Mindful Photography Workshops from Touching the Light

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A review of our Spring 2015 "Joy of Seeing" programme in Las Alpujarras

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Four Seasons in Two Weeks

It was clear that Spring was late in the Alpujarras in 2015.

Exactly a year ago I had hiked above Capileira in high-twenties temperatures. Now snow remained low on the Sierra Nevada.

Exactly a year ago the wisteria at Villa La Estrellita hummed with bumblebees. Now it showed not even its first buds.

Exactly a year ago we launched our “Joy of Seeing” photography workshops. Now we were embarking on year two and our fourth and fifth groups of photographers coming to las Alpujarras.

Why do I start by talking about weather? It’s probably because we’re British firstly and so much of what we do in Britain is weather dependent. When we travel to southern Spain we are often lured as much by blue skies and heat as by culture and experience. But whilst the deep cobalt skies and sparkling sunlight of Las Alpujarras have their appeal they are not entirely what photographers want.

Our groups should have been thrilled then by the torrential rain in Lanjarón, the dreich and the snow flurries in Capileira and the atmospheric clouds that shrouded the highest tops, creating an atmosphere of menace. That we had to light the wood stove on every night bar the last tells its own story; it really was too cold on occasions to work in comfort. Maybe it was that the conditions were so British in character …

Nonetheless our groups produced some stunning images and were challenged to think outside the normal boxes – exactly the aim of a “Joy of Seeing” week, where we are trying to escape the “stand here, look over there” approach to so many photo tours.

Weather Impressions

When we learn to explore with a mind that is empty of intentions, expectations and preconceptions, expression becomes more immediate and playful. Like when we got in behind the fountain in the village square at Cañar or beneath a stand of osteospermum in the wild valley above Tijola.

Cañar Fountain

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Prompted by this, and passing temporarily by the opportunities presented in Pampaneira, our group spent a half hour exploring the adult exercise equipment – red and yellow metallic surfaces glistening in the rain – instead of rushing into the delights of Pampaneira. Colour, shape and texture for their own sakes …

Outdoor Gym

A highlight as always was the completely crazy firecracker display that accompanies the festival of Al Señor de la Expiración two weeks before Easter. On Thursday at midday heralding the bringing down of the crucifx and again on Friday as Christ emerges from the church, Órgiva’s mainstreet becomes a frenzy of noise resembling a warzone. It is unmissable in its quirkiness, like many Spanish festivals and our guests will be able to see it again on 11th March on the second of our Spring weeks in 2016.

Join our Alpujarras Workshop programme in 2016

  • 27th February – 5th March 2016 at La Estrellita
  • 5th – 12th March 2016 at La Estrellita
  • 16th – 23rd April at Cortijo Romero