December 2017, a look back at November

December 03, 2017  •  2 Comments

December 2017, a look back at November

In keeping with the theme I set up for the last blog I’m going to use the same 4 sections that I did last month, starting with…

What’s been going on?

The cooler weather is definitely here. As the month of November has moved on the temperature has dropped. As is often the case it can still be very warm during the day, when the sun is shining but, in the shade, if it’s windy, it can get quite chilly. The shorts have been put away for the rest of the year and long trousers are now being worn. It’s still warm enough to be out in just short sleeves a lot of the time but early mornings and late evenings require something a bit warmer.

We’ve had a few things going on, that aren’t photography related, and we haven’t managed to get out and about as much as we might have liked, although I’ve managed quite a few photography related trips but they have been quite local.

We did have some visitors here for a few days and we did a couple of trips out with them, including a trip up to Guadalest. I decided to sneak the camera bag and tripod in the car in the hopes of getting some shots while we were there, and that brings me onto the part 2


Events, exploration and non-landscape photography

Guadalest is one of those places that it’s great to take people who want to see a part of Spain that isn’t about the beaches. A wonderful old village perched on a rocky ridge between two mountain ranges and overlooking a reservoir.

The drive from home is a bit under an hour and, for the later part, takes us up some steep and winding, but still quite wide, roads.

The old town is reached by some steps and a walkway that lead through a small tunnel. The place is very beautiful but is very touristy with lots of small shops selling ‘stuff’.

For me it’s all about the views and, from the old town, there are some stunning views over the reservoir towards the Serella mountains and I couldn’t resist getting a few shots from here:

Including a panoramic view

I guess I could include these in the Landscape Photography part of the blog but, although they are landscapes I sort of view them more as ‘location views’ rather than the type of image that I consider to be my real landscape image.

From the old town it’s possible to pay to go up to the top of the castle. This includes access to the ‘Grand House’ or ‘Casa Orduña’. I checked as we went in to make sure that they would be OK with me using a tripod in the house and they were fine (no flash was the only rule).

When we came to the Library I decided to get an image of the scene. The lighting was a real challenge and I ended up merging 5 different exposures to balance the light but I like the image:

Then it was on to the outside and up to the castle heights. Almost at the very top of the castle is a cemetery and then there is a small ruined section of castle that affords gorgeous views. This is absolutely the best place to get images of the old Bell tower, so I got some:

I didn’t shoot any video on this trip but I have been doing a few more videos this month so I guess that brings us on to the next section which is….


The Vlogging project

In the last blog post I was just about to release a new video and that came out on the 4th November. Since then I have released another four videos.

I am getting more confident in the actual process of creating the videos, both in capturing the footage in the field and getting it edited later. I have played around with some shorter videos and also with the scheduling of the release. I still experience the occasional technical issue where I fail to get the sound, or the image, to the required quality but most of the time it works out OK.

For the time being I am going to aim to release a video every Saturday at 7PM (Spanish time) which is 6PM UK time.

If you go to my Youtube channel you can see all of the videos I have released so far and, if you click on Subscribe, and then click on the notification bell, you need never miss one of them again.

My channel is HERE

So, that brings us to 


Landscape Photography

The video that was just about to be released in the last post was a trip to Amadorio reservoir. 

This is a location that has served me well over the last couple of years and this trip was a late afternoon and evening with the aim of getting some nice images towards sunset.

Weather conditions were promising with some nice cloud and I arrived on the scene hoping to enjoy a nice tranquil and peaceful search for compositions. 

When I first arrived, other than there being a bit more wind than I really wanted, everything was great. I found a possible shot on the far side of the dam and, although it was a bit early I decided the conditions looked pretty nice and I set up to take a shot.

It was at this point that the peace was shattered by the arrival of a group of ‘youngsters’ with motorbikes. The rode across the top of the dam and then proceeded to take turns racing across the dam on the bikes making a hell of a noise.

