Arch Along The Algarve, Portugal by Michael Blanchette

Picture Story

The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal. Tourism is the main source of revenue in these parts, with a population that triples in the peak holiday season due to an influx of seasonal residents. Known for its high quality of life and great weather conditions, the Algarve has become recognized as one of the world’s best places to retire.

I was here two years ago with good friends. We spent a week exploring the area in early January, enjoying Portugal off-season without the frenzy of seasonal tourists. In spite of being January, the weather was splendid, with comfortably warm temperatures during the day followed by cool evenings.

In addition to its glorious climate, the Algarve features stunning beaches with golden sand, picturesque fishing villages, coves that are are cut into honeycomb cliffs, and shapely sea stacks and arches made of yellow-red sandstone that turn vibrant at sunrise and sunset.

The arch in this photo was within easy hiking distance of our lodge. On several occasions, I hiked down to the cove at dawn to photograph this scene from various vantage points. I took this photo from the top of a cliff overlooking the beach and sandstone formations. Although mornings in the Algarve are often cloud-free, the Belt of Venus supplied a very pleasant pink glow that contrasted nicely against the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

To compensate for the high dynamic range of the scene, I took two exposures: a 1/6 second photo for the sky and an 82 second photo for the sea and arch. The long exposure softens the water surface to create a more serene feel that complements the smooth dawn sky.

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