Villajoyosa north and Cabo de Huertas
Villajoyosa north and Cabo de Huertas
Another warm week here in El Campello, definite signs that we are heading into summer. During the daytime shorts have become the standard attire and even in the evenings and early mornings it is generally warm enough without resorting to long trousers.
Of course, with the warmer weather comes more people and we are definitely seeing more about, especially at the weekends.
Also, as we move into summer, sunrise gets earlier and sunset gets later and, just to add to that, the position of the sun at each end of the day gets more restrictive in terms of where I can go locally to get good conditions for photography.
During this last week I have had two outings. The first was a photowalk on the cliffs between Villajoyosa and Benidorm. I did this as part photo opportunity and part scouting trip and I managed some unexpected images.
My second outing was a dawn shoot at Cabo de Huertas which is on the border with Alicante itself.
So, let's start off with the photowalk.
I headed up to the northern end of Villajoyosa and parked up. The plan was to follow the coastal trail up to the cliffs overlooking the southern end of Benidorm and pay another visit to the watchtower there called Torre El Aguiló.
The last time I did this route I managed to find the hard way. Steep, rough and, in some cases, almost non-existent trails. This time I knew better and I followed the path I had discovered on the way back last time.
The weather was warm and sunny, very little wind and just a bit of light cloud. It was afternoon and a long way from sunset so I wasn't expecting great light but part of the fun is to go and find locations and work out when will be best to shoot them.
After about an hours walk I arrived at Torre El Aguiló. I spent some time looking at possible compositions for both early morning and late evening shoots. I checked the sunrise and sunset positions for various times in the year and came to the conclusion that this would have to be a winter shoot to get the best from the location, At either end of the day I would want the sun to be as far out to sea as possible and that means coming back around December.
Nevertheless, while I was there, I took advantage of a period when the sun was partially obscured by thin cloud, and therefore the light was a bit more diffuse, to take a couple of images of the tower itself.
The first one looking from the immediate seaward side of the tower and slightly down the cliff:
The second one looking away from the Benidorm end and using a fallen tree as some foreground interest. I suspect this tree will be gone by the time I come back in the winter which is a shame as it could work really well for a sunset image later in the year:
I started the walk back and, as I got back past the halfway point I decided to try exploring some smaller trails that led up higher on the hills and cliffs. Again I was looking for potential locations but, as I was walking along some of the less used trails, I noticed a number of butterflies darting around the small flowers and plants.
I'm not much of an expert on butterflies but my research later has identified them as Swallowtails. I am also not much of an expert in macro photography, and I didn't have a macro lens, but I decided to try to get some shots of them using the 'long end' of my normal 'walkabout' lens which is an 18-105 zoom.
I settled in and tried to watch the patterns of the butterflies, striving to predict where they were going to settle so that I could be in the right position. They flittered about all over the place, sometimes one would almost crash into me. When they did settle they were too far away, so I relocated and, of course, they then started settling back where I had previously been.
I'm used to being patient for landscape shots, waiting for the light to be 'just right', waiting for the wave to break in the perfect place, but this required a whole new level of patience. Before I knew it the best part of an hour had gone by and I needed to see about heading for home, I still had about half an hours walking to get back to the car.
Even as I left I wasn't sure if I'd managed any decent shots but I was pleased to find that I had a few that were worth keeping:
My second shoot was a dawn shoot in the middle of the week and it all started with a check of the weather forecast which was forecasting 70 to 80% cloud cover around dawn. This could result in something pretty nice but, the big question, where to shoot?
I checked a variety of locations on The Photographers Ephemeris and finally decided to head to Cabo de Huertas.
This is a location I have been to before and I have shot the lighthouse here several time. This time I was planning on shooting the rocky ridges that make up the shoreline, hopefully with some great light and an interesting sky.
An early rise and a 25 minute drive followed by about 15 minutes walking got me to the general area and I checked out the conditions. The sky was looking really promising but the sea was almost completely flat. That meant no waves breaking over the rocks.
As the sea movement was going to be fairly uninteresting I decided to not go for a really low point of view but to shoot from a slightly higher vantage point and go the long exposure route to flatten out what little movement there was in the water.
My first shot was about 10 minutes before sunrise and I used a 3 stop ND graduated filter to balance the sky with the foreground and a 6 stop ND filter to slow the exposure time down to 91 seconds:
As the sun started to come up I changed position slightly. Moving slightly higher to fit in more of the rocky foreground. The sun was blocked by cloud as it came up and what little breeze had been moving the clouds completely disappeared. I waited and, about 10 minutes after sunrise I started to see light breaking out of the top of the clouds. I really wanted a very long exposure and I swapped my 6 stop filter for a 10 stop. This meant I could get about 60 seconds at f/8. Of course I could have gone for f/16 which would have given me about 3 minutes but this could cause me some problems.
I know that my camera starts to develop noise on long exposures over about 2 minutes. Also the light was changing quite a bit and, in the course of a 3 minute exposure I ran the risk that I would end up getting the exposure wrong, potentially blowing out the highlights or underexposing the shadows and, if I did, there would be no time for a second try.
So I ended up shooting three 60 second exposures (they ended up being 61 seconds each) and then I averaged them in Photoshop to get a final image that is the equivalent to a 183 second exposure. Even with this long an exposure the wind was so low that the clouds are hardly blurred at all:
By the time the sun cleared the clouds the best of the light was gone and it was time to head for home, I was looking forward to my breakfast.
If you are interested in the technique I mentioned to average exposures in photoshop to extend long exposure times then you can read it HERE
That's about it for this week. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I'll be producing another one next week.
Until then, have a great week
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