May and June were unusually rainy this year in Victoria. Taking the advantage of more rains, all plants are growing fast, and are more impressive than usual. To enjoy this natural “plant festival” we went once again to the Royal Roads University Gardens (also called Hatley Gardens).
Their Rose garden is now simply spectacular. Thousands of rose flowers create not only an amazing visual display, but also a strong, beautiful scent in the air. Literally millions of other rose buds are about to open, adding their part to the symphony of colours and scents.
We don’t remember such a fantastic display of bloom in previous years. Rose lovers around Victoria – just go there now!
As described on Royal Roads’ web site, the gardens were established by The Honourable James Dunsmuir, born at Fort Rupert, BC on 8 July 1851, the oldest son of Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish miner who, at the time of his son’s birth, was on his way from Ayrshire to “Vancouver’s Island” to prospect for coal. The rose garden was first planted in 1913, but fell into disuse in the second half of the century. It was renovated in 1997 with a lot of hard work and modern shrub roses donated by Brentwood Bay Nurseries, and now has one of the largest private collections of David Austin roses in North America. Cared for with great knowledge and visible love, these roses bloom like no others, creating together a small miracle.
While Victoria is often called The city of the Gardens – the Royal Roads Gardens are among our most favourite. Diversity of styles, several ponds and streams, the combination of well-manicured areas with almost wild growth – they all create the most spectacular garden experience well worth a visit…
Photos - copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books.
Not much happened with our travel plans since my last post. There are some technical issues delaying our next trip to Montserrat. Therefore we spent last few weeks visiting and photographing our favourite local gardens. Some of them we already presented on this blog – but at a different time of the year. Now, with wisterias and rhododendrons in full bloom, these gardens look just spectacular!
One of our favourite gardens is the Hatley Park, a large chunk of land on grounds of Royal Roads university in Victoria. It is divided to several sections, such as Italian garden (with fine wisterias), Rose garden – which is just starting to bloom, and the oldest Japanese garden in the whole BC.
I hope these few photos from there are to your liking.
Another garden we visited was the Finnerty Garden belonging to the UVIC. Well kept, with a massive number of rhododendrons, it is another place to enjoy in Victoria – and there is no fee for your visit.
Smaller, but very well established Playfair park, has very large, matured rhododendrons. They are so huge that you can walk under them, and enjoy the colourful carpet of fallen flowers.
It is remarkable how different in feel these places are. All of them have lots of rhodos, but each garden lives its own, unique life, offering a totally different experience.
The unusual rainy weather we are having made all colours juicier, more dense, and all these places are lush and full of life. It is great to travel, but we should never forget to enjoy what we have at our door step.
To fill you with other things – last time, I reported about a second place at IGPOTY (UK) and the Gold Medal in Austria. Well, just after that I received another exciting news – London Salon of Photography – one of the most progressive international competitions/exhibitions awarded my Bacchus, Pan and Ceres with another Medal.
I also had couple of studio art sessions and I am now editing my newest works. Ah, one of my newest is already done – with great help and assistance from Margaret – my newest auto-portrait! I hope you enjoy!
Thank you, I hope to see you soon, when I place our next post. Bye for now, and SHARE if you like these images.
My previous post sounded a sad note, a story in memory of my mother – also our Ozone Zone editor.
Today’s story is quite different and exciting.
Only a week after receiving news about getting a 2nd place at the International Garden Photography of the Year 2013 organized in UK at the famous KEW Gardens, I received a message from Austria: Gold Medal at the huge, internationally important Austrian TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT 2013.
TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT is by far the largest salon of photography in the world. It is based in Linz, Austria, and in recent years it has attracted hundreds of thousands of picture entries – from almost every country. It is the aim of the competition run annually by the salon to exhibit the finest work in different styles, techniques and genres.
The Super Circuit attracts photographers of almost every background, both amateur and professional. It has established a reputation for very high standards and is therefore highly respected around the world. The honour of winning is even bigger, knowing that this year they received staggering twenty-something thousand entries!
