The last days of 2011 at the Oporto beach


The late afternoon at the Foz beach, Porto, Portugal.



A story behind: The 2011 is gone. It was a very good and productive year for me. During all my photo trips I have learned some valuable lessons. These experiences ( that I have always included in "A story behind" section of this blog ) have made me richer and I hope that you will find them refreshing and inspiring on your next photo journey.

Just a reminder of some of them: Every shooting situation is different and definitely not the same as the last time you have been on the same
spot. Do your homework by reviewing online the weather and light conditions, low-high sea times and look at some other photos from the same spot as well as watch the place you want to shoot first on the web then with your camera ( there are a lot of usefuls apps I use on my iPhone ). Keep your camera clean and protect it ( and the filters ) from dust, humidity and salt.
Shoot a lot but later publish only one best photo.
Get to know your camera very well, because searching the menu button at night can be a horror. Understand and look to your histogram while shooting. It delivers very important information about your image.


And last but not the least: s
tart a photoblog and write tips about photography, because writing is also learning !

Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.

Aperture:
f/18


Shutter speed:
2 sec

Exposure bias:
-0.3 EV

Focal Length: 22 mm

ISO: 320

Place taken: Porto, Portugal.


Date Taken: Thursday, December 29st, 2011, 17: 22


Maciek.

Winter storm waves attacking the lighthouse

A ferocious winter storm wave attacking the lighthouse and the pier at the mouth of the Douro river.

A story behind: The lighthouse at the end of the recently built pier is 15 meters high which means that the foam is spraying close to 35 meters into the air, propelled upward by the raging winter ocean. Amazing what kind of weather lighthouses have to endure.
Since no people were allowed to get close to the pier that day, I used the Nikkor 75-300 mm lenses with high ISO to catch a very fast moving water.

The photo was selected for the front page of http://onephoto.net.

PS: Now also at 1x.com, click here


Gear:
Nikon D700. Nikkor 75-300 mm.

Aperture:
f/13


Shutter speed:
1/2000 sec


Exposure bias:
-0.3 EV

Focal Length: 250 mm

ISO: 400

Place taken: Porto-Foz, Portugal.


Date Taken: Thursday, December 13th, 2011, 10: 14


Maciek.

The sea stairs of Granja

Veteran outdoor photographer a.k.a me, standing on the stairs leading to the sea,
December 2011.




A story behind: After surviving harsh weather conditions that night me and my camera easily could be called "veterans of outdoor photography". High winds, 100% humidity, the waves crashing all over my body, camera and tripod with a dramatic sky and an approaching storm ( look left upper corner ) above not too mention a necessity of cleaning the lenses every 2 shots - these were the weather conditions I encountered that night when I shoot this photo.
I additionally used the ND 0. 5 filter to smooth out ripples on the sea caused by high winds during the longer exposure.
I used B&W technique. In general images with very colourful elements work best when presented in full colour. I found that photos with strong textures, interesting patterns, and/or stormy spotlighting make excellent black and white photographs. It is all about contrasts -- when I'm working with shades of Gray I'm relying heavily on contrast to develop a successful image.



Gear:
Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm. ND 0.5 filter.

Aperture:
f/22


Shutter speed:
1 sec

Exposure bias:
0 EV

Focal Length: 19 mm

ISO: 200

Place taken: Granja, Portugal.


Date Taken: Sunday, December 11th, 2011, 17: 24


Maciek.

Looking back at our 2010 trip

A old photo miraculously found on my hard drive. Grand Teton National park, looking south from the 191 Interstate, Wyoming, USA.



Gear:
Nikon D80. Sigma 10-20 mm. B&W in PS3.

Aperture:
f/8


Shutter speed:
1/250 sec

Exposure bias:
0 EV

Focal Length: 20 mm

ISO: 100

Date Taken: August 22nd, 2010, 17: 50


Maciek.

December in Aguda

The first day of December, stormy sunset over the Aguda beach, Portugal.


