I’ve spent a bit of time this past couple of weeks pursuing almond blossom photography in Andalucia and I want to share some of my lessons learned. The almond in Spain is a gnarly twisted tree, brutally pruned to enable harvesting. It’s hard wood great for burning, I feel the tree gets a raw deal for 11 months of the year! In the remaining month, the almond blossoms and the trees light up the landscape in scenes that are as glorious as they are unexpected.
These shots were taken over two days, one following the path of Ruta Camino de los Pinos outside Conchar, the other in the olive and almond groves to the west of the motorway up to Granada.
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Hints and Tips for Almond Blossom Photography
So let’s jump in! What are the things to watch out for when photographing Almond Blossom?
As with any kind of landscape photography the weather plays a massive part. You’ll find the colours work well on slightly grey days but there aren’t too many of those in February in Andalucia!
The wind is not your friend. These delicate little flowers are easily detached from the trees. Unfortunately, the blossom arrives at the same time as the wind.
You’re unlikely to find blossom and snow in the same place, but those pale flowers against a background of stormy clouds make an excellent contrast. I had a lot of success in the Sierra Nevada where snow clouds and sunrays made a wonderful backdrop.
Sunshine will be the de facto backdrop, and those flawless blue skies make for a good contrast with the blossom. Unfortunately, every photographer in Europe has a “blossoms against blue sky” photograph so get one in your portfolio but try for something a little different.
I used my 24-70mm for many of my shots – it’s a versatile range, capable of wide-angle and close-up.
On a cloudy day, find a good, graphic, composition and wait for sunrays to ignite those blossoms. These shots take longer to achieve and the light has to be exactly right. I used a 70-300mm lens for this shot, the field was several hundred metres away, but as soon as I spotted the two triangular segments at the bottom and midde of the composition I knew it would be worth hanging on for the right light.
This shot was taken close up with the 24-70mm at 70mm, f/7.1. It’s by far the most versatile lens I own, capable of close-up, portrait and some landscape photography.
I don’t have any true macro shots, but I wish I did. I may yet be able to catch one as it won’t depend on the tree being laden with blossom. Well worth taking.
Update: I went out this morning with just a Canon 100mm macro lens and although I was shooting handheld in a stiff breeze, managed to capture a couple of decent images!
The Almond Shooting Kit Bag
What I actually took out with me was my Canon 5Ds, and three lenses – 17-40mm, 24-70mm and 70-300mm.
What I should have taken – I’d swap out the wide angle lens for a 100mm Macro.
May be worth mentioning that this can be filthy work! The red soil we have in the Sierra Nevada materialises in only two forms – dust or clay. I’m seeing the f-stop bags really come into their own now, repelling dust and keeping clay wet away from the hardware.
Almonds in the Landscape
This was shot with the wrong lens! I saw the light and only had about 30 seconds to get the shot, a long lens was in the bag and I would have liked to bring the bridge and the mountains in the background closer. But its a nice shot and I’ll have to wait about twenty years to get the same light in the same place!
Almond Blossom Photography in Andalucia
I am fortunate in that I live in Andalucia, and have grown familiar with the landscape. The best locations I have found for Almond Blossoms are in the North around the Sierra Nevada and further south in the Alpujarras.
Well worth jumping in the car and driving up towards the white villages, there are very good sites on the way to Canar, and above Soportujar. I shot most of mine in the north of the province in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
Plan a route using Alltrails or Wikiloc and check the weather and position of the sun before you set off.
Enjoy a great shoot!
This post is part of a series on the Art of Photography
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