I took the shot but I really felt that the whole mood of the place had changed. It’s normally quite a peaceful and tranquil place but now, well peaceful it wasn’t.

I decided to go back over the dam and try to find a location that would be far enough away from them, possible with a hill or two in the way, so that I could regain some of the tranquility I normally felt here.

When I did find a spot I set up and took some reflections images which I actually really like but, my heart just wasn’t in it. The scene was beautiful but my mood wasn’t.

Still, the images I took seemed to come out well, including a long exposure that I also did a B&W version of:



I went for a bit of a walk, heading up towards the other end of the reservoir. I knew that I wouldn’t get any good images from here but I thought it might help to restore my mood, and it did.

I came back to the spot where I had taken the reflections shots earlier, the motorbikes were gone, peace was restored and I found a composition that I really liked. I could have hoped for a bit more colour in the cloud but, on the whole, I’m pretty pleased with this one:


You can see the video story for this shoot ===> HERE

A bit later in the month saw me at Villajoyosa on the coastal path nice and early for a dawn shoot.

I ended up perched on the edge of a rocky ledge watching the sun come up and capturing three images that are very similar compositions but are made different from each other by the changes in the light as the sun rose, and by the length of the exposure as one of them was shot with an ND filter to extend the time to 30 seconds.

Not much more to say on this shoot. It was a beautiful morning with some nice light and not a single other person about:


and here’s the link to the video for that shoot ===> HERE 

Of course not every shoot goes to plan and I had a quite disappointing trip out later in the month when I headed up to Malladeta in Villajoyosa for an afternoon and sunset shoot.

The area here is marked by the ruins of an old Villa, a tower, that looks a lot like one of the old watchtowers but was actually built in the 19th century as a Library for the Villa, and some wonderfully wind shaped trees.

When I arrived there was some quite nice cloud in the sky and conditions were looking quite promising. I spent a couple of hours exploring. It’s not a massive place but there are lots of little hills and gullies so it takes a while to get around it all.

I found a composition that I liked but it looked like the clouds were clearing. I set up to wait and see what happened but, as it got closer to sunset, the clouds just faded away.

There are some scenes that can work with a clear sky but this wasn’t one of them, so I packed up and started heading back to the car.

On the way I spotted one of those wonderful trees I mentioned. It was getting nicely side lit as the sun went down so I decided it was worth a shot. I stayed a fair way back and a bit higher than the tree so that, with a long lens, I could have just the tree with the sea as a backdrop. I included just a little bit of the ground by the tree. It’s an OK image and I’m glad I didn’t come back empty handed:

That day actually marked the start of a period of blue skies that lasted for quite a while. After about five days of it I was getting frustrated as I really wanted some more cloudy conditions to create the kind of images I really love.

It was with this frustration that I headed up to Cabezon del Oro mountain one afternoon in search of inspiration. I spent a long time just walking some of the trails and trying to see the scene differently so that I could capture an image.

I did eventually get an image that I liked but the inspiration I found was not really what I thought it would be.

I’m going to let the video tell the rest of the story so here it is ===> HERE

and this was the image:

The next shoot was a trip to the hills north of Orxeta. 

Orxeta is a small village not far away from the Amadorio reservoir that I visit fairly regularly. I parked on the edge of the village and proceeded to hike up into the hills on the trails that start there.

The hike is not particularly challenging for the most part, it is possible to follow these trails up onto the mountains and then things get a bit tougher but, on this occasion, I wasn’t planning on climbing too high.

I did have a bit of a mix up at one point. I couldn’t remember the trail exactly and the signs weren’t clear so I went the way that looked the most likely. It turned out I was well off of the trail and climbing up some kind of channel that would carry water if there was heavy rain. I managed to make it up this way and eventually came out not too far from where the trail would have taken me.

I knew that there were some small fields of fruit trees up here and I also knew that there would be some good views of an interestingly shaped rocky peak.

