Saturday, February 17, 2024
HomeTOURS AND TRAVELWhat to Photograph in the Canary Islands

What to Photograph in the Canary Islands

In this series of articles, I would like to give a few concrete tips on when, where and how to photograph in the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands belong to Spain and hence to Europe, geographically however this archipelago is adjacent to Africa (west of Morocco). It offers a great diversity of different types of landscapes. You can find all sorts of beaches, volcanoes, sand dunes, interesting cities and villages, deep valleys, rugged coast line and much more. Within one day, you can photograph desert-like dry plains as well as lush green forests in the mountains. There are seven main islands – each of them is very different and worthwhile exploring. I had visited five of them and in this series I will show you my photos along with tips on how to plan your trip. In this first part, I am going to give you overall information and some hints why Islas Canarias should go onto your bucket list of photo destinations.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 250, 1/160, f/8.0

Why Visit the Canary Islands?

At the very beginning, let me put a small disclaimer: I love mountains and I am not very fond of laying on a beach. For a long time, going to some remote island has been a synonymous to lazy holidays. Two years ago, I visited a friend in Hawaii Islands and I realized that some islands have so much more to offer than just lying on a beach. As a landscape photographer, I was in paradise in Hawaii. The Canary Islands is actually the “European” version of Hawaii. So when I got the chance to visit this place, I did not hesitate a second.

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/9.0

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 400, 1/15, f/4.5

My five main reasons for recommending the Canary Islands are the following:

  1. Diversity of Motifs and Landscapes: Canary Island offers a combination of ocean waters, different types of beaches, high ridges and rugged coastline, high mountains and volcanos, both forests and desert-like landscape, salinas, interesting flora, some bits of modern architecture and much more. If you get bored by photographing seascapes, you just take your car, drive a few dozens kilometers and you find yourself in whole different world. Diversity of different motifs makes Canary Islands a great destination.

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 8/1, f/9.0

  1. Easy to Reach: Canary Islands are within good reach from Europe. Flights take from 3 hours (Spain) to 6 hours (UK, Central Europe). Moreover, the infrastructure in the islands is very good. You can reach any destination easily by car or even by public transport. You are in Europe and in Schengen Area (no border control if you come from Schengen Member country).

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/9.0

  1. Great Combination of Family and Photography Trip: For many avid landscape photographers, it is not easy to plan a trip which could be enjoyed by the whole family. Here you can make it happen. You can wake up early in the morning and get some great shots, while the rest of the family can enjoy sun and sea in the meantime.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 17mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/8.0

  1. Affordable: Writing this from a European (continental) perspective, the prices here are rather OK. Some goods (such as petrol) and services (such as car hire) are actually cheaper than in continental Spain (and Spain is not expensive country). The currency is Euro. European phone and data tariffs apply here (no roaming for EU citizens).

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/8.0

  1. Dark Sky: This is purely subjective aspect, but I simply love places with dark skies and the possibility to go above low clouds. This is exactly what you get here. Thanks to high mountains/volcano and remoteness, you will be able to observe stars as nowhere else in continental Europe.

NIKON D5300 + 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 @ 300mm, ISO 200, 1/1600, f/8.0

About the Islands: The Basics

There are 7 main islands: Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro. All are frequently visited by tourists. Gran Canaria is the administrative center of the archipelago with high mountains in the center of the island. Tenerife is the largest island and features the highest peak not only of the archipelago, but of the whole Spain as well (Pico del Teide – 3.718 m / 12.198ft), Lanzarote is the northernmost island with lava landscape. La Palma is known to be the most diverse of the islands, combining both lava landscape and green forests and high mountains. Fuerteventura, the second largest islands is known for its long pristine yellow sand beaches. All these islands can be reached by direct flights from Europe. The two smallest Islands – La Gomera and El Hiero can be reached only via ferries.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/7.1

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/5.6

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 105mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/7.1

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 220, 1/50, f/4.0

When to Go

All year around. As simple as that. The climate is very stable, due to its position in the Atlantic Ocean near the Tropic of Cancer. August is the warmest month, with temperatures around 30° C / 86° F. Winter may be more rainy but the temperatures hardly ever drop below 20° C / 68° F. It can be quite windy at times.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/9.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 180, 1/160, f/4.5

You should know that The Canaries is a tourist destination. So be ready for that, especially in high season, which runs almost the whole winter with peaks around Christmas and New Year and in spring and summer with peak around Easter and August. First half of September can be considered as low season.

