£477 5 days from
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Photography And Walking Holiday

Andalucia, Almeria, Spain

Holiday itinerary

Capture the epic landscapes of the high sierras of untouched Spain, the high planes and lost locations on this walking and photography holiday. Experience the stunning landscape; the semi wilderness and the alpine desert on foot as you have the chance to explore perhaps one of the most visually stimulating areas of southern Spain.

Whether you have a point and shoot compact camera or an SLR, the area’s 300 days of sunshine a year will guarantee beautiful photos capturing the drama of shadow and light. 

Depending on your level of fitness, you'll have the chance to wander the valleys amongst the wild flowers, follow the shepherds paths or climb mountains to get the best shots of this fabulous, completely unspoilt natural park.

As well as learning the basics of photography, you will also learn the nuances of essential Photoshop so that you can be certain that your photographs correspond to your visual memories from your stay.

Your tutor Simon will be your photographic and area guide, focusing on the creative elements of photography and using his extensive knowledge of the area to be your walking guide as you explore the local landscape.

Each month sees a new feature to the landscape or local area which you can focus on during your time in Spain. If your photographic aspirations correspond with that photograph or event such as the Almond blossom or spring flowers then this is the month you should aim to book your trip.

This photography and walking holiday in Andalucía is a real opportunity to develop your creative instincts and to absorb the stunning Spanish landscape and culture, a chance to take beautiful images that express you own individual approach to the inspirational surroundings and colourful culture.

Get more from your camera and learn photography in Spain, enjoy the warm climate and hospitality, great food and wine, the walking and hiking opportunities and take home beautiful images and newfound photography skills to treasure for a lifetime and use again on your next adventure.

- Suitable for all levels from complete beginners to advanced photographers
- Minimum age 18 (younger students of 12 and over are welcome if accompanied by an adult, please enquire at for more details)
- The course is focused on digital photography with an emphasis on the composition of your photographs looking at things with a creative eye
- Please note: a degree of walking fitness is required for this course, please indicate your level at the time of booking

Walking And Photography Holiday Start Days
- Photography courses start everyday throughout the year and run for 4 nights / 5 days

Typical Photography And Walking Itinerary
The itinerary below is a guide and is subject to change depending on the weather, your level of fitness and time of year:

Day 1 Arrival
- Arrive and check-in to your room anytime after 2pm
- Over a glass of cava you’ll have an introduction to the weekend, be shown some of the tutor’s photography and some of the photographic work by the ‘creatives’ who participate in the unique residency for artists programme run at the retreat
- Enjoy a delicious and very sociable welcome dinner with your hosts, any resident artists and other guests

Day 2
-  After a leisurely Spanish breakfast which includes the delicious pan con tomate, you will start the day’s walking and photography with a trip out onto the high planes, the rift valley and the lost cave houses
- The actual route of your walk will depend on your level of fitness and Simon will discuss with you the options to ensure you get the most out of your day
- Take a break for an al fresco picnic lunch
- Walk back after lunch taking the chance to practice your photography skills and discuss creative photography compositions with Simon along the way
- In the early evening you’ll be introduced to Photoshop and review your day’s photography
- Enjoy a fun dinner at the house with your hosts, the resident artist and fellow guests

Day 3
- Pop on your walking boots as you set off to explore the high points, the peaks and ridges, and the epic landscapes
- Again, lunch is al fresco, and the day continues walking, exploring the area and photographing until sun down
- Once you’ve returned to the house, in the early evening  you'll enjoy dinner with the other guests, and  have a chance to discuss the day's activities with a glass of wine in hand

Day 4
- After breakfast, you'll head out for your last day of photography tuition and your last day of walking with your instructor Simon
- You'll spend the morning and early afternoon  exploring the surrounding area and capturing your last images of the dramatic and diverse scenery
- Lunch will be taken al fresco and in the late afternoon you'll head back to the eco-retreat where you will review your  work, either together with other members of the group or, if you prefer, individually with Simon
- In the evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner with your hosts and resident artist

Day 5 Departure
- After breakfast, check out of your room and return home taking with you fantastic photos and memories of a wonderful photography and walking experience guaranteed to make you feel like you'll want to come back again and again to see more of this stunning, unspoilt area of Spain

Photography Calendar
Every month sees a new feature to the stunning landscape of the Parque Natural Sierra Maria.  Here’s our highlights...

