Pego das Pias pools

I like to visit the Pego das Pias pools after a period of rain, because then the Torgal creek is flowing with abundant water. I wrote about this place already, so more details can be found here:

This is indeed a magical place, especially during springtime, with the green oaks and ash trees, plus the conspicuous rockroses in bloom. There are a few excellent places to make interesting photos, like the main pools at the end of the walking path, with the large boulder in the middle. For this visit, I had with me the Fujifilm X-T30 and X-Pro3 cameras, the former with the Fujinon 14mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens, and the latter with the Fujinon 35mm f/2 standard lens. These provide plenty of flexibility and can be carried in a small backpack.

The main pools.

From there, it is possible to continue to walk upstream, negotiating around a few rocks along the way. From the top, it is possible to admire the narrow canyon that has been excavated in the quartzitic rock by the Torgal creek.

The canyon.

Continuing upstream, I made several photos of the water running around the rocks, using a density neutral filter to obtain a smoothing effect.

Flowing creek.
After the rain.

Walking even further, one reaches another set of pools, which was illuminated by the late afternoon light. The water level was higher than usual, which was nice.

Upstream pools.

After spending some time exploring the area, I walked back downstream, following the southern bank of the Torgal creek. The light was filtering through the trees, bathing the forest and the water in a golden light.

Along the margin.
In the forest.
Forest light.

Closer to the tarmac road, the valley widens a little, and there is a small pasture area, where some sheep were grazing.

Trekking path.
In the valley.

My final stop was to photograph the bridge that spans the Torgal creek valley. It makes an interesting subject for a wide-angle lens. As I was crossing the bridge, I also noticed the sunset light on the forest below, which was being filtered through the trees.

The bridge.
Filtered light.

Pego das Pias is one of those beautiful hidden places, quite close to Odemira, but still a well kept secret.

A storm is coming

After a very dry winter, finally we are having some rain in Portugal in April. Still not enough to mitigate the drought, but rain nevertheless. During one of my recent walks in the Alentejo coast, between Cabo Sardão and Zambujeira-do-Mar, I ended up photographing some seascapes during the sunset. The afternoon had been very windy, with heavy clouds accumulating in the distance. As the day was ending, the light kept changing very quickly, and the first showers could be seen in the distance.

I mounted my camera on the tripod, and made several photos using the lenses I had with me: the older and trusty Fujinon 14mm wide-angle and the more recent Fujinon 70-300mm zoom. The former was used to frame the coastal cliffs against the sea and dramatic sky, whereas the latter was used to photograph the distant ominous clouds near the horizon.

Natural elements.
Ominous sky.
Into the sea and sky.

The clouds were covering the sun, but as sunset approached, a thin sliver of clear sky appeared, illuminated by warm colors. This made a very nice contrast with the darker bands of sea and sky that were framing it.

Approaching storm.
Blue and orange.
Light from above.

Watching this show was a wonderful experience, and I was glad I had decided to visit the area; bad weather often makes for good light and interesting photos. My final frame was of the Cabo Sardão lighthouse as its light was turned on.


The white storks are back to the Southwest

The southwest coast of Portugal is home to a unique species of storks, which are one of the icons of the region. I first wrote about them almost two years ago, in a small essay that can be found in the link below.

The arrival of Spring brings with it the return of these birds to their nests set atop the numerous sea stacks along the coastal cliffs. One of the best areas to observe this species is the stretch of littoral between the villages of Cavaleiro and Zambujeira-do-Mar. I walked this trail a couple of weeks ago, and was able to photograph the white storks in their nests. I used the Fujifilm X-T3 camera and Fujinon 70-300mm zoom.

Two years ago the maximum focal length I had was 200mm, which was a bit limited. So, this time I wanted a little more reach, and the 70-300mm zoom (which was released in the interim) proved to be quite adequate. Of course, the Fujifilm 100-400mm zoom would have been even better, at the cost of extra weight and bulk, not to mention expense. I found the 70-300mm lens to be easy to handhold, and the image stabilization was also very useful. I was in the field for a few hours in the late afternoon, shooting until sunset in various places.

The wind was very strong, which required extra care when approaching the edge of the cliffs. The strong wind also demanded that, when using 300mm, I often had to lie on the ground to improve stability and avoid camera shake, which was a higher risk when the lens barrel was fully extended.

I also made several seascape photos of the area, which is beautiful in itself. In the set below, there are several frames taken with the Fujifilm 14mm f/2.8 lens, a high quality wide – angle lens that I have owned for several years. The geology along the cliffs makes for spectacular shapes and rock textures.

Folded rocks and small bay.
Coastal view.
White storks’ nests.
Tectonic forces.
Delicate bouquet.
White stork.
Rock textures.
Scenic view of coastal region.
White stork in its nest.
Coastal scenery.
Upstairs, downstairs.
White stork.
Coastal cliffs at sunset.
Curved shapes.
Hanging block.
Sea stacks.
Sea stacks.
Sea, rocks, and mountains.
Coastal nests.
Earth, sea, and sky.