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.

Posts tagged ‘art photography’

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 3

If you followed previous parts of this series, you know that today we will discuss the tip #2
– Select your best images AND make sure they have enough bang.

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2.

Picking winning images

Picking winning images.

So, you have good photos which are great choices for categories you want to enter. Please take time selecting the best ones, and try to avoid submitting very similar shots. Leave your photos for a few days and look again with fresh mind. Ask your friends, colleagues in camera club. Select ONLY the best images, and try to have a diverse selection. It is YOUR job to select your best images. I sometimes see almost identical entries – like 2 or 3 portraits with just a slight pose change – but otherwise identical to the previous entry. Not only you lose a chance to win with another image instead, but you lower the impact of your work. “We’ve just seen that, didn’t we?” – the jury will say, and will not pay much attention to this second and third image. In other words – it will be quickly rejected. Unless you are entering a portfolio of several similar images, a series intentionally selected to tell a story –avoid such repetitions. They won’t give you more chances to win. And, when selecting the best image, keep in mind one VERY important factor – pick the image which has the most “bang”. I mean by that – an image which will have a strong first impression. While some small-scale, local or unknown photo competitions may have few enough entries for judges to spend lots of time discussing all images from the day one of judging – the tendency of international photo salon is to be big. More and more people try to get more recognition, and the number of entries can be enormous.

Jurors often have  just couple of seconds per each image at the first selecting run. They have trained eyes, and can quickly decide if a shot is well done or has some noticeable flaws. Also they will decide if your image is interesting enough to go to the next round or judging or not. All that within two or three seconds.

To help your luck, pick the most impressive images you have – help your image being instantly noticed.  Once your image got noticed, the jury will examine it for more detailed flavours, artistic and technical values. But your image should shout its story, or have a fine composition, colours – it  has to stand out and be striking. And this brings us to the tip #3 – Try for your work to be original and unique.
But this will be posted tomorrow…

Ah, here is another tip – entering many salons myself, I often wondered – should I send glossy or matte prints? should I print them close to maximum allowed size?  And, sitting in this jury and seeing thousands of prints, I can say – size does not matter. Lots of smallish prints were much more appreciated than large ones. Quality matters a lot, size – not so much. And use the paper most suitable for the given picture – be it gloss, metallic, mat – whatever shows your work at its best. There is no preference as to the paper type getting more jury attention.

Thank you, cheers!

Derek
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Chairman of Al Thani Awards, Dr. Chris Hinterobermaier gives us opening briefing.

Chairman of Al Thani Awards, Dr. Chris Hinterobermaier gives us opening briefing.

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – PART 2

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Judging process at Al Thani Award for Art Photography in Linz, Austria. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

As promised, I will share with you all detailed thoughts and things I learned about judging process, based on example of my experience as a juror at the Al-Thani Awards for Art Photography 2013. Why this one? This salon have had the number of entries close to 10,000, very high overall quality of entries, and was judged within a very limited time – two days – which as my colleagues-jurors confirmed – is now quite a standard procedure. We like it or not, high volume salons do not allow for much time spent on each image at the first screening, and rely on jury’s ability to quickly decide on the first round. So, this salon is a good example of a large-scale, very efficiently organized competition.

There are a few points worth discussing, so let’s start with naming them here: 1) Stick to the theme of category you enter. 2) Select your best images AND make sure they have enough bang. 3) Try for your work to be original and unique. 4) Take your time to edit your images the best you can.

Above points may seem obvious, but they are vital and I saw many entries clearly  ignoring them. Even most tiny weak points could make the difference between the final “yes” or “no” for your image.

Let’s begin with talk about the “Stick to the theme” aspect. While most photo competitions or salons have  an “Open” theme – there are sometimes special or leading themes. They can offer you a higher chance of winning – IF you stick to these themes well. If you don’t – you may actually harm your chances of winning. At the Al-Thani Awards for Art Photography we had several categories, and a main, special theme. On top of Open Color Prints, Open Monochrome Prints, and Open Digital Images, the special theme was “Discovering the World”.  If you think of it quickly, you may think it calls for travel or nature photos. But such themes need to be thought of a bit deeper if you hope to win.  Keep in mind that in today’s world the number of photographs taken everyday, and number of people travelling are enormous. Therefore, to be better than other competitors you really need to show your creativity, understanding of the theme, and stick to it.

