The New Beginnings

Last pieces of furniture leave our Canadian home.

Last pieces of furniture leave our Canadian home.

We already did it once before. We packed our things, and moved out of our old country – to Canada. It was some 25 years ago, we arrived with two suitcases to a totally new life saying good bye to our careers in Poland – me – an active jazz musician, jazz group manager and photographer, Margaret – a young art historian cataloging old churches all over the country.

We had to reinvent ourselves in Canada many times to keep on the surface. We landed in British Columbia and had the last few years pretty stable. And now, it happens again! Except that this time we are older, and are packing a container full of stuff we may need – computers, wide format printers, all our office and photo/studio gear, plus many other little things which may not be easily available there. Where? In Dominica, Eastern Caribbean region. Yes, we decided to move to Dominica and many people call us crazy. Time will tell if they were right.

shores of Dominica

shores of Dominica

We went some 3 months ago to Dominica to do some more photography work for a hotel and an eco-resort. And we thought – why do we have to fly so far every time we have to do a job there? In fact, we have more work in the Caribbean than in BC and Canada. So, why not to try to live there at least for a while, and see how it goes? We love the place, which made our decision even easier.

Volcanic hills of Dominica

Volcanic hills of Dominica

We sold our house in Victoria, packed up our container, and now we prepare for the Big Move, which will happen in October. We registered there our company Ozone Zone, so we can continue our work under the same name, and we are excited to start a new life. New beginnings once again! We will keep you posted on this blog with progress of things – good or not so good. So, make sure to follow this blog to get all updates. We were quite silent for last months as it was incredibly busy with selling house, moving out, deciding about details, closing business in Canada, preparing for the move, etc. I also had my last art photo session with old friends here. Now all is clear to us, and we have green light to go. Stay tuned!      We will be in touch!
Derek and Margaret

Emerald waterfalls in Dominica.

Emerald waterfalls in Dominica.

Last Few Months (and more)

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes. From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup aleta, props - Derek, Costumes - Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation - Jon Hoadley.

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes.
From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup aleta, props – Derek, Costumes – Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation – Jon Hoadley.

The last few months after returning from the jury session of Al Thank Awards in Austria, were interesting for me in one particular way – I received more medals and awards for my Painterly photo series. Namely – eighteen more of them, received at such salons as the German International DVF Photocup, 7th International Photographic Salon Varna, 8th International Emirates Photography competition, PIPA (Photovivo) 2014 Singapore, and several others. It is always great to receive medals and awards, as it assures one that he is on the right path with currently created images, but the nicest award for me are comments of people who enjoy seeing my photographs, and I received several of these too.

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.  Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres - medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and Gold medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley. All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres. Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres – medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and Gold medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.
With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley.
All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

The whole “Painterly” series is a continuous challenge, pushing me to explore new techniques and learn more and more about lighting. Thanks to generous help of my friend and a fine photographer Jon Hoadley, I am lucky to use his ProFoto lighting set. The B1-air strobes and soft-boxes used for my work are highly impressive, versatile, and very reliable. I was just recently commenting to Jon that I am seriously impressed with these lights – when by an unusual coincidence the ProFoto people found my “Painterly” series  impressive too, and offered me a spot on their prestigious blog about select professional photographers and artists. I could not turn such opportunity down, and the result of it had just been published: “Derek Galon Recreates a Classical Painting with a Clever Use of Flashes and Softboxes”.    Thank you, ProFoto, it is an honour to be profiled on your fine blog!  Have a look by CLICKING HERE!

What else?   Well, it is nice to see  our books get more and more popular in UK and Europe, as our British distributor orders them now quite frequently.   We just visited several fine gardens in Victoria, during the Open Garden program. If there are any nice photos, I will share them with you soon.  Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean - more news!

What else? I just wanted to quickly update you on all our activities, feeling a bit guilty about my long silence. Ah, yes! We are preparing for another shooting trip to the Caribbean. Dominica – one of our most favourite islands will be the place of my first Caribbean aerial photo and video work. Yes, I am bringing my flying camera Phantom 2, and I am eager to share with you results of this trip!
For these who did miss my first official aerial video, here it is again – Flying Over Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, in Victoria, BC, Canada.   Just click on the image below, and video will start to play.

