Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, now living in Dominica, W.I., founders of Ozone Zone – an Independent Canadian book publisher 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

Visiting Chosin Pottery Gardens – Once Again

It is hard to believe that it’s already a year since we visited this place for the first time! When enjoying this garden in August 2011, we decided to return here in autumn, to see and photograph this beautiful place in its full glory of of fall colours. So a couple of weeks ago we did just that.

Chosin Pottery Studio Gardens welcomed us with rain, fog, and unmistakeably late autumn mood. We remembered it lush and green, therefore this was the Garden’s new face for us. Quiet, misty, full of colourful autumn leaves, it was inviting to take nostalgic photographs, and I obeyed.

You can see our post from the previous visit HERE, therefore I won’t be writing again about the Studio and its owners. Let’s make this post more about photographs, passing seasons and returning cycles of nature.

Some images – quite intentionally – show the same spots photographed on the previous occasion, in summer 2011. We love it when a garden gives joy, offering its ever-changing beauty all year long. And the Chosin Pottery Garden does just that…
Thanks for stopping by, until next time!
Cheers!
– Derek

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Commentary: Derek Galon
Photographs: Derek Galon (please respect copyright)

P.S.
I just noticed a nice comment  one of readers of our coffee table book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean wrote on Amazon’s site in UK (this book is available on all Amazon sites).
Such a nice comment, it really is the best compansation for long and hard work of our team – let me share it with you:

“Exotic Gardens is more than just another coffee-table book; it is an experience.  From small gardens to grand gardens this tour through selected islands of the Eastern Caribbean is an absolute delight.
The photography is nothing short of stunning, to which the insightful commentary is the consummate foil.”

Wow, thanks for this amazing comment!
Derek

Photographing the Isle of Skye, Scotland (part 3)

If you missed our previous part of Skye experience, read it here.

First morning frost around the Storr.

The weather remained amazingly beautiful during our stay, perfect to hike another high point of Skye, the Quirang. You need to give yourself several hours for this walk. Firstly, weather can turn bad here quickly, and you may have a bit of hard time finding your way in the upper part of this sometimes challenging hike.

Dwarf trees on a sunny day.

Secondly, if weather is good – you will want, like us, to make frequent stops and enjoy panoramic views, bizarre rock formations of the Prison (to the  top of which you can get by taking one of the side paths), the Table with its surreal, flat top, and the Needle, which can offer a bit of a challenge to less experienced hikers. No, you don’t climb the Needle, this fascinating pinnacle is made up of terribly loose rocks. But you can get up next to it and enjoy more fantastic views.)

Quirang – “The Prison”


Another scenic trip worth taking is Elgol. It takes a long drive, mostly using single-lane, narrow roads. Views from the road are spectacular, and you will also see one of many Scottish wind farms – huge wind power generator stations, blending with landscape. Elgol opens to the Cuillins, highest mountain ridge on Skye. It is a destination for experienced climbers, but on a clear day you can have a look at the Cuillins from the shore in Elgol, or – if you have a bit extra time – you can take a boat tour getting deep inside the loch, to enjoy these mountains from a closer distance.

View from Quirang.

Elgol. Clouds over Cuillins.


Unfortunately, when we arrived to Elgol, Skye had it’s  “Eilean a’ Cheo” (Misty Isle) face on, and most mountains were covered by a thick fog. Still, it was beautiful, and the road there is very scenic…

Being already on the west side makes it easier to drive to perhaps the most unusual place on Skye – a remote, lone “coral beach”. It is worth the ride down the narrow road leading through moors and glens. After a short hike from the road’s end, you find yourself walking along the shore, full of dark, rough basalt rocks.

“Coral Beach”.

Nothing prepares you for that amazing view – just behind the next hill you will step down to something more proper for a Caribbean paradise – a small bay full of beautiful coral sand! You can see beautiful, light-blue water, sea shells and other beachcombers’ treasures. Enchanting, almost surreal, and amazingly out of place. A couple hundred yards of Caribbean paradise, nested among huge black volcanic rocks amidst a stark northern environment. It’s hard to believe you don’t see real coral.

It is all made up of pieces of dried, calcified and sun-bleached algae, known as maerl. On your way back look out to see the famous Dunvegan castle, the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland.

Jellyfish on Coral Beach.

