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 ‘photography’ Category

Our 5th International Photo Salon

Dear friends,
To break with our routine and hurricane related things, this post is about something else – although surely hurricane Maria still plays its role in many aspects of life – this one included.

Some of you may remember that every year we organize international photo competition under patronage of such important organizations as RPS, FIAP, PSA and others. This year was no exception – although it was totally different and we will remember it for a long time.

The hurricane Maria made our 5th edition of Ozone Zone International Photo Competition much harder to run. Originally scheduled for November, judging of submitted photos had to be postponed.

One juror had to be emergency evacuated to another island as her family member required immediate medical treatment of hurricane inflicted injuries. Another juror had to bring family out of Dominica – also due to hurricane impact. And another juror along with Salon’s chair person – Derek and Margaret (which is us) lost their newly built house, many personal belongings, and were living in their Subaru car for several weeks after. Not the perfect scenario for finalizing a prestigious photo salon.

We rescheduled closing of the Salon to end of March, but even that proved to be a real challenge.
Although all jurors had a chance to meet and work together after sorting personal matters, it wasn’t exactly smooth.


Eight months on we still have no internet (to post this or deal with online salon submissions we need to travel to another town in hope of finding a spot with reasonable connection). The house we used for judging is badly damaged and leaks with every rain. We reviewed photos on a smallish monitor and a laptop (computer and big screen used before were damaged) using generator as the source of electricity, without running water or any other conveniences.

Reviewing all photos submitted from all corners of the planet while we felt cut-off from the rest of the world had been almost surreal experience. Seeing so many really fine photographs was uplifting and inspiring, reminding us that there is still room for creativity and beauty in our world – and that daily chores do not need to always end with using chainsaw or any other tools we used so extensively to survive the past months.

It was a good edition of our Salon although we nicknamed it “the Hurricane Edition”.
Now we are just finishing off all related duties such as sending medals and awards, reports to FIAP, PSA and other photo organizations, and so on.

We want to share with you a few best photos in hope they will give you lots of viewing pleasure.
You can see much more on competition’s website www.internationalphotocompetition.com on page WINNERS. This year’s categories were OPEN, LOVE, PORTRAIT and NUDE, MONOCHROME.
Enjoy, and until next time.

Derek and Margaret

Please note – all images are copyrighted, no usage without authors’ written authorization.

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Busy Months of Recovery

Things are busier than ever these days. Partly due to rebuilding our destroyed home which is a tedious process slowed down by shortage of building materials and qualified professionals. And partly due to amount of work on our everyday plate. You know, we do many different things on top of our “real” professions. Photographing things around us is more intense than ever – it is time of fascinating changes after the hurricane. Balance of things in nature changes frequently, so does the look of the whole island. We try to document as many such changes as possible for local use and also to offer on Getty/iStock sites.

African Tulip tree in full bloom

Then we need to take care of five dogs which became part of our family after the hurricane. The newest addition – a small puppy we found hungry, full of flies, half-dead on streets of Roseau proved to be real challenge, for it had a nasty Parvovirus our other dogs picked up. Vet visits, treatments, nursing sick dogs -a real zoo – you can imagine. All ended happily, and thanks for that because other work just piled up.

Fascinating shapes created in our forest by aggressively growing vines

For last several months I am involved in filming documentary material for one of big-wig nature movie TV producers (more about it is another subject requiring a separate post later on). So, I film with our drones using GPS routing for elaborate aerial time lapse video showing progress of nature healing itself. That requires regular trips to different spots on the island, over and over.
Then we had the photo competition to take care of, another article for MACO Caribbean Lifestyle magazine, several smaller photo-shoots, and so on.

Mountain Chicken frog in Dominica

And just recently, with production of a short movie for Discover Dominica Authority in mind, we photographed and filmed beautiful Dominica Jaco parrots and endangered “Mountain Chicken” frog. That proved to be both challenge and fun. Parrots are smart and playful creatures. Filming them up and close wasn’t exactly easy as they are constantly moving in unpredictable ways – but it is work like this which makes it living in Dominica such a great experience.

