Odemira, Portugal by Paulo Bizarro

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This photo was taken while walking along a trail in the countryside near Odemira. This trail is part of the Vicentina Trail, a series of paths that broadly goes from North to South, close to the southwest coast of Portugal. One of the interesting aspects of this region is that within a few kilometers away from the coast, one finds itself inside the countryside. Therefore, the locals say that this is a different part of the Alentejo Province, featuring both the typical hills and farms of this interior province, and the coastal areas. This trek goes along the interior part of the region, and is characterized by rolling hills of gentle topography, farmlands, and very few people.

I had been walking for a few hours with some friends, and the sun was almost disappearing behind the hills. While stopping for a light snack, I noticed this large and old cork oak tree, which is characteristic of the region of Alentejo. Noticing its spreading branches, I thought that shooting against the light would nicely frame and highlight its organic shape. In terms of composition, I needed a wide-angle lens to fit the entire tree plus some of the surroundings. I also wanted to keep things simple, drawing attention to the main subject. However, the surrounding hills, tall grass, and lighted and shaded areas in the background provide complementary interest, as supporting elements. This was a nice Spring afternoon, so the whole countryside was green. I thought hard before converting to black and white, but in the end, with the aim of simplifying the photo, that is where I ended up. I think the removal of color provides less distraction from the tree, while enhancing the dappled light coming through its branches.

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