While driving along the shore, you will also see some small lighthouses here and there, which reminded us of another interesting story: In 1963, two of Skye’s area lighthouse cottages, built by the Stevensons – in Ornsay and Kyleakin on the island of Eilean Ban – were sold to Gavin Maxwell, an author and naturalist. Maxwell’s enormously successful book “Ring of bright water,” tells the story of his friendship with an otter, set on the island. The otter, captured in Iraq, was a gift from Wilfred Thesiger, one of the greatest explorers and travel writers. They travelled together to the marshlands of southern Iraq, a trip that was later captured in their books.  Eilean Ban is now a wildlife sanctuary and a Maxwell’s museum.

Dunvegan Castle

As we decided to take a return bus back to Glasgow, this tiny island of Eilean Ban was the last place we saw on Skye from our window before reaching the mainland.
It is hard to believe we had spent only a few days here. It felt like several weeks, packed with constant joy of exploring and photographing breath-taking, beautiful places.
Thank you for stopping by!

View from main road on our way to the bridge.


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Commentary: Margaret Gajek and Derek Galon
Photographs: Derek Galon (please respect copyright)

Photographing the Isle of Skye, Scotland (part 2)

If you missed our first part of Skye experience, read it here.

Sunrise and first frost on Skye. View from Dunyre Cottage. (see previous post)

Cut trees in Storr area

The Old Man of Storr is a magical place. The hike starts at the highway, but sadly its first 30 minutes lead you via an extensive forest clear-cut. Whatever the reason behind this massive operation, it looks sad and ugly, bringing to our minds the terrible, indiscriminate clear-cuts here on Vancouver Island, in Canada. Skye is voted one of the10 most beautiful islands in the world – and such operations should not be allowed – at least in such extensive form. Yet, driving around Skye, you will not fail to notice old stumps of cleared forest, extensive wastelands clashing with the natural beauty of this island.

The Storr formation

Once you are higher, the view becomes wide, beautiful, and you can enjoy the beauty of Skye once again. Sheep graze in the most remote and steep parts of the high hills, and the rocky Storr formation stands magnificently right above your head. At the top plateau, where the path ends – once again you feel you are in photographers’ paradise. The pinnacle called the Old Man stands magnificent right in front of you, a panoramic view of Skye and surrounding islands opens wide, the air is crisp and fresh. You are on top of things.

Our next stop is famous Lighthouse on the west coast of Skye.  The west coast presents the most hostile environment on the island. Battered by strong winds, spectacular high cliffs reach right up to the headlands. On one of them stands Neist Point lighthouse, impressive in this truly dramatic setting. It was built in 1909 by David and Charles Stevenson, who belonged to the long and distinguished dynasty that constructed almost one hundred major lighthouses in Scotland.

Old Man of Storr

It looks across the water to South Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides and its lighthouse in Ushenish, built by Thomas Stevenson, the founder of the pioneering dynasty of Scottish engineers. He was greatly disappointed when his son Robert Louis Stevenson did not want to follow the family’s tradition choosing to pursue a literary career instead. A steep path leads to the lighthouse, but not many people know that in mid-way, already on the lower level – if you are not afraid of heights – you can step out of the known path, go to the right, traverse a meadow neatly trimmed by sheep, and enjoy a totally different view at the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse

Be careful though – you can see it only when you are just a few meters from the sharp, unprotected cliff. On a windy, rainy day, it can be really hazardous. We were lucky to have perfect weather, allowing me to set up my tripod and take some nice photographs. Thank you for stopping by.

Please stay tuned for more from Skye – coming soon!

On the way to Lighthouse


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Previous parts:  Train trip     Part 1

Commentary: Margaret Gajek and Derek Galon
Photographs: Derek Galon (please respect copyright)

Photographing the Isle of Skye, Scotland (part 1)

There are just a few passengers on the ferry from Mallaig, a fishing port on the mainland, to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. Most travellers prefer the more convenient option of reaching Skye – by car and taking the Skye Bridge, opened in 1995. From the ferry deck, the island looks beautiful and mysterious with the Cuillins, its highest mountains, enshrouded in mist. The ferry deposits us in a village near the end of Sleat peninsula, a place of lush vegetation and dense forests nowhere else to be found on the island.

So! We’ve arrived on Skye! Wow, what a beautiful trip that was! First – the fantastic West Highland Train from Glasgow to Mallaig, then a short but beautiful ferry hop, and a local bus to Portree, the island’s capital town.