Jaco Parrot in Dominica

Therefore we want to share with you some of these photographs. If you plan to visit Dominica, maybe you will see these parrots yourself. We hope you will. But hey – for now you can at least enjoy these photos.
Until next time!

Derek and Margaret

Please respect the copyright, ask for permission before using any of these images.
Thank you!

Jaco parrot in Dominica

Derek’s work can be seen on www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

Five Months After – hurricane Maria notes part 5

Many things have changed since the hurricane, both on the island of Dominica and in our lives.

This is the same tree shown in part one of our hurricane notes  – remember it? if not – compare. https://ozonezonebooks.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/in-the-eye-of-cyclone-our-encounter-with-hurricane-maria/ it was bare – now starts to shoot new leaves but is almost completely covered in vines

 

Pumpkin grows now everywhere! Even on this shattered by hurricane van.

Nature tries to bounce back, but visibly things got a bit out of natural balance. We had a wave of mosquito infestation – which thankfully seems to be ending. Then we had a plague of butterflies – so many of them – white, brown, orange. Looks lovely but their eggs hatching means lots of fragile flora struggling to get back is being eaten on the spot. That should stabilize too. As for plants – bushes and smaller plants are bouncing back nicely, but many bigger and older trees are still in shock, with broken limbs and leafless. The clear winner of this post-hurricane period are vines. They spread everywhere, strangling smaller trees. When you look around you see the rich greenery and thing all is back to normal. But most green you see are bindweed- “morning glory” plants, various wild peas and wild cucumbers – and also – in some unimaginable way – pumpkins! They took over, growing everywhere, in most unlikely places. Practically everyone has now several healthy pumpkins around the house. At least this – with shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables – is welcome bonus.

I bet when bigger trees restore their branches and put more leaves, the resulting shade will give many vines checkmate, but it may still be some time away. Parrots – homeless and hungry – migrated from devastated old forest to more populated areas. They add lots of chatter to the sounds of nature, but surely they would be more happy back in primary forest. One day soon, perhaps.

A parrot near our home

Many things change around us, a visible progress is being made. Roads get cleaned, debris removed, Roseau city getting a face lift here and there. Plenty still to be done – an overwhelming task. Our favourite Fort Young Hotel perhaps leads the progress, already partially open for guests while working on impressive upgrades. This is the resilience in making – taking advantage of destruction not to just rebuild, but to make things better. Much better. It is uplifting to watch these fast-paced works. We just finished a sent of new promotional photos for them, proud to be part of this rebuilding effort. Feels good to see our photos in Washington Post and in other media.

Fort Young Hotel – looks better than ever. It is nice to see our photos help promote this place and Dominica.

So things are changing for us. We’ve got used to lack of electricity and using our Coleman gasoline lamp in evenings. It is actually quite nice, like old times. A small generator sent to us by our old, reliable friend Les takes care of charging batteries, laptop, or running our bread mixer – talk about power lines being fixed in our area sounds almost unreal. Hard to imagine having power constantly on – an excess luxury!

We started (in part thanks to help received from many of you!) to rebuild our home, and we know it will be a challenging task – building materials are hard to get, the port – still shattered after hurricane seems not capable to process promptly all incoming shipments – resulting in weeks if not months long – delays in supply stream. But life goes on. We published more articles including another one for MACO magazine – this time about progress of cleanup works in Dominica and new opportunities created by hurricane, and we now work on another story.

Barbados Atlantic shore – from the latest shooting trip.

Another photography job for Barbados tourism allowed us a glimpse at the “normal” world. What a weird place – all roofs are intact, trees green and happy, no mess to clean-up. We almost forgot how it can be.

Another scene from Barbados


We keep documenting all changes, photographing and filming with drone the progress around us. As more creative work is on the horizon we will keep you posted with new developments soon. Stay tuned!