January - the month of sunshine and snow The sunlight is low in the sky casting shadows across the alpine plains picking out texture, making the coloured earth glow For us this is one of the best months, the days are brisk and sunny, the nights cold but you will be very warm by a log fire reviewing your photographs from the day

February - dramatic skies When not clear blue the sky is populated with dark grey clouds their shadows passaging the landscape, one sierra caught in sunshine another black and craggy From our position we can look down upon the weather or horizontally to sunlight on a distant ridge Lower down the mountain now the almond blossom comes

March - this is the month of the spectacular almond blossom display Terraces of fields are bright green with the fresh spring grass and the almond blossom shines pink all across the landscape This is an Andalucían speciality and a wonder to behold

April - orchids arrive heralding the spring flowers Walking through the mountains, through the forests in the new warm air and the sunshine, another of Andalucía’s specialities greets us, the wild flowers of such variety with rich aromas

May - this desert landscape is now fully green, fields are abundant with poppies both red and purple This is the first month of summer, not too hot but getting hotter

June - the fiestas begin It’s nice to descend from the mountain to the little white villages with their artisan food shops and bars for a cold drink Sunrise and sunsets offer the best opportunities with vistas so wide you can see the curve of the earth’s surface

July - the alpine desert The abundance of flowers now yield to the dry earth The sierras are blue and only the distant jet streams scratch a perfect sky Preparation creates wonderful results, the sun is high and further north and it’s beautifully warm all night

August - the forest sings with the sound of cicadas The air is rich with the scent of pine resin High in the sierras we find griffon and black vultures gliding on thermals From your feet on the forest floor to the towers of mottled limestone we are offered a visual feast

September - phantom lakes appear Cloud inversions appear when the warm earth releases it’s heat in the night and vapour appears compressed by the warmer air above These events make the sierras appear like islands in a silver lake

October - and still the sun shines But the days are shortening the nights cooler the sun lower, it’s light more horizontal Golden poplar leaves are illuminated, pomegranates hang from leafless trees A rich variety of form and landscape makes for some gorgeous photography

November - mountain trails and goat bells Houses hang with drying pimientos in the sunshine Clouds run aground and tumble to the valley bottom and on the high planes giant solitary oaks feed the wild boar

December - and full circle The other month of sunshine and snow We harvest olives and drink red wine in the sunshine We savour the local food produce We drink coffee in bars in villages surrounded by Moorish architecture and Baroque churches The days are still, the light pale yellow, and we are warm by the wood fire

What Will I Learn?
- This course is very much focused on the creative side of photography and your tutor Simon draws on his painting knowledge as well as photography to help explain and develop your creative skills
- Successful outdoor photography is reliant on being in the right place at the right time with sufficient knowledge of your camera and an awareness of your situation
- You will learn to seasonally predict the direction and passage of the sun as it casts its light upon the land, spreading shadows before objects
- How to make good photographic landscape character assessments to better allow you to find situations where you know you will get good results
- Locations, seasons, the weather forecasts, combined with local knowledge and experience will teach you how to predict cloud formations and cloud inversions, how to position yourself so that light is caught in these formations
- You will become aware of where to find colour, and colour combinations, and how to manipulate them to your advantage
- You will learn about good composition through looking at photography and Fine Art that has preceded us, how others were so successful
- How to manipulate shutter speed and aperture to increase your opportunity to get good results
- Basic Photoshop, Aperture 3 and Lightroom 3 (depending upon suitability)
- You will learn a deeper understanding of nature by increasing your sensory awareness and knowledge of the landscape you are working within and walking through