Long distance call, anyone?

Once again it turned out that our thorough research on-line ahead of the trip paid off. Our car rental exceeded our expectations and simply is the finest car rental we’ve ever experienced! We booked our car on line with a company from Portree called M2 Motors. Not only did they offer the best deal on Skye, but their car hire service made our visit easier and nicer.

Portree – harbour area

How was it so? After a long flight, train trip, ferry, and a bus ride to the town of Portree, we were really tired, ready to crash. Add to it 8 hours of time zone difference, and you can understand we were simply  cooked. I expected car rental procedures to take half an hour or more.  To our surprise, our car was delivered to the bus station where we were met by a charming gentleman. He showed us the car, gave us the keys – and presto – after just quick formalities, off we went to our rented cottage!  To even greater surprise, we were told to simply drop off the car in the same place on our way home. Simple? Yes, very much so. And, to make it even nicer – when we were already getting off to Glasgow on our way back – the company manager popped in to the bus station, just to thank us for our business, and to wish us a good journey home! Wow! At 7am! Just to say “hi”! And did I mention – the little, peppy Renault was just perfect for what we wanted?

Early morning view at the Storr

M2 Motors made us feel more welcome on Skye, same as our nice host who rented us a tiny but nice Dunyre self-catering cottage. Yes, that was another lucky thing. Perfectly fitted for two or three persons, offering a fantastic view towards the Storr, modern equipment, internet, and an excellent price, Dunyre is run by very helpful and pleasant hosts who made our stay truly enjoyable. Yes, I know – this sounds like a “plug” – but both above businesses honestly deserve very highly to be known to the public for their above-average service. And if you happen to plan to visit Skye and Portree, then this may be a useful info for you.

Ok then, let’s get back to our story. You can find an astonishing variety of scenery on Skye. The Black Cuillins is the most spectacular mountain range with dark, jagged volcanic peaks. In the Trotternish Penninsula there is another ridge called Quirang, full of dramatic pinnacles and gullies. The ridge rises to its highest point at the summit at the Storr –  where years of erosion formed a distinctive pinnacle, the rock needle visible from a long distance: The Old Man of Storr. Between the ranges, undulated hills interpenetrate in a gentle way embellished by moors and cascading brooks. All that scenery is surrounded by extraordinary picturesque coastline, a smorgasbord of bays, hidden lochs, caves, tidal islands, massive cliffs and waterfalls.

Kilt Rock waterfall

What is making Skye’s scenery even more breathtaking is the extraordinary luminous quality of light. It creates a delicate chiaroscuro, a gentle transition between dark and light. It also helps the colours to be more saturated. Skye is situated rather far north; in December, winter nights last almost 18 hours, the 4 hours long nights in June are never totally black, they remain in a kind of twilight. 

Well, I had to stop the car sometimes every 100 meters! Views along the north east shore are nothing short of amazing. Just out of Portree – you get the view over the Storr formation. Morning light made it a spectacular photographic feast. Every hundred yards the view changed, with densely saturated colours of moors, rocks, cloudy sky, glens and tiny lakes. Skye is a photographer’s paradise! No wonder quite a number of celebrated photographers actually live there!
Next we arrived at Kilt Rock with the famous waterfall pouring down from a cliff straight into the sea. While the view of the waterfall itself is restricted by tight access to the shore, it is nonetheless spectacular and worth stopping your car. (If you plan to photograph it, try to be there in the morning, because around noon you will lose the direct sun on the water, which makes for sparkly and vivid display.)

rock landmarks (inuksuit)

After passing a few villages and stopping our car for a quick photo another dozen times, we came near to Quirang – another amazing area. Past the Quirang and Flodigarry, the very northern tip of Skye welcomed us with open views of the sea, and quite unexpectedly, with a display of rock landmarks (inuksuit) created by visitors over many years. 
Next, we went to Uig, driving a single-lane, winding road looking down at this small town connecting the northern isles via local ferry. A short drive from there, and we arrived at another stunning destination. One of the best examples of the more intimate scenery – The Fairy Glen, is a magical miniature landscape (obviously made by the magic of the fairies!) made up of grassy, cone-shaped hills and pockets of bizarrely  twisted bonsai-like trees.