I am so happy I decided to learn this flying system. It is not easy, but gives amazing new possibilities, and captures fantastic, immersive images. You can’t get such feel when shooting from a “regular” helicopter or a small airplane. Why? You are never so close to the subject, and  a tele-zoom lens won’t reproduce that unique feel of overflying a place at a close range. Just have a look at this video.

Well, this is all at the moment, I will post something when we land in Dominica, and then – after return, when I will have a ready, edited video – you will be the first to see it!
Thanks for stopping by, Margaret sends regards  (she is working on a new book, spending hours alone doing some research).
Cheers! If you like it – please SHARE!
Derek

All photos and video copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books.

 

Revisiting Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, Victoria (aerial video)

Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, Victoria, BC, Canada

Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, Victoria, BC, Canada

When we visited this fantastic garden two years ago, it was absolutely beautiful. The garden, freshly saved from destruction and full of history, thrived under capable hands of  Jeff de Jong and his team.
You can see our post from that time here

abkhazi2Just recently we heard of staff changes, and were curious how did it affect this beautiful place.   Still under management of The Land Conservancy BC, which – along with many donors – saved the garden from destruction, it recently saw Jeff moving away to other tasks.  We were thrilled to see that this change did not affect the garden in any bad way. The garden matured beautifully, and now in spring colours, it is just a perfectly maintained, magical place. The manager of the Tea House, Mr Page, oversees the day to day operations, which seems to work perfectly. A man of a considerate charm and skill, he was very helpful and informative. The Tea House itself makes for a perfect ending of your garden visit.

abkhazi5

Our previous post tells the love and life story behind this garden, and shows quite a few photographs. Therefore for this post, we have a special treat for you. Instead of writing more, we present here an aerial video! Titled “Flying Over Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House” it tells its story with a 5 minute video clip created using  Phantom 2 flying camera quad-copter.  These few photos presented here are also aerial shots using the same system.

We hope you enjoy these, and when in Victoria, you would consider visiting this splendid place!
Thank you for stopping by, and as always – if you like it, please click Share or Like buttons. And of course Follow us, to be first to see our next post.
Cheers!
Derek

Photos and video are copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books. Please respect our copyright.

 

Notes From Linz

_DAG8388We came to Linz in Austria for the judging session of the famous Al- Thani Photo Awards,  superbly organized by Chris Hinterobermaier and his efficient staff. They also run Trierenberg Super Circuit – one of the largest and most prestigious international salons of photography. This hard-working team was very hospitable, and it was tremendous fun to be around them. You can separately see Derek’s series of posts about the judging experience at Al-Thani. This post is about our impressions from visiting this interesting city.

_DAG8413
Linz is not only industrial city but also a vibrant cultural centre hosting numerous festivals (including electronic art) and art exhibits. The various artistic events are held in striking glass and steel (and glowing at night!) Lentos Museum of Art, in Brucknerhouse on the banks of Danube river, or in Musiktheater, the modern opera house.

In the Old City

In the Old City

When we arrived, the city was already in Christmas mood, Altstadt – the old city decorated with lights, street vendors were selling hot cider, perfect for cold winter evenings. If you are not into hot cider, you could grab a delicious cappuccino, or some hot food – typically different kinds of wurst (sausage).

Stained glass window in one of numerous churches of Old City

Stained glass window in one of numerous churches of Old City

Walking in old town, we were lucky to notice a small announcement on Ursulinenkirche door about a late evening music concert held there. We decided to go, and for us, it was a truly memorable experience. Not only performance was great (what a superb choir they have!)  but also the ambiance: main church’s altar lit by candles with their lights reflected on gold ornaments and baroque putti.

_DAG8389Being in Linz it’s difficult not to notice an excellent network of long, silently gliding trams, a part of great public transport service. They run like clockworks, and add to the image of efficient, prosperous and well kept city.

Linz is known as the birthplace of one of the oldest pastry recipes ever recorded: the famous Linzer torte. As I was eager to compare my homemade version to the original, I started to visit various pastry shops and bakeries.  My tasting experience resulted in gaining a few extra pounds, as I found  local pastry shops totally irresistible. With my tests still inconclusive, I feel I need to return to Linz soon, and continue trying some more of their exquisite pastries…

Thank you for stopping by, have a great Holiday Season!
- Margaret Gajek

If you like this post, please SHARE, and Follow us. Cheers!
_DAG8387All photos copyright Derek Galon.