About Your Photography Tutor And Walking Guide
- Your host, guide and tutor Simon Beckmann has a BA in Fine Art from Manchester University specialising in painting, photography and printmaking
- Simon also has an MA in Fine Art in the preceding disciplines from The Royal Academy of Arts, London. After completing his MA Simon was awarded a scholarship to the Academia di Brera, Milan from The Italian Cultural Institute
- During life in London, Simon assisted many professional photographers. Working both in the fields of portraiture, for national newspapers such as The Times, and food and lifestyle photography, for Olive and other glossy magazines, he gained the technical skills which currently augment his creative Fine Art background
- Wanderlust took Simon to travel to some of the worlds more extreme destinations including trekking in the lesser known parts of the Himalaya from the borders of Tibet across Zanskar to India. This experience culminated in some of his most dramatic landscape photography and taught him valuable lessons in getting the most rewarding results
- Photography for Simon is a way of life, either as a contributor to Lonely Planet Magazine or as part of his article on living ecologically for the Australian Alternative Technology magazine or as promotional material for this area of Spain that he and his family call home
- The digital camera is an essential tool in his life as an artist and photographer while running a sustainable, cultural and creative destination for artists, designers and ecologists from his creative retreat in the mountains of Andalucía
- Simon believes that ‘the camera maybe called an artificial eye but in itself it offers no easy solution to getting great photographic results. You have to get your own eyes in the right place at the right time and to do that you must be able to predict light’
- Simon loves to walk and hike, the land surrounding the equisite eco-retreat invites you out to explore and Simon has an excellent knowledge of the area so you too can discover some of the best landscapes and drink in probably the best views you'll ever see

Creative Retreat Accommodation
- This is an eco family refuge far from the noise of any city or town. Here the night sky is unpolluted by metropolitan light, on summer nights you can gaze at the stars for hours. In the daytime the air is hot and suffused with the pungent scent of pine trees. Skies are nearly always blue and sunlight is bountiful and with long warm days, the combination of all these elements makes an ideal location in which to exploit the natural resources and take some beautiful photos
- You’ll stay in a skillfully designed 'carbon neutral' guest house sitting within the national park surrounded by 50 acres of land which is arable, almond and pine as well as an olive grove and orchard
- Heat and light from the sun, thermal winds and wood from the land combine in a system of solar panels, wind mills and fires to cook and create energy
- Rain water is harvested from the roof, waste water is managed and utilised through a system of reed beds and a grey water recovery system is used to irrigate the dry land
- However, being environmentally and socially responsible needn't compromise design and the house where you’ll stay was once 5 old farm houses, now converted into one very beautiful and luxurious space with an incredible attention to detail meaning every element of the guest house is finished to the highest standards using some wonderful materials
- On the one hand great homage and respect has been given in its restoration to the simple vernacular architecture of the building, and on the other hand a crisp eye for detail has been employed which makes the place seem stunningly modern
- There are 6 spacious and airy double rooms, 2 of which are twins and 2 with disability access, all rooms have fabulous en suite bathrooms with wet rooms where you'll shower in treated rain water which is great for the skin
- You may check in anytime after 2pm on your arrival day (earlier check-ins are possible on request) and check out is by noon on day 4
- Note: there are no single supplements so these courses make perfect singles holidays

- All meals are included and are usually taken at the house with your hosts Simon and his wife Donna and sometimes with the resident artist
- Breakfast will be typically Spanish style along with cereals and fresh fruits and the local pan con tomate
- Lunch will be either at the house or a picnic hamper in the field
- Dinner is taken at the house and is cooked on a wood burning range and where possible cooked using seasonal food bought locally from the small market farmers and the local butcher
- The food is simple and infused with the flavours of our travels to India and North Africa as well as Spain
- Donna is really a truly wonderful cook, her meals are guaranteed to delight you and her desserts are just delicious
- Vegetarians are very welcome and those with dietary requirements can be catered for if requested in advance of your arrival (add your dietary requirements to the special request box at the time of booking)
- Meals are wonderfully sociable and over a few glasses of wine, your hosts Donna and Simon make guests feel very welcome and the chance to chat to resident artists about their work is also a treat

Weather Conditions and Itinerary
- Your photography tutor will alter the itinerary if the weather doesn’t offer the best conditions for photographing the area
- On request, a weather forecast will be emailed to you in advance so you can prepare yourself to maximize the photographic and walking opportunity

What To Bring
- Any good quality digital camera whether it’s a compact or an SLR  (remember to bring your manual as well if you have it)
- Depending on the season a sun hat or a wooly hat
- Sun cream (all year around)
- Small back pack
- Durable water  bottle
- Please bring suitable footwear for walking as you will be spending a lot of time exploring the different areas and the terrain changes so you'll need good sturdy soles  

Enjoy the sheer beauty and tranquility of this magical place.  Combine a walking and photography holiday for a truly unforgettable experience in a truly unforgettable place.

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