We had thousands of photos to judge, and some fantastic images had to be rejected from the main category because they did not adhere to the theme. All jurors were reminded over and over by the chairman to think of the theme when voting. “Does this image help us discover the world, or shows us someone who really grasps something new in his understanding of the world?” – we were asked. And we had to take some tough decisions to select finalists and winners. We had to pick photos showing us the most unique and unusual places and situations, or action showing convincingly that persons on a photo really do discover the world.

To give you some examples we faced  – would you decide between a fine, artistic photo of a butterfly,  a fine long exposure photo showing  the grand canal in Venice,  a small boy in a class learning geography with a globe, or perhaps a slightly less refined image of climbers on a remote, little known peak of  exotic mountains? 

While all four did show us something from our world in an attractive way – we had to ask ourselves– is the butterfly photo really  about “discovering the world”?  Chances are you’ve seen many butterflies in  gardens and on  meadows, or at least on many nature photos. Therefore it is not a real discovery to most of us to see yet another butterfly – however lovely it is, and this would be the first image to go, despite its fine artistic qualities. Perhaps it would stand better chances in the “Open” category – a perfect fit for a Nature category. The shot from Venice can be most fine, but it is a cliché in a way – thousands of people shoot from the Rialto bridge the view at the grand canal, and while the submitted photo may show us a glorious sunset  lighting and a well composed scene, it  still does not have that sense of discovery the theme is calling for. So, this one had to go either. It would do in any Travel category, though.  Now, between the studying boy and climbers – the boy’s face expressed a thrill at learning new things, one could see he tried hard to learn and remember something new about our world. The scene clearly showed the boy “discovering the world” in his small ways.

The climbers were visibly exhausted, yet determined to reach the peak, to expand their limits and succeed in their quest. Not only that, but we all – looking at the photo – had a sense of learning something new, seeing some far-away, remote mountains –seeing their harshness through eyes of these climbers.  Additionally, this shot was done from an unusual angle, giving us a different perspective than typical “calendar-style” mountain photos. So, this image both showed us people discovering something about our world, and also gave the viewer something fairly rare to discover.
Conclusion?  With first two photos rejected without even  considering their quality, the voting would proceed on the two last images. Now it would be seen which one has a better composition, technical quality, and an overall story to tell.  With not hundreds but thousands of images to select from, a jury has no choice but really stick to all rules and use these criteria to select best images without mercy.  By sticking well with themes, you help jury consider your image and make yourself a favour.

Another quick example – something we noticed a few times, and had to remove these entries. If you enter “monochrome” or “color” themes  – know their definition. While a photo done all in tones of blue is a monochrome, adding even one more color to an image disqualifies it immediately. We noticed a few photos entered as monochrome, and they had a touch of extra color. Even if it is just a bit – it breaks the rules, and will have to go.  And, believe me – it will be noticed. If not at the first selection, then when discussing  the potentially winning images.  An unfortunate reason to remove good photos.

Most  of best international photo salons have paid entries these days, and you would be surprised how many people pay to enter, only to waste their chances by not taking real care about themes. Consider this, and you are already better than them, a step closer to winning.

Thank you for reading. Part 3 is coming very soon, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful.
HERE IS DIRECT LINK TO PART 1 of this article.
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Sorting photo prints for judges.

Sorting photo prints for judges.

 

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions/salons – juror’s tips

This is a multi-part article intended for fellow photographers interested in participating in various international photo salons. Such salons are a nice way of displaying photos in galleries and photo clubs, also getting deserved recognition and often helping get photo distinctions of such fine international organizations as FIAP, PSA or RPS. Winning a medal at a fine salon can be a real honour and a way of gaining international exposure.  However – it is not always easy to win, and I hope my article may help you get a few steps ahead of your competitors.