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/9.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/11.0

How to Travel in Islands and Across the Islands

For photographers, I highly recommend to rent a car. Both the local and international companies are quite cheap. Prices range from 10 to 30 Eur per day, depending on season and car type. If you plan to visit more islands, it is much better to use ferries (Fred Olsen or Armas Naviera). It is better in my opinion to keep one car and travel by ferry as car passenger (extra fee will apply, but it is time saving).

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 150mm, ISO 560, 1/160, f/10.0

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 42mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/8.0

If you stay on one island only or if you cannot afford a car, you are not doomed to immobility. There is a dense network of public transport – buses will take you from all major destinations to all main places of interest.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm, ISO 100, 1/5, f/11.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 145mm, ISO 100, 1/500, f/8.0

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 6400, 30/1, f/2.8

Select the next page of this article below, where we will have a closer look at 5 islands with concrete tips on some great locations.

In this second part of the Photographing Canary Islands series, we will have a detailed look at the northernmost island – Lanzarote. It is often dubbed as the black island, due to its lava landscape. Volcanoes, craters, lava fields are naturally the most photogenic motifs. However, you might be surprised that you can find even some yellow sand beaches that are considered among the finest in the whole archipelago. So where exactly should the photographers go?

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/6.3

My Half Day Photo Tour

Let me point out at the very beginning that my stay in Lanzarote was extremely short. Since I travelled from Gran Canaria, it was a long trip with two ferries and the journey across the whole Fuerteventura Island. So in the end, I had as little as roughly 8 hours to explore this island, which was obviously to little. Even though my original plan was to drive around the whole Island, I realized quickly that such a trip would be extremely rushed and in the end I focused only on the southern part of Lanzarote. My decision was also influenced by the weather, which was mostly overcast during that day.

This is obviously no comprehensive travel guide to this Island. This may give you rather the first impression about the island and what a photographer with a car can see in less than a day.

Playa Papagaio

Immediately after landing in the port town of Playa Blanco, I headed east towards the famous chain of yellow sand beaches. The most famous of them is know as Playa de Papagayo. It is set in an idyllic setting – it is a small inlet in a rocky coastline with sine light yellow send. I was there in the early afternoon, with possibly the worst light.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 11mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/9.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 125, 1/160, f/6.3

Yet the photos look still pretty good due the dark tones of blue on turquoise colours of the sea water contrasting with the yellow sand. On the horizon, you can see the extinct volcanoes. From the top of the cliffs you can photograph also some details of the boats and snorkeling people.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 17mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/9.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/9.0

Be aware that when accessing the beach by the gravel road, you will have to pay a daily fee of 3 EUR. The ticket is valid the whole calendar day, hence no problem to re-enter the location.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm, ISO 100, 1/80, f/9.0

Salinas de Janubio

When going from the port city Playa Blanca in the direction of Timanfaya National Park, you will drive around a colourful salt lagoon called Salinas de Janubio. This salt production field has a shape of a semi-circle bay. On both sides of the bay, there is a parking lot. On the northern side, there are also some buildings around the viewpoint, including a restaurant.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 175mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/6.3

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/6.3

But I recommend visiting the viewpoint on the other side (souther side). There is only a small parking place without any building. From here, you can photograph the whole laguna with volcanos of Timanfaya National Park in the background. When photographing from here, I recommend using longer focal lengths and focus on the colourful patches of saltpans.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/6.3

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 95mm, ISO 125, 1/160, f/6.3

From the parking place, there is an unofficial path going down some 50 altitude meters. I recommend going down and have a closer look (it takes 30 minutres going down and back). If you tread carefully, you can walk on the damns of the lagunas and take pictures of the pumps and salt piles in regular shapes. The shapes and colours give you plenty of possibilities for different compositions. If you really want some great pictures, wait for the sunset.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 140, 1/160, f/9.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 17mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/8.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 125, 1/160, f/9.0

Mirador Los Hervideros

Just a few kilometres further north from Salinas, there is digression to the left leading to small parking place with a nice view over the dramatic lava sea cliffs. In the background, a few red-coloured volcanoes make this look like a scene from another planet. Again, this is an ideal location for sunset shot.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 18mm, ISO 100, 1/80, f/8.0