Ozone Zone International Photo Salon 2013 – Results

Grand Prix - NGO HOA, Vietnam - Two Friends

Grand Prix – NGO HOA, Vietnam – Two Friends

I recently posted a longer article about my judging experience at the famous Al-Thani Photo Award in Austria.  Today, I would like to share with you news about our own Photo Competition – the Ozone Zone International Photo Salon 2013. I love photography. I live for photography. We all love photography at Ozone Zone. Travel photography, photojournalism, documentary, fine art photography, nude art, black and white, macro photography, nature – you name it!  All these categories – they have one common thing – they help us see our world, discover new details, learn. Many such photographs give us also the joy of an encounter with art.

Being passionate about art and photography, we decided early-on this year to organize and sponsor our own Photo Salon. And we all decided it will always have a specific angle – our angle:  promoting a positive message.

Mateusz Liberra, Iceland - Mysterious Place, SILVER

Mateusz Liberra, Iceland – Mysterious Place, SILVER

Some time ago one of our internationally acclaimed photo coffee table books “Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean” won the Nautilus Award, given for “contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change, as well as to the worlds of art and creativity.” We treasure this award because all these values are close to us, and that exactly is our angle, we decided. Our Photo Salon should promote fine, artistic photography with a positive message to the world.

We commissioned production of an on-line submission software, and opened our Salon for the first time in the summer. Received images were not as numerous as one would dream, but that was understandable without much advertising, word of mouth, or any major patronage. However – it was the QUALITY of some works which impressed us highly.  We received lots of top notch images. Very impressive ones.

Goran Jovic, Croatia - The Line, SILVER

Goran Jovic, Croatia – The Line, SILVER

From time to time I get invited to sit in jury of different salons and competitions, therefore I have a chance of seeing thousands photos – including the best world photographs of the highest calibre. And what I saw among entries of our salon was simply wonderful. It was amazing to see some of the world’s finest photographers participating in our Salon. Of course, it pushed the overall level of our competition up, and some photographs – still being decent – fell short of getting to the finals. That is, sadly, the role of jurors – to reject sometimes very good images in order to pick the absolute best. If you ask me – it can hurt. I sometimes have to  reluctantly reject really great images, and I feel almost guilty about it. But there can be only one The Best, or Second,  or Third Best in each category.
To those who did not qualify, I say – thank you most kindly for entering. We all in the jury saw lots of potential in your entries, and we do hope that next time you will score better. Don’t give up! You should know that your images were in excellent company, and overall level of entries was really impressive.

Daniel Zukowski USA - MIle 3, Los Angeles Marathon,  GOLD

Daniel Zukowski USA – MIle 3, Los Angeles Marathon, GOLD

And to those who see their images accepted as finalists – most sincere congratulations! You did well, you did compete against the most heavy guns of today’s photography. Thank you for sharing your images with our viewers.  Same words of thanks and congratulations go to our winners – a really amazing bunch of photographs. It was real joy for all of us in jury to see your entries! Cheers!
We did not expect to see such a high level of excellence, and while we recognize some of photographers’ names as being on the top lists for a while, we also noticed some new faces. Great work, thank you again!  We promise to work hard and prepare for you the Second Photo Salon in 2014. We will improve our submission software, reach for a patronage of PSA or perhaps FIAP, and try to make it as good for you as possible. And lets hope next year we will see many more entries – and have much more attractive awards for you!

Michiel Vaartjes Netherlands – Dark Falls, BRONZE

Michiel Vaartjes Netherlands – Dark Falls, BRONZE

Allow me to present here the list of winners. This list, along with list of all finalists is shown on our Web site here. Also on our Web site – here- you can see a slide show of all accepted and awarded works shown in a random order. I hope you will enjoy the slide show. What you see here are just a few examples of the fine works we received.

