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.

Posts tagged ‘architecture’

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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Notes From Linz

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

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

In the Old City

In the Old City

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

Stained glass window in one of numerous churches of Old City

Stained glass window in one of numerous churches of Old City

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Lost in Venice

Venice in November was for us as fascinating and magical as in summer months. More quiet, sometimes covered with fog, it presented a different face than during busy tourist season. We were fortunate that after finishing photographic work for a client, we still had time to explore this amazing city. Here are a few of “our discoveries” about Venice we would like to share.

View from the famous Rialto bridge

View from the famous Rialto bridge

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Although Venice is small enough to get across within a couple of hours, it is also one of the easiest cities to get lost. We were drawn into the maze of narrow streets and canals, some marked as calle, fondamenta or ruga or simply not marked at all. Getting lost in the tight lattice of  alleys in Cannareggio and Castello was a highlight of our Venice experience. The 118 islands that make up the city are small; space is very precious. Surprisingly, we encountered many private, secret gardens hidden behind ancient walls, tiny courtyards filled with exquisite plants, roof terraces shaded by pergolas and balconies full of greenery. Narrow windowsills made of stone displayed clusters of white and red cyclamens on almost every building we passed by.

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Acqua alta” – high water – occurs in Venice more often that we thought. It happened twice during the week of our stay. This temporary flooding is caused by exceptionally high tides, and it usually lasts for 3-4 hours. At that time, the most fashionable shoes are rubber boots, and you really need these to get across Piazza San Marco. City installs a network of elevated gangways for pedestrians when this tidal phenomenon happens. _DAG7512

San Marco Basilica

San Marco Basilica

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On Torcello

It is hard to believe that the island of Torcello was once a thriving centre of the whole lagoon even before Venice was built. Today, almost nothing remains of its former splendour. The major attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta founded in 639 with Byzantine mosaics, the oldest in Venetian lagoon. Torcello reached its peak in the 14th century, and was finally abandoned  as a result of devastating malaria. This quiet and peaceful island offers a perfect refuge from busy streets of Venice.

A traditional wine shop - bring your own bottle, and get a fine wine at a super-low price!

A traditional wine shop – bring your own bottle, and get a fine wine at a super-low price!

We hope you enjoy this short story by Margaret Gajek and photos by Derek Galon.
If you do, please share and follow our blog for more. Until next time! Ciao!
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typical Venice gift store window

typical Venice gift store window

Bequia, a Feast of Colour – Ozone Zone’s New Book

Port Elizabeth harbor front, 1979, “coffee stain” painting, collection Lou Keane, BequiaWhen he first came to Bequia, Peter didn’t have any paints. He used pens and ink. He made paint from instant coffee mixed with water. He’d make a little painting, sell it, and when that money was gone, he’d paint another picture. This one shows the SIMONE V, a Guyanese wooden sloop trading between Barbados and Bequia. The Bequia Chandlery, now the Bequia Bookshop, is at the center of the sketch and the old Barclay’s Bank building, now Solana’s, is at the right. Empty steel drums lined up on the beach were filled with water and used as ballast. The little ground floor shop sold plumbing fittings.Nolly Simmons

Port Elizabeth harbor front, 1979, “coffee stain” painting, collection Lou Keane, Bequia
When he first came to Bequia, Peter didn’t have any paints. He used pens and ink. He made paint from instant coffee mixed with water. He’d make a little painting, sell it, and when that money was gone, he’d paint another picture. This one shows the SIMONE V, a Guyanese wooden sloop trading between Barbados and Bequia. The Bequia Chandlery, now the Bequia Bookshop, is at the center of the sketch and the old Barclay’s Bank building, now Solana’s, is at the right. Empty steel drums lined up on the beach were filled with water and used as ballast. The little ground floor shop sold plumbing fittings.
Nolly Simmons