Derek and Margaret

PS. Thank you to all friends who helped us financially in this critical time. If you still want to add your brick to rebuilding our lives, here is our paypal link  www.paypal.me/DerekGalon
Thank you!

African Tulip tree starts to bloom, bringing colour to forests first time after hurricane


Please respect our copyright. if you want to re-use photos, ask for authorization.

This part of forest washed by flood waters will take longer to recover. Near hot sulphur springs in Soufrier.

Still Stranded – Hurricane Maria notes – part 3

Dutch Marines coming

In roofless kitchen every cupboard, every mug and plate is covered with dirt and shredded leaves. I am surprised to find that our tightly closed spice jars are half-full of water pumped in under enormous pressure.

It is hard to believe two weeks already passed since the hurricane Maria. We are still spending lots of time sorting our things drenched in muddy water. It takes hours to pull them out, dry them in the sun, clothing spread on branches of our broken mango tree. In the roofless kitchen every cupboard, every mug and plate is covered with dirt and shredded leaves. I am surprised to find that our tightly closed spice jars are half-full of water pumped in under enormous pressure. Nothing stayed dry.

Soaked, messed boxes of stuff ready for our moving – now ready for garbage bin.

destroyed chapel at Retreat House

I am opening soaked boxes only recently packed to move to our new home – now totally destroyed by hurricane. In a dry weather we burn wet packaging, discoloured moldy clothes, destroyed furniture. Our neighbours, the Retreat House, kindly offered us a dry room to store the few things we managed to salvage. We are at the retreat house unloading boxes when we hear loud engines of approaching helicopter – a large Dutch military craft. Two uniformed figures descend on a steel line. They came from St Maarten hit by hurricane Irma and can compare. Dominica was hit much stronger, they say. They are looking for a Dutch couple living nearby to check if they are OK. They left only to come back soon with food for all of us – cans of beans, juice and rice. We laugh saying it will make the most expensive dinner in our lives.

How this tiny stream could turn to the nasty river? All these rocks were brought by water, damaging all homes around…

We are tired of experiencing a waterfall in our living room with every rain, so we decide to call village rastas for help making a temporary roof cover. We hear there is one store in town selling metal galvanized sheets for roofing. We can’t possible go there – our road is still blocked. We decide to find all our old pieces of galvanage and patch them together.

Typical scene of destruction

Finding them is not easy – some are blown away as far as the bottom of the ravine. Dragging them through bushes is a daunting task. We gather wooden rafters and metal sheets scattered around the house and go searching. I found a good sheet of galvanage, but it is stuck on a tree. We are out of luck for this one. After two days of hard work the job is done. To celebrate it, we spend the first night since the hurricane in our own bed. What a luxury, comparing to three weeks spent in our car!

Margaret walks on main street of Soufriere…

Step by step with much effort, our lives slowly improve. We made our pizza oven work again and bake our European bread. We can’t deliver it yet to shops, but we simply share it with neighbours and people in our village. An old friend of ours shipped a new generator as a gift – this will surely make big difference. Another friend invited us to see page www.gofundme.com and do search for Derek Galon. She organized a donation fund to help us, with friends and total strangers chipping in! Some other friends sent us their individual donations. Each such thing feels like a miracle. Gestures like that not only help rebuild our lives, but also show us much needed support. We are full of gratitude and appreciation. And we feel even more motivated not to fail.

While path to Emerald Pool is now cleared, the waterfall looks like set in middle of forest clear-cut

Soon we will be able to drive again – a hired excavator is clearing the road. We are invited to a bbq chicken party at village’s roofless bar. Everybody share their hurricane stories. There is a strong sense of togetherness which makes it easier to face days ahead.

 

 Please subscribe to see more photos and read next part soon.
Thank you!
Margaret Gajek
www.ozonezonebooks.com
Derek Galon
www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

If you wish to help us in this difficult situation, you can do so by using link
www.paypal.me/DerekGalon
Thank you.

Please respect copyright of this story and photos. Contact us if you need to reuse this material.

