Almonds, Windmills and Snow

Almonds Windmills and Snow

Almonds in Andalucia Revisited

Last year I set out to photograph the almond blossom that lights up the landscape in Andalucia at this time of year. I was moderately pleased but not overwhelmed with the pictures and this year, being much busier, thought I’d give it a miss. I wasn’t prepared for Almonds windmills and snow to coincide!

How wrong I was! Out walking on two occasions in the last couple of weeks, I stumbled across the most magnificent almond groves, way off the beaten track and carpeted with a bright yellow wild flower that sets the blossoms off against a blue sky magnificently!

I was so taken with this location that I revisited it this week to make a video about composition!


blue sky, almond blossoms and, on the ground, the ubiquitous yellow flowers

This time I took a little bit longer and worked the location much more effectively, producing some different images from a variety of viewpoints.

Almonds, Windmills and Snow on the Sierra Nevada

The subject of the video is composition and the point I tried to make is one about separation. Walking up the hill and using a telephoto lens enabled me to separate the windmills, the snow capped mountain and the almonds, producing, in my opinion, a much more interesting shot.

Almond Blossom Macro

I left my macro lens at home, but the Canon 70-200 is a fine substitute with excellent bokeh. Hard to really nail the depth of field in windy conditions, but that would have been worse with a macro in any case.

Yellow Flower against bokeh

This photo isolates one of the million or so yellow flowers underneath the almond trees. Not the prettiest blossom in isolation, but I like the three trees providing the background in this shot.

Almonds and Windmills

Zooming out, I decided to capture the windmills and the almond grove with the carpet of yellow flowers and without the Sierra Nevada.

Almonds, Windmills and snow

And zooming out further, climbing the hill again, I was able to get Almonds, Windmills and Snow in a single portrait oriented shot.

As a collection and a record of this location, I’m quite pleased with these shots. They show the Almond blossoms in their context and demonstrate slightly better the wildness of the landscape in these parts.

Kit that I used on this shoot

Canon 5D S – my favourite camera for landscape photography. 50mp sensor allows me to crop in when necessary without having to upscale the image.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II – What a difference 1mm makes! My previous wide angle was the Canon 17-40mm. I traded it in for this one and I’m amazed I didn’t do it sooner. This is a fabulous lens.

Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L II – the most flexible lens I own, practically lives on the camera although it wasn’t used too much on this shoot.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II – another upgraded lens. This is a huge improvement on the Mk 1 with better focus, sharper images and excellent IS.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II – A great lens for wildlife, but not for hiking. It weighs a ton. Fortunately on this shoot I was able to drive to within 50m of where I need to be.

Feisol CT-3442 – excellent tripod. I removed the centre column and in combination with the Acratech heads, have a super stable platform to shoot from. I also have the Feisol CCT-3342 for shooting video.

Acratech Panoramic Head – exactly what it says on the tin.

Acratech Levelling Base – again, what it says on the tin. Acratech make the best heads I’ve ever used. Unfussy, beautifully engineered and a little bit pricey. Well worth the outlay.

Lessons Learned

Apart from looking behind you, without which I would not have seen this landscape because the initial walk came from the direction of the windmills.

Deliberate Photography

I went to this location with one shot in my mind. It was to include Almonds windmills and snow. I planned the shot and executed it reasonably well.

Don’t Stop Shooting

Just because you’ve nailed the shot, doesn’t mean the shoot is done. Quite the reverse. Nailing the shot gives you the space and the confidence to try a few things out. Different lenses, different perspectives and shooting positions. Telling a story is hard with one shot, as a collection, I think this set tells a better story than any of the individual photos.


I know, they are heavy and cumbersome and with in-camera stabilisation and fast shutter speed these days it’s mostly possible to get sharp shots without one. But the extra effort pays off. There’s no way I could have got as sharp on the snow capped mountain without a tripod and I have to own up to discarding several decent compositions because they weren’t sharp enough.

As ever, thanks for reading. I hope this has been a useful article and hopefully I’ll see you on YouTube when the video sees the light of day!


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