Trees at the Fairy Glen

This tiny oasis stands among much higher hills and mountains like a land of garden gnomes. Perhaps the combination of awe-inspiring nature (sought by the Romantic artists as an experience of the Sublime), and of pastoral, more gentle landscape, is what makes Skye so truly exceptional. What an unexpected delight!
We returned to Portree tired and happy, and with plenty of photographs. For next day, we decided to go see the Old Man of Storr and the Neist Point Lighthouse – but this is another story, for another time…

One of many old croft cottages


Please stay tuned for more from Skye – coming soon!
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Next parts linked here:  part 2
Thank you for stopping by.

Commentary: Margaret Gajek and Derek Galon
Photographs: Derek Galon (please respect copyright)

West Highland Train – Glasgow to Mallaig, Scotland

Early morning photo from the train. Just out of Glasgow.

By any measure our trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland was absolutely fantastic!
Although it was already late October, weather was summer-like. And of course people in Scotland – as always – were helpful and friendly. Not only did we take all the photographs for our client, but also did some extra sightseeing, ending up having lots of additional photos, as well as amazing memories.
While the whole trip was just over one week long, it was packed with memorable moments and activities. Therefore we decided to split our post into several separate parts, in order to share our memories with you in the best possible way.

Dark clouds add drama to green hills.

So here is the first part – the journey from Glasgow to Mallaig:
When we boarded the West Highland Train in Glasgow early in the morning, we didn’t expect such a spectacular journey ahead of us. We knew that West Highland Line was voted one of the best scenic train journeys in the world, but nothing prepared us for that fantastically picturesque delight.

views are getting better and better…

The view from the train starts to be interesting almost immediately after leaving the station. The train runs parallel to the River Clyde along its north bank. After that the landscape opens wide. The line continues to wind its way through glens, alongside lochs, across moors, climbing up the mountains. It goes through scarcely populated areas before reaching Rannoch Moor, a vast upland wilderness. Scenery changes as in a kaleidoscope. Stations’ names become more Gaelic sounding; we are now in the heart of the Highlands.

Constantly on alert – I had only couple of seconds from seeing this, to taking this photo.

The morning sky becomes light blue and sunny, all colours of the landscape are saturated after the rain. We are glued to the windows determined not to miss anything; one blink of an eye and the view will be lost forever. We enter “the Horse Shoe Curve”- instead of crossing the broad valley, the train makes a big, spectacular bend over the neighbouring hillsides. Next, for some people on the train comes the biggest attraction: the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the biggest bridge on the line, featured in the “Harry Potter” films.

Near Rannoch train station

For us, the highlight of this trip comes next, past Fort William: the incredibly picturesque Loch Eilt, studded with tiny islands with towering trees. After crossing several viaducts and tunnels, we can already catch a glimpse of the sea. Our journey ends in Mallaig, a fishing port and a gateway to the north-west islands.

the Glenfinnan Viaduct – recognize it from Harry Potter?

The whole 264 km journey takes over 5 hours, but we felt like watching an incredibly fascinating 2- hour movie. If not for the train, it would be otherwise impossible to see such a stunning variety of Scottish landscape in such a short time. West Highland Line was built over the period of almost 40 years starting from 1863.

Beautiful Loch Eilt with dozens of tiny islands

The latest extension – from Fort William to Mallaig – was opened in April 1901. Since then, the train gives a chance to experience one of the most memorable rail journeys in the world.

We plan to take a ferry from Mallaig to one of the biggest Scottish islands, the Isle of Skye. For us, the West Highland Train is only the beginning.

ruins of a  house on a moor

Thank you for reading, please SHARE with friends, and if you like it – click FOLLOW to get notified when next parts are posted.
Story – Margaret Gajek, author of multi-awarded books Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean and Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean
Photography – Derek Galon (please respect copyright).

Until next time, cheers!
Derek

Breathing Color – Amazing Photo Papers

Tile Tales looks spectacular on Metallic paper. All bright parts are almost glowing.

I recently prepared several prints for a Photo Salon in Japan, and used this opportunity to work on newly purchased selection of papers from a young, dynamic company Breathing Color. Results of that work are so pleasing that I decided to share them with you ASAP.

Normally I would use this kind of post  in my other, more technical blog (and maybe I will repost it there too). But this story is bordering between technical, and a simple sharing of a great photo experience. It also shows several photographs from my portfolio – therefore I decided to post it here.