Laguna Verde, Playa del Golfo (Playa de los Clicos)

Further north from Salinas and Mirador Los Hervideros, you will reach a small village El Golfo. From here you can walk shortly on a visible and well marked trail towards one of the most fascinating beaches in Canary Islands with an incredible colour palette.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 12mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/8.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 15mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/8.0

The black send beach has a big green lagoon which looks like from the Mordor. The cliffs around have reddish and ochre hues and together with the black lava sand on the beach, it creates a very attractive motif. Descending down to the laguna is forbidden. The access was possible from the south side, where there was another parking place.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/320, f/5.6

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/7.1

Due to a recent land slide, this other parking place is now out of order and the access via this route is also forbidden. If you want to take a scenic shot from south to north with a huge rugged rock formation in the sea (ideal spot for sunset), you should wait for low tide and with suitable shoes and dry back, you can try to access the beach walking on the shore (you will have to climb some slippery cliffs). I have also seen some people climbing down to the beach from the upper viewpoint. In any case, be extremely careful.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/80, f/7.1

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/30, f/6.3

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 18mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/6.3

Montana Colarada

This is one of the most photographed craters here in Lanzarote. Not only that it has a nice shape, but its southern side has a distinctive red colour. The colour is most pronounced shortly after a rain. There is a small parking lot and a path leading towards the souther slope of the crater. There you see a few big boulders that can be used as an element in the foreground. Best light here both in the morning and in the late evening. When I was there, the road leading towards this crater was closed for some unknown reason. Since only a half of the road was blocked and since I saw local people using the road, I went there and reached the parking place without any problems.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/9.0

Vineyards of La Geria

On the way to the north, you will see several villages and little towns consisting of white houses. It is mandatory to build white houses only, which creates a very contrasting combination with the black lava landscape. In the vicinity of La Geria, which is the most important wine growing area not only in Lanzarote, but in the whole Canary Islands, you will see plenty of typical vineyards, consisting of small semi-circular stone walls protecting the plants from winds and erosion. The patterns of hundreds of those walls with the Timanfaya National Park volcanos in the background create a very attractive scenery.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 15mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/8.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 110, 1/160, f/8.0

Telamon Shipwreck

In the port of the biggest Lanzarote city of Arrecife, there is a stranded cargo ship (since 1981) which is a very popular motif for seascape photographers. If you want to have some spectacular light conditions, I recommend getting there early for the sunrise.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 98mm, ISO 320, 1/160, f/7.1

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 50, 17/1, f/16.0

When photographing from the coast, be careful as the rocks are extremely slippery. I struggled to stabilize my tripod on the slimy rocks and almost fell down into the water while exposing.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/7.1

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 50, 30/1, f/14.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 16mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/7.1

Other Locations I Could Not Visit

Timanfaya National Park

During my trip, I did not have time to visit the National park. There was one reason beside my tight schedule why I skipped this one. In the national park, you are only allowed to move with the buses and hence you can photograph only from the bus (behind the windows). So even If I knew that the landscape is epic I prefer going on my own towards the other natural park Los Volcanes with craters and volcanoes, where you are free to use your car and walk freely.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 120mm, ISO 200, 1/160, f/6.3

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 160, 1/160, f/6.3

Mirador del Rio

Almost at the very north, here you overlook the shore and the adjacent smaller island La Graciosa. The building at the mirador was built by the local famous architect César Manrique.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 95mm, ISO 100, 1/640, f/5.6

Teguise

Is allegedly the most beautiful town of Lanzarote with historical centre.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/7.1

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/6.3

Conclusion

I believe Lanzarote is a very attractive location for landscape photographers. The colours – be it in the Salinas, craters or on the beaches, are quite extraordinary.

Next time I would reserve at least two days and plan properly to be in the many attractive spots located on the western shore of Lanzarote, especially at sunset. I would also pay more attention to the white buildings that are so typical for Lanzarote.

Have you been to Lanzarote? Please share your experience in the comments section of this article.