My winning image, called Dilemma, results from a long collaboration with a brilliant, experienced arts model, Michael Ward from Victoria. Do you remember that bluish photo of The Mighty Knight? Yes, that was another image we did with Michael…
Dilemma was created in several stages. Firstly, I photographed Michael in a sitting, meditative pose. Next, I photographed a closeup of a body, to create a body-scape. It had to be shot from exactly the same angle, with the same lighting, to look real after matching both elements. For that close-up we invited another fine model, Lady Kimberly Rose. The rest happened on Photoshop. Michael placed on Kimberly’s body-scape looked good. I added shadows andsome small indents where Michael was sitting to make it more realistic, but it lacked the oomph with studio background. Luckily I remembered about dramatic landscape of the Skye, Scotland, and pulled one of my photos of a light house from there. Yes, it instantly added character. Turning it to near black-and-white with some added roughness of texture worked for me, and the image was done.
While I feel that my work with Michael is among my best, little did I know it will win Gold!
To end this happy news, I would like to share with you yet another photo created with Michael. This time we invited fellow photographers and artists as models. As you perhaps notice, this image was inspired by Rembrandt, and it was sheer fun to recreate Rembrandt-style lighting (with great help of a fine photographer Jon Hoadley, real master of lighting), bringing up painterly textures of faces and fabrics. Michael did get body-painted, I added some touches to his look later on my computer – and hey, we all are quite happy with the result.
I hope you like it too… until next time,
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Photographs copyright of Derek Galon, please respect the copyright.
The Gold-winning image is available at Photo Art Gallery Vibrante
We usually post here notes from our journeys, or photography related stories. Today however, we share with you a sad story about a last journey – the one we are all to make one day to come.
Last month we lost Anna, a fine editor working closely with us on our Ozone Zone books. She also happened to be my mother. A double loss – like a single loss is not enough. She was an internationally respected language expert, and we were lucky to have her in our team. She was an exceptional person, and we were lucky to be in her family. It is now hard to come to terms with the simple fact of her departure – forever. Perhaps we should find some comfort in knowing that she had a long, very colourful, although sometimes quite dramatic life.
Anna M. Galon (often using her maiden name Brochwicz – Lewinska) was born before the Second World War in Poland, in a very privileged family. Her father, colonel Zbigniew Brochwicz Lewinski, was one of the most trusted officers of marshal Josef Pilsudski – the legendary Polish leader behind many Polish successes of early twentieth century. In fact, marshal Pilsudski was Anna’s Godfather. Her early childhood was filled with interesting people and travels, and with lots of happiness. But it all ended too soon.
As a young girl, she was thrown with her family by the war on a lengthy and painful path of constant escape through Rumania, Italy, and France, to eventually land on the British soil. Anna spent there many years studying arts, philosophy and literature at the University of Glasgow, and the famous Glasgow School of Art (later studying also at Oxford). Scotland became her new, or perhaps the REAL home to her. However, she fell in love with a young and attractive Polish concert pianist Lucjan Galon. When deciding to return with him back to Poland, little did she know it will totally change her entire life. Going back to a different, communist Poland was a one-way-ticket kind of trip. Once there, you had no way of going back (or anywhere else, for that matter), and coming from the “capitalist West” you were under magnified glass of communist special services for a long time.
Fifties and sixties brought for her harshness of everyday reality and proved a tough time to bring-up and educate two boys – Daniel and Derek. She never felt at home in this totally different Poland managed by the heavy Soviet hand. Anna found a refuge in classical music, also indulging herself in teachings of the East, studying various masters from India. She found some fulfilment in teaching languages, also sharing her extensive knowledge of Tibetan and Indian philosophy – making life-long, deeply-rooted friendships with some of her students.
To Canada she went unexpectedly in early eighties. Divorced for some time, she packed her things in a hurry at the news of her older son Daniel being gravely ill. Daniel escaped from Poland couple of years earlier, and emigrated to Ottawa. There, diagnosed with severe heart condition he did undergo a life-saving heart transplant operation. Anna stayed in Ottawa to help with Daniel’s recovery, and never returned to Poland. But she wasn’t entirely happy in Ottawa either. Fluent in several languages, she reinvented herself as an accredited court interpreter, also translating for Canadian government, various writers and also poets. Translating poetry was always a joy for her, and she did it splendidly. Perhaps because – as her brother Andrew recently said – Anna did not translate just words – she was great at translating the meaning.
