Independent Canadian book publishers working in Dominica, W.I. specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions, and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Hiking around Freshwater Lake

We had a nice hike last week – around the Freshwater Lake in the Morne Trois Pitons Natonal Park. It used to be our favorite place when we were coming to Dominica as visitors, only for a short time. Now, because we live here, we have an opportunity to take our time and hike the entire loop around the lake and enjoy stunning vistas.

Freshwater Lake, Dominica

Freshwater Lake, Dominica. Sun behind fast moving clouds creates spectacle of lights.

When we left the capital town of Roseau, car thermometer showed 31 C; upon arrival to parking lot, temperature dropped to 20C. We are on elevation of over 700m above sea level, high in the mountains, at the heart of the island. There’s always wind blowing clouds of mist soothing the skin after scorching heat of the city. We breathe deeply fresh air and take a first look at the lake. It’s situated in a valley surrounded by sharp peaks covered by montane rainforest, dense patchwork of every shade of green color. The natural beauty of the place is astounding; it is also very calm and serene. As we start to hike, thoughts and noises in our heads gradually quiet down, and we fell under charm of this magical place.

The trail is made entirely of steps held together by wooden logs and tree fern trunks. We’re lucky it isn’t raining; it can be really slippery. Apart from the wind, there is only glass flute-like sound of mountain whistler (rufous- throated solitaire) singing long notes, beautiful and soothing. We climb steeply uphill taking a closer look at the unique vegetation found only on higher elevations. Shrubs and trees form a dense, low growing thicket dripping with moisture from the swirling clouds. There seems to be more ferns, bromeliads and epiphytic plants than anywhere else. Some plants are striking like Lobelia stricta with spiny leaves or epiphytic vine with red and yellow flowers (Alloplectus cristatus)

Finally, we are at the top of the ridge, and views are amazing! We can see Freshwater Lake shrouded in mist and all volcanic peaks of the interior. Standing there, you can see both sides of the island (how small this island really is!): to the west there is Caribbean sea, to the east, distant views of Rosalie Bay on the Atlantic side. The path descents and climbs up again yet to another peak with slightly different vistas, equally stunning. _DSC5429_30_31

After the walk we feel thoroughly refreshed and amazingly light-hearted. We have to return there soon.

Actually, we may return indeed, as while hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of this place, our old idea of creating a coffee table book about Dominica rippened in our minds, and we just decided it is time to do it. Therefore in upcoming months we will be travelling the island scouting for most picturesque locations, photographing, interviewing people, and collecting all material for this fine task. It may take up to a year to produce it, but we hope it will be as nice as our Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean – or even better, as our publishing experience over last years accumulates, helping us do what we love better and better._DSC5438

We will keep you posted on progress of our works, therefore please subscribe to this blog, and share it with friends.
Cheers!
Margaret and Derek

All photos by Derek Galon, writing by Margaret Gajek. Please respect copyright.

Dominica – We Arrived!

So, we did it! We said goodbye to Victoria, BC, Canada, and left for Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean! Flying from Victoria through Vancouver and Toronto, we had three days in Barbados before getting on the final LIAT flight to Dominica.

Hunte's Gardens, Barbados - in October 2014 (photo Derek Galon)

Hunte’s Gardens, Barbados – in October 2014 (photo Derek Galon)

Air Canada prepared for us a farewell surprise – they lost our luggage. We arrived in Barbados in rather warm long-sleeve Canadian clothes, and were kept on a warm side for two extra days until our luggage materialised again. That did not stop us from visiting our favourite places in Barbados – the Welchman Hall Gully and Hunte’s Gardens. Both places look quite amazing, they matured and changed quite a bit since our last visit.

Hunte’s Gardens are now  a definite #1 attraction on Trip Advisor, and we fully agree with it.  It is an unbelievably designed, beautiful garden full of nooks and surprises.  Photographing it was actually our first job in the Caribbean as Caribbean residents. Despite the sweat  (our warm clothes) we spent several hours documenting recent changes all over the place.  These photos will be used by Virgin Atlantic for their guide to Barbados, and by Barbados Tourism Board for a local tourist map.

Hunte's Gardens - lower level (photo Derek Galon)

Hunte’s Gardens – lower level (photo Derek Galon)

 

Our welcome surprise in Dominica!

Our welcome surprise in Dominica!

Dominica greeted us with truly beautiful weather and very smooth proceedings through customs. We felt like returning home. A short ride brought us to the apartment we are renting in Eggleston – a village high in hills above capital town of  Roseau. A nice surprise – Dutch friends who live in Dominica dropped off some grocery shopping for us, along with a fine composition of local exotic flowers! Thank you!

Evening view at Caribbean Sea - from patio of our apartment in Dominica.

Evening view at Caribbean Sea – from patio of our apartment in Dominica.

So, here we are, awaiting arrival of our car ordered from Japan, taking care of formalities (permanent residency permit), and accommodating to the new life style. The last one is not so difficult, as getting around is a true delight to us.  Super friendly people, relaxed atmosphere – it all is just what we need at the moment.

View from our apartment at hills and volcanic mountains of Dominica.

View from our apartment at hills and volcanic mountains of Dominica.

Today we received news from Canada that our container started its journey from Victoria to Dominica, so we will be awaiting its arrival in about a month time.

Our container gets off -  first meters of 7,000 miles journey

Our container gets off – first meters of 7,000 miles journey

In regard to our photography work – it seems like a nice start. We are discussing with Montserrat Ministry of Tourism a week-long photo shoot in Montserrat (it would be lovely to return there – remember our volcano shots?), and we are also getting accreditation for the International Creole Fest here in Dominica. We arrived right in time for this huge yearly event. Three days and nights of concerts, with participation of the best Caribbean and international artists. We may not stay awake until 6am every night (yes, concerts end at 6am!), but I am sure there will be lots to photograph while we will be awake!