The largest and the most populated island of the archipelago is also popular for both tourists and photographers. If I had to choose only one of the Canary Islands to visit and photograph, I would seriously consider this one (along with La Palma). The biggest attraction is Pico del Teide a huge volcano and the highest peak of the Canarias as well as of the whole Spain and in the Atlantic. Add beautiful beaches, remarkable architecture, lush laurel forests in high mountains, deep valleys, endlessly winding roads, rugged cliffs and you your schedule will be full for several days.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/7.1

Auditorio de Tenerife “Adán Martín”

This splendid piece of modern architecture is situated in the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife, right next to the harbor. If you come by ferry from another island you will inevitably encounter this concert hall. If you fly in to Tenerife and you are a fan of modern architecture, you should plan a trip to see this building. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architecture, and the construction was finished in 2003. This emblematic building is an assemblage of different shapes which makes it super attractive for photographing. You can pick any part of the building and get strong leading lines and shapes. Due to the white colour of the tiles on the surface it evokes the Sydney Opera Building. The main feature is the great arch which symbolizes a tsunami wave which is bringing culture (and not any damage) to Canary Islands.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 11.5mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/7.1

The building is situated on a seashore, you can photograph the building almost from any angle and any distance. Adjacent to the building is an old castle called Castillo de San Juan Bautista. It is possible to frame both monuments into one composition. When photographing from the seawall south of the castle, be extremely cautious when entering the staircase going down to see level. It is very slippery. I almost fell down to deep water with all my equipment in my hands and in my backpack. I was hardly ever closer to ruining all my equipment in a split of a second.

NIKON D7000 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/8.0

I wish I could photograph this building around sunset or sunrise. Mine photos were taken during midday, the sun was very high on the horizon, some compositions were not possible due to the position of the sun. But I am sure you can get attractive outcomes in almost any type of weather: cloudy weather can be used for extra-long exposures – blurred skies will contrast with the sharp shapes of the building. Clear blue sky also compliments nicely the shiny white tiles of this concert hall. In golden hour the glossy tiles would reflect the warm sun light. Blue hour photographs would look great too, as the auditorium is nicely lit.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/7.1

If you come by car, you can park directly in a parking place situation inside the building (for a very minor fee). This is very practical since your car does not get extra hot on direct sun. I have not attempted to visit the interiors of the building.

Pico del Teide (Mount Teide)

The highest mountain of Spain is certainly not the most photogenic volcano in the world, as the shape is not very symmetric, yet its dimensions and the landscape around it make it the symbol of the Tenerife island and well-worth a day trip.

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 3200, 30/1, f/2.8

This enormous volcano, 7.500 m tall when measured from the ocean floor (third tallest volcano in the world), is located in the very center of the island (not surprisingly, the whole island was created around this volcano). The upper cone rises from a rather flat plateau in the altitude of some 2100 m above sea level. There is a frequently visited national park around the summit and the upper plateau.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 12mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/7.1

It is possible to go by car to this altitude. To get even higher, you would have use the cable car. The lower station is situated on the southern side of the volcano. The ride to the summit actually does not go to the very top. You have to climb the final few dozens of meters on your own – a permit is needed for this activity. It is also necessary to book the cable car in advance (on the Internet). Since I wanted to be very flexible in my schedule, I did not book the ride up to the upper station. But if you have enough time, consider going to the top, especially if you can schedule it around sunset or sunrise. The cone shape of the volcano cast a long before sunset and shortly after sunrise. This might be fun to observe and to photograph.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 16mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/9.0

When looking for some attractive landscape compositions of the Teide mountain, definitely visit the lava rock formations called Roques de Garcia. These can be found on the southern slopes, not far away from the lower cable car station. There is well signed parking place. I also found the road going south from the Teide Park to Chío (road TF-38) to offer some nice viewpoints toward Teide summit.

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/9.0

A major international astronomical observatory is located on the northeastern slopes of the Mount Teide – and that is a for a reason. Canary islands are one of the best locations in the whole world for observing night sky. High altitude with dry air and very low level of air-pollution create ideal conditions. The observatory cannot be visited over the night (except for organized official tours). If you want some spectacular night shots, consider composing your shots amid the Roques de Garcia. They are situated well for the milky way compositions. Just be aware that the nearby road is very frequented even over night and hence your compositions might get contaminated by car lights and by lights from the nearby visitor center. If you want a more intimate stargazing experience, I would recommend La Palma or Grand Canaria Islands instead.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 102mm, ISO 100, 1/320, f/9.0