A story behind: Early evening storm approaching from the mainland Portugal with beautiful, full of contrast clouds gathering over the small lighthouse and pier of the Aguda beach. I used the 3-stop soft-step ND Grad to balance the exposure of the bright areas of the sky with the pastel coloured sea in the shaded foreground.

Gear:
Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.

Aperture:
f/20


Shutter speed:
1 sec

Exposure bias:
0 EV

Focal Length: 28 mm

ISO: 200

Place taken: Aguda, Portugal.


Date Taken: Thursday, December 1st, 2011, 17: 12


Maciek.

Tuesday in the Mountains






A scenic view of the Serra Estrela Mountains with wind turbines.


A story behind: In the early afternoon I climbed the Serra Estrela Mountains and settled on one of the peaks with scenic 360º views. I was familiar with the location because I did some exploring in that area back in April. I waited. The sun was slowly going down and it started to get more and more cold. These weather conditions added some red cast to the image. The clouds and fog filled valleys as the Sun went down over the western reaches the Portuguese coast. The night was coming.

Gear: Nikon D700, Nikkor 70-300 mm 1,45-5,6 ED, VR on. Handhold.

Place taken:
Seia, Portugal.

Aperture:
f/11


Shutter speed:
1/250 sec

Outside temeprature: 4º C.

Focal Length: 300 mm

ISO: 230

Date Taken: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 17: 07


Maciek.

Monday in Spain


Two monks and a famous middle pier at entrance to the main nave of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral.


A story behind: We travel to Spain a lot. One of the places we visit frequently is the city of Santiago de Compostela located in Northern Spain. Its main Cathedral is one of the most magnificent churches in Spain. Its Gothic interior is spectacular. The chief beauty of the cathedral, however, is the 12th century Portico da Gloria and its middle pier ( pictured above ) that represents Saint James. So many pilgrims have laid their hands on the pillar to rest their weary bones, that a five fingers grooves have been worn in the stone. Look carefully at the lower part of the column pictured above to spot all 5 finger grooves.

Full-frame DSLR cameras offer a number of advantages over their smaller-sensor counterparts. The large sensor produces lower to none noise at high ISO levels. The picture above was taken at 4000 ISO with no visible noise while shooting at very
low light situation.

Gear: Nikon D700, Tamron AF 28-75 mm F 2.8

Place taken:
Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Aperture:
f/2,8


Shutter speed:
1/60 sec

Exposure bias: 0 EV

Focal Length: 75 mm

ISO: 4000

Date Taken: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 12: 50


Maciek.

The painted beach

A wide strip of sandy beach of Nazaré, Portuguese Atlantic coast.


A story behind: A photo taken from the high cliff overlooking a little town of Nazaré.

Gear: Nikon D700, Tamron AF 28-75 mm F 2.8

Place taken:
Nazaré, Portugal.

Aperture:
f/7.1


Shutter speed:
1/60 sec

Exposure bias: 0 EV

Focal Length: 75 mm

ISO: 200

Date Taken: Friday, November 18th, 2011, 16: 48


Maciek.

Photo of the year


My photo from Bilbao ( Spain ) has been awarded "Photo of the year" ( Category: Architecture ) by the most prestigious Polish photo portal ( link ) .



Maciek.

3D

Murtosa beach, Portugal.


A story behind: Photography is all about light.

Three main rules govern the appearance light for photographic purposes.

Rule number 1. Quality of light: The larger the light source, the softer the light. Direct light from the sun alone will be much harsher than light coming from the sky covered with clouds ( look at the picture above ).

Rule number 2. Reflected light. Direct light is basically colourless but the light bouncing from the clouds at different level and the water surface takes the colour of the structure off which it bounces ( look at the picture above ).

Rule number 3. Intensity of light decreases in a manner inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the light source and the subject. In landscape photography this rule can be important when the light bounces for many times decreasing the quality.