Over the years I judged various art competitions, mostly photographic ones. That always is a good learning experience giving me an insight as to how a jury can see and evaluate submitted works. _DAG8427

 

I just returned from Linz, Austria,  to where I was invited as a juror of  the famous Al-Thani Photo Awards for Art Photography – one of the world’s most fine and highly attended photo salons offering not only medals, but also very high financial awards.  Being a juror there had been a really unique experience for several reasons:  quality of submitted images was overall very high (making our work most difficult, but exciting), working with co-jurors – highly experienced artists-photographers from around the world – gave me an insight into their views, knowledge, and judging styles, and lastly – the sheer number of submissions being in many thousands,  made me see some fantastic works – sharpening  my eye, and improving my judging abilities.

The process of judging so many images in a very limited time, along with all  aspects mentioned above, allowed me to see challenges of participating in such photo competitions more clearly. We often discussed that  after our jury work, and I want to share what we all learned there,  in a hope this will help you to prepare your submissions in best possible way.

Please Share and  Follow this blog to read next parts of it – I will share with you within next few days all what I learned as a juror of Al-Thani Photo Awards.

Thank you!
Derek Galon

Painterly – art photo series by Derek Galon

Recently, we posted photos and notes from various local gardens. To break away from these, here is our 99th post – this time about art photography and old paintings. For those enjoying our travel stories – we are just scheduling our next photo trip, and will be reporting from the Caribbean soon. For the moment, let Margaret – an art historian – tell about my recent art photography series “Painterly” from her professional point of view… Thanks! Derek.

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Photography and painting have been linked together and have influenced each other since the invention of photography in 1837. Early pictorial photography tried to emulate painting by emphasizing the “atmospheric” elements: using vague shapes, dimness of outline and subdued tonalities to convey a sense of mystery. Late 20th century paintings by Photorealists were made with technical virtuosity to emulate photographic images that were frozen in time, and these paintingscouldn’t exist without photography. These are perhaps the most different examples of a strong relationship between these two unique media that share many similarities.

Anatomy Lesson.  Image awarded with FIAP Ribbon at Solway Small Print Exhibition 2013, in UK. From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant , Tom Gore Gore, From lower left: Aleta Eliasen Dusty, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley Herman Surkis ,David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.  Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,  Jon: lighting master Derek: additional body fx Dusty: costumes Herman: deliver the liver.

Anatomy Lesson. Image awarded with FIAP Ribbon at Solway Small Print Exhibition 2013, in UK. On display in Black Box Art Gallery in Portland, Oregon, USA.
From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant , Tom Gore Gore,
From lower left: Aleta Eliasen Dusty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley Herman Surkis ,David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.
Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,
Jon: lighting master
Derek: additional body fx
Dusty: costumes
Herman: deliver the liver.

Derek Galon’s latest series of “painterly” fine art photographs draw inspiration from the art of painting in a new, creative way. His images are not a nostalgic attempt of getting back to the times when photography imitated painting. These are subjective and original creations drawing inspiration from famous masterpieces of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some refer to specific paintings: Rembrandt’s Anatomy lesson of Dr Tulp or a series of paintings, like bacchanalia by Titian. Derek’s images are a marriage between theatrical qualities of old style masterpieces (with subjects carefully posed and staged), and photography’s ability to seize the moment in time. These dynamic and arresting images portray a compelling narrative, every prominent element in a photograph serves to tell a story, a very different one each time.

When I studied fine arts, I was fascinated by old masters such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Titian, Brouwer,” says Derek. “After decades of photographing, working on complicated assignments, experimenting with lighting, and learning advanced computer editing, I decided I am ready to go full circle. I went back to fascinations of my younger years, creating a series of images in a painterly style. These are not copies of old masterpieces, but anhomage to their timeless excellence. My images take the essence of old canvasses – from early paintings of mythological characters, through masters of chiaroscuro, through romantic imagery of Pre-Rapahaelites – up to Surrealism.”

This version of Derek's Anatomy Lesson has an extra surprise in form of an iPad used by one of students (Derek playing the role himself).

This version of Derek’s Anatomy Lesson has an extra surprise in form of an iPad used by one of students (Derek playing the role himself).