At that time – it was in late eighties – we both with Margaret arrived in Canada, but not being in love with Ottawa, we soon moved to Victoria. Then, some ten years later my brother Daniel died, using up the gift of extra years of life he received from Canadian doctors. It was a devastating time for my mother, and soon after, she decided to move to Victoria and join us. And here, in Victoria, a small miracle happened. She met lots of interesting people and made lots of very good friends. Anna also found a group of people with whom she could pursue her passion for poetry – she simply found her home! Yes, last years of Anna’s life in Victoria became perhaps her most happy time. Still translating to make a living, she devoted herself to arts, creating well respected “Poetry Lovers’ Circle”. Public performances with the Circle, presentations of best Polish poems translated often by herself, and world poetry readings at the exclusive La Run theatre rewarded her for many hard years. This was the food for her soul, and her joy. Only the closest friends knew that for each performance she paid with days, and later with weeks of health problems. She never complained, and always found reasons to be happy. But while Anna’s soul was in bloom, her health sharply deteriorated – she became practically homebound.
Unable to perform with the Poetry Lovers’ Circle, Anna concentrated on studying teachings of the East thought by her friend and spiritual teacher, Nadhia Sutara. Poetry and writing remained vital for her, same as working with us on our books. Her mind was always so fresh, crisp and young that people talking to Anna by phone never realized they talk to a lady over eighty years old.
Postponing and cancelling our overseas photo jobs we were able to be with her on her last days. She suffered badly, enduring strong pain. We will never forget her incredibly brave attitude and amazing detachment from unbearable pain and misery of her body. In her last hours she cracked some very sharp jokes about her passing, and her very last words were to thank all people she knew – for interacting with her life, both in good and not so good ways.
She left behind a walking stick awaiting in vain her touch, an old computer on which she typed with her sore fingers her last poems, and a sense of emptiness – a great sadness that we could not be with her for any longer.
Her friend Nadhia at the news of Anna’s passing, wrote from her ashram in India a few words which perhaps best summarize Anna: “I shall dearly miss her, as I am sure you both will. She was a great inspiration to me all these years, especially as her health deteriorated. She always found something to be grateful for, something to rejoice in, and never ever complained. I have invariably found people get ‘deader’, not wiser, as they get older, but Anna was the greatest exception and a wonder to me. I’ve never met anyone over 50 who was so alive, so innerly vital, so willing to grow and break new ground as she. I’m a typically broken product of the ‘Great American Dream’ (Nightmare, actually, as you are finding), unable to deeply love or trust anything, and her gift for unconditional love and trust left me breathless.”
Stashing for a rainy day
Every sight and sound that charms you ––
Stash away prudently:
sunlight sparkling on the snow
of a raindrop on a pendant leaf
mist over meadow… a duck among reeds…
tall and intense on its rock
by the water’s edge
the symphony of the forest…
wind whispering among leaves
– little brown pillar of curiosity
on watch among the weeds…
the inconceivable vastness of ocean
hurling its might against the shore
a blade of grass
each moment of delight ––
Carefully put it away
into the storehouse of joy
within your heart
For future use…
for a rainy day…
To act as source of strength and endurance
through frosty winters and dark nights
through quagmires of despair…
Reminders of light!
Anna M. Galon
Ottawa, New Year’s Eve, 1989/90
We received several messages asking when the previously mentioned book Bequia, a Feast of Colors will be ready. We had a bit of delay caused by an emergency in my family, but now all things are back in their tracks, and I am happy to say the book is already printed. It is being packed for cargo shipment, and I expect it soon will become available. You will see it available on Julie’s (author’s) site here and we also will post the news about it. It may take some extra weeks for Amazon to add it to their inventory. Anyway, it is ready, and I would like to share with you the very first photos of this -still smelling of print- book, I received these from our printer just today. Looks good to me!
We went totally silent in last weeks, sorry. It was because of my family emergency and funeral. I personally lost my mother, and we – Ozone Zone – lost an amazing team member, experienced editor and translator. Anna was behind our multi awarded books Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean, and Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean. With fine poetry and literature translated to several languages, decades of studying literature, philosophy and arts (universities in Glasgow, Oxford, and Torun), Anna became internationally respected language expert, and we were lucky to have her assistance. We will miss her on every step.