We are excited to share with you some fresh good news:  We are just finishing a new book, which will be published by Ozone Zone. It’s again a Caribbean-related title, full of paintings by Peter Carr, an artist from Australia, who was fascinated by the beauty of Bequia, a small island belonging to St Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s actually much more than a book of paintings. A friend of Peter Carr’s, Julie Savage Lea, herself a fine painter living on Bequia, has put together some fascinating memories and comments by selected Bequia residents, and used them as descriptive reference for Peter’s paintings. The result is a colourful book telling the story of Bequia, its local traditions, important historical moments, treasures, local customs, and much more. You can get quickly drawn into reading this vivid story – it’s like visiting Bequia with a great guide, and having fine watercolours illustrate the story at every step you make.

Port Elizabeth, Bequia, 1999, watercolor, collection of Cedric Bourdereau, FranceUsed by pirates and the French and British Royal Navies in turns, the early settlement, a thriving port with limited fresh water, was initially called “Harbour Town.” In the ensuing years, nineteenth century whaling ships, mostly from New England, gave way to locally-built trading sloops and schooners. In 1937, “The Harbour” was declared “Port Elizabeth” by King George VI, in honor of his oldest daughter. By the 1950’s, charter yachts and motor vessels began to appear in the bay. Traditional fishing and boat building declined. Since the ‘70’s, bare boats and catamarans have become ubiquitous. Rental villas, construction projects, and tourism are now the economic forces in Bequia.Bob Berlinghof

Port Elizabeth, Bequia, 1999, watercolor, collection of Cedric Bourdereau, France
Used by pirates and the French and British Royal Navies in turns, the early settlement, a thriving port with limited fresh water, was initially called “Harbour Town.” In the ensuing years, nineteenth century whaling ships, mostly from New England, gave way to locally-built trading sloops and schooners. In 1937, “The Harbour” was declared “Port Elizabeth” by King George VI, in honor of his oldest daughter. By the 1950’s, charter yachts and motor vessels began to appear in the bay. Traditional fishing and boat building declined. Since the ‘70’s, bare boats and catamarans have become ubiquitous. Rental villas, construction projects, and tourism are now the economic forces in Bequia.
Bob Berlinghof

For us this new book is a natural continuation of our on-going Caribbean theme. Things tend to unfold harmoniously when you are working in the Caribbean.
We met Julie when working on our first Caribbean book ,“Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean”.  We had appointments scheduled nearby on the famous island of Mustique, and we heard about Julie’s studio by chance in our hotel. A quick decision, and a couple of hours later we were on a ferry to Bequia, to visit her in her studio – the charming Mango Cottage. In fact, I believe Julie Lea deserves a separate blog post. Yes, why not? In our next post we will profile Julie and her works – we will invite you to her Mango Cottage. It’s quite a unique place, we’ve dedicated a whole chapter to it in our Tropical Homes book.

Bow of WATER PEARL, built on Belmont beach, Admiralty Bay, 1980, watercolor. An earlier schooner with the same name, owned by J.F. and Reginald Mitchell, was finished near this site, in 1932In the late 70’s, Californian Chris Bowman and I were co-contractors for a 68-ft. traditional wooden schooner, WATER PEARL, built for Bob Dylan near the present Dive Bequia, just off The Belmont Walkway. We hired some of the best shipwrights in Bequia—Albert Crosby, Lincoln Ollivierre, Lanceford Hazell, Herbert Ollivierre, Gilbert Hazell. She was handmade with pride. Her ribs were Bequia white cedar curved to the right shape by the N.E. Trades. Her planking was Guyanese hardwood. Her bulwarks were dark as ebony and finished with gleaming brass fittings. It took three years to build her. We launched her on December 9, 1980, with an all day celebration.Five years later, WATER PEARL ran aground and sank off the coast of Panama. All of Bequia wept. “All...that...HARD...work!” said “Linky” Ollivierre. Nolly Simmons