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 8000, 20/1, f/2.8

Anaga Mountains and Forests

Anaga is the northernmost region of Tenerife. The mountains there are characterized by steep slopes dropping sharply from some 1.800 meters above see level down to the ocean. These slopes are covered by lush and verdant forest that is often covered by clouds. This is why Anaga is often dubbed as the enchanted forest.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 100, 1/800, f/6.3

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 86mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/4.5

To take characteristic misty photographs, just follow the road to Chamorga village (road TF-123). The road winds along the crest of the hills, later it goes down and up on the slopes. At times you may be above, below or amid the clouds. You can make some interesting composition directly at the main road, using the road as one of the leading elements. To have more options, I recommend stopping when you are in the middle of the clouds and take short walk on one of the side paths. I saw several of them, some of which were signed by tourist hiking marks.

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 250, 1/50, f/3.5

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/1.8

Warning: even if the quality of the infrastructure is excellent in all Canary islands, driving car in this region of Tenerife is very demanding due to extreme number of sharp bends. I am an experienced driver, still I felt almost dizzy after one hour of driving road curves only. I found this to be more demanding then driving to Pico del Teide.

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 220, 1/50, f/4.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/8.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 78mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/5.6

Benijo Beach

Further north-east from Anaga Mountains is one of the most remote and wild places in Tenerife -the Benijo beach. This place is known for good surfing waves and for the sharp rock formations towering from the sea near the shore. They make great setting for attractive seascape photography. Benijo beach is a sunset and sunrise location. I took further photos at the upper parking place at the restaurant El Mirador. From here you overlook the cliffs to the west. I waited for the blue hour and took some long exposures where the cars lit the winding road.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/9.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 180, 1/160, f/4.5

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 30/1, f/6.3

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 110/1, f/11.0

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, ISO 100, 30/1, f/20.0

Masca Valley and Gorge

Masca is a deep valley in southwest of Tenerife. In the upper part of the valley there is a village called Masca that is perched on rocky ridges. This place is very photogenic. Masca village is accessed by twisty TF346 road from Santiago del Teide with many sharp bends. There are several viewpoints along the road with views both towards Masca valley as well towards Pico del Teide on the other side. Overtaking of slower cars is almost impossible, passing of the oncoming cars is also difficult, especially of larger vans and buses.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/7.1

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/11.0

I had to stop completely many times, I even had to move backwards several times to find a broader section of the road. You are well advised to avoid big traffic between 10am – 4 am. I was pretty frustrated when driving there around noon. The trip from Santiago del Teide took me almost an hour. Parking in Masca village was also very difficult. I came back again later that day, around 6 pm and the whole trip took me around 25 minutes and I had no trouble finding parking spot.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 110mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/6.3

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 78mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/6.3

The valley and the gorge are not easy to photograph as they are oriented towards southwest. The sun hangs above the valley pointing against your camera. You have to wait for the sun to get lower over the horizon, but not too low so that the valley is in shadow. Unfortunately, there are many electricity poles with which makes composition a lot harder.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/5.0

It is possible to hike down along a small streak to the Masca gorge. After some 7,5km descent, you will reach the Masca bay. From here you have to take a sea taxi. This trek is quite strenuous.

Teresitas Beach

This yellow sand beach located just a few kilometers north of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is famous for the fly-over perspective photos that are taken from the nearby viewpoint (Mirador Las Teresitas). From this viewpoint you can see both the artificial yellow sand beach to the southwest, as well as the natural black beach to the northeast.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 116mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/5.6

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/7.1

I realized that the Teresitas beach looks good on photographs even during the harsh midday sun. You can also be there early during sunrise. At the end of the beach you can photograph the San Andres city, with many colorful houses packed on a steep slopes of Anaga mountains.

NIKON D5300 + 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 @ 300mm, ISO 100, 1/800, f/6.3

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/7.1

Playa de los Gigantes

Near the Masca Valley is a nice sand beach just next to a small harbour (Puerto de los Gigantes). There is a parking place directly at the port. From there it takes only 3 minutes to reach the beach on foot.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 125mm, ISO 100, 1/80, f/5.6

The beach is famous for the high cliffs that rise above the beach. These cliffs are nicely lit with evening sun – so this an ideal sunset location. The typical compositions include rounded pebbles in the foregrounds. These can be found only during low tide. I was there during high tide so I waited for the blue hour and used the artificial light coming from light bulbs from the nearby hotels and restaurants.

