Earlier this year we enjoyed a great three weeks’ driving in Portugal, starting in Lisbon and then moving south to Sagres and the most south westerly tip of Europe, then along the Algarve and up the centre to Evora and Elvas and back to Lisbon.
Empty autoroutes, beautiful old towns, great food and wine and friendly people. What more could you ask? Well, it was a disappointment photographically. In 2016 I came back with a nice portfolio of photos. No such luck this year. The light was often not right. Many days started overcast and although the cloud burnt off mid-morning, I missed the golden hour at sunrise. Other days it stayed lightly overcast all day.
I don’t really do tourist shots — castles, whitewashed farmhouses with terracotta roofs, cute flower boxes, green bicycles, red fishing boats, etc, and Portugal is full of cliché shots, many of which have already been taken and are sold on postcards. Not taking them really narrows your photo opportunities although I did manage a few cliché shots of my own along the way.
My preferred subject is people and I managed some good people shots in 2016. But this year, I found that people were more reluctant to let me photograph them. Perhaps too many camera phones had been thrust in their faces or maybe they found the largish Leica Q more intimidating than the small X1 I used much of the time previously.
One day I did strike lucky was on my early morning walk in the strange old mining town of Minas de Santo Domingos, east of Mertola.
The town is very poor and apparently almost solely inhabited by elderly relatives of the miners — the mine closed in 1965. I came across this man by the road skinning a rabbit which he had caught in a snare. He was tackling his task with enthusiasm although he was using only a pocket knife.
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