A Day in Óbidos


Watch Your Step. Vines overhang a side door from a cobbled street in Óbidos, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 20mm, 1/45 sec, f/9.5, ISO 64.

Well, a little over four hours, at any rate.

The walled city of Óbidos is definitely the sort of place that I enjoy taking pictures! With the narrow cobbled streets and the suffering paint on the walls, there was an abundance of subject matter that appealed to me. The heavily-overgrown vines in the image above gave the whole street a bit of a dark-and-moody feel—especially with the almost moldy appearance of the lower part of the wall—and the sketchy steps caught my eye right away. The moment I looked down this street, I was fully engaged with it.

I really like this next image. Of course, with that drainpipe, it was a bit of a foregone conclusion that I would. I am very happy with the composition, though, especially the way that the pavement at the bottom and concrete vertical on the right make a nice L-shaped frame. Having the green drainpipe just left of center balances well with that vertical piece on the right, and even the little seam along the left edge and the little strip of yellow paint on the right edge help lock the viewer into the picture side-to-side. Finally, the bottom third of the image, being darker, feels heavier and very natural on the bottom. Overall, it is a well-balanced image with wonderful textures. It would probably make a nice large-ish print.

When it comes to hanging prints, I am very fond of metal prints that have a “floating” style frame that doesn’t cover up the edges. While I do think they look classy, I also tend to push my compositions to the very edges, like this, and sometimes the composition really cannot afford losing much if anything on the periphery. The floating frame accommodates this.

Lichenthrope. Old paint and stone and lichen intermix along the narrow streets of Óbidos, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 24mm, 1/60 sec, f/11, ISO 500.

The little main street of Óbidos near the city gate (complete with portcullis!) was all set up for Christmas shopping. I particularly liked this little display of colorful scarves and the way it contrasted with the wall behind it. Following up on my comments about composition, in this image there is just the right amount of space between the bottom of the scarves and the right edge of the frame. If it was, say, half of what it is, things would be too close; covering up half of that space with a frame or matboard would look awkward. As it is, everything looks balanced. (I think this is in part because the space to the edge is about the same width as a lot of the visible folds in the scarves.)

Scarves. Colorful scarves are on displayed outside a shop in Òbidos, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 63mm, 1/25 sec, f/13, ISO 500.

The sign in the image below did send us obediently wandering in that direction, but not before getting this image. I really appreciate everything about this sign: the shape, the colors, the lean. The yellow text and icon are an accent for the yellow panel, and the brownish bits of rust on the yellow panel are an accent for the brown sign. I like the column and base on the left (another “L” shape…hmmm) which anchor the left side of the frame. The right side is just open, but then it should be because, after all, the sign says to go that way. I like the little triangular sliver of the yellow panel that protrudes just to the left of the signpost and the way it matches the little white triangular sliver between the signpost and the bottom of the panel. The tip of the sign lines up vertically with the right edge of the metal panel. The spacing around the sign—left, top, and right—is all the same distance. And the height of the brown sign itself matches the distance from the bottom of the frame to the bottom of the panel. It all just works perfectly.

New Priorities. A sign points the way to a chocolate shop in Òbidos, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 70mm, 1/90 sec, f/9.5, ISO 64.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t very inspired by the chocolate shop itself and didn’t buy anything. On the bright side, I didn’t eat anything, either.

This next little scene was pretty unusual, I thought. I like the strong diagonal flow along the vine between its planter and the window. There is also a nice contrast between the fresher paint on the right-hand third of the image with the older paint on the left. I also think the little green plant provides some contrast and balance with the larger green area above it.

Sinisterly Pruned. Only the left side of a creeping vine remains so the wall behind it could be repainted, Óbidos, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 14mm, 1/20 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

I think this next image is fun, with the way the six reflections each mimic the little panel. This image is very graphic and a bit on the minimalist side. The simple color palette—basically just white and yellow—also contributes to the minimalist feel. The composition feels well-balanced, and the diagonal boundary between the white and yellow sections I think actually contributes to this balance since it nicely divides the panel below from the reflection above.

Sextuplicates. A window reflection mimics an access panel on a street in Óbidos, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 22.5mm, 1/180 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

I really enjoyed Óbidos. It really wasn’t all white and yellow—one of next week’s images will prove that—but I think a lot of my more successful images were. There were a fair number of tourists wandering around and the streets were narrow, so I relied heavily on my wide 14-24mm zoom; that (often) let me get close enough to the wall so people could just pass behind me. Many people will politely stop and wait if you are taking a picture, but if I am being slow about it (often the case!) I don’t want to abuse their patience.

Unless it’s a really good one.

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5 responses to “A Day in Óbidos”

  1. Especially like the final two images. Colours throughout are delightful … even if there are some not-so-recently-painted areas of walls etc!

    Sinisterly Pruned: a dex(e)trous description if ever I saw one!