I spent a day out last week photographing Los Cahorros de Monachil, a very straightforward, but absolutely wonderful 8km circular hike in the hills above Granada.
The problem I’ve encountered in a lot of my recent adventures is that some of the locations are so far off the beaten track that more time is spent walking, climbing and scrambling than photographing. I guess it’s the payoff for all landscape photographers, if we want to take unique images then the challenge is to find the unshot locations. This location is certainly not short of photographs, but I’ve tried to find some qualities in these landscapes that others may have missed and tell a different story.
Table of Contents
Camera and Kit
I opted on this walk to take my Ricoh GRIIIx rather than the whole kitbag of Canon cameras and lenses. In part because I wanted to try an unfamiliar focal length for landscape photography. The lens is sharp but it is fixed focal length at 40mm equivalent (it uses an APS-C sensor, the actual focal length ie. the distance between the point of convergence of the lens and the sensor is 26.1mm)
As this camera is so small, I was able to go without my usual camera bag and used a lightweight Salomon Trail Blazer 10L to hold my lunch and my raincoat. (I’m not affiliated to Salomon by the way, I just like their stuff!)
Creative Benefits of a Single Focal Length
I’ve been doing this a lot lately. The idea is that equipped with three lenses covering the range from 16mm to 200mm, I’m spoiled, there is no composition I can’t make. Taking a single lens, especially one that is not known for being especially suitable for landscape photography stretches the creative muscles, you’ll find you generally have to hunt harder for good compositions and finding them takes you into some different places.
The hike falls into two parts, the gorge which goes through a forest and over a fast flowing river, and the valley beyond, that includes the return trip featuring a bit of a climb over a limestone ridge to get back to the starting point.
The first half of the hike is a gorge, similar in depth to the less well known Rio Durcal Gorge, but somewhat easier to navigate. There are well maintained hanging bridges, the longest being over 50 metres long with a 15 metre drop to the river, and handrails in the trickier places. A degree of crawling is required to get past certain points where the rock face looms over the path.
I was soon glad I’d left my tripod and the rest of my kit at home! Soon though the gorge widens and becomes easier to navigate and eventually you find yourself emerging into the sunlit valley beyond.
I have to say, the valley, for me is more spectacular, it’s a scene straight out of a western, wild, mountainous and right now in the autumn, very colourful. I was struck by the colours and textures in the rocks, highlighted by a low autumn sun and decided that’s what I would concentrate on.
The next photo shows an example of something that’s becoming a feature in my trips – the spanish penchant for building houses in the most unlikely places! Look at the top right of this next photo, there is no road behind this ridge, only a rough track.
I’ve come across numerous examples where quite ambitious buildings have fallen into disrepair and eventual ruin, presumably inherited by horrified children now living in Granada or Madrid.
I would classify this walk as easy, less challenging than Barranco de la Luna for example, but still worth being careful in the summer when it’s hot. Take plenty of water during the hot weather. Also worth mentioning for the summer months, the river contains plenty of pools to cool off in!
Photographing Los Cahorros de Monachil – Conclusion
This route is a definite candidate for a photowalk and I’ll be including it in next year’s photowalk itinerary. It is short enough for anyone to walk easily and the landscape is well worth shooting. It is sufficiently popular to avoid at weekends and for most of the summer, but the best times photographically will be through the winter, spring and autumn. There are several points along the way where spectacular images are to be found and as I hope is clear from this selection, a single focal length works well when the scenery is so striking. Did I succeed in telling a different story with my images? It’s not for me to judge!
If you’ve found this article interesting, then you may also be interested in Mountain Photography in Spain and the itinerary of photowalks I am working on for next year, 2024. Subscribe below and you’ll be the first to know and there will also be an announcement soon about my Introduction to Landscape Photography Course which has been eighteen months in the making and offers a comprehensive pathway from camera skills including shooting RAW, Manual mode, through guided exercises in editing with both Adobe Lightroom and DxO PhotoLab.
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