Mohd Khorshid, Kuwait - Standing Alone, BRONZE

Mohd Khorshid, Kuwait – Standing Alone, BRONZE

AWARDS:
Grand Prix – NGO HOA, Vietnam – Two Friends

Creative/Open
Michael Block, USA – Umbrella Ceiling GOLD

Asad, Bangladesh – Risky Journey SILVER

June Groenseth, Norway – Mix of Good Moments BRONZE

K.M.Asad, Bangladesh- Pray Time JUROR’s CHOICE

TRAVEL/NATURE

Goran Jovic, CROATIA – Ultimate Transport GOLD

Mateusz Liberra, Iceland – Mysterious Place SILVER

Michiel Vaartjes Netherlands – Dark Falls BRONZE

Mohd Khorshid, Kuwait – Standing Alone BRONZE (additional)

June Groenseth, Norway – Comet Pan Starrs and Aurora Juror’s Choice

 

NGO HOA, Vietnam - Man and the Sea, SILVER

NGO HOA, Vietnam – Man and the Sea, SILVER

MONOCHROME

NGO HOA, Vietnam – Day Work GOLD

NGO HOA – Man and the Sea SILVER

Swee Hoe Lim -Malaysia – Before The Storm BRONZE

 

June Groenseth, Norway - Comet Pan Starrs and Aurora,  Juror's Choice

June Groenseth, Norway – Comet Pan Starrs and Aurora, Juror’s Choice

PEOPLE/PORTRAIT

Daniel Zukowski USA – MIle 3, Los Angeles Marathon GOLD

Goran Jovic, Croatia – The Line SILVER

Viet Van Tran, Vietnam – The Yellow Umbrella BRONZE

Goran Jovic, Croatia – Rain Boy BRONZE (additional)

Andrey Kharabarin RUSSIA – Tale of Time Lost JUROR’s CHOICE

Congratulations again to all winners and finalists!
Cheers! Derek Galon

K.M. Asad , Bangladesh- Pray Time, JUROR's CHOICE

K.M. Asad , Bangladesh- Pray Time, JUROR’s CHOICE

—–

If you find this story worth your time, please SHARE and FOLLOW our blog. Thank you very much for stopping by.

If you are a photographer, please check our Salon’s web site in the spring, and we hope to see your entries. You may also be interested in my other article – recommendations for preparing your photos for best international photo competitions. See it here.
All photographs COPYRIGHT of their authors. No reproduction or copying allowed.

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 5 (and last).

 

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.


It is time for my last major tip, which can make the vital difference in the success of your image submitted into a major photo salon.
#4 – Take your time to edit your images the best you can.
I’ve seen it many times, and as a juror I did it many times; I rejected images at the first screening due to their technical shortcomings.

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2Part #3Part #4.

Here is an example from the Al-Thani Awards once again. There was an image telling a powerful, sad story. A very emotional one, showing a very sad dog sitting patiently at the bedside of an old, sick lady in hospital. It was strong and moving – and we all were impressed. What a moment to catch. However, the photo was really of visibly poor quality, like an unedited snapshot. A bit milky, not sharp, with blown whites – it was just too poor to accept, and we all reluctantly had to say “no”.  These really poor edits will usually be rejected at the first chance (typical problems for such instant rejects would be for example a slanting, uncorrected image with vertical lines of a landscape falling to one side, over-sharpened images, images with a very high noise level, photos with all whites “blown”, or taken with camera flash and showing the “red-eye symptom”. However, I assume you know about such basic technical problems and we won’t discuss it here.  Your photo, matching well the salon theme was seen by jurors who decided it has freshness, tells a story, and is worth keeping. It is kept on side with a number of other entries, awaiting final judgment. Will it win?


Well, that depends. Now, with just a handful of images in each category, jurors will have more time to see your work in more detail, and to convince each other WHY their favourites should be voted better than other excellent and competing images. Once again jurors will consider composition, crop, the story or message of each image, their artistic, journalistic or documentary values. But quite often the final aspect deciding about the winners is the technical quality of a print or digital file.
While all images kept for the final stage are really very good, jurors can take a closer look and pick the most perfect, flawless work. A telephone pole far away on a hill in otherwise serene landscape photo – you forgot to clone it out. A composite image showing jagged outline on elements pasted from other photos – you didn’t clean it meticulously enough. Quality of the print – did you optimize your image for printing? Or it looks too dark, or perhaps it has some tiny bright spots “blown” showing paper without ink coverage? That would look bad in a  printed catalogue, showing that you are not the master deserving the top award.  Is the lighting on your image at its best? All what needs to be sharp – is it sharp – but NOT over sharpened – a common sin among photographers? Over-saturated? Cropped well? Did you use the best type of paper to highlight features of your image? All that – matters a lot now. Your print or digital image needs to show you are really at ease preparing your images – you are the master deserving to win. I am myself sometimes guilty of skipping on fine tuning, thinking – it is “good enough”.  Sometimes I don’t want to waste yet another sheet of a fine paper, or I am short on time.  But it can ruin all your efforts. So, make sure you edited your image at your best, leave it for a few days and look again. If you are still happy – then go ahead and submit your work.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

 

What I said in these posts are no magic bullet to win. Winning competitions with thousands of entries takes some fine work  – and also a bit of luck. Having to sometimes reject some great photos, I know the luck aspect well. But by preparing your entries the best way, deciding what to select and how to edit it – you will help your luck a lot! Now all it takes is to try. Good luck, then!