That was a wonderful night for me at Murtosa, a night when shooting photos gives you a real pleasure.


Gear: Nikon D700, Nikkor 16-35 mm, ND reversed 0,6, HE 0,3


Place taken:
Murtosa, Portugal.

Aperture:
f/16


Shutter speed:
6 sec

Exposure bias: 0 EV

Focal Length: 16 mm

ISO: 50

Date Taken: October 30th, 2011, 18: 31


Maciek.

The summer´s gone

October on the abandoned Santa Barbara beach, Portugal.


A story behind: Windy and rainy. Waves were crashing along the Santa Barbara beach with the last surfers leaving. On the horizon you can spot the lights of the Santo Antonio village. Summer residents, vacationers and tourists are all gone. With November upon us, there is just a month to shot the best landscape photos one can imagine. I am so anxious !

Gear: Nikon D700, Nikkor 16-35 mm, ND reversed 0,6.

Aperture:
f/16


Shutter speed:
1/2 sec

Exposure bias: -0,3 EV

Focal Length: 18 mm

ISO: 250

Date Taken: October 26th, 2011, 19: 00


Maciek.

The foggy evening


An Arrábida bridge seen from the Southern bank of the Douro river.


A story behind: Finally yesterday, after 2 long months of high temperatures and pale blue skies, the weather in Porto started to change. In the evening the chilly and full of moisture breeze came from the sea. I crossed the bridge and found myself on the Southern bank of Douro river looking for a nice spot. A thick fog wrapped around the illuminated Arrabida bridge. I set up my camera to B&W and the wide 16 mm lens did the rest of the job enhancing the curvature of the lower arch. B&W additionally "cleared" the image reducing a number of the unnecessary details.
Find a full size image on the front page of onephoto.

Location: Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.

Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.

Aperture:
f/16


Shutter speed:
6 sec

Exposure bias: - 0,7 EV

Focal Length: 16 mm

ISO:200

Date Taken: October 16th, 2011.


Maciek.

Imperial War Museum




Imperial War Museum was the first project in the UK designed by internationally-acclaimed architect, Daniel Libeskind. This is my B&W version.

Location:
Manchester, UK.

Maciek.



A white boat


A morning look at Santiago and Blue Lakes.

A story behind: On Azores Islands cutting trees is a kind of a necessity. Have a small earth tremor plus extreme precipitation combined with heavy trees growing on steep slopes and sooner or later you will have a land slide. The water acts as a lubricant causing already wet and unstable soil laying over solid basalt rock to move.
Cutting trees is done every 10-20 years.

In late September 2011 the local authorities slashed down trees on the Northern slopes of Santiago Lake. It opened a never seen before window of opportunity to shoot new landscapes.
I left my car on the small road connecting Sete Cidades and Vista de Rei and started climbing up a narrow path on the mountain ridge that separates Santiago and Laga Lakes.
After half and hour I finally reached the summit. The view was splendid. With a Santiago Lake down close, Blue Lake far away and the glimmering ocean on the horizon I stood there with my mouth wide open. How big and overwhelming the scenery was one can imagine looking at a small white boat on the surface of the Santiago Lake that looks like a tiny dot.
After a while I shot my mouth with my hand and started to take pictures.

Location: Close to Sete Cidades, Portugal.

Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.

Aperture:
f/16


Shutter speed:
1/250 sec

Exposure bias: - 0,3 EV

Focal Length: 19 mm

ISO:200

Date Taken: September, 2011.


Maciek.

And meanwhile somewhere far away there is a war going on in Europe


Year 1940. The war rages all across Europe, but in Portugal people still make a pretty normal life and a good wine.

This is a very special Port wine for a very special occasion.


Maciek.

The unforgettable moments


Early morning storm approaching the coast.

