and everything went very well. I am grateful for all the help I got from the staff, plus all the family support.

The theme of the exhibit was about “Landscapes with Memories – Odemira”. I have been visiting this region for more than 40 years, so I have plenty of memories (and photos) that I have been collecting and making along this time. Odemira is home of some of the best beaches in Portugal, which are a haven for those that want to enjoy Nature. The interior of the region, with its rolling hills and farms, offers a nice contrast with the seaside. I am now planning for a more thorough exploration of this interior area, so stay tuned!

Below I am showing all the photos that are part of the exhibit, plus a few from the inauguration. I hope you enjoy them.

20190503_120207 IMG-20190503-WA0016

Almograve Brejo Largo Milfontes Milfontes Milfontes Milfontes Cabo Sardão Cabo Sardão Cabo Sardão Cabo Sardão Cabo Sardão Zambujeira do Mar Santa Clara a Velha Odemira Odemira

Spring has arrived

Spring has finally arrived, bringing with it longer days, more sunshine, and lots of flower covered fields. In my recent weekend visits to Longueira and Almograve, I have kept an eye out for one of my favourite Spring photographic subjects – poppies. This flower can impart a very special character to any area, sprinkling the fields with small red dots. Every year they seem to appear in different parts of the region, with stronger or weaker presence.

Last year, I remember sawing them in a good number quite close to Odemira. This year, the best area I have seen so far is just before Milfontes, where there are many red poppies among the lupine fields. I noticed it whilst driving past; there they were right next to the road. A large tract of land covered with yellow lupine and the conspicuous red splashes of the poppies. I was elated to see this view, because just a mere days before this field was empty of such colour. Such is Spring, whimsical and surprising.

I made a mental note to plan and come back for an early morning shooting session in the next couple of days. I knew that the light at sunrise would be great over this area, bathing the flowers in golden light. I also knew that I would have to return relatively quickly, because poppies are fragile – their petals do not resist stronger winds or showers, which had been abundant recently. It is a good thing that I do not mind (very much) to wake up well before sunrise…

Thus, one morning I packed up my photo backpack plus tripod, and off I went. It is a short drive from my house in Longueira, and I really like the time of day before sunrise – Nature seems to be waking up, and the morning was clear with some clouds over the mountains, from where the Sun would rise. Excellent conditions for photography, with some clouds adding interest to the sky. After arriving, I strolled into the fields looking for nice compositions, making the most of side light and contre jour conditions. I had decided to bring only a couple a lenses in my Fujifilm X system; the 14mm wide angle, and the 50-140mm telephoto zoom. The former would be able to frame the typical wide vistas of the landscape, whereas the latter would allow flexibility and some close-ups. To add a bit more versatility, I had also packed an old Canon 250D close-up lens, to use on the zoom. This significantly increases the magnification (up to around 0.25X), which is nice for semi-macro shooting.

I started shooting before sunrise, when the light was still low, just to experiment and explore the surroundings and subjects. The light became much more interesting when the Sun started to crest the mountains in the East; I started to shoot faster, trying to make the most of it. As I was close to the road, I must have made a strange spectacle to people driving past, lying low on the ground to frame the poppies against the rising Sun! At one point, an old farmer showed up with his dog, and we had a nice conversation, with me trying to explain how interesting his field of flowers was to photograph. As I always do, next time I am back I will give him a print.

After about 1 hour, I was confident that I had managed to capture some interesting photos, so it was time to go back home for breakfast. Looking back at the last year or so, I reflected how lucky I was to be able to photograph this beautiful region throughout the various seasons. Each season brings a different feel and emotion, and Spring is no different. I will be back in about a week, with plans to visit the fields near Santa Clara-a-Velha, more to the interior. I think that more flowers are waiting.

Sunrise
Sunrise
Poppy at sunrise
Poppy at sunrise
Sunrise
Sunrise
The fields
The fields
Towering
Towering
Red and blue
Red and blue
Delicate
Delicate
Red and yellow
Red and yellow
Transparent
Transparent
Close.up
Close.up

Milfontes at sunset

Milfontes is a well known village in the Alentejo coast. At the confluence of the Mira river and the Atlantic ocean, it is a popular Summer destination for beach lovers. As part of the Southwest Alentejo Natural Park, it also offers year – round attractions, with its pristine landscapes, worth exploring along its many walking trails.

I am currently assembling a portfolio about the Odemira region, to be exhibited locally in May,  at the Jose Saramago library. As such, I am selecting photos that portray the rich diversity on Odemira’s municipality, from its many beaches (the best in Portugal, as the slogan says) to the more interior landscapes.

While looking at the portfolio, I saw that I was missing some potentially interesting locations, such as the one overlooking the Furnas beach, on the South bank of the Mira. Such a spot offers great views of the popular Furnas beach and Milfontes village, looking North. So I planned for a sunset shooting session  a couple of weeks ago. Being Winter, I had the place to myself, and so it was really peaceful; I simply love to being outside, and consider myself lucky to be able to experience Nature at tis best.

I walked a bit along the coast, exploring to the South, amongst hardened sand dunes, where water and wind had sculpted interesting shapes. There are always interesting photo opportunities, when one is willing to keep an open eye. As sunset was approaching, I set up my tripod and experimented with several exposure times and framings. As always, I like to keep things simple, so I only carried 1 lens for my Fujifilm camera, and that was the 23mm f1.4.

I kept shooting well until after sunset, into the so-called blue hour. In fact, while I was walking back to the car, I stopped a few times, and ended up taking a few more frames. At the end of the day, I suspect I will have a few more portfolio options; if not. then the experience was well worth it. As a landscape photographer, experiencing a place is rewarding enough for me. And Milfontes is certainly such a place.

