Gran Canaria, a great place for photographers
By Dirk De Paepe
After writing three articles for your great website, in which the gear had a central place, I really wanted to post a contribution which is all about the pictures. After all, we do it for the image, don’t we…
Recently, my wife and I spend a short vacation on Gran Canaria. It’s a place that we wanted to visit for many years, but until now, it just never happened. We chose it, because it’s located pretty southward (at 28°N, while we live in Belgium at 51°N, more than 3000 km/2000 mi further north), because we have a time difference of only one hour (which prevents jet lag), because politically it’s part of Spain (which helps with language and, being part of Europe, offers all kinds of amenities) and – of course – because of it’s completely different nature and climate (which helps for having a good vacation).
Gran Canaria is one of the bigger of the Canary Islands (“The Canaries” for short), which are one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain and as such one of the outermost regions of the European Union territory. Gran Canaria is the third biggest island of the Canaries, surpassed in size only by Tenerife and Fuerteventura and followed by Lanzarote, La Palma and 8 other smaller islands. It’s the southernmost island of this archipelago, that is situated in the Atlantic Ocean at not more than 100 km (60 mi) west of Africa, roughly where the south of Morocco borders the Western Sahara. Although the Canaries are situated very close to Africa, as I said, politically speaking, they are part of the EU, which shows in the way the infrastructure is developed – very convenient for when you want a quick vacation without having to prepare to much. Still, living in Central or northern Europe, at the Canaries we can benefit from a pretty exotic climate and nature.
The islands have a subtropical climate, with long warm summers (around 26°C/79°F) and moderately warm winters (around 20°C/68°F). All the islands of the archipelago are volcanic in origin. The Teide volcano on Tenerife is the highest mountain on Spanish territory, and the third tallest volcano on Earth on a volcanic ocean island. The Canary Islands is the only place on Spanish soil where volcanic eruptions have been recorded during the Modern Era, with some volcanoes still active. The last was the El Hierro in 2011. The islands rise from Jurassic ocean crust associated with the opening of the Atlantic.
Due to the north-east trade winds the climate can be mild and wet as well as very dry. The individual islands in the canary archipelago tend to have distinct microclimates. Gran Canaria in particular is said to be a “continent in miniature” for its diverse landscapes with desert dunes and arid areas (more in the south) as well as pastures, forests, and an amazing floral display (central and in the north). This makes the island very interesting for photographers, due to its constant variation of landscapes and vegetation. And if you’re (like us) living more northly, the light, being so much more dense, results in extra ordinary colors. I found the light often to be flat-out stunning – which I tried to catch in some of the pictures.
I particularly loved the central and northern part of the island. To me it was a lucky coincidence that there the climate, being a few degrees cooler, resulted in much less tourists and a much more beautiful and greener scenery. Also, away from the southern coastline, we met a lot more local people, who were more friendly and authentic then the (mostly) newcomers and seasonal workers that run the tourist industry in the south. (Well, that was our impression anyway.)
Gran Canaria has about 850,000 inhabitants. The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the most populous city, with its 375,000 inhabitants and shares the status of capital of the Canaries with Santa Cruz de Tenerife. But, I have to say, it’s more the smaller villages and towns that we’re attracted to.
Gran Canaria’s surface area is 1560 km2 (602.32 sq mi). It pretty much has a circular shape with a diameter of approximately 50km (30 mi) In center of the island lie the Roque Nublo 1813 metres (5948 ft) and Pico de las Nieves (“Peak of Snow”) 1949 metres (6394 ft). Exploring those mountains results in spectacular landscapes and views, with interesting photographically spots, wherever you look (figuratively speaking). Driving the roads of the inland is one of the main attractions to me: just take all the time you want to stop and shoot. I was so blessed having Krista reading and crocheting in the car and never complaining, while I was “quickly going to take that picture” but ended up with a whole series an hour or so later.
In this post, I just want to give you an idea of the beauty and variety on this island, as I just shot whatever impressed me while exploring it. We didn’t really have the time to prepare specific tours or visits, we just kind of let faith decide. But we didn’t regret for a second, because of the potential surprise around every corner and the friendliness and helpfulness of the local people.
I took my “compact travelling kit” with me for this trip and shot all pictures out of hand. In my belt bag I have my A7r (without vertical grip) with three batteries and 5 lenses: 135 and 85mm Jupiter (-9 and -11), 50mm Zeiss ZM Planar, 35mm Voigtländer Nokton Classic 1.4, and 24mm Canon FD 2.8. All together this makes for a weight of some 2,5kg (under 6lb), which I find no problem to carrie with me the whole day.
Well, I hope you will enjoy the pictures. Maybe they can inspire you to plan a trip to the Canaries too – a nice place to visit.
If you want, you can see more pictures from this trip in a dedicated album on my flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/sets/72157644837616198/
Of course, you can also visit my complete flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/keepnitgood/
Thanks for watching!