AIFS Study Abroad Blog

Photo Gallery: Beautiful Landscapes of Spain and Morocco

College student taking a photograph while studying abroad | AIFS Study Abroad

“No photographic lens will capture the memories unfolded by a landscape in our hearts.”

Sylvain Tesson, Consolations of the Forest

It seems ironic to start off a collection of landscape images with a quote suggesting that cameras can never truly capture the essence of nature. However, I can’t help but deeply resonate with Tesson’s words. I love nature, and it’s my passion to photograph it. But I know that there is no way for my camera to capture the power of a landscape that naturally softens my heart, clears my mind and brings tears to my eyes.

This phenomenon – that only an awe-some view can inspire – may never be fully expressed in images or words. The true depth of the profound feelings and emotions we experience may only be safely kept in the hearts and minds of the people drawn to the beauty of nature, or otherwise shown delicately through their composure and behavior – through their scattered thoughts or shining eyes. Simply put, there are just some things that can’t be captured by the opening and closing of a shutter.

There are many thoughts, feelings, questions and revelations that I have experienced when faced with a masterpiece of Creation while abroad that are just impossible for me to express through any medium. But while I may be unable to share these emotions, I would like to share images of the landscapes I’ve encountered in Spain and Morocco that took my breath (and linear thinking) away.

Nerja, Granada, Spain

As this was the first time I ever saw the Mediterranean Sea, it’s no surprise that I was found speechless at this sight. No photo can capture the clear-blue of the water and how the color faded from a light blue green to a deep aquamarine the deeper it got. That, in addition to the surreal mountains dominating the background, made for an unforgettable moment.

Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain

This is the view I reached after climbing up part of the Sierra Nevada mountains with two of my dear friends. Out of breath and with scraped hands and knees, this image was the best reward I could have imagined. It’s impossible for me to describe the strength of the sunshine reflecting on the snow, the awe of the surrounding white peaks and the wonder of what lays beyond.

Gibraltar, United Kingdom

There are a few astounding components of this (pretty mediocre) photo. One is the fact that even though it doesn’t look like it, I was standing in Gibraltar, a city located at the southern-most tip of Spain that is actually part of the United Kingdom. The other is that the mountain on the horizon is Morocco, in northern Africa. AFRICA. That’s what got me: that I was visiting the United Kingdom, in the Iberian Peninsula, staring at Africa. My heart was racing, and I could only think of how blessed I was to be experiencing, not dreaming, this moment.

Las Alpujarras, Granada, Spain

If the Sierra Nevada mountains make someone feel anything, it’s small. If that’s hard to believe, compare the little shack to the mountain behind it. I was completely overwhelmed by the vastness of these mountains and the diversity of the alpine plants around me. Humbly aware that humans are so small and nature so venerable, I can only echo the words of the similarly astounded Psalmist: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

Cape Spartel, Tangier, Morocco

I finally made it across the Mediterranean to the land seen from Gibraltar and the only way I can describe it is awe-some. As in something that provoked immense awe. When this particular photo was taken, I was standing a couple miles away from where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, looking at the latter. It was impossible to ignore the contrast of the rich blue of the ocean, the golden hue of the sand and the deep, dark green of the vegetation. The camels on the beach and the gulls in the sky add to this moment a ridiculous beauty words are unable to describe and a camera hopelessly unable to capture.

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