Tags:  #hurricanemaria  #hurricane #maria #tropicalstorms #dominicastrong #dominica

 

Center of Roseau

what remained of our bedroom and new home. most belongings were later stolen

Early Days – our hurricane Maria story, part 2

Margaret checking damage morning after hurricane

First weeks after Hurricane Maria are really tough for us. Not only because watching such an enormous destruction of the island hurts the soul, but also because simple everyday tasks combined with the challenge of survival require a lot of energy and effort. We have no roof – rain comes inside making a waterfall in the living room. We are trying to save our possessions moving them to dryer corners and covering them with plastic bags. With so much messy water our Syrian furniture are disintegrating, books melting away, clothes discoloring and moldy, photo equipment malfunctioning. Evening by evening, wet and tired we retreat to our car where we sleep.

Preparing food for lunch

There is no running water in the house, all pipes are broken. We’ve made a simple contraption to catch rain water for washing, and thankfully we have a bit of drinking water left. With our bathroom shattered we wash outside using a cup of water per person. But we need to cut our way through fallen jungle quick, to get drinking water from a nearby the spring. Day after day we make progress cutting bit by bit using our small chainsaw and cutlass. After ten days of exhausting work we can hardly move our hands. Derek says I am looking like a ladybug, covered with neat round bruises from heavy branches I had to pull out of our way. Finally we cleared our way to the neighbouring Retreat House.

Derek and Brother George from Retreat House clearing path to the spring

Seeing our neighbours for the first time since hurricane, we learn that the road to village is blocked by many land slides. What used to be an easy walk to the spring, is now a serious hike. With heavy backpacks we need to cross fallen trees, landslides and surprisingly deep mud ponds. Broken bamboo make haunting, eerie sound. There is profound silence – no birds and no sound of leaves. Leafless trees don’t provide shelter from the scorching sun.

Collecting water from the spring

However, we had to undertake this hike to village soon, for we were told at the top of village road we can sometimes get mobile phone reception. I’ve always liked to walk this road from Retreat House to the village, enjoying lush vegetation. There was always cool here, even on the hottest of days. Now it’s very different. Countless trees uprooted from the hillside fell to the ground. It it difficult to climb over them. Although we both have cutlasses, we make a slow progress. Dense clusters of fallen bamboo with their sharp prickly branches are especially hard to cross.

On the path to the village

I turned another corner and stopped in awe: what used to be a sleepy creek became a raging torrent during the hurricane and made this wide white valley full of huge boulders blocking the road. We finally reach the village. The view from the road takes our breath away. This immense destruction we see has a suffocating effect on us. Destroyed roofless houses, concrete walls crumbled, lots of debris, countless landslides are all around, as far as an eye can see.

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Destruction of Eggleston

We call our family and friends. Hearing their voices in this scenery of desolation feels surreal. I am happy to hear them but it’s very difficult to describe in a few words what we’ve been through. Soon we have no money left on our cell phones. For top-ups we need to hike to Roseau; the road is not cleared yet – it will take us at least four hours one way. We head back home.

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Drying our salvaged stuff on broken mango tree.

Our generator broke after only three days of working, so we have no power. As we need to clean food supplies from our dead fridge, we have a feast lasting for two days. I spread spoiled mango jam on the grass for bees and other insects – there is nothing for them to feed on. I can see unripened fruits scattered by hurricane on the ground. Most fruit trees are damaged, but even these standing will have no fresh fruit crop for half a year. Feeding five dogs is a challenge. There were only two dogs with us during hurricane. The rest disappeared day before hurricane on one of their adventures. Now they are coming back, exhausted, frightened and hungry.

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Our dogs have fun on broken mango tree

Friends from the village brought us canned food and horrific stories about many deaths and miracle survivals. They also heard that our newly built house on the hillside is totally destroyed – only one wall still standing. What if we spent the hurricane night there? I am afraid to think what might happen to us. Our friends leave soon – the hike back to village is long and dangerous after dark.