Thank you for reading, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful. I hope my comments can make your competition entries more successful, and you can prepare your works with more confidence. All the best!
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Derek Galon, MA, ARPS,  is an art photographer with over 40 years of experience. His multi-awarded works are available as limited edition prints on his web site and from Photo Art Gallery Vibrante. He is available for talks, workshops, jury work, and as a freelance photographer for hire.

The Jury job is done! And, the winner is... (well, for that you will need to check web site of Al-Thani Photo Awards after the new year, sorry!

The Jury job is done! And, the winner is… (well, for that you will need to check web site of Al-Thani Photo Awards after the new year, sorry!)

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 4

 

Jury at work.  Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.


Tip #3 – Try for your work to be original and unique

I previously shared with you comments about images in special themes, my experience when it comes to judging, and also my recommendations as to selecting and printing your photos. 

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2, Part #3

Selecting your work for a fine photo contest can be a hard process and you should have no sentiments when picking your works. The fact that you like an image, or even the fact that the image is objectively good – may still be not enough for it to be accepted by a jury or win.  Sitting in a jury, one can see thousands of images, see what’s popular this year, and see trends. There are amazing amounts of very good photographs. They all are good enough to sell proudly to your customer, display in a local camera club,  or share on a social site. Good enough to be printed in a magazine looking for that specific scene you have, or good enough to win a small-scale, local  photo competition.  As I say – I’ve seen thousands of impressive, quality works. Yet, a jury of international photo salon has the difficult task of selecting just a handful of winners from these fine entries. So, which images have best chance to win? Not saying again what was mentioned earlier about sticking to theme, and picking your finest quality works – I have to say this: Unique, striking images will be quickly noticed among others.

I just said that sitting in various juries I have a chance of seeing current trends. These trends can kill your chances. What was unique and brilliant two years ago will be rejected this year. Why? Because lots of photographers copy others’ ideas. A winning photo of cocks fighting in Indonesia, so strong and story-telling a few years back made numerous people photograph cock fights.  A fresh several years ago, beautiful technique of photographing sea with a long exposure (aka “milky water” in jurors’ jargon) got so many enthusiasts that at the Al-Thani, jurors saw well over hundred such smooth water images. A bit too much becomes a bit boring. Your image, being yet another one done in this style would need to be absolutely striking, or it will risk the “cliché” label and will lose instantly. Same goes for perfectly composed landscapes done as HDR,  images of a girl sitting on a railway, a macro enlargement of a wasp’s head, a glam image of a young girl in studio. The list of “cliché” images is long, touching of lovely sunsets, now badly overpopular “Tuscany style” juicy green fields, black and white portraits of old, often unshaven people,  Asian fishermen setting their nets,  Vietnamese bulls running in wet mud, etc. etc. (Newly emerging trend – penguins! More and more penguins are on submitted photos.)
MDB_7062

All these, when done for the first time were simply stunning. Stunning to such extent that now we have hundreds or thousands of images in their style. All were taken  countless times, and they will still make at least half – or perhaps more of all salon entries.  If you have one of these, but you really believe it has some striking qualities – very well, go ahead. But if your image falls within one of the most popular trends – try harder, and try submitting something fresh, something not copied thousand times around the world.  Even if it shows one of well covered subjects – this can be just a different angle of camera, or a different edit, unusual crop, etc.  But your photo should be something more than a typical calendar shot.  You simply should show that you have YOUR way of seeing things, YOUR OWN concept, not just creating another lovely, but already overdone, trendy pic.  By having a fresh concept for your image you won’t compete against numerous finely edited but “cliché” images which are ought to be submitted to the same salon as your photographs.  By not competing against them but showing a fresh idea or angle, you seriously increase chances of being noticed. You will have what the jury is looking for!

Thank you for reading. Part 4 is coming very soon, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful.
Thank you!
Derek Galon