Rembrandt’s famous painting Anatomy lesson of Dr Tulp was one of Derek’s early inspirations. Rembrandt’s brilliant group portrait was commissioned by medical doctors. Each of them paid a part of a fee and each expected to be depicted with equal prominence. Instead of featuring passively sitting or standing individuals, Rembrandt broke with tradition, choosing the scene where subjects participate in the action of a moment. Rembrandt’s revolutionary vision has a distinctively photographic quality: a photo-like dynamic scene with action frozen in time. Derek’s Anatomy Lesson relates to these narrative qualities of the masterpiece. Spectators eagerly leaning towards the corpse are in fact Derek’s friends from Victoria’s art scene, who helped him with production of the image. This is their portrait, executed with “Rembrandt style” chiaroscuro and “Rembrandt lighting” commonly utilized in fine portrait photography.

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.  Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres - medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and Gold medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley. All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres – medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and a Gold Medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.
With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley.
All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon, Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Derek’s Bacchus, Pan and Ceres is another complex image, full of compositional challenges. It is inspired by bacchanalia scenes painted by Titian for the palace of Duke Alfonso d’Este. Titian referred to these paintings as “poesie”, a visual equivalent of poetry. The scene on Derek’s photo shows a hedonistic, merry company of the wine god Bacchus, Ceres – goddess of fertility and agriculture, with Pan – the huffed god of wild nature and their friends. This mythological scene with strong erotic elements is also humorous and witty, it has a fun-filled touch to it, and a sensitively chosen colour palette.
Creating and photographing these group scenes has lots of challenges”, comments Derek. “Painters often interpret perspective or lighting rather loosely. They can bend reality to create most dynamic and impressive scenes. In a photo studio with a group of models, problems are many: unwanted shadows often cover people closely standing together, or sometimes the perspective of the background does not go together with dynamics of the front composition which may require a slightly different focal length. It takes forever to set the right lighting using many strobes, and trying to make it look very simple and natural.”

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes. From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup aleta, props - Derek, Costumes - Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation - Jon Hoadley.

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes.
From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup – Aleta, props – Derek, Costumes – Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation – Jon Hoadley.

One of the most challenging images to make was the Tavern based on genre paintings depicting scenes of everyday life, especially art of Adriaen Brouwer, Flemish artist of the 17th century. Brouwer himself felt very comfortable in taverns and often painted the peasant and “low life scenes” he witnessed. Like Brouwer’s work, Derek’s Tavern is full of movement and action. Portrait-like characters are engaged in complex interaction. Their faces are expressive, even slightly grotesque. Derek cannot resist in joining the merry company and playing a fiddle. His image is full of good-natured humour, and created with visible care for detail. The colour palette made of warm translucent browns and greys is well blended into the atmosphere of the whole. As Brouwer sometimes used his friends – painters, to model for him, Derek once again invited his friends from Victoria’s art photography scene to model for this image. One of the models actually depicts Brouwer himself, painting the vivid scene before him and clearly enjoying it.

The Knight Of Might with the fine Michael Ward from Victoria - model.

The Knight Of Might with the fine Michael Ward from Victoria – model.

While Derek’s Tavern makes you reach for a glass of beer, his Knight of Might stirs very different emotions. We see a gnarled man whose face is weathered, the skin of his face rough. Although his armoured body looks powerful and mighty, he looks exhausted, sensitive and vulnerable. He’s holding a lady’s handkerchief – is this the reason he looks so pensive? For how long he’s been separated from his loved ones, how much pain did he endure during his voyage? We’ll never know. Dark reflections of moonlight correspond with his brooding, inner landscape of the soul. This image was inspired by romantic paintings by John William Waterhouse. To successfully create specific mood and atmosphere of the image, Derek relays on models’ ability to deliver the best acting performance. Their creative output is vital to the success of the image. Here, Derek was aided by his longtime friend and a professional art model Michael Ward.

The Passing - Pieta. With Michael Ward and Stephanie Kingston.

The Passing – Pieta.
With Michael Ward and Stephanie Kingston.

Michael is also involved in another atmospheric image called The Passing – Pieta inspired by paintings of similar subjects by Michelangelo and Titian. Young woman mourning over the body of a dead man; his pale glowing flesh accentuates the feeling of sorrow and loss. The background of a derelict church reflects the feeling and mood of the piece.

