Monday, April 28, 2008

Day 3: Tazacorte

Tazacorte is on the west (and warmer) coast of La Palma.  It was only about a 45 minute drive from the east coast area where we were staying, but very different from Los Cancajos and the terrain of the east coast.  It is partially blocked from the trade winds by a mountain range, so is warmer and sunnier.  This area (the puerto) in Tazacorte is the main port area and was the original area where  Spanish explorers landed.  The deeper port is now replaced by a much shallower beach/swim area and is the main tourism area for the western coast.  There were lots of options for lodging, although more condos and guest houses than big hotels.  Here's a webcam from the Atlantis, one of the hotels.  Outside of this area, was a charming city (the pueblo), and the rest of the land (85%) was cultivated with banana growing.  It was really amazing how every available piece of land had banana trees.  More shots from the Atlantis site, show the terrain and banana trees.  Some of them were in structures with plastic and frames that formed a temporary greenhouse.  If you look at satellite shots on Google Earth of La Palma, you will see large areas of land that appear white.  These are the banana plots.
Both of these shots are HDR with the saturation turned up slightly to really bring out the colors on the beach and of the buildings.

Day 4: Nogales and the Northeast Coast

These two shots were taken along the northeast coast.  The first is at a roadside vista point with a sculpture to honor those making the highway (I think).  There was no notation of who the artist was.  
The second is a view of Nogales Beach.  One of our guidebooks noted that Nogales Beach was a "short and easy" walk from the parking lot.  After driving down quite a highway snaking along the cliff, we arrived at a parking lot that offered a beautiful view and a trailhead.  30 minutes later after climbing down 276 steps and a series of ramps we arrived on the beach.  The view was beautiful and the beach was almost deserted.  The sand, like most of the island was black sand.
Both of these shots are infrared, shot with the Olympus.  As you can see, the day was overcast, so it made photography challenging, but with interesting sky at least.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Day 5: Tip of the Island - Fuencaliente

First photo, Abandoned Faro, the old lighthouse at the southern tip of the island.  The second photo is of the salt paddies, adjacent to the lighthouses.
The southern tip of La Palma, in contrast to the northern tip is quite dry and almost desert.  In the mid-eighties, there was a sudden volcanic eruption that spilled lava over about 1/3 of the southern part of the island.  Now, the area has been rebuilt and farmers are growing crops, including grapes for wine, out of the shallow dirt on the hillsides.
We traveled down to this area to photograph the lighthouses, but were quite surprised to fine the sea salt "production" in these salt paddies.  Sea water is pumped up from the water below.  The whole area is on steep cliffs.  These shallow pools are carved out of the black lava rock.  When the water evaporates, the salt is "harvested" into piles and more sea water is pumped back in.  Then, two elderly gentlemen in blue jumpsuits and rubber boots collect the salt and take it into a little shack within the area.  There, they bag it.  They advertise that the sell the salt and we bought some (at only a euro for a bottle of it), but the two gentlemen have to stop their work to sell to the tourists.  Quite an incredible find that doesn't appear to be in any of the guidebooks or advertised.
For every 1000 grams of sea water, only 35 g of sea salt is produced.  It's constituent minerals vary by location, but may include calcium, sodium, iodine, and other mineral chlorides.
Both of these shots were taken with a Nikon D70 - no HDR or any special processing.  The light and sky were perfect for photography that day.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Day 6: Hanging Out in Los Cancajos

Infrared view of Los Cancajos on the bottom and color at the top from a cliffside path looking northward.  Los Cancajos is La Palma's eastside tourist lodging center.  Here's the Trip Advisor guide to lodging.  Most of the eastside hotels, condos, and aparthotels were located in this area.  It's about a five minute drive from the airport.  The area is carved into the hillside, so has steep streets and offers dramatic views of the ocean eastward.  Further north up the shore (and in the distance in the color shot) is Santa Cruz de la Palma, the capital.  Many of the people staying in our hotel walked into Santa Cruz, but we chose to drive.