30 March 2015

Castelo do Bode dam

Although small, when looking at it by the ruler of its mere physical dimensions, Portugal is one of the world's leading nations in the field of civil engineering. From the vast projects and works-of-art that the Portuguese civil engineers have created over the course of the centuries on the four corners of the world, the most conspicuous are, certainly, the bridges and dams. In particular, and during the course of the 20th century, a long list of projects were concluded, many of them on the former Portuguese ultramarine colonies, in Africa. Amongst all of them, perhaps the jewel of the crown, undisputed, was the Cahora Bassa dam, a cyclopic project on the Zambezi river and still remaining nowadays the biggest hydroelectric power dam in Southern Africa.
However, at the time Cahora Bassa was terminated (in 1974) Portuguese engineers and civil constructors had already a vast experience in dam construction, accumulated since the beginning of the forties, and, as a consequence, the nation had, at the time, dozens of hydroelectric projects in full operationally.
The Castelo do Bode dam, built during that golden age of investment and which construction ended in 1951, is, probably the most iconic of all the Portuguese hydroelectric power plants. Reasons for that?
Well... It was the first "big one". And due to its location, in the Zêzere basin, right in the centre of the country, and easy access it quickly became a hit amongst the vast community of weekend travellers. And... ahhh... last but not least... it's quite photogenic.
Castelo do Bode, here photographed during a calm evening time, on the past February, was, at the time of its build, the biggest hydroelectric power plant in Portugal. The project, for the Era, visionary and ambitious, was created by the French civil engineer André Coyne, at the time one of the most respected dam engineers in the world and responsible for the subsequent formation of an entire generation of Portuguese civil engineers on that particular field.
Picture taken with Nikon D610 and Nikon Nikkor 28-105 AF kit lens. Sirui T005 travel tripod and head. Post processing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.3

29 March 2015

The Paul da Serra plateau

A curious flat formation, The Paul da Serra high plateau, located on the West part of Madeira, adds a twist of monotony in an island almost entirely dominated by an aggressive geological morphology.
With an area of roughly 25 square kilometres and an average high above sea level of nearly 1500 mts, the high plateau of Paul da Serra is also one of the most important drainage basins in Madeira. In fact, this plateau, dryer during the Summer months, is a place of almost eternal fogs during the Winter season. Its ability to collect water from the atmosphere is obvious during those wet months, during whose the Paul da Serra plateau usually houses several lagoons, which normally dry out as the wet season changes towards the Summer months.
In fact, this characteristic is so obvious that its name was well given: "Paul" in Portuguese means pond.
In the pictures:
The Paul da Serra plateau, a dry, high, plane during the Summer months, becomes, due to the maritime climate, a moisture magnet during the Winter season. Its natural shape, associated to the climatic factor, makes it one of the most important water-collecting basins in the whole island. In fact the numerous ponds appearing during the Winter months can even be, as once was demonstrated, suitable for wind-surf. The obvious windy nature of the place makes it one of the best places in Madeira for wind farms, as we can see by the numerous wind turbines that nowadays decorate this vast altitude plain.
All the pictures taken with Nikon F100 and Nikkor AF 28-105mm kit lens and Manfrotto tripod. Fujichrome Velvia ASA 50 scanned in Nikon Coolscan V ED and post-processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.