Preparing for THE 73rd INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC SALON OF JAPAN, I selected images of different styles, subjects and techniques. Among them, my favourite image with model Koko, called Tile Tales (which -by the way- have been just published in a limited edition book showing select fine art photography from around the world, and titled No Words, by the prestigious Scandinavian gallery 1X.).

This image looks almost black and white, it is full of luminescence and contrasts. Along with Tile Tales I selected some densely colorful images, as well as couple of real black and whites. That choice made for a perfect testing ground for my newly purchased Breathing Color papers.

Silvery-grey clay on No Nirvana image simply shines when printed on Metallic paper.

Knowing well how the “Tile Tales” looks on traditional glossy and pearl Ilford papers, I was curious how it will look on Breathing Color’s Vibrance Metallic. This paper intrigued me instantly. It has a high gloss finish, and its surface looks a bit like mother of pearl, reflecting light in a very interesting way.
So, I printed Tile Tiles – and could not believe the effect. Image got an instant “boost of light”, an extra dimension of warm luminescence. It is hard to describe. Perhaps it can be compared a bit with viewing it on a top quality monitor, where light comes from behind – rather than hitting printed image from the front. The brighter the image part is, the more of that reflective luminescence it gets – effectively expanding gamut and dynamics well over typical limits. The image received its own life! If you would have two  Tile Tales prints – one on a lovely Ilford’s Pearl paper, and another on this Metallic – I bet you would pick first the metallic one, even without thinking why you did so. It definitely is a paper which will help your images being noticed. Even in a poor light it still has quite a lot of appeal.

I found it fantastic for images which strongly accent their bright spots, and with bright colours including grey/silver/white.
Therefore I couldn’t resist printing my new image No Nirvana (with Michael Ward – model) on it – and bingo! Again, the image was stunning. Light grey elements of clay look just AMAZING. Unbelievable print! I printed on this paper both with dye and Epson pigment inks – and it looks same spectacular with both.

“Abandoned by God” photo from Montserrat gets a new life on Metallic paper – all bright parts including grey volcanic ash are simply stunning.

Next, I printed Rain Dance (with Daniel Corbett – model) – image with vibrant colours and lots of dark elements. For this one – I picked luxurious, lush mat paper called Vellum Fine Art Paper (again by Breathing Color).
Wow! Rarely I see such elegant and deep palette as this. A beautiful gallery quality print. Thick and heavy, it is really impressive. I quickly varnished it with a matte spray to protect against fingerprints, as this image just asks to be touched.

Rain Dance looks rich and elegant on Vellum paper.

I used the same paper for my black and white image called Always Fresh flowers (with Eden Celeste – model). Again – amazing result: deep blacks look on this paper almost like on an opulent velvet fabric, you almost see a depth to it. A remarkable paper, and instantly on my favourites list.

I also tested a semi-gloss kind of paper, called Vibrance Rag, printing Revisiting Dr. Freud (with Rowen Bellamy – model). At first, I was taken aback by its look. It has a slight texture and a light glaze, which did not look to me very appealing straight from the box. It looked too “artificial”, I thought. But when I printed on it a photo full of colour, textures and contrast – this paper got life on its own. Covered with ink, gone was that “artificial” look, and it looks like a really fine gallery grade print. Thumbs up again!

Vellum Fine Art paper makes “Always Fresh Flowers” look almost three-dimensional. Fantastic art paper indeed.

I still have some other Breathing Color papers and supplies to test – but these first three got my highest approval, and I can say that with their price being significantly lower than other top brands (Epson or Canson for example) – they will be often used for my exhibition quality works. They exceeded my expectation – and those of you who know how picky I am – should realize it is not often happening.

Like with all photo papers, you should consider specific images and select paper which will work well to accentuate your photograph. But you will find that Breathing Color can offer you really fine papers for many situations when you need the best prints. And the great news is – they offer low priced sampler packs! This is what I just used.

Revisiting Dr. Freud on Vibrance Rag looks very classy and rich.

I hope you enjoy this post, and if you do – please SHARE it with friends.
Thank you, until next time – perhaps right after our return from Skye, Scotland, later this month.
Cheers!

All images copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books. Please respect it.

