The Photographic Community for the Four Thirds Photographer
Lanzarote and Olympus User Meeting
John Ellis asked me about the meeting of Olympus e-series user on Lanzarote, which took place in the last week of November 2004, and of which I have been posting photos here recently. After I gave him a short report on it by e-mail he suggested I posted information about it here, which I am very pleased to do.
The members of the forum www.oly-e.de meet up twice a year for discussions about photography, methods and equipment, and not least at all, to go on photo excursions together. Locations are chosen on suggestions from members, usually in Germany, Switzerland or Austria, with the occasional exception (as was Lanzarote). The meetings are usually for 3 - 4 days. Usually there are between 30 and 45 participants. The meeting on Lanzarote was different from the regular ones insomuch as we spent a week together and combined the meeting with a holiday and there were 22 participants.
www.oly-e.de is – most likely – the most important Olympus (e-series) user forum in the German speaking part of the world and Olympus Europe seems well aware of this fact. The forum is run privately by Stefan Hendricks and is not supported by Olympus.
The date of the meeting is agreed on in a discussion thread in the forum. Each time there are two or three members who offer to organise the meeting. Then Stefan sets up a registration form. Stefan coordinates the participation of an Oly rep and their support of the meeting. For Lanzarote one forum member organised the ‘official’ activities, in this case a day trip to Fuerteventura and a VIP day trip around Lanzarote. I organised the hotel bookings (I speak Spanish - not that this mattered much, they speak English and German there..), which people had to pay directly. Every member booked their own flight.
We spend the bigger part of the meeting with visiting sites to photograph. For half a day there is an official Olympus event on the hotel premises, Olympus Hamburg provides a rep, sometimes two, who answer/s questions, bring/s gear that we can try out - the rep has to put up with our suggestions and critisism of the system ;-). Olympus also supports the meetings financially, in this case they paid for the VIP tour and one dinner for the group, all of which was a considerable contribution! This time we had the chance to try out the new 7-14 (at the time the only one in Europe we were told and we were asked not to publish the photos taken with it, as it was still a pre-production version), the E-300 with the new zoom lenses 40-150 and 14-45 and the flash FL 36. There is usually a short workshop presented by a member.
The remaining part of the week we went on tours in smaller groups, as the occasion offered. Renting cars was easy, you just talked to the receptionist at the hotel, they would organise the car to be brought to the hotel.
Lanzarote is a photographer’s paradise, especially in winter, as you can use most of the day for shooting, the sun never rises as high as it would during summer. The light was wonderful during the first couple of days, then the wind turned and came from Africa, eventually bringing the grasshoppers, warmer and hazier air, and thin clouds.
The island is small, but it consists of many different types of landscapes; there are so many details that catch your eye and 'scream' to be photographed.. One day a small group of us just took off from the hotel along the beach on foot (we stayed in Puerto del Carmen, the main tourist place of the island) and it took us at least a couple of hours for 3 kms .. at the end of which we sat down at a tapas bar and there were 200 photos more on my chip..
There used to be an artist-cum-politician called César Manrique who largely prevented the locals from ruining their island with big hotel blocks or other architectural sins. Apart from a couple of ‘sins’ the hotels are built like small whitewashed villages, never higher than two storeys, usually as terraced bungalows or in clusters of several units together, if not pretty, at least of an inoffensive style.
There are lots of gardens, striking as they are filled not with earth as we know it, but with black volcano ash. There are cacti of all shapes and sizes, as well as hundreds of different types of palm trees. It is all so full of colours, something I would not have expected to find in a volcanic island. There are long, sandy beaches, interrupted with areas of black lava rocks. There are volcanoes all over the island, some dormant, and some active. They come in different shapes and colours, which amounts for a thrilling photo experience as the landscape invites to play with perspective, lines and textures.
Because in some parts of the island there are volcanic / seismic activities (mostly consisting in steam rising from holes in the ground, and uneven territory with cracks and hidden cavities prone to breaking in if walked on), it is advisable to respect the instructions.. In the heart of the Timanfaya national park (in the south of the island) tourists are not allowed to walk on their own, they are restricted to the guided tours and must not even leave the buses, both for security reasons and to prevent the unique area to be filled with litter.
The north of the island is sort of green, i. e. this is where they grow crops such as a special type of sweet potato and a very succulent type of onion. They also grow wine, mainly in the middle part of the island. They do this in a unique Lanzarote kind of way.. The cultivations consist of neatly lined up hollows in the ground, the earth is covered in black ash to retain moisture and there is a low stone (or rather lava pieces) wall in a semi-circle to each cavity; this is where they grow the vines, one to each hollow. This gives the vineyards a striking appearance: http://community.webshots.com/photo/224926364/224942758WBgNxo. There is a garden full of cacti, arranged as exposition in a place towards the north of the island, wonderful! That is one of the reasons there are so many cacti in my gallery..
If you are interested in more pictures of the island, I invite you to visit my gallery: http://community.webshots.com/album/224926364LIsTHl and here you find snapshots of the participants (not entirely serious sometimes ;-D): http://community.webshots.com/album/225163825vDwIcq
Don't hesitate to ask questions. I hope this was of interest to you and I wish you all the best for the New Year and lots of wonderful photos.
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