Stay tuned! And SHARE/FOLLOW if you like this!

Cheers!
Derek
(please respect copyright of my photos)

Today Is The Day (personal thoughts)

Today, after some 28 years of living in Poland and next 26 years spent in Canada – we are moving to Dominica! It will be a major challenge. Will we enjoy and handle it all? Well, we already changed our country of residence before, and we hope we will cope. We plan to put all our skills, professional experience and enthusiasm, to promote the beauty of Dominica and other Eastern Caribbean islands. But will the Dominica be good for us? So many unknown factors.

walking in Victoria, Canada...

walking in Victoria, Canada…

We went for a last stroll on Pacific shore, right here in Victoria, British Columbia – on Vancouver Island. It is a beautiful place indeed, and some people say we must be crazy to leave it for an unknown future. Perhaps we are a bit crazy, but we hope to find the new destination rewarding, with a more balanced life-style. We hope to leave behind the race for better jobs and always more money, we hope to find a bit of time for ourselves.

My last photo session in Victoria - with friends Michael Ward (on photo) and Jon Hoadley.

My last photo session in Victoria – with friends Michael Ward (on photo) and Jon Hoadley.

Yes, changing the life style is perhaps the most appealing factor behind our decision. But still, before we can hope for that, it will be a hard start. We don’t have a place to live and we will need to quickly rent something, we don’t have any gigs in the Caribbean yet. We are not kidding ourselves, it will be a hard start. But we really hope it will be worth it. So, will the Caribbean be good for us? We love this region and were always happy to return to do our photography and publishing work. But it is different to be visiting – even frequently – and living there permanently. So many unknown factors. We will be newcomers. We will need new contacts, opportunities, friends…

We know one thing for sure, whoever will hire us for world-class photography services or our internationally awarded publishing – will not regret. We know we are good at what we do. It is for others to try and discover it… so, perhaps we also need others’ good will and a bit of trust.

Ah, there is one more thing we will need – some good luck! We hope you can wish us good luck…

Thank you!
Derek

PS.
We will be posting progress of our moving and settling in Dominica here. We will stop in Barbados to see friends (Hunte’s Gardens, Welchman Hall Gully, and others), then we will fly to Dominica a few days later.
Stay tuned and Follow this blog to get all these news. And of course – please Share and Like it!

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.

 

Sweet Pea Garden – Small Is Beauty

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Once in a while we stumble upon a garden so nice and cozy, we would love to spend long summer hours in it, eating gelato, drinking some bubbly (preferably with some friends), and feeling perfectly content and happy. Julie and Terry
Flatt’s back garden is one of these, and it’s a part of this year open garden tours for Victoria Horticultural Society, here on Vancouver Island, in BC, Canada.

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This small space is perfectly suited for leisure with different settings of sitting areas: under a pergola, on a porch, on a sunny carpet- size lawn or on a single bench. From these vintage points, you can enjoy looking at the plants, many with surprisingly large leaves as for a small garden. _DAG8869sm

“The fact that you have a small garden doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to fill it only with small plants, ” says Julie. She is a professional gardener with vast knowledge of plants, and it is evident here.

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The indisputable king of the garden is a big Canadian maple tree transplanted by Julie almost 20 years ago. It gives the partial shade to the garden (it shades tender plants) together with unbelievably white barked Himalayan birches.

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This teeny-tiny garden appears much bigger than it actually is, not only because of its clever design but also of unusual, quirky artwork which surprises you and makes you stop to investigate closer.
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It has a fun-filled touch to it. Julie often uses garage sales found treasures or some thrown-away objects in a new, creative way: round rattan woven chair frame makes a spider’s web decoration; wooden bed frame is decorative arch. Small mirrors reflect the greenery and trick the eye. These fun details make Julie’s garden fantastical and whimsical, happy, relaxed and light-hearted, a perfect place for a tasty summer gelato.
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Thank you for stopping by, and as always – if you like this garden and our post – please SHARE with friends.

Until next time. Cheers!
Derek

In appreciation of her hospitality, we gave Julie one of our books - Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, by Margaret Gajek and with my images.

In appreciation of her hospitality, we gave Julie one of our books – Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, by Margaret Gajek and with my images.

 

Next post coming soon, perhaps about an art photo shoot I recently had.

Photos by Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books.
Story by Margaret Gajek, Ozone Zone Books.

As we are in a fun mood after visiting this garden, I thought – you’ve seen me on a few photos on this blog, but some of you may wish to see a pic of Margaret. Here it is, I titled it “The Joy Rider” Hope you enjoy!

Margaret Gajek

Margaret Gajek – recent image. Photo by Derek Galon

All Colours of Life – in memory of Anna M. Galon, 1926 – 2013

Anna with father, colonel Zbigniew Brochwicz Lewinski.

Anna with father, colonel Zbigniew Brochwicz Lewinski.

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.

malwina-sm

University years – Anna Malwina Galon in Scotland.

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.

malwina-z-lucjanem-sm

Anna with her husband, concert pianist Lucjan Galon

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.

Anna Galon in Victoria

Anna Galon in Victoria

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.”

Derek Galon and Margaret Gajek

Stashing for a rainy day

Every sight and sound that charms you ––
stash it!

Stash away prudently:
sunlight sparkling on the snow
the trembling
of a raindrop on a pendant leaf
mist over meadow…  a duck among reeds…

a heron
tall and intense on its rock
by the water’s edge

the symphony of the forest…
wind whispering among leaves

plump groundhog
– 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
a flower

each moment of delight ––
Stash it!

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

Bequia, a Feast of Colors – book already printed

3141We 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!3143

Cheers!
Derek

PS
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.3142
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.

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