Bow of WATER PEARL, built on Belmont beach, Admiralty Bay, 1980, watercolor. An earlier schooner with the same name, owned by J.F. and Reginald Mitchell, was finished near this site, in 1932
In the late 70’s, Californian Chris Bowman and I were co-contractors for a 68-ft. traditional wooden schooner, WATER PEARL, built for Bob Dylan near the present Dive Bequia, just off The Belmont Walkway. We hired some of the best shipwrights in Bequia—Albert Crosby, Lincoln Ollivierre, Lanceford Hazell, Herbert Ollivierre, Gilbert Hazell. She was handmade with pride. Her ribs were Bequia white cedar curved to the right shape by the N.E. Trades. Her planking was Guyanese hardwood. Her bulwarks were dark as ebony and finished with gleaming brass fittings. It took three years to build her. We launched her on December 9, 1980, with an all day celebration.
Five years later, WATER PEARL ran aground and sank off the coast of Panama. All of Bequia wept. “All…that…HARD…work!” said “Linky” Ollivierre. Nolly Simmons

Am I drifting away from the main theme – Bequia, a Feast of Color? Yes, perhaps – but as I just said, things about the Caribbean tend to unfold naturally, leading one to another. We are really excited about this new, upcoming book. Attention to detail and close collaboration between all the people involved in the production, made it a truly rewarding experience. I took all the  time to make sure all the paintings look in the book as close to the original as possible, and now it’s ready to go to print. It will be printed by our long-time partners, who stand behind the quality awards received by our Tropical Homes and Exotic Gardens books. Unfortunately, the printing, cargo shipping, and distribution all take time – and therefore this book will not be ready for Christmas. A pity, for coffee table books make really classy and elegant gifts. But there is always the next time, so let’s wait for this newcomer. It will be worth it.

cover-homes-600px-sRGBIf you like coffee table books as much as we do, and if you came upon our blog rather recently and are not familiar with our early posts – then perhaps I should introduce our previous Caribbean-themed books – which enjoy world-wide distribution, numerous international awards and 5-star reviews. Both these titles were multiple times on Amazon’s top-seller lists, and their various enthusiastic endorsements were our best reward for years of passion put into their creation.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

The first one was Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean. San Francisco Book Reviews in 2010 called it “A book so thick and decadent you can almost feel the tropical warmth penetrating from the heady images.”
Another magazine wrote: “A delirious architectural tour of the most exotic and fanciful homes in the Caribbean, this exquisitely photographed collection of eye-popping residences is bursting with playfully challenging design. While the work featured might not be applicable to every home, getting lost in the images is a vacation in itself.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

The sense of liberation and unbridled exuberance is nothing short of thrilling. This gets my vote for best book to curl up with in January when you want a respite from the Wisconsin winter. “ – (Robert Bundy, Milwaukee Home & fine living July 2010)
Readers seem to have a similar opinion, to quote one of Amazon’s: “This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful book; a feast for the eyes! It takes the reader into private worlds of exquisite gardens and houses, created by the most tasteful, sophisticated and (one assumes) wealthy inhabitants of this favoured part of the world.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

Derek Galon’s photography is masterful – full of juicy colours, whimsey and entrancing details. Margaret Gajek’s text is both knowledgeable (she has a background in architectural history) and very readable. Highly recommended. Guaranteed to take you away from a dull, North American winter!”  (- Susan Scott). While spending an enormous amount of time and effort on producing this title, we never expected the reception to go to such degrees of enthusiasm, so these comments are really our greatest reward. You can browse this book, read more about it, and perhaps choose it as your perfect gift, on Amazon’s sites.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

Here are direct book links to three main ones,  where it is available at a big discount now:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Our next Caribbean title was born shortly after Tropical Homes. Exotic Gardens of The Eastern Caribbean followed the success path of our previous title, and even exceeded it with the prestigious Nautilus Book Award 2011. Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean - our next bookIt also received fantastic reviews and endorsements. Halifax Herald wrote: “If you’ve ever visited one of these islands, this is a wonderful keepsake; if you’ve never been, it’s a temptation to go.”

