Notice your surroundings. This may seem obvious, but how many times, as photographers, we do not pay enough attention to our environs? Even when you do not have a camera, take mental, or written note, of potential places to photograph.
This is what I did recently, when travelling by coach between Lisbon and Milfontes, on Portugal’s southwest coast. The driver took a different than normal route, and I was soon noticing some interesting places before arriving at the village of Cercal: there were the typical rolling hills of Alentejo, golden from the summer, with plenty of majestic “sobreiros” (the tree from which bark cork is made), small farms with hay bales, and even abandoned schools. I took note, and in a late summer afternoon last August, I drove there to explore the area.
Cercal is just about 20 km from the coast, but the feel is of a true “interior” village, making a living from farming and agriculture. From there, is a short drive to the even smaller villages of Espadanal and Fornalhas, with many interesting stops along the way. I took photos of characterful trees, abandoned farm houses and schools, empty roads, and hay bales in the hills.
The light was a bit challenging, with the late afternoon sun playing hide-and-seek… but the clouds made for some interesting long-exposure shots.
Of course the coast and the beaches beckon, but if you visit the region, make an effort to stop and appreciate the countryside also, it is well worth your time.
This past August in the Alentejo coast has been characterized by somewhat cool and misty mornings, and breezy afternoons. Not so good for beach goers, but wonderful for photographers. One of the mandatory spots in this region is the Ilha do Pessegueiro, located just slightly south of the well-known village of Porto Covo.
This island is the result of the last post-glaciation sea-level rise, about 18,000 years ago; at the time, a vast sand dune complex was developed. These dunes are now consolidated, of course, and make an important geologic formation in the area. The Romans established a post on the island (for salt trade), and much later on (around the 18th century), the Portuguese built two forts, one on the island, one onshore. These were built to defend the area against the North African pirates.
Trusting in the weather forecast, I planned for a visit in the early morning, to take some photos of the island and beach in the mist. Indeed I was not disappointed, as the fog/mist was abundant, but for short periods it was possible to see the island.
All in all, a very pleasant morning and photographic session. This was also one of my first outings using the Sony FE 70-200 f4 lens, a focal length range that I always found very useful for landscape photography. This lens is, in my opinion, a must have for users of this system.
Today I just to post some images I made recently in a place that I love: Almograve beach, in Portugal’s southwest coast. I have known this region for almost 40 years, but it always seems new and fresh to me. When I was a kid, I used to dive from some of these rocks. Today, that is not possible during the summer, because the life-guards will not allow it.
The rocks have been eroded for sure, but at our human scale and time frame, we cannot spot the difference. What we can appreciate is the change in the beach profile, which changes every year, as the sands are shifted along the shore. This year is one of high sand content, and many rocks are buried under it.
One morning, very early, even before sunrise, I went out to photograph the beach at low tide. This is in August, so one has to go really early to catch the best light, and to avoid the high number of people that flock to the beach. The weather was cloudy, which is good for photography, but bad for beach goers… Lucky me, I managed to get some nice images, with interesting sky and clouds.
The region of Odemira, in southwest Portugal, is full of interesting places and things to photograph. In one of my previous posts, I wrote about the town market and the town itself, which in its laid back ways is quite nice.
Recently I was driving nearby in the early morning when I noticed a nearby hill covered with yellow flowers, and some sobreiro (cork) trees, a trademark of the region. The hill was facing west, so I knew I had to go back in the late afternoon to do some photography.
The results are below, a mix of various attempts of exploring different viewpoints, focusing distances, depth-of-field, and some black-and-white conversion. Again, I took these with the Sony A7II and Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm lens, which is proving to be a fantastic combination to use.
I live close to Carcavelos beach, west of Lisbon, so when I can I just take the opportunity to go and make some photos. I like it very much especially off-season and early in the morning, when I almost have the place to myself. The beach is big, with many photo opportunities, provided by the sand, sea, sky, and the fort at its eastern tip.
