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.