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 50, 6/1, f/16.0

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 25/1, f/7.1

Other Places I Could Not Visit

Dragon Tree

Most of the tourists guides recommend visit famous dragon tree – El Drago Milenario (the thousand old year tree). This tree (botanically it is Dracaena Draco) looks like a giant broccoli and its shape is quite photogenic against clear skies. It is to be found Icod de los Vinos in northwest Tenerife. Since I knew I would see these trees in La Palma Island I did not visit this place of interest in Tenerife.

Tejita Beach

If you are going to spend a lot of time in the south of Tenerife, consider shooting sunrise on the little nice beach with a small hillock on one side.

Punta de Teno Lighthouse

For Lighthouse lovers, there is a clear destination (ideal for sunset). Punte de Teno lighthouse lies in the westernmost tip of the Tenerife Island. The design of the lighthouse is similar to Fuencaliente Lighthouse in La Palma, which I planed to visit (so I gave this one a pass). Punta de Teno is quite secluded, and the access road was famous for being dangerous. But after some road accidents, the road was closed and newly repaired and now the access is open again and completely safe.

Conclusion

I believe Tenerife is the island that has is it all for photographers – both wild and romantic beaches, huge mountains deep valleys, beautiful volcano, remarkable piece of modern architecture and some great stargazing locations. It offers huge diversity of motifs for landscape photographers, but since it is the largest island, the distances between the places of interest are a bit extended so having a car a few days for this island comes handy. This island is also great for combining active photo-tour with nice lazy beach-lying holiday. Next time I definitely come back to Anaga mountains, consider climbing to the top of the Pico del Teide, photographing Auditorio concert hall during blue hour and explore a bit more the southern part of the island.

Have you been to Tenerife? Please share your tips in the comments below.

In this third part of the series Photographing Canary Islands, we will have a look at Fuerteventura, or the island of endless golden beaches. An island that is very dry and due to its proximity to Africa also very warm. The landmark of Fuerteventura is not only the beaches but also the famous windmills. Apart from that, you can also photograph mountains and lighthouses, sand dunes and other subjects. Here are my four tips based on my personal experience.

Windmills (Molinos de Viento)

The old wind mills are very picturesque. There is roughly a dozen of them in Fuerteventura, more than on any other Canary Islands. These windmills are attractive. Some are nicely renovated, some are worn-out and half-broken. I find the windmills to very photogenic regardless of their state of repair. In Spanish, there are two terms distinguishing two sorts of windmills: male (Molino) and female (Molina) windmills. A Molino is two-storey and has a pitched roof. A Molina is only one-storey and has a flat roof.

NIKON D7000 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/8.0

The most famous windmill is Molino de Tefia. Tefia is a small village in northeastern Fuerteventura, located on the FV-207 half way to La Olivia. On the southern edge of Tefia, between the local roads FV-221 and the FV-207, you will find the Molino de Tefia. It is an old and beautifully restored windmill – unfortunately, the windmill paddle have been damages lately (I guess due to some gale wind).

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/8.0

This windmill is located next to the Observatory Astronómico de Fuerteventura. This is a good place to take night composition with milky way, especially in late summer as the southwestern horizon is not plagued by much light pollution. During my stay, the Calima haze (dust coming from Sahara desert) did not allow me to shoot stars above the windmill. A nice time to take photos (especially if you want to get silhouettes) is just before sunset.

My favorite windmills are located in Vallaverde (hence the name Molinos de Villaverde). There two of them and they are built on small hillock. This enables composition that are not possible at other places with single moline located on a flat ground.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 185mm, ISO 140, 1/50, f/10.0

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 30/1, f/2.5

Relatively less known, but very picturesque windmill Molino de el Roque is located between the town of El Cotillo and the El Roque village. This windmill is surrounded by palm trees. I found the location to be very good for night photos. The windmill was nicely lit by the surrounding villages, but the southern horizon was clear of any pollution.

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 3200, 8/1, f/3.5

Faro de Toston

There are quite few lighthouses scattered around the coastal line of Canary Islands. Not all of them easy to access, moreover not all of them are visually attractive. I found the Fare de Toston (Toston Lighthouse) near the small town Cotillo to be a very good location for photographers. You can walk around the windmill and get close as well as more distant compositions, giving you plentiful motifs for different foregrounds. I photographed here during sunset, but sunrise would be good as well.

