Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Lanzarote Landscape Photography

Lanzarote sunset
Lanzarote sunset










I've just returned home from a family holiday to Lanzarote over Easter. I spent a week on the island based on the outskirts of Macher about 25 minutes west of the capital Arrecife. This proved to be an ideal location for exploring the island and getting out for some early morning and evening photo shoots. More on that later.

Lanzarote is a 4 hour flight from the UK, it's the easternmost of the Canary Islands and measures 37 miles long by 16 wide. Car hire is a must if you want to get out and explore, the roads are fantastic quality and it's easy enough to navigate. I would recommend getting a copy of "Lanzarote tour & trail map" by David Brawn.

As far as landscape photography goes there is a mix of volcanic landscapes (stark and desolate), coastal locations (cliffs, rugged coastline & beaches) and some pretty villages. Some of Lanzarote has been spoilt by holiday development, but it's not difficult to avoid this.

Daytime temperatures ranged from 17-22. The weather on the whole for early April was good. Some sunny days, a few dull days and a rainy morning.

I always try and plan some photo research before going to a new place. Not that I want to take all the same stock photos, but so that I'm aware of the best places to visit at the right times of the day. I had read a photo blog by Rich Clark Imaging which was a really good starting point and had found a number of good photos on Flickr and 500px. All too often these didn't come with great location info. However, getting a decent map and working through shots enabled me to make a mental picture of what to expect and circle some key areas to visit.

One striking feature of Lanzarote is the volcanic landscape especially in the Timanfaya National Park. Unfortunately access to the park is closely controlled. The only options are a coach trip which doesn't allow you to get off (it does stop so you can take photos through the dirty windows), a 20 minute camel ride (up and down a gravel track) and a small number of guided walks at set times of day.  The guided walks need booking well in advance (limited spaces). They are free, however the catch is that no under 16's or over 65's are allowed. This unfortunately ruled out my two kids despite the fact I dragged them up Scafell Pike last year! One of the guided walks was only 3km long with a difficulty rating of minimum.

Not deterred I did a bit of Googeling and came across Blackstone Treks & Tours, they offered a guided walk with no age restriction. We opted for the "Fire Routes - Natural Park of the Volcanoes" 6km low intensity. Although we were walking in the Park of the Volcanoes we were not in fact in Timanfaya National Park. I could have done the same walk on my own, but the knowledge and advice from Jose was well worth the money. He pitched it at just the right level to keep the kids interested and a great refresher for some of the geology I did for my degree.

It took a the first few days on Lanzarote to get my bearings, driving on the right and relaxing into holiday mode. The weather was cracking, lots of sun, but still some interesting clouds. I didn't want to rush around snapping away, but made a mental list of locations and times of day I would come back for that perfect shot. Unfortunately by the time I was geared up for some serious landscape photography I was a little let down by the weather and rather lack of good light. Undeterred I still managed to come away with some good shots.

Top locations Locations I would recommend include:

Famara - Great big sandy beach popular with surfers, really nice small town to the west Caleta de Famara. To the east a medium sized gated resort Urb Famara and in my opinion the best bit of beach with some nice dunes. Walk east and the crowds drop off.

Famara dunes
Famara dunes










El Golfo - Big black beach with a green lagoon at the back. Unfortunately when I visited there were diggers repairing the sand bar protecting the lagoon and access was restricted. However, the beach is great for a sunset and the cliffs glow red.

El Golfo
El Golfo breaking waves










South of El Golfo there is some great coastline easily accessible and great for sunsets.

Playa de la Montana Bermeja
Playa de la Montana Bermeja












Salinas del Janubio - Salt pans which make a great dynamic shot, the viewing point marked on maps isn't the best perspective try from the LZ-701.

Salinas del Janubio
Lanzarote salt pans












Parque Natural Los Volcanes - This area surrounds the Timanfaya National Park and is accessible via paths to the general public. There are some great locations and a very stark volcanic landscape. Early morning sunshine would look great, I only managed it in the harsh mid-day sun.

Parque Natural Los Volcanes
Parque Natural Los Volcanes








Timanfaya National Park - I did both the bus ride in Timanfaya and also the short trip on the camels, both were enjoyable, but it would be great if there was more access to the park for walkers & photographers.

Road to Timanfaya
Road to Timanfaya











Other interesting locations well worth a visit include:

Cesar Manrique foundation, Jardin de Cactus, Mirador del Rio, Los Hervideros (when it's windy for the big waves), Teguise, beaches just south of Orzola.

What I didn't get to visit:

High on my list of photo locations was Papagayo Beach along the coast from Playa Blanca, but the dirt track road was closed.

A day trip over to the island of La Graciosa, spectacular sandy beaches.

All in all Lanzarote is a great, undervalued photo location not too far from the UK with some striking volcanic landscapes. I only saw one other photographer using a tripod all week!


Resources:

Lanzarote Flickr album - including location info of all shots
Rich Clark Images Lanzarote photo blog
Blackstone Treks
Lanzarote-Tour-Trail-Super-durable-Map on Amazon