GLASGOW NECROPOLIS

When I did my latest post yesterday, sharing with you photos from our Scotland trip last May – I left out one particular part of it. I did it for a reason – I thought this specific part of our trip would make a great stand-alone, separate post.

Glasgow Cathedral – Necropolis

We both love Glasgow, it has such fine character. Every time we travel via Glasgow, we try to explore it some more. Glasgow Cathedral is one of my most favourite places. But when we went there last May – the Cathedral was closed, and we decided to go explore the huge old cemetery behind it.
It is beautifully located over a green hill, overlooking large part of the city. Old architecture of it is quite spectacular, and if you like places like that – you can walk there for hours.

It dates back to Victorian times, and it’s design was selected in a way of competition, with the first prize  of… 50 British Pounds. Now, close to the top of the hill you can see tombs of influential people, artists and politicians alike. (Google “Glasgow Necropolis” to find much more info, or check Friends of Glasgow Necropolis web site.)

At the entrance, you are welcomed by large sign “NECROPOLIS”. Darkened by age grave stones give this place unique character, and I could not resist photographing it for  hours…
As the path goes higher and higher, to the most spectacular old tombs at the top, you are dazzled by the sheer size of that land, and rich architecture of old graves and tombs. You feel respect to the place, fascination, also sensing the eery beauty this cemetery possess.
Necropolis’ dark character, quiet majesty, but also a slight creepiness of these dark monuments bring to mind photography noire, perhaps also the goth style. Surely, dense green colour of grass makes it quite vivid all together – but what if photographs are edited as black and white?

 I created series called Necropolis, and edited all of it’s photographs in such way that they are 90% black and white, having only 10% of colour in them. All photos were bracketed and later fusioned for more aggressive textures of all monuments and stones.

At first I was a bit upset at the cathedral keeper, for him closing on that day some half an hour earlier than he should. But after taking all these Necropolis photos and exploring it – I found it actually good luck. With the cathedral open regular hours – I would not wander behind it, and would not discover the Necropolis.

I hope you like these photographs, some of them are available as art prints at the Gallery Vibrante – photo art gallery co-op offering quality art at low prices. Check them out there in larger sizes.
And – as always – if you like this post, SHARE it, and FOLLOW our blog to get all next posts in your email.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Derek

All photos copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books. Please respect it.
Assistance – Margaret Gajek (author of Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean and other books.)

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Anstruther, Crail, Elie – and more Scotland…

Gargoyle at the gate of Rosslyn Chapel.

So much work – I never had any chance to share with you photographs from our travel to Scotland in May! I only did a short post saying we are going. Then – right after return we had to pack up again, flying to Montserrat in the Caribbean (three posts about that – see them on the right menu), and now we are preparing our nest trip – back to Scotland. In the meantime we are working on two books for our clients, I prepare my images for an art show, exhibition and a publication in a magazine. (By the way, nice news regarding exhibitions – my photo from Montserrat volcano destruction zone had just been accepted to the prestigious Projected Image Exhibition 2012 by the Royal Photographic Society in UK).

Inside Rosslyn Chapel - view from the choir

Inside Rosslyn Chapel – view from the choir

Therefore I thought – if I won’t post anything about our May trip now, it may be buried forever…
May was rather cold in Scotland. We went to photograph the famous Rosslyn Chapel – a small jewel of architecture, and one of the most rich in history places on British soil. It was a privilege to be there, and we both hope that the Earl of Rosslyn personally liked our photographs. The chapel is undergoing some very serious renovations, and I tried to edit my images to show how it will all look after they are finished – after a whitish cement coating applied half a century ago will be removed, bringing it to its more natural look.

After photographing the Chapel we had a few days left before our flight home, and we went to see small fishing villages near St Andrews.

Anstruther at low tide

Anstruther, Elie and Crail – part of the picturesque “Nook of five” are simply amazing.
These tiny towns are closely connected together, and on a nice day you can stroll from one to another along the coastline. When we were there, however, it was really cold. Hail, high winds – nothing suggested it was late may.

Light house near Elie

On the positive side, such weather created very interesting lighting for photography. Dark, heavy clouds mixed with strong sun rays – it was like in a kaleidoscope.
We were impressed not only by beautiful scenery, but also amazingly friendly, down to earth people.