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 8/1, f/9.0

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 6/1, f/11.0

Coralejo Sand Dunes

At the very northern tip of Fuerteventura, you can find the Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo. It boasts the largest sand dunes of the Canary Islands. With miles of near-white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, huge dunes and a contrasting red and black volcanic landscape, it is a great location for any photographer.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 155mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/5.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 90mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/9.0

Even if I saw some amazing photos of huge sand dunes when researching the location before I went there, I could find only smaller dunes. I used the main road as one of the motifs as well as some plants. My guess is that if you want to find big dunes and no distracting objects (people, road, parked cars) around, you would have to walk quite deep into the desert. So be prepared for that. I would recommend scouting the location before going there for the final shooting in golden hour.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 135mm, ISO 100, 1/40, f/9.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 95mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/11.0

The golden beaches along this natural park also stunning.

Montana de Tindaya

Tindaya mountain is located in the northeast of Fuerteventura, near the town of La Oliva. The ancient inhabitants of the island considered the mountain sacred and attributed some magical qualities to it. More than three hundred archaeological engravings in the shape of a footprint can be found here.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 125mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/8.0

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, ISO 100, 1/60, f/9.0

The mountain is 400 meters and rises quite majestically above the rather flat arid countryside, typical of the island of Fuerteventura. I had a bad luck for weather, but combined with some good light, you can take some very interesting compositions around this place.

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, ISO 100, 1/160, f/8.0

El Cotillo

In this little town, you can find a few nice beaches and also an old fortress. Nothing spectacular, but since the other recommended places are nearby (Molino de el Roque and Faro de Toston), it is worthwhile visiting.

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 22mm, ISO 100, 1/320, f/8.0

NIKON D5300 + 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 @ 120mm, ISO 100, 4/10, f/9.0

NIKON D7000 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/8.0

NIKON D7000 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/8.0

Other Places I Could not Visit

If I had more time and luck for better weather (during my stay, it was extremely hazy, even foggy) I would explore the southern part of Fuerteventura. Cofete region is quite famous for the combination of pristine beaches and volcanic mountains in the background.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/500, f/8.0

As for the rest of the island: if you want to see more beaches, I have seen some very interesting photos of Playa Esquinzo and Playa de Sotavento.

If you cannot visit Lanzarote, Tenerife or La Palma, It might be interesting to climb the caldera of old extinct volcano Hondo (between Lajares and Corralejo) to experience the volcanic landscape.

Grand Canaria is the third largest and third highest island (maximum elevation is 1949 meters above sea level) of the Canary Archipelago. Along with the Tenerife island, it is the administrative center of the Canarias. The island has a rounded shape with a diameter of approximately 50 km. Most of the tourists visit the southern part of the island as it is warmer and more sunny than the north part. The east coast of the island is rather flat, dotted with beaches, while the western coast is rockier and mountainous.

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 6400, 25/1, f/2.8

In the middle of the island, the highest peak Pico de las Nieves is to be found. Thanks to high elevation of the mountains and a rather sparse light pollution in the southwestern part of the island, Gran Canaria is a very good stargazing location. While most of the tourists are coming due to the sea and the climate, photographers will be attracted to mountains with deep valleys, canyons, bizarre rock formations and old villages on the slopes. Sand dunes in Maspalomas in the south of the island is yet another photogenic attraction.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 250, 1/160, f/8.0

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 30mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/9.0

Rock formations Roque Nublo and Bentayga

Roque Nublo (Cloud Rock) and Bentayga Rock are the most distinctive geological features of the Gran Canaria. Located at the brink of a canyon, they create a perfect setting for landscape photographs. You can frame both rocks into one picture when photographing from west – approximately from the Acusa Verde village.

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm, ISO 100, 1/80, f/6.3

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 42mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/8.0

Roque Nublo is the second highest peak of the island. It is a 80m tall monolith that is perfectly visible from many villages in the mountains. I photographed the rock during the sunrise and enjoyed being there completely alone. From Roque Nublo, you will have 360° views, Roque Bentayga (1.404 m above sea level), another impressive rock monolith, will be below you to the west. Next time I would wait for sunset here which might be even more spectacular than the sunrise. When climbing to the Rique Nublo from the main parking place (it is roughly a 30 minutes hike with a bit of elevation gain), you will pass several more bizarre rock formations (El Fraile).

