Poplars reach to the blue heavens in a grove near Chauchina, Andalucía, Spain.

After three full days based in Órgiva, it was time to pivot west and drive the 150 miles or so to Ronda. Being a caravan of photographers, we stopped at a number of places along the way; so many, in fact, that I have decided to split the day into two posts.

Charlie Waite clearly has a soft spot for poplar groves and knew a promising area near Chauchina. And he was willing to drive a van full of screaming photographers on narrow levees between ponds for the sake of a few pictures. (I made up the screaming part, but there was at least one very sharp levee-top turn that was definitely on the dicey side.) We didn’t have a lot of time there—we were allotted 30 minutes in the first location before shifting to a second spot in the same complex of poplar groves. Everyone scattered and got to work. At the first spot I spent some time with the fisheye, mostly pointed straight up as in the picture above; note that since all of the trees are converging to the center of the image, they all remain straight despite the fisheye. I also broke out the tilt-and-shift lenses, both 19mm and 85mm. The 19mm was useful for filling the frame with vertical trunks without having to point the camera upwards (which would have made all the trees appear to lean away and converge):

Neat rows of winter poplars recede into the distance in a grove near Chauchina, Andalucía, Spain.

After driving a short distance to another area of the groves, the scenes had a much denser feel, especially when viewed from the more shadowed side of the trees. I took several intentional camera motion (ICM) photographs—panning vertically during the exposure—which turned out quite dark and moody:

Little Hope.
A sliver of sky is visible between the dark rows of poplars in a grove near Chauchina, Andalucía, Spain.
Dark poplar trunks starkly contrast with the blue winter sky near Chauchina, Andalucía, Spain.

I am not always successful playing the ICM game—which like a lot of techniques can be gimmicky—but I like these. The leafless trees definitely resulted in rather stark images; other seasons would result in completely different moods, I am certain.

Leaving some intermediate stops for the next post, we spent a roadside break photographing some beautiful hills and valleys in the general area of Antequera. (This was after I led the group up and down the road in a fruitless effort to find the perfect spot I had seen before lunch…enough said.) Lacking any useful foreground (at least where I was) or drama in the sky, I stuck to the long lens and picked out various parts of the countryside. It was getting later in the day and the light and shadows were flattering:

Giants in the Groves.
A few massive oaks dwarf the surrounding olives trees in the endless groves near Antequera, Andalucía, Spain.
Grove Sinister.
An olive grove abuts a still-dormant fruit orchard on a winter afternoon near Antequera, Andalucía, Spain.

The countryside in this area was spectacular: a brief stop on the side of the road falls so short of what it deserves. Andalucía is a challenge that way, because both the countryside and the towns are so photogenic that it is hard to ignore either. There is only so much time.

Technical notes. The six photographs in this post were taken with a Nikon Z7 and four different lenses. In order: an AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED, a PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED, a Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S (for the two ICM images), and a NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S (for the last two). All were processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

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