More Silver Coast Beaches


Predator. The surf sweeps around a giant toad-shaped rock on Portugal’s Silver Coast.
Nikon Z8 with Laowa 9mm f/5.6 W-Dreamer at 1/90 sec, ISO 500.

This is going to be my last post featuring beaches in Portugal, and since I am tired tonight, I am going to try to keep my commentary on the images brief.

Starting with the image above, I took a fair number of pictures of this rock, which to me looks like the head of a massive—and potentially dangerous—toad. I started at 14mm (with the 14-24 zoom), then switched to the 9mm crazy-wide for a long time, and then tried a few with the fisheye. My favorite this time around was the 9mm, and I took 176 variations of this rock with it. Other than a handful of vertical compositions, they pretty much all looked like this; the primary variation was the surf being in different positions around the rock. The arrangement above was one of my favorites. One of the nice things about using such a wide angle is that it often shows some structure in the clouds; those little wispy streaks are only evident with a really wide lens. It took some careful processing to emphasize them in a natural way, but I think the time was worth the trouble.

I feel fortunate to have gotten this next image. I initially took a couple frames further back, but this is really the only image I have like it. It was just after sunrise and the rocks were still quite dark. At the time, I think I was skeptical that it would amount to anything so I took this single image, then turned around and headed the other direction. This image also took some careful processing: to lighten up the rocks, bring out some detail in the sky, and balance the color to the pleasing silvery-gray that it has here. This is another reminder that these days you can pull a shocking amount of detail out of the shadows, and this is especially true at the camera’s base ISO (64).

Silver Laminations. Thin layers of rock taper into sea along the Silver Coast of Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 57mm, 1/15 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

This next image is also sort of an outlier in my catalog. I took a lot of pictures of the foam swirling around this rock (that is the one beneath the water that you can’t really see) but this is the only one that looks anything like this. It has the perfect shutter speed to generate the streaky look that it has. I also like the fact that you can see a few rocks on the sand through the spray and especially that it looks like the spray hasn’t quite hit the sand yet. I took quite a few more images from this same place, but most of the time the inrushing water barely reached this rock. This time it did so with gusto.

Shaggy. The inrushing surf overwhelms a rock on the beach, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 14mm, 1/15 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

Continuing with the feeling-a-bit-lucky theme, this next image is another fortunate one for me. At the time, I did not particularly notice this neat little scene with the rounded bluish rocks stuck in the crack of the yellowish rocks—I framed up a much wider scene that, frankly, wasn’t very interesting. (Actually, this little scene is probably why I stopped, but I didn’t figure it out.) Since it wasn’t working, I quickly abandoned it and moved on. But when I came across this as I was gathering pictures for this post, I spotted this scene within a scene, which sometimes happens when you have the luxury of a big monitor at home instead of a tiny monitor on the beach. So, I had to crop this picture in a lot—the image below is only using 5 of the camera’s 45 megapixels. Fortunately, that is still enough to get away with using in a book, but printing it much larger than 8 or 10 inches square would be problematic. Tragic. But that is a consequence of trying to manage your limited time at a location that has so many opportunities—you are always trying to decide whether there is a better image to be had where you are or where you are not. (And statistically, since there are a lot more places that you are not than that you are, this almost guarantees that a better shot is somewhere else. If you can find it.)

Rocks in a Rift. Bluish rocks are wedged in a crack on a Silver Coast beach in Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 14mm, 1/6 sec, f/13, ISO 64.

When I saw the rock below, I knew exactly what I wanted. It took a lot of careful moving and zooming to hide some unwanted distractions that were between the foreground rock and the background cliff, but this turned out exactly how I wanted it.

Dumbo Rock. Unusual rock formations sit amongst the sand on Portugal’s Silver Coast.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 52mm, 1/15 sec, f/8, ISO 64.

This final image was taken on a different beach at the very end of the day. It is nice to have a little color in the sky, which is not something we saw a lot of on the trip. The most remarkable thing about this image to me, however, is the fact that the exposure was one full second and—even zooming in on the full resolution file—there is not the tiniest motion in this fisherman, not even at the very tip of the fishing pole! He was standing impossibly still, for which I am grateful.

Late for Dinner. A lone man fishes by the sea as the light fades on the Silver Coast, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 14mm, 1.0 sec, f/13, ISO 64.

I think that about does it for beaches in Portugal. Over the next few weeks, I will share images of waves crashing into rocks and cliffs. As was the case with the beaches, there is a lot of variety in the geology of the rough and rocky parts of the coastline. We spent many enjoyable hours watching the sea pummel the coastline and trying to do it justice with camera and lens. Even so, I can only imagine what the Silver Coast would be like in less benign weather!