NIKON D5300 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, ISO 100, 1/100, f/8.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 12mm, ISO 100, 1/500, f/11.0

Tejeda

The small town of Tejeda is located on the main hill of Gran Canaria amid the landscape full of gorges, in the shade of the symbol of the island – Roque Nublo. This town is rather a village, so going through it will take barely half an hour. Tejeda consists of nicely preserved old white houses with red roofs. If you come you will quickly understand why this particular tiny community won several unofficial competitions for the most picturesque village of Spain.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 11mm, ISO 100, 1/320, f/9.0

NIKON D7000 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/8.0

Shortly after my visit in September 2017, the area was hit by a major fire that devoured several buildings in adjacent villages.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 15mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/9.0

NIKON D7000 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/8.0

NIKON D7000 + 35mm f/1.8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/200, f/8.0

Maspalomas Sand Dunes

The Maspalomas Dunes are sand dunes located in the very south tip of the island of Gran Canaria. The rolling dunes stretch on an area of 404-hectare (1,000-acre) between the see and the Maspalomas city and between two major beaches on east and west. The area is hence easy to access from any side. I struggled a little bit to find a place to park. By chance I hit on this parking place which is situated just at the verge of the dunes.

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/8.0

NIKON D750 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/125, f/8.0

The location is ideal both for the sunrise (way much less people around) or for the sunset (sun sets behind the Maspalomas Lighthouse that is visible from the western part of the dunes). I recommend taking tripod or stabilized wide angle lens and staying also during blue hour. The unevenly lit skies still gives plenty of softly diffused side-light that is great for highlighting structures in the sand. The yellow color of the sand then nicely contrasts with the richly dark blues of the dark skies (this holds only for about 20-30 minutes after sunset or before sunrise).

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 400, 1/15, f/4.5

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 400, 1/15, f/4.5

I also recommend wearing flip-flops (or walking bare foot) instead of using normal shoes. Beware that the closer you get to the main avenues in Maspalomas the more filthy the send gets (rubbish rather than anything really dangerous).Take drinking water with you, climbing the dunes is more strenuous than it might look.

NIKON D750 + 14mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 400, 1/15, f/3.5

Tamadaba Mountains and GC-200 Road

Gran Canaria’s most spectacular road (GC 200) from Agaete to Las Caserones is full of hairpin bends and sheer cliff-edge drops. It takes you to the protected area of Tamadaba mountains from where you can admire the best views out over the Atlantic Ocean towards Tenerife and Teide volcano.

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/80, f/8.0

NIKON D5300 + 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/8.0

If you go down this road, do not enter the newly build and faster GC-2 road with tunnel (the section begins a few kilometers after El Risco village) – I did this mistake and missed some spectacular views of the Dragon Tail cliffs from the Mirador del Balcon viewpoint. For best photos, plan your drive in the late afternoon.

NIKON D750 + 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 25mm, ISO 200, 1/160, f/8.0

Pico de las Nieves

The highest mountain of the island of Gran Canaria, and third highest point of all Canary Islands, is not very spectacular on its own as the peak is not very prominent. It is rather a flat plateau, most of which is occupied by a military base, including a large ball-shaped radar. Civilian visitors are allowed to enter a platform somewhat below the base, from which half of the island as well as Tenerife’s Pico del Teide is visible, in case of good weather. Its height is 1,949 meters (6,394 ft) above sea level makes it an ideal stargazing location, unfortunately the military base casts a lot of light pollution into the surroundings – the foreground might get overexposed relative to the dark sky.

NIKON D750 + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 6400, 15/1, f/2.5

Other Places I Could not Photograph

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital and also the oldest city on the island (founded in 1478). You can photograph tiny streets, market places, churches, cathedrals and much more. In the west, the most famous beach Playa de las Canteras is also a good location (for sunset).

#CanaryIslands #Howto #Travel #TravelPhotography

The Photograohers
The Photograohershttps://www.photoeskape.com
Welcome to The Photographers, your go-to source for all things photography. We are a team of passionate photographers and enthusiasts who are dedicated to providing you with the latest news, reviews, and educational resources to help you improve and excel in your photography skills.
RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

Recent Comments