Another comment comes from a known British media celebrity – Stuart Hall from BBC, ITV ( It’s A Knockout, Look North): “It is a masterpiece, an amazing work of sheer artistry, imagination, and indeed of romance.”
Other artists shared this view: “It looks like a labour of love, and you have every right to be proud of it. And it’s amazing that this is bilingual too. Just on the first flipping through, we are already overwhelmed by the images and thoughts. Congratulations!” – Robert Bateman and Birgit Freybe Bateman.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Comments of other readers were similarly upbeat: “This book is well written and has stunning photography, superbly arranged and produced. For those of us who have enjoyed travelling to the Eastern Caribbean, these are the pictures we tried to take but couldn’t. This is the kind of book we want on the coffee table, to leaf through and admire.” “This book is absolutely gorgeous! We have it on our coffee table, and are so inspired by all the beautiful photographs. This book would make an excellent gift for anyone interested in gardening, or anyone who loves to daydream about living in the tropics!” (Amazon’s reader).

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Exotic Gardens shows a wide selection of unique Caribbean gardens, and the final chapter demonstrates ideas for flower arrangements using tropical flowers, with step-by-step instructions for three unique flower arrangements, done by fine flower designers from Grenada, with their original comments. The book also includes an audio CD with one hour of Caribbean nature sounds, to offer an enhanced reading and browsing experience.  Yes, experience may be the word – and it was used in the most recent reader’s comment on Amazon UK site: “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. For garden-lovers visiting the islands, this sumptuous volume is the perfect introduction to some of the rare and exotic plants that might be seen.”

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

This is perhaps the most fantastic review of our book ever, and it makes us truly happy. You can browse Exotic Gardens, read more about it, and perhaps choose it as your perfect gift, on Amazon’s sites.
Here are direct book links to three main ones, where it is available at a big discount now:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Working on several projects at the same time, we missed seeing the newly added readers’ comments on Amazon and other bookstore sites. We discovered them only recently – and so we wanted to share all that with you. After all, this is the blog of a book publisher specializing in Caribbean coffee table books. We often share with you stories about our other trips, shoots and experiences – but Caribbean books are always an important theme that’s very close to us.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Announcing our new title made me also step back in time and introduce our previous titles to those of you who found this blog more recently. If you go back to our earliest posts, you will find stories from our first Caribbean trips, sharing the adventure of producing our first title.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

I hope you enjoyed this bit of retrospective, which is always very close to our hearts. In the next blog – more about Bequia artist, Julie Savage Lea.

Cheers! Until next time!
Derek

Photos of paintings copyright Peter Carr, Ozone Zone Books.
Other photos: Derek Galon – please respect our copyright.

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.

 

Montserrat – another photo-shoot trip to the Caribbean

Just landing in Montserrat

Hello again, it’s time to share with you more details of our recent trip to Montserrat island in the Caribbean, and our work there.

As you may know, until the deadly volcano eruption in 1995, Montserrat enjoyed elite tourism, it was the place the world’s most successful music was born (Beatles, Police, Ultravox, Elton John, and many other top musicians recorded their albums there in Montserrat, at Sir George Martin’s Air Studios.) All that ended with the fateful eruption, when the volcano completely destroyed Montserrat’s capital and about 1/3of the whole island.  (I have some fine photos from that capital, now branded with the name New Pompeii. The Volcano Observatory staff helped us with a tour through  the “no go zone”.)

