Alentejo is a large rural area between the industrial heartland of Lisbon and the developed coast of Algarve. We spent five days there over Easter to unwind and spend some time hiking in the countryside.
We spent the first couple of days in a small town near Sao Luis where we did a few hikes. The first was through dunes along the coast near Almograve. While we were walking there the light wasn't really conducive to landscape photography, although I did note a few excellent locations for coastal photography and the dunes that I'd love to return to photograph another day. I did spend some time photographing the flowers and plants that grow in the sand near the sea. I don't have a macro lens, but with some careful composition and a bit of patience I managed to get a few close ups I was happy with.
Also, near the house we were staying in close to Sao Luis I found a field full of beautiful yellow flowers and cork oak trees. When I was there it was still a little too early for good light, but again, it's a location to come back to for an interesting sky.
After three nights in Sao Luis we headed inland to the small village of Abernoa, between Castro Verde and Beja. It's beautiful countryside, gentle rolling hills of cereal fields spotted with cork oak trees for as far as the eye can see. We stayed in a lovely old whitewashed cottage on the edge of the village, painted in the traditional blue and white of the area.
Alentejo is a frustrating area to shoot. It's one of the hottest parts of Portugal and for most of the year is dry and brown. However, for a couple of months in the spring between late March and early May the whole area is a beautiful verdant green which then turns gold and is covered by flowers of every colour. However, it's rare to have interesting skies there at sunset. It's not uncommon to have fluffy white clouds scudding across the sky during the day, but as the shadows get longer they tend to disappear leaving clear blue skies which don't make for great landscape photography. However, on our first day it rained quite heavily later on in the day giving some heavy skies above the rolling green fields.
The following day we went for a long drive around the area. Passing around Aljustrel there were some great views in the distance so I spent some time with a telephoto lens framing some abstract views.
We also came across the picturesque Capela de Sao Sebastiao perched on top of a small hill just outside Castro Verde. It was the middle of the day when I photographed it, but it's another location to add to the list of places to shoot with a great sky.
Towards the end of the day the light got better and better, but at the same time the clouds just disappeared, removing a lot of the sunset interest from the sky. Still, some of the fields were lovely, from green cereal to yellow rapeseed, I spent lots of time wandering around fields trying to find nice angles to photograph trees from.
As the day drew to an end, the light was fantastic and I found a lovely patch of poppies by the side of the road. Once again I used the 55-200mm telephoto to fill the frame with flowers.