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Remains of Champagne Beach facilities

We get up with the first rays of light – just after 5 am. The gas stove still works. We can cook our simple meals in roofless kitchen while it is not raining. We eat on a small patio with roof still on, sharing food with always hungry dogs.

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Cleanup of Roseau

It is remarkable how quickly one can adjust. Life in a shattered house, in conditions unworthy a basic camp site is quickly accepted as the new normal, just the way things are. We live on…

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One of trees we had to cut to get to Retreat House

This story covers first two weeks after #HurricaneMaria. Another part coming soon. Please subscribe to see more photos and read next part soon.
Thank you!
Margaret Gajek
www.ozonezonebooks.com
Derek Galon
www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

If you wish to help us in this difficult situation, you can do so by using link
www.paypal.me/DerekGalon
Thank you.

Please respect copyright of this story and photos. Contact us if you need to reuse this material.

Tags:  #hurricanemaria  #hurricane #maria #tropicalstorms #dominicastrong #dominica

Secret Bay… once again!

Secret Bay as it looks today

Recently, we felt lucky again to work at the Secret Bay eco-resort here, on the island of Dominica. We felt lucky because this is one of our favorite places on earth. We witnessed the birth of the Secret Bay when six years ago we photographed the first, newly constructed villa called Zabuco, and watched with excitement their further development over the years. This time, our job was to photograph two Ylang-Ylang villas, a newest addition to six already existing ones.

One of Ylang Ylang villas

 

Shortly after arrival, when carrying our photo equipment (heavy!) and setting it up, I felt it again: calm joy of being there, my blood pressure decreasing, my muscles relaxing. The place is of extraordinary beauty: situated on a cliff with stunning wide view of the Caribbean Sea visible from every villa and bungalow. Looking at the new villas I’m amazed how well they fit into the landscape; they look like they were always there!

Covered patio with kitchen blends inside with outside space

We’re photographing the state of the art equipped kitchen entirely open to the surrounding nature. Inside the villa, sliding doors and huge windows allow the inside space harmoniously blend with the outside.

Another angle on patio reveals its fantastic view

Secret Bay was built by sustainable methods: all the surrounding trees were preserved, only higher brunches were trimmed to open up the amazing vistas. We’ll write more about sustainable development of Secret Bay for the next MACO magazine; please check it out.

While working on our first Caribbean photo coffee-table  book  “Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean” we saw many extraordinarily beautiful homes and resorts all over the Caribbean. Secret Bay is unique among them; it has it all: breathtaking location, exceptional organic architecture, fabulous food and unpretentious friendliness of people who work there. Being here is a very special privilege for us. After work, we take a swim at the Secret Beach and night snorkel – what an uplifting and blissful experience!

 

Ylang Ylang villa with its swimming pool connected by hardwood patio.

We did not post anything for a while, and we missed you! We will try to publish another post soon. It is just that we are getting incredibly busy at times – working on many projects such as photo-shoots of Miss Dominica, photo sets for hotels and resorts, and also – building our own little house! But that is yet another story…

Stay tuned! Cheers!

Margaret

Story by Margaret Gajek, all photos by Derek Galon. Please respect the copyright.
Thank you.

Martinique

Beginning of this year has been extremely busy for us, filled with new, exciting, and often challenging projects. Among other activities we contributed articles and dozens of images to several publications including two last editions of MACO Magazine – the ever-popular Caribbean lifestyle magazine. Our write-ups are about unique and quirky homes on Dominica island where we now live. MACO also featured our story about rebirth of Montserrat after it’s last devastating volcano eruption. When our family came from England for a visit, we decided to take a short break from work, and travel with them to a neighbouring island of Martinique._DSC7245

We boarded catamaran ferry operated by L’Express des Iles which links a few nearby islands with Dominica. From the ferry you can really see how extraordinarily beautiful this mountainous island is, covered with lush greenery and surrounded by turquoise coral reefs.

