Christmas lights and the 50th.

churchThis is my 50th article and also my first year spent outside my home country/hometown while working during the week and traveling on the weekends. And what better way to celebrate than by making a special trip.

In fact, this story starts before I  reach my 49th article posted, when…

Going to 🚗 Portugal to watch the new Star Wars movie, I noticed (in the darkness of the night), many churches that had their facade full of colorful LEDs. So I tried as much as possible, to find them on my phone on the Maps.me app, so that one day I go back to visit them.

It doesn’t sound so hard now does it?

In fact, when you go at 120km/h on the highway, trying to pinpoint 📌 a church ⛪  that is at a few km away on your right side or left and there are many hills and forests, is not an easy job. Nonetheless, I was putting marks on my map where I was considering the location to be, and a later day, I came back to take photos.

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I decided to go to Braga via the Highway to double check my pins, and then follow the local roads, back to Spain, via Ponte de Lima.

So here is the first catch of the night:

Martim church. This one was actually an easy catch, and I almost did not want to take the photo, since it did not have the rainbow 🌈 type colors, so it did not look “authentic ” like the most churches do in this region.

But since there was no near place to park the car, we had to go to the cemetery, and from there I got this angle that I found it to be more interesting.

Also, this is the first image taken on a trip with my new 24-70mm f4L Canon Lens. But more on that later.

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To get to the next location, in Cervaes, we had to follow a local road, that at times was very very narrow. Luckily no cars were coming from the opposite direction, but the stress was always there.

Also, there was a lot of climbing and the road was paved by lemon trees full of lemons🍋 and orange trees with🍊 many oranges sitting on the road, smashed by other cars. If I was the one to have those trees, I would make so much orange jam to last a whole year and some.  But these guys did nothing with them…

Here is Santuario de Nossa Senhora Bom Despacho.

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As we went further and further towards Ponte de Lima, and the border with Spain, we had to stop at the next location. To get here, we had to pass through a forest with🌳 the same very narrow road. In fact, tree branches would swipe the black paint on the car, so we had to drive close to the center of the road, and pray no car comes from the other direction.

Igreja Nova is in the town with the same name and it looks much like this. There is also a cat guarding the entry on the alley.

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From here to the next location, I had a few busts, meaning that where I made the pin, there was no church, or the church had just a (huge) decoration on it and no contour made out of lights.

Igreja de Arcozelo is also a not so easy find, and I had the luck to have a few cars passing by.

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Since I never did this kind of photography, at night, I also saw something very strange happening when I made the long exposition photo.

All light sources were emitting light rays, much like the sun does.

The problem was, that all of them seemed to do that. And even though I was happy to get a long exposure with 2 cars passing within 15 seconds of exposure, this end result I did not like. And I still don’t.

I found later that the more I was closing the f stops (from f4 to f22) the bigger the rays were becoming. If you check the above photo, the light rays are small but on the one bellow, they are huge and far too many.

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With Lightroom, I could not find a way to get rid of them, so I had to live with the result, but I still don’t know how to make long exposure photos, without closing so much the aperture of the lens (f stops).

One option would be to put a color filter on the lens, a black one, but for this lens I had none. I will try to remake some photos using this technique, and If I succeed in obtaining good results maybe I will make a second article to show them.

For now is back on road and the next stop is perhaps one of the first small towns I always wanted to visit -> Anais.

The reason is that in a novel that I created, the main characters name is Anais. So the first time I came to Vigo (from Paris to Porto Airport and from there by car to Galicia, Spain), I saw from the highway this name, and I promised myself that one day I will visit.

And this time was the best one I think.

Igreja Anais. 

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After making many pictures on this location, and choosing this detail shot, it was time to head back home, but not before stopping one more time in the beautiful town Ponte de Lima.

Capela Santo Antonio and the Roman bridge – Ponte Velha.

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It is very interesting to know that on Christmas, Portuguese people decorate not just the Christmas trees 🎄 but also their own houses, the restaurants, some buildings and of course the Churches.

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In fact, next week I will start a series of articles, done during my Christmas free days, in Spain, starting with Valladolid, Segovia, Madrid, and Toledo and you will agree, that none matches the beauty at night of these villages, especially when you watch them from far away, and from above.

MiDe.

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