I’ve just finished leading the Wild Coast, Lisbon workshop on Portugal’s west coast, an area I’ve been photographing for over 10 years.  Workshops are always lots of fun, it’s such a great experience to be able to lead people to some of my favourite locations and help people develop their technique.  

We spent 4 days in Sintra shooting sunsets on some of the coasts wildest beaches and sunrises either in the forests of the Serra or at Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon.  Normally at this time of year we would expect plenty of clouds in the sky and a lot of morning mists in the forest, but the weather throughout the whole year has been bizarre in Portugal.  It still feels like summer here and sunsets were clear and cloudless, which makes waterscapes challanging, while the warm nights meant we had no mist in the forests in the morning, although conversely on the morning we went to shoot Vasco da Gama, the fog along the river was so thick that we never saw the bridge.

But challenges with the weather are all part of landscape photography and just made us work harder at using the conditions as best we could and working on composition.  Cloudless skies means building the image around the light, and fog gives us a chance to shoot moody, minimalistic compositions.

And as always, it’s the group that makes any workshop a success, and we were lucky to have a great bunch of people from all over the world.  Thanks to George, Brendan, Nick, Hugo and José for making the week such a pleasure, and to Hugo and Mauricio for helping me run it.

Our first evening was at Praia da Ursa.  It's a wonderful beach but sometimes when the tide is high finding a foreground can be a challenge.  I put the tripod low above the water and used the receding waves to create lines that led through the composition.

Not having clouds was quite limiting, but with good light it's possible to find interesting colour just as the sun starts to touch the horizon.

At sunrise we had no clouds but some lovely light, so we focused on using the light to create compelling compositions.

On the morning we visited Vasco da Gama it was so foggy that we couldn't see the bridge so we used the mist to create atmospheric compositions.  After that we spent an hour wandering around Oriente train station capturing the architecture and doing some street photography.

Our final evening was spent at Cabo Raso lighthouse, and for the last sunrise we headed into the forests of Penhinha