Her fantastic editing skills helped our books get all these awards. She worked with us on our another book, and we hope to see that book published soon. Thank you Anna for your amazing work. And thank you, Mother, for being such fine person I will remember. Margaret plans to post a story in her memory, once we get a better grip on everyday life once again.
Trying to have a break from Caribbean and architecture photography every now and then, I enjoy working with models from Victoria.
Continuing with series of portraits and studio works, I just had the privilege of working with a seasoned artists’ model, Michael Ward. He models professionally for some 30 years, and over this period of time worked with countless fine artists – photographers, sculptors and painters alike. Shooting with him was a real treat, and I was excited that he agreed to model for me in his fine armour from Britain – one of his 250 outfits, as I learned. We also selected one of his swords – a fine authentic Claymore blade.
I spent a bit of time thinking ahead about the concept for the shoot. Surely, photographing a knight in armour asks for some mystical ambiance, a fairy tale like scenery, and for atmosphere like from famous William Waterhouse paintings. But if I would go too much this direction -and only this direction- it could be risky, touching of a cheap and pretentious style. So, I decided to combine the mystical feel of this shoot with real feelings and expressions – a deeper human drama.
How was it to be a warrior on his long battle path centuries ago? How many horrors hardened his soul, how many tragedies and lost comrades made him weep when nobody was watching? Were there enough of happier moments helping soothe his way through pain in the name of glory, God, and loyalty?
How about physical pain? The 40 kilograms of armour made him really heavy, struggling with every step and move. Wearing it in hot sun would add to this misery. Just helping Michael to dress for our shoot was an eye-opener for me. This gear is amazingly heavy and uncomfortable.
What about such knight’s personal matters? If he was lucky, his beloved woman would wait patiently for his return home. But without any means of regular communication he would only keep his faith and remember her by embracing a little treasure she gave him as farewell gift – perhaps a handkerchief, a locket?
I decided that my Knight has to be a tragic person, longing, almost broken by too many unknown factors and hardships – but still believing in his return home and victory.
We discussed details with Michael prior to our session, and when he started to act – it was pure perfection. He gave me all I wanted – and more.
Rough and rocky ocean location near Taylor Road in Metchosin near Victoria, added to the feel of our setting.
For most shots I used a white balance shifted to tungsten light, and flashes with yellow gels, creating a late evening and bonfire mood.
The whole series has about a dozen of very different images. Some of them are saturated with vibrant colours, some are more documentary in character black and whites. I will remember working with Michael on this shoot for long time, and I hope you find these images interesting.
Live long, my knight. Let your path be filled with victories, so you can return to your castle with pride.
If you like it, please click SHARE on right top side of this post.
More photos from this series on my Model Mayhem page.
All photos copyright Derek Galon, please respect it.
Some of these images are available for purchase at Art Gallery Vibrante
This is a re-post from my older blog which had very limited number of visiors, before I switched to WordPress.
Post contains some fine art nudity [partial nudity]. Be warned. 18+ only).
After all the editing work on the book “Bequia – the Feast of Colours”, I needed to unwind. The book went off to our printers, and me – as I often do in such moments – I decided for an art shoot. Such shoots where I can let my fantasy loose, help me bring back my balance and recover energy. As it happened, my friend and fantastic artists’ model, Michael Ward, had just recently suggested to shoot an image based on Greek and Roman mythology.
He had a concept for a large, festive scene, and I myself had already been thinking for a while of shooting a large group of art models. Such a shoot would bring new challenges and experience, it would expand my skills.
I listened to Michael’s story; a feast of Bacchus and his companions – some familiar antique gods and goddesses, perhaps Pan with his half-man, half-goat, panting presence… And definitely with Ceres – the Rubensesque, full-bodied goddess of fertility. These ideas began to roll in my head, and gradually I visualized the whole scene. Yes, it would be a festive group drinking wine, flirting and having fun (with Pan’s presence insinuating a note of erotic energy on the set). I decided to keep it in the style of old paintings such as canvases by Titian or Caravaggio, and so a Cupid seemed a nice extra touch. Light would be used scarcely, highlighting the most important parts of the composition, but letting the less important elements drown in darkness.