Erosion
Erosion
Furnas beach view
Furnas beach view
Sunset
Sunset
Beach sunset
The coast looking South
Nightfall
Nightfall
Milfontes
Milfontes panorama

Zambujeira do Mar – Winter wonder

Zambujeira do Mar is a quaint little village located a few km South of Cabo Sardão, in the Alentejo coast. Together with Milfontes and Almograve, it completes the trio of the most famous beaches in the Odemira municipality. Similarly to the other coastal towns in the area, during the Winter there are hardly any tourists or visitors around, which makes for perfect and quiet conditions to visit. During the Summer, the small village receives a significant number of vacationers, plus a dedicated crowd during one of the most famous music festivals in Portugal.

The principal attraction is of course the beach, secluded between rocky spurs, that provide protection against the often rough sea and northerly winds. The topography is familiar to those that know the area – the coast in the region offers a string of several beaches separated by cliffs of Palaeozoic rock formations of variable colour. While in Cabo Sardão to the North the dark rocks dominate, here the prevalent colour is yellow, which makes for a nice contrast with the blue sky and blue green water of the sea.

I am preparing an image portfolio of the most interesting locations in Odemira’s municipality, and I was surprised to see that I had very few photos of Zambujeira. I normally shoot more often between Cabo Sardão and Milfontes to the North. This was something I needed to correct, so I arranged for a short trip during the weekend. My plan was to take a walk between Zambujeira and Alteirinhos, the first beach south of the village. You can see the map for a simple location.

I wanted to photograph during golden and blue hours, that is, around and after sunset. The scenery is beautiful, and suitable for long exposures of the sea against the rough cliffs. It also helped that there were some clouds to provide some colour and interest in the sky. For this trip, I simply took my Fuji kit (Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon 14 f2.8 lens) and tripod plus Lee Big Stopper filter. My first stop was at the Alteirinhos beach, where I was surprised to find a waterfall; the tide was coming in, but I was able to set up my tripod and take a few shots, testing several exposure times to see how the water flow would come out. I then spend some time exploring different viewpoints from the beach, and was happy with the results.

It is easy to loose track of time, and sunset was approaching quickly. I made my way back to Zambujeira, as I wanted to photograph the village and the beach. I shot several compositions and different exposure times, well into the night, as the Moon had risen and was bright in the sky. I ended my trip simply seating near the small chapel of Nossa Senhora do Mar (Our Lady of the Sea), at the top of the cliff, and looking West, into the ocean. A perfect way of finishing a wonderful photographic session.

Location map
Location map
Waterfall in Alteirinhos beach
Waterfall in Alteirinhos beach
Alteirinhos beach - looking North
Alteirinhos beach – looking North
Alteirinhos beach - looking North
Alteirinhos beach – looking North
Alteirinhos beach
Alteirinhos beach
Alteirinhos beach - looking South
Alteirinhos beach – looking South
Sunset and cliffs
Sunset and cliffs
Zambujeira do Mar
Zambujeira do Mar
Alteirinhos beach at sunset
Alteirinhos beach at sunset
Zambujeira do Mar at sunset
Zambujeira do Mar at sunset
Zambujeira do Mar blue hour
Zambujeira do Mar blue hour

Winter landscapes around Odemira, SW Portugal

In my previous post, I wrote about the beautiful walk between Almograve and Cabo Sardão, along the coast of Alentejo. Today, I want to take you a few km inland, on a journey around the municipality of Odemira. More specifically, along the back roads that hug the hills between Odemira and Sabóia.

This area of the interior is characterized by gentle rolling hills, dotted with old farms, where sheep graze amongst cork and holm oaks. Thanks to recent rains, the pasture is green and abundant. The road to Sabóia is quiet, there are hardly any cars on it; it is easy to fall into a driving rhythm that is in synch with the landscape. Driving along, I stopped many times, simply to slow down and experience the peacefulness of the place,  slowly composing my photos. No need to rush!

I simply walked around the area, trying to find the best vantage point to photograph a farm house surrounded by the trees and green fields. At the start of the trip, the sky was cloudy and grey, therefore not very interesting in terms of a typical landscape shot. So I concentrated on more intimate shots, of trees and grassland. The grass was particularly interesting, with vivid greens due to the rains.

My destiny for this trip was the small village of Sabóia, whit its interesting train station. Unfortunately, Portugal has not invested in the railways for a very long time, and that shows. The Sabóia station looks, and feels, like time has stopped; it has some beautiful azulejo panels depicting the village of Monchique in Algarve, and these are well preserved. But, similar to many other train stations in Portugal, it is deserted; I wonder what to do if I wanted to buy a ticket, as the building is closed…

The main building, and the surrounding supporting ones, are in dire need of a paint job, as a starting point. I walk around, no soul to be seen; nearby, I hear a tractor, someone is tending to the fields. Many houses in the vicinity of the station are abandoned. Looks like a ghost town…

On the drive back, sometimes the sun breaks the cloud cover, and I wonder if I am lucky enough to still have some more interesting light at sunset. There is this farm house that I have been trying to photograph at sunset for quite some time; maybe today I think? Sunset in December is around 5.30 pm, so I need to hasten.

And indeed I am lucky, during sunset, the light is wonderful, and I bag the photo I wanted. A nice and inspiring way to finish a wonderful day in this area.

 

Farm at sunrise
Farm at sunrise
Tree and grass
Tree and grass
Looking
Looking
Farmland
Farmland
Winter fields
Winter fields
Station art
Station art
Abandoned
Abandoned
Parked
Parked
Support
Support
Waiting for the train
Waiting for the train
Farm at susnet
Farm at susnet