Further exploration of darker themes brings Derek’s fascination with one of the most timeless and haunting Nightmare paintings by Henry Fuseli. Although having a different concept, also very Gothic and Freudian, Derek’s Monstrous Deception

Monstrous Deception - tribute to Nightmares by Henry Fuseli. WithBrandy Sapala, Derek as the monster, and Callum Shandley as the mirror reflection.

Monstrous Deception – tribute to Nightmares by Henry Fuseli. With Brandy Sapala, Derek as the monster, and Callum Shandley as the mirror reflection.

is equally scary. Like in Fuseli’s painting, the scene is made of gradual realizations; we need time to fully understand the horror. The young man kissing the girl is only a pretender. In fact, he is this shady monster-like creature who stares at us from darkness. His facial expression implies his annoyance with viewers for discovering his deception, while the lady on front of him seems to be unaware of it, falling into his trap. The scene is dramatically timed, slowly unfolding to show us additional, perhaps intentionally hidden details. Only 27 years after Fuseli painted his last version of the story, Mary Shelley wrote the famous piece of Gothic literature – Frankenstein.

Creating interaction and a narrative story in a similar way to paintings is yet another challenge. Old canvasses often have symbolic details and secondary interactions or meanings, which can be discovered as you take time to study a painting. Such multi-level dynamics require not only a fine planning and preparation, but also good acting skills of all the models, great concentration during the shoot and lots of patience. Many of my ready images are actually combined from best parts of several shots, like a jigsaw puzzle assembled of the most attractive elements picked from the whole session. Finely painted flying cherubs, angels, or special effects dazzling us on old masterpieces, require much planning and meticulous photo editing and I wish I could just paint them on my photos instead.”

Brown Over Green - Still Life. A tribute to paintings by Chardin.

Brown Over Green – Still Life. A tribute to paintings by Chardin.

Derek’s still life image Green Over Brown brings a different mood. Without the drama of other photographs in this series, it depicts a simple world of austerity and calm. You almost need to slow yourself down to appreciate it. Inspired by masters of still life, especially Chardin and Spanish “bodegon” painters, it shows the beauty of everyday objects that surround us. The items portrayed were selected not for their allegorical vanitas meaning but for their shapes, textures and colors. The objects are gradually emerging from the subtly toned background.

Pygmalion - a tribute to Jean Gerome, one of Derek's favourite old masters. Xevv McModel and Brandon L. - models, makeup/body paint by Aleta Eliasen, light consultant - Jon Hoadley.

Pygmalion – a tribute to Jean Gerome, one of Derek’s favourite old masters.
Xevv McModel and Brandon L. – models, makeup/body paint by Aleta Eliasen, light consultant – Jon Hoadley.

Jean-Leon Gerome, the prominent artist of Orientalism movement, was a keen follower of photography and adopted this new media for his work. He was an indefatigable traveller to the Middle East, frequently accompanied by a photographer. Gerome’s technique was of impeccable precision, and some of his paintings have almost visual reality and crispness of Photorealism. Derek’s Pygmalion drew inspiration from Gerome’s versions of the mythological story of Pygmalion, an artist who fell in love with the sculpture he created. The image depicts the moment when the sculpture of Galatea is brought to life by Pygmalion’s kiss.

For me, masterpiece paintings are the source of limitless inspiration. No matter how fancy our digital imaging will get, old canvasses will never stop thrilling us” – says Derek. Photographing architecture and landscape foran everyday living, I return to my world of art images like to my sanctuary, and I treasure every moment of this work. Now, with my art winning medals, getting internationally exhibited and sold, it gives me even more motivation than ever to continue.”

by Margaret Gajek, MA, writer, researcher, art historian, co-founder of Ozone Zone Books


All images copyright Derek Galon. Please respect our copyright. Thank you.

Derek’s art prints (limited editions and open editions) are available directly by contacting him at:
derek (at) ozonezonebooks.com  or from the Gallery Vibrante.Thank you, until next time – we hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, please FOLLOW us, click SHARE and show it to your friends.

Taken By Angels - Derek Galon's more contemporary, light-hearted and humourous image taking from old canvas masters.  With Michael Ward, Sharon Ace, Aleta Eliasen, Karissa T. and Jen Wright - models. Makeup - Aleta Eliasen.