A location was quickly found and I set up for a shot using a composition that I felt would make the best use of the light direction. There were some nice clouds over the peak and the sky in the direction of the sunset was looking pretty clear.

After waiting a while to see how the light developed I changed the composition a bit, just because of the way the light was hitting the tops of the fruit trees. 

The sun was going to disappear behind some nearby mountains before official sunset and I took one shot while there was still some light on the foreground. 

Then I recomposed to a longer focal length to make the most of the last of the light on the distant peak.

Just as I was about to pack up I noticed that the sky in the direction that the sun had set was really lovely, with some great colours. I managed to find a fairly simple composition to make use of that scene and that was it for that shoot:

Here’s the video that covers that shoot ===> HERE

One afternoon, I was at home and just looking at the sky (as you do) and I thought to myself "I think there's going to be a nice sunset tonight, where can I go?"

A little while later I was up by the marina in El Campello watching as the sun was dropping below the buildings in the distance and the sky was lighting up beautifully, not to mention creating beautiful reflections of the sky in the water of the marina.

I managed two images that evening. The first was a standard format taken just as the sun dropped behind the buildings (and so no longer created problems with lens flare)

The second image was taken a few minutes later. The scene was just a little bit darker but the interest in the sky was spread wider so I shot a panoramic view consisting of 7 vertical images that I stitched together later in Lightroom


Another trip out was a gamble, and one that almost didn’t pay off. 

I decided to take a trip to the coastal path at Villajoyosa one afternoon. Normally the coastline is better in the mornings because that’s when it gets light but, right at the end / start of the year, the sun is far enough around that a few places will get light even at sunset.

The gamble was to find somewhere that would get the light and, on this day, the gamble was even bigger because the sky was completely empty of clouds.

I parked up and headed out along the path, heading roughly north in the direction of Benidorm. 

At the far end of the trail I came out onto a road, which was quite high up but had great views looking down to the sea, and noticed a rocky area sticking out into the sea in a small cove. I had seen this on the map and thought that, at this time of the year, it would get some nice light at sunset. Also, because it was between two steep rocky walls I though it would have potential to look good without clouds.

To get to this scene I had to walk down a steep hill and, despite being late November, it was a very hot day.

As I got closer I saw some cars parked and then I could hear voices coming from the cove. It looked like I wouldn’t have the place to myself. As I got closer I saw a sign painted on the rocks that said “Solo Nudista”. Yes. It was a nudist beach!

Obviously the location was out of the question and I had to climb the steep hill again with nothing to show for the effort. Still, At least I know where the location is and that it’s possible to drive down to it so, maybe for a sunrise on a cold day?

As time was moving on I decided to head back the way I had come and see if anything presented itself. I was almost back at the car and just decided to head down onto the nearby beach and that’s where I found a scene that I decided would be worth shooting. Using overhanging branches of trees to block out a lot of the sky I was able to capture a couple of quite interesting sunset shots before heading home.


The final shoot of the month was closer to home, actually just about 3 minute walk onto the local beach where I headed one morning when the forecast looked promising for a great sunrise. 

I decided to set up near to one of the breakwaters and try to get a combination of waves on the sand and a great sky.

Sometimes it’s nice to just stay in once place and just shoot a few images at different times as the light and colours change. That’s what I did on this morning and, I have to say, it was lovely and, as a bonus, I got some nice images from the it. So far I've only posted one of those images on line (although you can see all of them in the video) so I'm only going to post that one here. I'll put the others in the next post.

The video that covers both the coastal path at Villajoyosa and the local beach shoot can be found ===> HERE

So, that’s it for this months post. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. As usual I will be doing a “Tips” post in the middle of the month and then a normal month review at the beginning of January.

I hope you have a great Christmas and New Year.


Ralph Goldsmith
Thank you Mattie, glad you enjoyed it
Thank you for these marvelous images, and blog, which is extremely informative with great tips
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