A story behind: I arrived at this spot very early in the morning ( it was 6 a.m. ). The early morning storm bringing heavy rain and dark clouds was about to hit the Northern coast.
The view was breathtaking. Standing alone I had these unique moments all by myself.
Unfortunately the scene did not last long. Soon clouds cleared just in the nick of time and the strong glare from the rising sun unpleasantly covered the landscape.


The larger sensor size of the full frame camera results in less depth of field, so I am frequently bracketing my focus with F9 to F13 do compensate sharpness. Using a reverse ND-Grad filter resulted in a cloud-filled exposure that left the foreground reasonably exposed and a dreamy feel in the sky.


For the full 1200 pix image click here.


Location: Ribeira Grande, Portugal.

Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm. Tripod.

Aperture:
f/13


Shutter speed:
1/5 sec

Exposure bias: + 0,3 EV

Focal Length: 19 mm

ISO:400

Date Taken: September 23rd, 2011, 07: 22


Maciek.

Somewhere

Santa Barbara beach, Portugal.


A story behind: Just sit down and enjoy the view as I did that evening.

Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.

Aperture:
f/16


Shutter speed:
1/60 sec

Exposure bias: 0 EV

Focal Length: 22 mm

ISO: 200

Date Taken: September 3rd, 2011, 18: 20


Maciek.

The night when I lost my shoe

Sunset over the beach of Mosteiros, São Miguel, Portugal.

A story behind: I arrived at the beach quite early. Had time to buy an ice cream, watch some surfers breaking the waves. There were a few German tourist on the beach and we had a little chat. Then I started to put up my gear and prepare for the sunset. Usually I put on the rubber boots to protect me from the cold water but it was summer-time so I enthusiastically took off my shoes and went bare foot into the water.
Some dogs were playing on the beach. Suddenly one of them grabbed my shoe and ran away. For a second I considered to chase the dog but sacrifice your own personal comfort, or miss the shot. But who needs comfort when you get light like this, right?
Believe me, getting back later to the hotel on one shoe was not pleasant.
Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.

Aperture:
f/18

Shutter speed:
1 sec

Exposure bias: 0 EV

Focal Length: 18 mm

ISO: 200

Date Taken: September 2nd, 2011, 21: 11


Maciek.

A postcard from São Miguel

Rays of morning light filter through the clouds above the Lake of Fire, São Miguel, Portugal.




A story behind: It took me 20 minutes to get from the hotel to the viewing point pictured above. I got up early, climbed the mountain to see the sun being born over the mountain ridge and waited for the right moment. I managed to take a few snaps and be back to the hotel for the breakfast. ´Not a bad beginning of the day´, I thought.

Photographing rays of sun can be tricky. If you do not get aperture and shutter speed under control, images tend to have high contrast, blown out highlights, lens flare and colours that might even look overly saturated. So pick a mid-tone area to meter off if you want everything to be exposed relatively well. Check your histogram and - if necessary - take multiple shots metering off different parts of the scene so that you can choose the best one later.




Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.



Aperture:
f/14




Shutter speed:
1/250 sec



Exposure bias: 0 EV



Focal Length: 19 mm



ISO: 200



Date Taken: August, 2011, 07: 40



Maciek.





Sunrise over the Tejo river.





A story behind: Three different things went wrong yesterday morning. First the sky: no clouds nor river fog and consequently no natural light filtering, just hard and unpleasant feeling. Second the temperature: we are still in the middle of the summer so 20º C at 6.30 in the morning may be normal for this time of the year but it is a "killing machine" for photography. And finally the low tide that I have encountered that morning deteriorated the reflection of the bridges in the water.



In such difficult conditions it is important to remember to be very precise with the initial color settings during exposure and the shutter speed to balance the unwanted light and weather conditions.




Location: Lisbon, Portugal.



Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.



Aperture:
f/14




Shutter speed:
3 sec



Exposure bias: -0,9 EV



Focal Length: 19 mm



ISO: 500



Date Taken: August 24th, 2011, 06: 32



Maciek.

A view from Quiraing.



