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The southwest coast of Portugal has many secluded beaches that can only be reached by foot or four-wheel vehicles. One of such beaches is located a few kilometers north of Almograve, in the Alentejo province. After traversing the coastal dunes, one arrives at the beach of Brejo Largo, to find a long strip of sand caught between the sark cliffs and the strong Atlantic Ocean. I have visited this beach many times, but my favorite season must be winter. The frequent storms result in dramatic weather arriving at the coast, with dark brooding skies and rough seas dominating the seascape.
This photo was made a few years ago and illustrates such an occasion. After arriving at the beach, I descended the cliff carefully to reach the sand. I had planned to time my visit to coincide with low tide, so I could use the many exposed rocks as leading elements in the composition. The dark rocks jutting from the sand provide the required foreground interest, leading the viewer into the rest of the scene, which comprises the sand, the background cliffs, and the shifting sky and sea.
To enhance the movement of the water and the fast-moving clouds, I opted for a long exposure. By using a 10 stop neutral density filter, I was able to achieve a 5-minute exposure time. Given the flat profile of the beach and the incoming waves, I had to work quickly, setting up the camera and wide-angle lens on the tripod. At the end of the day, I was happy with the result I got, as I feel this photo brings back memories of that cold and wintry afternoon.
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