Nazaré Beaches


Aquatic. Spray blows off the top of a backlit wave in Nazaré, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 400mm, 1/1000 sec, f/9.5, ISO 800.

As promised, this week our blog is back at the beach. The first series of five photographs are from around sunset at the same beach as the giant waves, just taken from down on the sand rather than from up on the cliffs. It was overcast and the light was fading, so the images as captured are low contrast and quite blue. It takes some post-processing work to bring out the greens and aquas in the sea, let alone any hints of the sunset below the clouds. Overall, these were challenging photos to process, at least I found them to be so. I kept trying to add some contrast, but it had to be done gently or it just ended up looking crunchy and very wrong. But in the end, I like the moodiness of all of these images and their cool color palettes. I did succeed in bringing out a little of the translucent glow of the wave in the image above, but the light on the horizon has only a hint of yellow; in truth, it isn’t so much yellow as it is less blue.

The image below is also pretty dark and moody—perhaps even ominous—but the curl of the wave retains a pretty blue-green color. The spray rising like smoke above the wave makes a nice, if subtle, contrast against the dark sky. Overall, there are a lot of separate regions to this photograph that work together nicely: the crashing wave, the rising spray, the dark clouds, and the deep green water on the right. The wave itself is crashing in on the memory of the wave before it—the foam on the water— and in the distance is the next wave that will, in turn, overtake this one.

Steaming Curl. Spray rises off a crashing wave, Nazaré, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 400mm, 1/1000 sec, f/9.5, ISO 800.

In this next image, the action is on the left side: the crashing wave, the touch of orange in the sky, and the bit of spray that looks like a jumping puppy. All of this is pointed to by the long hook of dark water on the face of the wave, which, primarily because it has the most contrast, is the dominant feature of the image.

Hook Shot. Clouds and spray mask the imminent sunset beyond the churning surf in Nazaré, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 310mm, 1/350 sec, f/6.7, ISO 1600.

I made a number of images similar to the following one on this trip. One fisheye variation, Foamscape, was featured two posts ago. Using the crazy-wide angle 9mm lens makes this wide shallow beach look like it goes on forever. I especially like the way the streaks of foam converge into the distance. Another nice feature of using such a wide lens is that large-scale patterns become evident in the sky.

Foamscape No. 2. A thin layer of water carries the surging foam in Nazaré, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Laowa 9mm f/5.6 W-Dreamer at 1/250 sec, f/11 (probably), ISO 1000.

I do like all the preceding images, but I love this next one: the colors, the scalloped pattern of foam on the right, the bit of dark headland balancing it to the left, and the warm light in the sky and its reflection in the foreground. There is even a crashing wave against the dark cliff. I think this will be a nice image to print big.

Foamscape No. 3. Curving arcs of foam cover the beach in Nazaré, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 20.5mm, 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 500.

Eventually we ran out of light completely at the north beach and adjourned until the next morning when a number of us walked down the beach from the hotel in Nazaré to greet the dawn. Fortunately in late November the sun rises late, but even so I think I only photographed so early twice during the trip. Flying east is definitely harder on the body than flying west and I was happy to sleep until 8:00 breakfast whenever I could.

That said, I don’t think there has ever been a morning when I haven’t been photographically rewarded for making the effort to get out of bed, and this morning was no exception. The colors beyond the cliffs were beautiful:

Dawn Light. The cliffs await the sunrise below pastel hues in Nazaré, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 88mm, 1/2 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

Half an hour after the scene above, the cliffs were bathed in orange light which reflected strongly off the still-dark water, which made a nice nearly-abstract image:

Molten. The sea reflects the sunlit cliffs in Nazaré, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 340mm, 1/500 sec, f/13, ISO 1250.

Next week I will feature images from two more beaches, but the images are very different from those I have shown so far. That was one of the great things about this trip: there were so many beaches, but they were all so different.

Thanks for following along on my journey around a small but spectacular area of Portugal. If you have not subscribed and would like to read my weekly post in the comfort of your own email, please let me know:

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