Montserrat – view towards volcano

Now the government of the tiny Montserrat has started intensive works to build a whole new capital city in a different part of island – in the Little Bay and Carr’s Bay area, which will include a fine marina and marina repair facilities, a posh hotel and spa, luxury residential complex of villas, a fishermen wharf,  local market, museum, city hall, court house, cruise ship terminal, you name it.  All that, with full respect for local nature, eco-system, and with local residents in mind. The project is HUGE, and it’s mind blowing to think the whole new city with all its extra amenities will be built all at once, using modern eco-friendly technologies. It will be a city like no other. Beautifully designed as a totality, a whole seamless unit, modern and elegant – a real magnet for tourism, investors, artists, and so on.
To make it happen, this enormous project has to be coordinated with a new fast ferry, expanded flight services, new supply lines, and other things like that.  It all has to be well timed – otherwise it could end in a fiasco.

View at the Caribbean Sea and lush hills of Montserrat.

To develop, supervise and coordinate this tremendous project, Montserrat government has hired John Cox, who used to overlook ALL  British overseas territories’ developments. He has a vast experience in such huge-scale projects. He has worked all over the world, in countries like Pakistan, in Africa, and in the Caribbean as well.  In recent years he’s been working independently, and now devotes his passion and skills to the Caribbean region.

Street BBQ

We’ve seen plans and drafts, we heard with how much enthusiasm he speaks about it, and how much trust people have in him  –  be it the British Governor, Montserrat Government officials, opposition party, or just the regular guys in the street. His assistant – a modest and beautiful Japanese girl,  Atsumi Kani – an architect who originally came to Montserrat 13 years ago as a UN volunteer and decided to stay – helps him at every step along the way. The whole team is truly dynamic, and we look forward to watching their miracle unfold.

Shore on Atlantic side of Montserrat.

So, what did we actually do there? Our job was to take photographs worthy making the best publications and brochures. Photographs that will make people look closer at this project, and decide to join it. Montserrat Development Corporation  (MDC)  is seeking serious investors who will be partners in this unusual adventure – people who enjoy breaking new grounds and want to share this vision for the new and unique Montserrat. A fantastic, modern architectural draft of the new city includes many luxury villas ready to buy, a hotel in need of investors, and other such exciting opportunities. A proposal is just being created, and our photographs will be part of it.

Returning by boat from photographing Rendezvous Bay, beautiful sandy beach in north of Montserrat.

We are truly happy our photos will assist this fantastic project go ahead, and we’re glad our humble advice as to designing and printing promotional materials will help improve their overall quality.
We’ve tried to capture the beauty of this tiny island, its fine and friendly people, sandy beaches, nature, and of course the volcano in its present state – an additional attraction not possible to see on most other tropical islands.

Iguana on the lawn of our guest house.

During our short stay another idea was born – a fine hardcover book documenting the whole process,  the rebirth of Montserrat – a true Phoenix out of the ashes! Such a book can be a very important part of Montserrat’s recorded history, an eye-opener for many visitors, and a reminder of the struggle of Montserrat’s brave, tiny nation – the hard period of devastation, followed by the remarkable desire to restore the island’s life and move forward. A book perhaps of generous size, similar to our Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean – elegant, yet powerful chronicle of this epic journey.
Keeping this idea in mind, we also 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 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.

Abandoned church in Plymouth is covered with volcanic ash.

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.
Everyday life is back to normal in the northern part of Montserrat –  the lush, green hills which are safe from danger.

Classroom in Plymouth filled with ash up to the chalkboard level.

This was one remarkable trip!  We’ve made new friends, learned a lot – and we look forward to continuing working with the whole team for years to come.
Hopefully these few photographs can give you a glimpse of this fine, unique Caribbean island and its brave nation. But – as we experienced – nothing beats the real thing. So if you feel like having some adventure, pack your bags and go for a Montserrat vacation, see for yourself how much this tiny island has to offer.

Pair of Green Turtles mating in pristine Atlantic waters near the shore.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

And as always – if you find this little story interesting – click SHARE, let your friends enjoy it too.

Cheers!

Derek

PS.  Images are copyright of Ozone Zone Books, Canada and Derek Galon. Please respect that.

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