Andalusian landscapes. (Sierra de las Nieves – Málaga)

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Andalusian landscapes

I would like to start this section with an image of the Sierra de las Nieves in Malaga that shows examples of the Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo), a tertiary relict of fir that survives only in the Sierra de Grazalema, Sierra de Las Nieves and Sierra Bermeja, as in some groves in nearby mountain ranges, and in places where have it been reintroduced as for example the Sierra de Huétor de Granada.

I spent the previous evening in the middle of the magical landscape of the highlands of the Sierra de las Nieves, between magic fir and oak trees (Quercus Alpestris)- Mountain Oaks, enchanted by the snow which emphasizied with its white mantle the phantasmagorical shapes. Due to the snow and blizzard (which made it almost impossible to take pictures) and seduced by the beauty of the place and the moment, I decided to stay and spend the night there, to continue seeking more “wonders” the next day in better weather conditions.

At dawn it did not snow anymore but there was a blizzard, I was captivated by this impressive fir and from hence I looked for a long time (with great care not to damage my setting with my own footsteps) for what I thought to be the best composition. I was waiting for the strong wind to decrease, to prevent the movement of the branches and during that long wait suddenly a clearing in the sky took place, which did not last more than one minute, breaking with the rather drab gray and white colours, introducing variety and depth of light and colour in the setting.

In many cases the compositions are not perfect but rather a consensus sought between pros and cons, lesser evils and inconveniences. In this case I tried to move myself to the  left to be able to highlight more the trunk, but in this way the branches of the tree would had overlapped the fir at the background. The fallen tree does not add too much to the composition, I could have minimized its presence by moving myself more to the right but in this case the appearance of the main fir would had changed too much and its trunk would have been «lost».

On the other hand, the fog of the clouds helped much to isolate the trees from their background, introducing the required depth to the composition. The blue bright area in the sky was the compositional key for this photo: it allowed to fill the “gap” in the sky in the superior right area and completed thus the setting.

After this magical moment, the sun hid to appear never again in all day. I still had to descent a more than 20 kilometres walk to the nearest bus stop but my happiness about this experience prevailed over the sense of the effort.

 Equipment: Minolta 5000 AF (all manual) lens Minolta 24-50 mm f:4 film Velvia 50 ASA, polarizing filter, the essential tripod, a highly recommended umbrella and equipment to spend the night and an indispensable dose of dedication combined with a touch of courage/passion/madness (call it is you want).

Peter Manschot