Madeira is famous for several things and one of them is a vast network of irrigation channels known as levadas. The need to build this network, which has more than 2000 km length in total, originated from the fact that climate on Madeira differs very much in various parts of the island. So much that there are as many as 7 microclimates there. Quite a few given that Madeira is rather small island. While west and north are very wet with heavy rainfalls almost all around the year, southern and eastern parts of the island are much drier with some areas looking more like a desert. Levadas allowed to move huge amounts of water from north to south and thus greatly helped agriculture.
From the tourist perspective levadas are something more, however. Along most of the levadas you will find a path, road that often offers fantastic views. While some of those trails are difficult or inaccessible due to the fact no one uses them, there are quite a few that are very easy and safe even for beginner hikers.
One of them is levada connecting Rabacal with Risco waterfall and 25 Fontes (25 Springs). This forest trail leads to two amazing places: a 100 meters high waterfall and a lovely forest pond. Both are truly magical so it isn’t surprising that they are very popular among tourists. So what I did was to start the hike very early in the morning to avoid the crowds. And thanks to that I had both places just for myself!
In this post I would like to share you image from the latter, i.e. from 25 Fontes. It’s a truly magical place where water from endless small waterfalls and cascades end up in a small pond which in turn becomes source of one of the levadas (originally it was source of a river).
On Location Photography Tips
- Get there early in the morning. It’s one of the most popular levada among tourists and in the middle of the day there might be literally hundreds of people on the trail and near the waterfalls what makes the experience much less enjoyable and taking photos much more difficult.
- This place is quite narrow and is “crowded” with various stones, waterfalls and leaves so it’s good to have ultra wide-angle lens with you.
- Try using long exposure to smooth the water falling down and create more tranquil and dreamy look.
For more general landscape photography tips, visit my free landscape photography tips tutorial.
Taking photo and post-processing
- Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review)
- Lens: Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS USM (read my review)
- Focal length: 16 mm
- Aperture: f/16.0
- Exposure time: 21.0 s
- ISO: 100
- Number of exposures: 5
- E.V. Step: 1.0 EV
- Flash used: no
- Tripod: yes
- Filters: no
- Technique: long exposure, manual blending
- Software: Magic Lantern, Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC 2015, ON1 Effects 10.5
I started editing this image by cropping it on the right as I found the rock to occupy too much space of the frame, making waterfalls in the background less significant than they should be.
Next step was to make the image much warmer. I moved temperature slider to around 8200 and tint to +17 (what means adding magenta) as I felt there was strong green cast which I didn’t like. I also straightened the image, removed chromatic aberration and applied lens corrections to get rid of distortion and vignetting which were quite apparent in this case. Then I synchronized the settings between my 5 bracketed exposures and loaded them in Photoshop CC.
In Photoshop I started by manually blending the image using luminosity masks technique. As you can see in the before image, rocks and some plants in foreground are slightly overexposed. So I replaced them with parts from -1 and -2 EV images. I also slightly brightened up the shadows (like very dark shadow in the background) by using +1 EV image. I rejected +2 EV image as it wasn’t contributing to the result in any way.
After that I improved midtones contrast and applied ON1 Effects plugin to boost colors and contrast a little bit.