Old harbour in Crail

Imagine this: We were walking slowly near a bus stop, I had my heavy photo bag, we were looking around. A bus picked passengers and off it went on its journey. But didn’t go very far. Maybe 20 meters or so, and the bus stopped. Driver came out and quickly came to us: “Sorry, I didn’t notice you earlier. Are you by any chance trying to get to Edinburgh? If yes – this is the right bus, and next one will be an hour from now”.
We explained we were just enjoying the view, and don’t need to take a bus now. “Alright then, just didn’t want to leave you waiting here” said driver, smiled, and went back. AMAZING!
On another bus we heard its driver discussing home work with some kids coming from school.

Old house in Crail

Everyone says – thank you – to bus drivers (and they respond), people greeted us on streets, offered help, commented on scenery. Friendly in a very simple, natural way. It just felt right.
Once more we experienced that special flavour Scotland has to offer. We know we have to be back soon.

Edinburgh, near the Castle

After visiting these beautiful fishing villages, we had to go to Edinburgh, and then – to Glasgow, to catch our flight.

I am very happy with images I took, it was a fantastic trip! I hope you like these photographs too – and if you do – click the SHARE button, and FOLLOW our blog for next posts!

St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh

Soon we are off flying to Glasgow again, this time we will be photographing on famous Isle of Skye!
Until next time!
Cheers!
Derek

All photographs copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books, please respect it.

St Giles’ Cathedral – detail.

 

Plymouth – the New Pompeii (Margaret’s Notes)

Plymouth – view towards volcano

Some days ago we posted our memories from visiting city destroyed by volcano – Plymouth, in Montserrat. You can see link to that post on the right side, along with link to the story about our whole Montserrat trip.
However, that previous post was quickly written by me – Derek. I am always busy taking pictures, taking care of my gerar, and looking for potential shot. Margaret, on the other hand – being a writer and researcher –  has a totally different point of view, and she notices things I don’t. Therefore – both being deeply moved by the visit to Plymouth – we decided that Margaret needs to share her notes with you. Here it is…

It’s a bright early morning, but I already feel the heat building up. No wonder, it’s summer in the Caribbean. We are standing on the platform of Montserrat Volcano Observatory, waiting for a vulcanologist who will take us to the exclusion zone lying at the foot of the active volcano. There are five of us waiting, including a French photo-journalist, Derek, myself, and two people who work for the Montserrat Government. Our guide is half an hour late. As we strike up a casual conversation, I gaze at the Soufriere Hills volcano dominating the landscape, majestic and mysterious, partially covered in clouds. Soon we will be much closer to it. We are filled with excited expectation…

Our guide finally arrives and we follow his jeep, driving through a verdant landscape towards the sea. After passing the last inhabited houses – beautiful villas shaded by scarlet blooming flamboyant trees – we arrive at the check point manned by a volunteer – a retired policeman. Since we have special permit, we are allowed to pass further – past the gate to the exclusion zone. Our guide tells us rather harshly that we have maximum two hours’ time to explore, need to keep eye and voice contact, and “you have to leave immediately when I tell you to.” I notice his hands are shaking when he opens the gate padlock. I wonder – is it because he is aware of an impending danger of which we are blissfully ignorant?

Finally, we reach the site of what once was Plymouth, the capital city of the island, to begin our exploration. We leave our jeep’s motor running.

One of school buildings

As I’m getting out of the car my feet sink in a soft, silvery-grey ash, under which I sense another surface, hard as concrete. I look around at the landscape and I’m gripped in terror: the whole huge area is grey desolation and ruin. What remains of the city is buried under incredibly thick layers of mud and ash, following the eruption in 1995 and later pyroclastic flows. Now I understand why Plymouth is named “the new Pompeii.”

We are silent: this sight is inexpressibly moving. “Look at this house, it used to be three-storey high,” says Atsumi, our Montserrat host, pointing to a building in front of us. You can barely see its destroyed roof now; the rest is covered in ash. Derek disappears inside one of the buildings which still carries a visible sign “Ambiance” painted on the wall. He utters a cry and I follow him. What I see is a scene frozen in time:

A desk with computer thickly covered with ash… a phone book with yellow pages still open…

a child’s crib with toys scattered around… On the ash-covered floor, a watch dropped and smashed. Near the window a broken lamp with a grey cap of ash, surreal-looking roll of some fabric with colour and pattern impossible to discern under its thick ashy cover, and a mannequin used as a form for dress-making. Clearly, the home of a tailor, whose family left it all behind in a wild rush…

I step outside to take a deeper breath. There is another photographer with us, that French journalist. I can see him running in my direction. “What did you see?” I ask. “A bar that looks like people just left, leaving broken glasses and newspapers on the floor.” He and Derek move quickly from building to building trying to capture photographs of as many sights as possible. Another building of interest – elementary school. Rooms are filled with mud and ash to half their height. A chalkboard full of scribbles, and table almost completely drowned in ash add to the eerie feel of the whole place.