Taken By Angels – Derek Galon’s more contemporary, light-hearted and humourous image taking from old canvas masters. With Michael Ward, Sharon Ace, Aleta Eliasen, Karissa T. and Jen Wright – models. Makeup – Aleta Eliasen.

The Vibrant Scent of Roses (Hatley Gardens again)

Bridge in Japanese Garden seen through wisteria.

Bridge in Japanese Garden seen through wisteria.

May and June were unusually rainy this year in Victoria. Taking the advantage of more rains, all plants are growing fast, and are more impressive than usual. To enjoy this natural “plant festival” we went once again to the Royal Roads University Gardens (also called Hatley Gardens).

In Italian Garden

In Italian Garden

Their Rose garden is now simply spectacular. Thousands of rose flowers create not only an amazing visual display, but also a strong, beautiful scent in the air. Literally millions of other rose buds are about to open, adding their part to the symphony of colours and scents.

Countless rose flowers create vibrant scent in the air

Countless rose flowers create vibrant scent in the air

We don’t remember such a fantastic display of bloom in previous years. Rose lovers around Victoria – just go there now!
As described on Royal Roads’ web site, the gardens were established by The Honourable James Dunsmuir, born at Fort Rupert, BC on 8 July 1851, the oldest son of Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish miner who, at the time of his son’s birth, was on his way from Ayrshire to “Vancouver’s Island” to prospect for coal. The rose garden was first planted in 1913, but fell into disuse in the second half of the century. It was renovated in 1997 with a lot of hard work and modern shrub roses donated by Brentwood Bay Nurseries, and now has one of the largest private _DAG6563smcollections of David Austin roses in North America. Cared for with great knowledge and visible love, these roses bloom like no others, creating together a small miracle.

If you add to it the fantastic, dense and delicate scent of peonies, and wisterias in Japanese and Italian gardens – that makes for an unforgettable garden day._DAG7255sm

While Victoria is often called The city of the Gardens – the Royal Roads Gardens are among our most favourite. Diversity of styles, several ponds and streams, the combination of well-manicured areas with almost wild growth – they all create the most spectacular garden experience well worth a visit…

If you like these pics, click and Share them.
Thank you for stopping by, cheers!
Derek and Margaret – (authors of Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean and other books.)

Photos – copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books.

Back in Italian garden

Back in Italian garden

A goose meditates over a lily pond

A goose meditates over a lily pond

Stained glass- like colorful foliage in Japanese garden

Stained glass- like colorful foliage in Japanese garden

Roses and more roses...

Roses and more roses…

Water Wheel in Japanese Garden

Water Wheel in Japanese Garden

Visiting early in the morning has its perks...

Visiting early in the morning has its perks…

Last Few Weeks

hatley1bNot much happened with our travel plans since my last post. There are some technical issues delaying our next trip to Montserrat. Therefore we spent last few weeks visiting and photographing our favourite local gardens. Some of them we already presented on this blog – but at a different time of the year. Now, with wisterias and rhododendrons in full bloom, these gardens look just spectacular!

hatley-bridgeOne of our favourite gardens is the Hatley Park, a large chunk of land on grounds of Royal Roads university in Victoria. It is divided to several sections, such as Italian garden (with fine wisterias), Rose garden – which is just starting to bloom, and the oldest Japanese garden in the whole BC.

I hope these few photos from there are to your liking.

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Another garden we visited was the Finnerty Garden belonging to the UVIC. Well kept, with a massive number of rhododendrons, it is another place to enjoy in Victoria – and there is no fee for your visit.

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Smaller, but very well established Playfair park, has very large, matured rhododendrons. They are so huge that you can walk under them, and enjoy the colourful carpet of fallen flowers.

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It is remarkable how different in feel these places are. All of them have lots of rhodos, but each garden lives its own, unique life, offering a totally different experience.

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The unusual rainy weather we are having made all colours juicier, more dense, and all these places are lush and full of life. It is great to travel, but we should never forget to enjoy what we have at our door step.