A story behind: We were climbing the Trotternish ridge for over an hour. Every moment the views were more and more amazing. But when we got close to the top and the plateau of the Quiraing the breathtaking 360º panoramic views have opened.

To the west we could see the Outer Hebrides islands, to the east the Scottish mainland and down there were some small lakes and a pyramidal rocky peak ( the Prison ).


The full frame camera is ideal to capture vast and spacious landscapes. Minimal adjustments were made to this image using Photoshop. It’s as straight out of the camera as possible.



Location: Quiraing, Scotland.



Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.



Aperture:
f/14




Shutter speed:
1/250 sec



Exposure bias: -0,3 EV



Focal Length: 16 mm



ISO: 200



Date Taken: July 08th, 2011, 12: 52



Maciek.

Cuellar Castle and a man with a dog



A story behind: It was Sunday, rather early morning, the 7th of August. It is rare to see the main square in front of the famous Santiago Cathedral empty. Usually the square and church are packed with tourists and pilgrims from around the world.
So that morning I savoured this unique moment of solitude and beauty of the place.

Later I took some photos and spent a couple of minutes talking to a pilgrim who walked here from France. Bon voyage home my friend !

Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Gear: Nikon D700. Nikkor 16-35 mm.

Aperture:
f/4


Shutter speed:
1/60 sec

Exposure bias: 0 EV

Focal Length: 18 mm

ISO: 640

Date Taken: August 07th, 2011, 06: 38


Maciek.

A perfect day in Porto

Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal. Located on the Atlantic coast and on the banks of the Douro river the city has more than 1 million friendly inhabitants.



SEE:





In the morning put your comfy shoes because Porto is an excellent city to explore on foot. Start with the oldest part: the Ribeira. You can´t miss the red roofed old houses squeezed on the rocky slope of the Douro river. This is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ribeira district. Walk the narrow streets and later go to the other side of the river by crossing the iron Ponte de Dom Luís I bridge.



Dont´t forget to enter the Lello bookstore. Opened in 1906, Lello is one of the most beautiful places to read in Porto and around the world. In 2007 Lello was selected by the British journal "The Guardian" the third most beautiful bookstore in the world.



In the late afternoon take an old tram line from the Ribeira to the ocean front. Sit comfortably on one of many beach cafés decks and enjoy the sunset.

PLAY:

For some free Portuguese red or white wine tasting go to ViniPortugal ( http://www.viniportugal.pt/ ) in the heart of the old Ribeira district.



You can also have fun and learn about a production of the world-famous sweet Port wine at the wine caves located in the old warehouses. ( http://www.cavesvinhodoporto.com/ ).



On the 24th of June ( St John´s day ) there is a famous Regatta of Rabelo boats on the Douro river. In the old days the boats used to transport barrels of Port wine from the upper Douro to the caves located in Porto. Today hundreds of people gather along the banks of the river to watch the spectacle.



SHOP:







For shopping go to Santa Catarina street not far from the old town. This mostly-pedestrianized street is a magnet for both locals and tourists. If you are tired just sit in one of the many cafés and watch the life of this always busy street.

An old pastry shop close to the Santa Catarina shopping district in the old town.







On the same Santa Catarina street seek for the Capela das Almas or a Chapel of the Souls with its gorgeous tiles that cover its exterior walls with the scenes from the lives of Saint Francisco de Assis and Saint Catarina.





STAY:





Hotel HF Tuela just in the town center and close to Bom Sucesso Shopping Center offers good accommodation with reasonable prices of 38 Euro per room.





EAT:



If you want to eat the best fish and sea food in town head for Matosinhos, a large by-the-ocean community 2 kilometres from Porto. Just in front of the ocean you will find a lot of small family-run and inexpensive restaurants with unquestionably the freshest gilled fish in Northern Portugal.

Maciek.





PS. This is a part of my mini-guide of Porto published elsewhere.

Enjoy.