Our guide nervously calls his office to confirm volcano conditions still permit to continue our stay. “If the volcano decides to emit pyroclastic flows now, what are our chances of survival?” I ask our guide. “We have only 2 minutes until it reaches where we stand. It’s not enough time to escape,” he answers quickly. It’s not just the spewed hot rocks and ash that pose the danger: the hot steam and pressure accompanying them are equally destructive. It’s easy to believe that, since all the time we walk there, we’re surrounded by pungent sulphur fumes. “If anyone feels sick because of sulphur gas, we need to get immediately out,” cautions our guide.

There is no colour here, except for corroded iron structures covered by reddish rust in a vast sea of grey ash. There is an overwhelming silence: no bird songs or sound of leaves rustling in the wind. It’s like a desert – no, in comparison the desert is full of life!

I find myself in front of a bakery – so the signboard reads. Glimpsing inside through the shattered windows, I’m suddenly aware of a sound of flipping paper pages at my feet. I bend down to see it closer. It’s a Montserrat passport of some widely travelled lady. Was it lost in the haste of evacuation, dropped out of an open handbag? What happened to its owner? I wonder.

Our last place to see is a church on the outskirts of town. We walk over an iron gate, almost totally buried in ash. The church is surprisingly bright inside; rays of light enter through a broken roof illuminating the nave. I notice pages of a music score – Handel’s Messiah lying on the floor. As I’m leaving the church, I think about all the people who lived in this destroyed city – close to four thousand residents, whose lives were changed forever after the eruption.

Our guide is visibly relieved when we are leaving the site. After just 5 minutes’ drive we can again hear birds singing.

Post written by Margaret Gajek, author of Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean, and Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Photographs copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone.

As we both are deeply moved by the visit to Plymouth, Derek created three commemorative limited edition posters showing selection of his best photographs from there. You can see them at Gallery Vibrante, which offers Derek’s art photography for sale. Also there you can see his other best images from Plymouth (in Architecture and Travel categories).

Thank you for your visit. As always – if you like it, SHARE it with freiends, please.
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Cheers! Until next time!

New Pompeii (Montserrat’s Old Capital Destroyed by Volcano)

If you didn’t read my previous post, you may want to check it out. This post is very short, I am simply sharing with you my favourite photographs from Plymouth – the Montserrat’s old capital,  town destroyed by volcano some 15 years ago.
I wrote in my previous post: “We did some documentary photographs from the destruction zone, and we experienced the eerie feel that stays with this “New Pompeii” right up to the present day.  As you place your first step on the ground covered deep with volcanic ash – you turn silent…just trying to comprehend what really happened there those 15 years ago…

Plymouth is covered with ash, mud and huge lava rocks, up to the second floor level. You can see volcano still fuming with sulfur-smelling gas…  The moment of destruction is registered at every step, like frozen in time. Personal belongings scattered  in panic and visible through broken windows of houses half-buried in lava, mud and ash… offices hurriedly left in the middle of work…  pages of musical scores dropped on the floor of a shattered church – perhaps left behind by members of an evacuated choir… – All these things tell a gloomy, painful story not to be forgotten in Montserrat. Thankfully, now the volcano is under strict observation by the world’s best scientists, and danger zones are clearly drawn – in case of the volcano’s repeat activity.”

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Well, photographs here are edited to accentuate the eery feel. It is more my vision of this place than a strict documentary. I hope you find this interesting. I like some of them. In fact – I will add a few of them to my art works for sale on Photo Gallery Vibrante site.
These are rare photographs, we had to get a special permission and a guide from Volcano Observatory to get there. If you like this post – please click SHARE, let your friends see it. and surely – please also FOLLOW us for more photography posts. and, feel free to comment!

Until next time,  cheers!
Derek

Please remember – all photos copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books. Thank you.

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