This particular time, I was trying to come up with different photos, trying long exposures, abstracts, to convey the feeling of “being there”.
Photos were taken with the Sony A7II plus the Zeiss Sonnar 50. Sometimes slowing down with just one normal lens is really great.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge, inaugurated in 1998 for the Lisbon Expo, is one of the places to visit and photograph in Lisbon; preferably at dawn, when the light is more interesting. There are several photographic opportunities, from the typical wide angle shots that include the bridge and the river, to the more unusual viewpoints, such as right underneath it.
So pack a tripod and your wide angle lens, and explore the area, as there are many more interesting structures to photograph. These shots were taken with the Canon EOS 6D and the EF 16-35 f4 L lens.
Today I want to share a couple of photos that I took recently, as an example of how just a small difference in viewpoint can have a large impact on the final result. I was driving to the town of Odemira, in Alentejo Province (South Portugal) (subject of my previous post) in the early morning, when I noticed the landscape by the side of the road. What caught my attention was that with the arrival of Spring, the fields are getting some more colour, in this case reds and greens. Together with the blue sky and some wispy clouds, the colour palette was simple and nice.
So I stopped the car and walked into the field, trying to look for interesting framings. Photo #1 is probably a type of photo that most would click: colourful field, typical house farm against the sky, classic Alentejo image. I then started thinking about something different, exploring different viewpoints. Hence photo #2; as it turned out, I just rotated my angle of view to the right of the previous framing, basically eliminating the farm house.
To me, photo #2 is more about the idea of Spring, just the open fields, colours, and the sky. It could have been taken anywhere, as there is no more a cultural or geographical registration or identity. This is a type of photography that is less immediate, and a bit more challenging.
So, when out an about looking to photograph familiar places under a different interpretation, think about this example, hope it helps.
The Southwest Portugal coast is a haven for hikers, naturalists, and of course, photographers. This coast is full of well-preserved beaches, reached only by dirt roads or foot. So, there are many places where it is possible to be almost completely alone, even in the summer.
In the winter, isolation is fully guaranteed, so I took the opportunity of a recent visit to go out and take some shots in the afternoon. Winter is one of my preferred photographic seasons, as the sun is really low, making for great light in the landscape. Plus, the skies are commonly filled with dramatic cloud formations. One just has to avoid the rain, and keep warm!
In this occasion, I took my Canon 6D and 16-35 f4 lens, plus tripod and filters. I was hoping to come away with some interesting beach shots, with the vast expanses of sand in the low tide, complemented by the sea and clouds. I kept shooting until after dark, it was that nice!
When I travel in business, I always carry a small camera with me. One never knows when an opportunity will arise to make an interesting photo. Even from high up in the air and through an airplane window. This is what happened to me in a recent early morning flight from Istanbul; the light from the rising sun was gorgeous, and the clouds were illuminated in a very interesting way. The result is the first photo below.
Also during the same trip, but later on, some interesting cloud formations were visible. This is the second phot below, which I converted to B&W, due to the richness of the textures and tones in the clouds.
So, next time you travel, plan in advance to get a window seat.
The Southwest Portugal coast is part of a Natural Park area (Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina). It stretches along the coast roughly between the towns of Sines and Sagres, and it is home of many species of fauna and flora (some of them unique to the area). I am fortunate to be able to visit the area a few times a year, especially the coastline between Almograve beach and Cabo Sardão. This cape is a rocky spur that juts into the sea, and a lighthouse provides a beacon for passing ships.
The region is notable for its rough seas, high cliffs, and small coves, and it provides numerous opportunities for landscape and travel photographers. One can also trek along the marked trails, and familiarize with the region at a more leisurely pace. I can assure you it is worth it! Below are some photos taken recently, in the last couple of months.
Not far from the coast, it is possible to visit the towns of Odemira and Santa Clara-a-Velha, where a dam in the Mira river provides a refreshing opportunity. Here, one is surrounded by the peacefulness of the fields, and hardly a car drives past you on the road. Worth noting are the traditional rural houses, and the friendly local people.