Rain, Wind and Snow

January 22, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Rain, Wind and Snow

Apparently it has been the worst winter for this region of Spain for 35 years. It's certainly been a rough week for the weather here in El Campello.

At the start of the week the forecast was not looking great. The temperature was supposed to drop and there were several days of cold conditions, overcast skies and rain forecast.

As the week progressed the area started to get warnings of snow. Yes, that's right, snow. We never got any snow in El Campello but there was quite heavy snow just 20 km away in Benidorm and also to the south of Alicante, and inland. We could see snow on the slopes of the mountains up near Benidorm, not just on the peaks, on the lower slopes as well.

In El Campello it has been cold and windy. Heavy clouds in overcast skies and rain, lots and lots of rain. The beach here has suffered further erosion as a result of the rain and the waves so that the sea is almost up to the wall of the passeo (promenade) in many places. There will need to be a lot of work done to repair the beach for the summer season.

As far as photography is concerned the opportunities have been few and far between, so I've had to manage as best as I can to get some shots. 

Of course, one of the plus sides of heavy clouds is that, if the sun does manage to break through, you can get some interesting skies. If that happens near to sunrise or sunset it can be quite spectacular.

An example is this shot of the beach huts that are very near to where we live. With the sun setting out of view on the left of frame and slightly behind me it was creating some quite dramatic light on the huts. It only needed a nice sky as background, and fortunately the sky opposite the sunset looks really quite impressive:

This shot was taken before the really heavy rains started and before the last round of erosion of the beach.

The poor weather has had one other benefit, it means that the reservoirs have got a lot more water in. This is, of course, good news from the point of view of the water supply, especially as the area has been suffering from a shortage, but also means that there are a lot of new possibilities for pictures at one of my favourite locations, Amadorio reservoir.

The last time I was at Amadorio was early December, about six weeks ago. At that time I shot this image of the building that had been revealed by the low water levels:

This week there was a gap in the bad weather for one afternoon and I decided to make the most of it and drive up to Amadorio to see what conditions were like. I was amazed to see that not only was the building completely submerged but so was the big rock that you can see near it. In fact the water was so deep that it wasn't possible to make out where the building and the rock were.

What this meant was that the sloping banks that had previously been high up and away from the water were now under the water, and the bushes and trees growing there were partially submerged, leaving some interesting compositional possibilities.

I had arrived a bit early so spent some time scouting around for good compositions and checking on how the light would be as sunset approached. As always in this location the sun would disappear behind the surrounding hills quite a while before official sunset and I used my Photo Pills app to check where the sun would actually vanish.

I decided my first few shots would make use of side lighting. Although there was quite heavy cloud and overcast skies inland from the reservoir there was an area of sky over the reservoir that was a mix of cloud and clear, perfect for the types of shots I was hoping for.

My first shot was about trying to get the reflections of the clouds and blue sky in the water, while still having some of the plants breaking the surface and the mountain as the background. The temptation was to use an ND filter to get a long exposure but I knew that, as it was quite windy, this would blur all of the leaves and branches and I wanted them to be sharp.

So I accepted that the water wouldn't be flat and went without the filter for this first shot which has the low sun just out of frame on the left. I think the colours and reflections in the water came out pretty well:

After a while I moved around a little bit and got in much closer to some of the orange coloured bushes. The sun was moving in and out of some cloud so I waited until the sun came out and captured this shot for which I used a circular polarising filter to cut down on glare and also to boost the contrast and saturation:

I also felt there was a vertical shot to be had here. I waited a bit for one of the clouds to move around. I felt that it would make an interesting shape, almost mirroring the shape of the lake bank just under the surface, and then I waited for the light to break through again:

Then it was to set up for the sunset shot. I decided to include the dam in this shot and use some of the branches from a submerged tree for the main foreground interest. As I was shooting into the sun I had to watch out for flare, and the Polarising filter was off as it would be of no use at this angle. 

I timed my shot for the point at which the sun was just dipping below the edge of the hill, which was blocking the direct light just enough to prevent flare, and used a small aperture (f/16) to get the sun star effect, I was pleased that I also managed to get some cloud reflections in the water:

At about this time it was getting quite cold. Once the sun was gone the temperature dropped even more rapidly and I notice a new dampness in the air. A quick clamber up the bank to check what was happening to the North and I could see a band of rain heading my way. I decided that I wouldn't hang around to see if there was any nice post sunset colour and started the climb back up to the car, arriving just before the rain really started and saving myself a soaking.

And that was it for this week.

So, what about next week? At the time of writing this the weather forecast is for steadily improving weather over the next few days. If conditions look good I am planning to do a complete walk around the reservoir sometime next week, basically so I can see what opportunities the higher water levels present. 

I may also do another trip out somewhere, not sure where yet.

All of which I'll report back on next week

Until then, have a good one

 


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