To fill you with other things – last time, I reported about a second place at IGPOTY (UK) and the Gold Medal in Austria. Well, just after that I received another exciting news – London Salon of Photography – one of the most progressive international competitions/exhibitions awarded my Bacchus, Pan and Ceres with another Medal._DAG5206_7

I also had couple of studio art sessions and I am now editing my newest works. Ah, one of my newest is already done – with great help and assistance from Margaret – my newest auto-portrait! I hope you enjoy!

Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres - awarded in London.

Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres – awarded in London.

Thank you, I hope to see you soon, when I place our next post. Bye for now, and SHARE if you like these images.

My auto-portrait.

My auto-portrait.

Cheers!

Derek

All photos copyright Derek Galon, Ozone zone Books, please respect our copyright. Thank you!

Amazing Surprise – Gold Medal in Austria!

My previous post sounded a sad note, a story in memory of my mother – also our Ozone Zone editor.
Today’s story is quite different and exciting.

My hummingbird got 2nd place at IGPOTY 2013 (Wildlife category)

My hummingbird gets 2nd place at IGPOTY 2013 (Wildlife category)

Only a week after receiving news about getting a 2nd place at the International Garden Photography of the Year 2013 organized in UK at the famous KEW Gardens, I received a message from Austria: Gold Medal at the huge, internationally important Austrian TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT 2013.

TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT is by far the largest salon of photography in the world. It is based in Linz, Austria, and in recent years it has attracted hundreds of thousands of picture entries – from almost every country. It is the aim of the competition run annually by the salon to exhibit the finest work in different styles, techniques and genres.

Dilemma - with Michael ward and Lady Kimberly rose (and Skye landscape). Gold Medal in Nude category.

Dilemma – with Michael Ward and Lady Kimberly Rose (and Skye landscape). Gold Medal in nude category.

The Super Circuit attracts photographers of almost every background, both amateur and professional. It has established a reputation for very high standards and is therefore highly respected around the world. The honour of winning is even bigger, knowing that this year they received staggering twenty-something thousand entries!

My winning image, called Dilemma, results from a long collaboration with a brilliant, experienced arts model, Michael Ward from Victoria. Do you remember that bluish photo of The Mighty Knight? Yes, that was another image we did with Michael…

Dilemma was created in several stages. Firstly, I photographed Michael in a sitting, meditative pose. Next, I photographed a closeup of a body, to create a body-scape. It had to be shot from exactly the same angle, with the same lighting, to look real after matching both elements.  For that close-up we invited another fine model, Lady Kimberly Rose. The rest happened on Photoshop. Michael placed on Kimberly’s body-scape looked good. I added shadows andsome small indents where Michael was sitting to make it more realistic,  but it lacked the oomph with studio background. Luckily I remembered about dramatic landscape of the Skye, Scotland, and pulled one of my photos of a light house from there. Yes, it instantly added character. Turning it to near black-and-white with some added roughness of texture worked for me, and the image was done.

While I feel that my work with Michael is among my best, little did I know it will win Gold!

Anatomy Lesson.  From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant , Tom Gore Gore, From lower left: Aleta Eliasen Dusty, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley Herman Surkis ,David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.  Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,  Jon: lighting master Derek: additional body fx  Herman: deliver the liver.

Anatomy Lesson.
From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant, Tom Gore,
From lower left: Aleta Eliasen, Dusty, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Herman Surkis, David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.
Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,
Jon: lighting master, Dusty: costumes,
Derek: additional body fx
Herman: deliver the liver.

To end this happy news, I would like to share with you yet another photo created with Michael. This time we invited fellow photographers and artists as models. As you perhaps notice, this image was inspired by Rembrandt, and it was sheer fun to recreate Rembrandt-style lighting (with great help of a fine photographer Jon Hoadley, real master of lighting), bringing up painterly textures of faces and fabrics. Michael did get body-painted, I added some touches to his look later on my computer – and hey, we all are quite happy with the result.

I hope you like it too…  until next time,
Derek

After work - time for fun and  a "family photo". Michael's awakening - Doctor tells him his liver is wasted and demonstrates it to us all...

After work – time for fun and a “family photo”. Michael’s awakening – Doctor tells him his liver is wasted and demonstrates it to us all…

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Photographs copyright of Derek Galon, please respect the copyright.