Margaret, being an art historian, quickly suggested some fine details for the image. Oranges and grapes, some primitive musical instruments, flowery wreaths. Now the image was fully developed in my head.
The whole shoot preparation unfolded under a lucky star – fantastic art photographer Jon Hoadley, a real master of studio light, offered his assistance, and Michael was able to get another professional arts model – Kim Brouseau, to impersonate Ceres. After booking all the other models, we went with Michael to Disguise The Limit costume rentals to find some props. Some models also helped with props – it was truly a nice team work.
When the day came – after setting the studio stage – we were ready to shoot.While Aleta Eliasen, my friend and fine makeup artist, prepared models, Jon presented me with his idea of lighting. It was perfect, and after some small tweaks and test shots, I was totally happy with it. The light seemed natural, toned in one part with warmth of a remote bonfire. While most important part of composition was lit rather brightly, the light softly blended down, to fade into almost complete darkness of the background.
We did some solo, duo, and trio test shots – which were so nice that I kept them as separate images for this series. Next, we had to shoot the Cupid. It was fun – if not really for the model – at least for those watching. Shooting Cupid separately from the rest of the group allowed me to freely put it in the best spot later, using Photoshop.
We were ready for the main scene, and it was sheer fun! The idea suggested by Margaret, to have cross-linked interaction between various persons, connecting the front group with the back, worked really well. Everyone got their particular tasks, and we went ahead photographing.
I used my Nikon D800 on a tripod, to keep the same selected crop, when capturing various poses and models’ expressions. Tethering it all using fantastic software ControlMyNikon proved to be of real advantage. Every smallest detail was controllable, the models had a way of seeing themselves perform, and I could quickly review all the shoots.
The scene we created needed two extra persons – a woman and a man. Aleta, our makeup artist, graciously decided to help, and turned herself into an attractive partner of Pan. I quickly decided to help too, and transferred myself into some drunk, rough character in the background. I bet all the models had fun seeing me running around half-naked, in a turban, back and forth between back of the scene and the camera set in front!
All in all – it was a very demanding project and a real challenge on many levels. Photoshopping it in the style of traditional paintings was another part of this fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it. And here it is – the final image “Pan, Bacchus and Ceres” having a good time with their guests. While trying to keep it in line with the old paintings, we loosened it up here and there with subtle additions of drinking glass goblets and an impressive glass bottle.
I hope you enjoy this image. If you do – the purpose of it all has been served!
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All photographs copyright Derek Galon, please respect the copyright.
This image “Pan, Bacchus and Ceres” can be ordered as a limited edition signed print from Photo Art Gallery Vibrante, or as a smaller, open edition print from 1X.com
You can also see it in bigger size on 1X.
A separate story on art of Jon Hoadley was posted here.
An earlier story on working with Michael Ward (Knight of Might) was posted here.
My review of ControlMyNikon is here.
Often working in studio, I wanted to use tethering to fine-tune my images. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with tethering options I had so far. My experience was not so good with my older cameras (Nikon D700, D300s and D7000), and it turned for even worse with my new Nikon D800.
I tested Lightroom tethering, I tried Nikon's Camera Control Pro, as well as some other third-party software.
In our previous post we profiled Julie Lea – a fine painter from far-away Bequia. Today, we will bring you closer to our roots – photography. We also return closer to our home – Victoria, BC, Canada. Right here, at our doorstep in Victoria, you can meet one of the finest, most outstanding photographers we know. It’s Jon Hoadley – a real master of studio art photography. Working in the same studio space since 1984, he can be compared to the great Dutch or Italian painters of the past centuries.
Perhaps the most visually arresting aspect of Jon’s work is his masterful use of light and shade. He is a virtuoso of chiaroscuro and “shading” – creating depth by using light effects. Shadow and light are powerfully contrasted and used in different degrees, subtle or strong. They are deliberately interwoven to give the work spatial and psychological depth and to create an atmospheric mood. On the human body, chiaroscuro makes a very powerful effect.
Had Jon been born a painter in Italy in the early 17th century, he would easily be one of the followers of Caravaggio, a master of powerful chiaroscuro, whose use of light to create dramatic intensity inspired generations of artists often called “Tenebrists” or “Tenebrosi” (“Shadowists”). Jon’s work often reminds me of other paintings by famous masters of light, like the 17th century Spanish painters, with Jose de Ribera among them. Perhaps Jon doesn’t always seek such strong dramatic effects. The light in his art portraits is often used to create a broader and more intimate union between figure and space.