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Last glimpse at Dominica – heading to Martinique

Our boat left calm Caribbean Sea and entered rough Atlantic waters. With strong winds it could be a rough ride. Fortunately, the day was calm and soon we were able to see silhouettes of approaching Martinique. It is much more populated than Dominica – over four hundred thousand people live there. From a boat you can clearly see quaint little villages dotting the coastline, and much bigger concentration of population around the Fort-de-France area. It is a metropolis comparing to Dominica with only seventy-two thousand inhabitants.

photo: Derek Galon

Bibliotheque Schoelcher by architect Pierre-Henri Picq

The first thing we noticed after leaving the ferry terminal in Fort-de-France was an elaborate, colourful building of Bibliotheque Schoelcher on the other side of grassy lawns of La Savanne park. Its architecture has a fairy tale quality, and perhaps could look more at home somewhere in Turkey or Italy – maybe because of eclectic, curious mixture of different designing influences including Byzantine, Art Nouveau and ethnic building traditions of French colonies. Library is named in honour of Victor Schoelcher, the French cabinet minister and influential abolitionist. In 1883 he donated books from his own collection to the people of Martinique and was inspiration for this development.

This intricate building was designed by Pierre- Henri Picq in 1884, built in Paris, displayed at the 1889 World Exposition and shipped in pieces to Fort-de-France. Picq is also an architect of other city landmarks like Cathedral St-Louis, Grand Marche – covered produce market, and corner building of Magasin du Printemps. His another eye-catching building, the Museo Artequin in Santiago, Chile, perhaps resembles Bibliotheque Schoelcher the most. Interestingly, in most English speaking travel guides (including Lonely Planet) his last name is spelled Pick, which explains why I couldn’t find any information about him on-line on English sites.

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Patisserie Friandises des Iles – our most favourite, perhaps the best small chain in Martinique, with shops in Fort de France, Schoelcher, and case Pilote.

The old city of Fort-de-France is small but full of interesting buildings and… patisseries. Our sightseeing was seriously distracted by our weakness for sweets – but how can you resist delicious French eclairs with fluffy, delicate and fragrant cream?

We took a drive up the scenic coastal road north, which goes through old fishing villages. Our favourite was Case Pilote with old stone church and a charming town square with town hall, a water fountain in the middle and yes, a delicious patisserie.

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Fountain in Case-Pilote

Atmospheric town of St Pierre has a fascinating and gloomy history. On May 8th , 1902 the whole city was totally destroyed by pyroclastic flow from erupting volcano of Mont Pelee in 10 short minutes. The speed of black clouds carrying volcanic gases and burning ash was over 670km per hour and temperature as high as 1,075 degrees C. Wikipedia brings a very detailed description of this tragic eruption. Nearly 30 thousand people lost their lives. One of the lucky escapists was a prisoner named Cyparis, locked in a jail cell.

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Mont Pelee

Not much have been left from the original city. The most impressive ruins are of an old 18th- century theatre, which once seated 800. It was built in 1786, reconstructed in 1831, resembling a theatre in Bordeaux. Well preserved a double set of stairways gives a sense of grandeur and an enormous scale of the building.

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Double set of stairs to amphiteatre

Depth of the stage allowed for big productions, ranging from classical to vaudeville as well as great operas. Setting for the theatre is as spectacular as the building itself – located on a hill with spectacular views of the sea and Mont Pelee.

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Mt Pelee seen through old gate of theatre

In times of its glory it must have been an awe inspiring sight. Curiously, the theatre was closed down shortly before the eruption of Mont Pelee as a result of huge loans for renovations in 1900, that couldn’t be paid off.

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Old, rusted trasnformer in theater ruins.

 

We wandered through the narrow streets of this fascinating town ending up (of course!) in another delicious patisserie.

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Remainings of the theater

Back from this short trip, refreshed and excited, we got back to our work with new energy – but this is yet another story…

Until next Time! Cheers!
Derek and Margaret

If you like this story, please Share and Like it.
Story by Margaret Gajek
Photographs by Derek Galon – please respect copyright.
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Front of a typical old house in St Pierre

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