dunes & volcanoes

A dune that moves 10 meters each year, a consolidated dune millions of years old and an extinct volcano, part of Lisbon’s volcanic complex, are a photographer's delight if you want to play with textures and shapes.Three geological wonders offering a unique visual experience.


The Moving Dune
We think of dunes as static landscape but in fact they do move. Cresmina dunefield, in Portugal, moves some 10 meters each year. A good speed for some slow paced photography, panorama style. I firstly wrote about the Cresmina dunefield for a Portuguese newspaper, back in the 1980s, when it was discovered the dune system was moving towards the town of Cascais, at a pace of some 10 meters each year. The speed is the same today, although the sands carried by the wind seem to go back to the sea somewhere between Oitavos and Guia, southwards from Guincho.

The wooden paths created over the dune ridges system in recent years, allowing visitors to explore the area without much disturbance to the habitat, make for a great photographic vantage point, in an area where a technique to make photo panoramas is a must. Besides, the sand dunes offer some unique compositions to explore, meaning a visit incorporates both documental and aesthetic and artistic elements.

The Fossil Dune
The second destination in this voyage is the consolidated dune at Magoito beach, a fossil dune formed through the action of winds and the sea over a period of 10 million years, which transformed sand into sandstone. The whole Magoito beach, with the colourful tidal pool – caused by green and red algae – is a photographer’s delight and a place to visit at different hours, with low tide, ideal for end of the day photography and longer exposures at night.

Inside the Volcano
The extinct volcano of the Penedo do Lexim (Lexim’s Rock) is the final destination, a voyage to 72 million years ago. The volcanic chimney, which originally was 30 metres in diameter and 2000 metres deep, was part of Lisbon’s volcanic complex. Considered a geological rarity in Portuguese mainland and Iberia, the columnar jointing with a perfect hexagonal base resulted from contraction during the cooling of the lava.

Where: Sintra area (Portugal)
When: by arrangement
Cost: €70/person
Group Size: 3
Highlights: A journey looking at a variety of details from Gaia, photographing ever changing textures and shapes.
Registration: To register, or if you have any questions, please send email to info[at]joseantunes[dot]com.