At the Edge of Light

This is a simple post, just to share some photos I took last week, when spending a few days in Longueira, in the SW Alentejo coastal region. End of September is synonym with tranquility: vacation time is over, school has started, so the crowds are gone. More than that, there is something special about the light in late September; the sun is lower in the sky, the air is crisper, and one can tell that Autumn is around the corner. It is a wonderful time to visit the area, and walk along the beaches and coastal paths.

It rained during one of the days, bringing the much needed water to the dry land. The following afternoon I took a walk just before sunset, visiting the area between Almograve beach and the fishing harbor of Lapa de Pombas. The weather was great, with nice golden light and clouds in the sky. I am always surprised at the amount of interesting subjects that can be found in this small area, from the more general vistas over the cliffs and the ocean, to the fishing boats, and even the local cats.

Almograve beach, panorama of 2 photos. Fujifilm X-T4 and Voigtlaender X 35mm f/1.2.
Sand dunes, panorama of 2 photos. Fujifilm X-T4 and Voigtlaender X 35mm f/1.2.
Waves and rocks.
Lapa de Pombas fishing harbor.
Along the coast.
Enjoying the sunshine.
Sunset #1.
Sunset #2.

The following morning I woke up before sunrise for another walk, this time near Longueira. I often go out for a walk early in the day, it is a peaceful time to enjoy nature. The fields around the village have been planted with sweet potatoes, a local famous product; it is now time to gather the harvest, and the workers arrive before sunrise. Looking east, the first light of the sun seems to turn the sky on fire. This type of light lasts only for a few seconds, so I keep shooting as the scene changes.

Longueira sunrise. Fujifilm X-T4 and Voigtlaender X 35mm f/1.2.
Time to harvest the sweet potatoes. Fujifilm X-T4 and Voigtlaender X 35mm f/1.2.
Fire in the sky. Fujifilm X-T4 and Voigtlaender X 35mm f/1.2.
Windmill. Fujifilm X-T4 and Voigtlaender X 35mm f/1.2.

As mentioned initially, these are just some photos taken close to Longueira and Almograve, within walking distance of my house. I am fortunate to be able to spend time in this region, which is blessed by natural beauty and tranquility,

A Sunset Walk in Ursa Beach, Sintra.

About 1 km north of Cabo da Roca lies what the Michelin Guide has considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Ursa. The name means “female bear” in Portuguese, and supposedly comes from the shape of one of the local sea stacks. Even though I live about a 40 minute drive away, I have not been to Ursa for many years. The area has become a tourist magnet, with countless buses stopping at Cabo da Roca, which is part of the Cascais – Sintra touring route. There are countless interesting places to visit in the region, with Cabo da Roca being the westernmost point in continental Europe.

Still, the place is indeed beautiful, so I planned for a visit when the tide would be low, just before sunset. Quite often such plans are challenged by the typical fog that covers the region of Sintra, but such is part of its charm. For this visit a few days ago, the sky was a nice clear blue, which is actually not very interesting for photography, but as photographers we have to adapt to any conditions. It was also nice to have my daughter for company, so I considered myself lucky. While I had my 2 cameras and 2 lenses, she carried her smartphone; sign of the times.

Stopping at Cabo da Roca is mandatory, and I took the opportunity to make a panorama of the amazing view over the mountains and sea.

View over serra de Sintra from Cabo da Roca. Panorama from 5 photos. Fujifilm X-T5, Fujinon 16mm f/1.4.

From there, we made our way to the beginning of the trail to Ursa; for the first few hundred meters, the path is generally flat, following along the plateau. After reaching the edge of the cliffs, it steepens considerably, and due care is necessary. Do not rush, because the view over Ursa is really nice. Given that the access is difficult, this beach is never crowded, and such was the case on this afternoon. Still, there were people around, many taking photos, and also enjoying the sunshine and the surf. I walked around for a while, exploring the area and looking for interesting compositions. The famous sea stacks are the obvious subjects, but other smaller details are also worth your attention. Like the dark vertical volcanic lodes that have intruded into the surrounding rocks, during the opening of the Atlantic ocean.

Intrusive. Fujifilm X-T5, Fujinon 16mm f/1.4.

As the tide was going down, other parts of the beach became accessible, so I headed into its southern part and made a few more photos. The sunset was approaching, so the light was quite good. I used my 10 stop neutral density filter to smooth the water, and to really make the rock formations stand out; one added benefit was to also make the people disappear in the long exposure. The conspicuous lighter sea stacks make a good contrast with the surrounding darker and orange rocks.

On the rocks. Fujifilm X-T5, Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, Lee 10 stop ND filter.
Framed. Fujifilm X-T5, Fujinon 16mm f/1.4.

Looking around, I noticed a cormorant perched on a rock, silhouetted against the sun.

Sunshine. Fujifilm X-T4, Voigtlaender X Nokton 35mm f/1.2.
Low tide. Panorama from 2 photos. Fujifilm X-T4, Voigtlaender X Nokton 35mm f/1.2.

I wanted to be back on the top of the cliff to watch the sunset, so after a couple of hours, it was time to head back. Again, it is impossible not to stop and make a few more photos. Especially as the light was getting really good, changing fast from golden into softer mauve tones.

Golden rocks. Fujifilm X-T5, Fujinon 16mm f/1.4.
Soft light. Panorama from 2 photos. Fujifilm X-T4, Voigtlaender X Nokton 35mm f/1.2.

And there was also time to see the light being turned on in the Cabo da Roca lighthouse, framed against the early night. What a great way to end this nice afternoon.

The light in the distance. Fujifilm X-T4, Voigtlaender X Nokton 35mm f/1.2.