Similar in feel to fine paintings, Jon’s portraits are carefully composed and stylized. Only the photographers themselves and models (sometimes exhausted after the process) know how much time and energy consuming such shoots are; how much care, and – clearly, love – goes into their preparation and each actual photo session. Not to mention hours of digital work afterwards “to get the image right.” And yet, Jon’s photographs don’t appear to be that heavily staged and controlled. Models are given freedom of expression within the boundaries of the image. That gives us, the viewers, a glimpse into their true personalities, each different and unique. It also creates a psychological bond, touching directly the viewer’s soul, a rare feature in art of portraiture today.
Obsessed with fine nuances of light and forms of the human body (be it in portraits, art nudes, or other styles), Jon Hoadley works tirelessly expanding his huge collection of masterpieces. Digital photography gave him much needed expansion of editing tools.
Earlier back, he worked very successfully on the international commercial scene, photographing for renowned brands; but although his photographs were winning awards, he was never really interested in that or in any competitions.
Same with his self-promotion – rather than making efforts to promote and market himself, he uses all his energy and time to create ever new images. For those reasons, Hoadley’s works are relatively little known – but they stand really strong among the best of art portraits on the international scene – real masterpieces, fit for the finest collections. His best, heart-and-mind-touching art, selected for limited editions, can be displayed proudly by the most discerning connoisseurs.
We hope you enjoyed this post. If so – please SHARE with friends.
Until next time!
Images – copyright Jon Hoadley – please respect his copyright.
As mentioned in our previous post, today we are posting a profile of a fine artist from Bequia, Julie Lea. She just finished work on a new book we are about to publish. Please, meet Julie:
Julie Savage Lea was fascinated and smitten with the island of Bequia from the first moment she saw it. She describes this experience in her book, called “”Bequia reflections”: “I first saw Bequia in 1978, from the deck of a steel-hulled, 48-foot ketch. My husband and I and our two small sons were guests of young friends, part of the self-styled “boat vagabonds”, who, in those days, plied the waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We arrived after a rolling, fitful, all-night sail from St Lucia. In the predawn light we anchored in the sheltering calm of Admiralty Bay, just off Port Elizabeth. As the others sputtered ashore (…), I stayed on deck, exhausted yet dazzled by the visual feast before me. My first response to Bequia was to pull out my watercolours and record the soft explosion of clouds and colour in the sky as a golden dawn erupted over green volcanic hills and poured into the awakening turquoise harbour.”
“I wanted to capture the charm of what I saw that first morning- the languid parade of human and animal activity along the main street, the exotic trees and flowers, the diminutive shops and cottages, as gaily painted as the small fishing boats lining the beach.”
Julie frequently returned to the island to paint, and finally, in 2005, decided to make Bequia her home. She found the perfect place for her studio – Mango Tree Cottage, a quaint little house that she rents from her long-term friend and also a great painter, Vivian Usborne Child.
Most of the year 2012 she has been working on a book about her friend Peter Carr – another Bequia-fascinated painter. The book, titled “Bequia – the Feast of Colors”, will be published by our company Ozone Zone Books in early 2013.
We met Julie in her studio full of colourful and vibrant paintings, various objets d’art, and everyday things chosen for their strong primary colours. She spoke enthusiastically about the painting she had just finished for the Gingerbread Restaurant in Bequia, called “Tropical Eden.” The lush exuberance of the vegetation she captured there reminds me of the famous jungle paintings by Henri Rousseau.
We wrote about the Mango Tree Cottage in our book Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean: “This humble, small place has transformed itself completely under Julie’s influence, reflecting her own happy, artistic personality. With the presence of her paintings, it has become a vibrant colourful place and a joyful continuation of the tropical landscape that surrounds it.”
While visiting Bequia, you may see Julie walking alone, scouting for subjects to paint, or sketching hurriedly some life scenes passing by. She writes: “Under a brilliant sky filled with colour and movement, the glittering sea and an exotic parade of people, events and contexts leaps at me.”
We hope you enjoy this story. More soon, happy New Year!
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