The Gold-winning image is available at Photo Art Gallery Vibrante

Among the Ancient Gods (an art photo shoot)

Post contains some fine art nudity [partial nudity]. Be warned. 18+ only).
After all the editing work on the book “Bequia – the Feast of Colours”, I needed to unwind. The book went off to our printers, and me – as I often do in such moments – I decided for an art shoot. Such shoots where I can let my fantasy loose, help me bring back my balance and recover energy. As it happened, my friend and fantastic artists’ model, Michael Ward, had just recently suggested to shoot an image based on Greek and Roman mythology.

He had a concept for a large, festive scene, and I myself had already been thinking for a while of shooting a large group of art models. Such a shoot would bring new challenges and experience, it would expand my skills.

Pan and Psyche

Pan and Psyche

I listened to Michael’s story; a feast of Bacchus and his companions – some familiar antique gods and goddesses, perhaps Pan with his half-man, half-goat, panting presence… And definitely with Ceres – the Rubensesque, full-bodied goddess of fertility. These ideas began to roll in my head, and gradually I visualized the whole scene. Yes, it would be a festive group drinking wine, flirting and having fun (with Pan’s presence insinuating a note of erotic energy on the set). I decided to keep it in the style of old paintings such as canvases by Titian or Caravaggio, and so a Cupid seemed a nice extra touch. Light would be used scarcely, highlighting the most important parts of the composition, but letting the less important elements drown in darkness.

Margaret, being an art historian, quickly suggested some fine details for the image. Oranges and grapes, some primitive musical instruments, flowery wreaths. Now the image was fully developed in my head.

photographing Cupid

photographing Cupid

The whole shoot preparation unfolded under a lucky star – fantastic art photographer Jon Hoadley, a real master of studio light, offered his assistance, and Michael was able to get another professional arts model – Kim Brouseau, to impersonate Ceres. After booking all the other models, we went with Michael to Disguise The Limit costume rentals to find some props. Some models also helped with props – it was truly a nice team work.

Jon Hoadley contemplates Zen of Perfect Lighting

Jon Hoadley contemplates Zen of Perfect Lighting

When the day came – after setting the studio stage – we were ready to shoot.While Aleta Eliasen, my friend and fine makeup artist, prepared models, Jon presented me with his idea of lighting. It was perfect, and after some small tweaks and test shots, I was totally happy with it. The light seemed natural, toned in one part with warmth of a remote bonfire. While most important part of composition was lit rather brightly, the light softly blended down, to fade into almost complete darkness of the background.

We did some solo, duo, and trio test shots – which were so nice that I kept them as separate images for this series. Next, we had to shoot the Cupid. It was fun – if not really for the model – at least for those watching. Shooting Cupid separately from the rest of the group allowed me to freely put it in the best spot later, using Photoshop.

One of test shots...

One of test shots…

We were ready for the main scene, and it was sheer fun! The idea suggested by Margaret, to have cross-linked interaction between various persons, connecting the front group with the back, worked really well. Everyone got their particular tasks, and we went ahead photographing.

I used my Nikon D800 on a tripod, to keep the same selected crop, when capturing various poses and models’ expressions. Tethering it all using fantastic software ControlMyNikon proved to be of real advantage. Every smallest detail was controllable, the models had a way of seeing themselves perform, and I could quickly review all the shoots.

The scene we created needed two extra persons – a woman and a man. Aleta, our makeup artist, graciously decided to help, and turned herself into an attractive partner of Pan. I quickly decided to help too, and transferred myself into some drunk, rough character in the background. I bet all the models had fun seeing me running around half-naked, in a turban, back and forth between back of the scene and the camera set in front!

All in all – it was a very demanding project and a real challenge on many levels. Photoshopping it in the style of traditional paintings was another part of this fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it. And here it is – the final image “Pan, Bacchus and Ceres” having a good time with their guests. While trying to keep it in line with the old paintings, we loosened it up here and there with subtle additions of drinking glass goblets and an impressive glass bottle.

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.
All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking Dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

I hope you enjoy this image. If you do – the purpose of it all has been served!

Cheers!
Derek

If you enjoy this story, please SHARE it with friends, and FOLLOW this blog to get notifications on further posts.

All photographs copyright Derek Galon, please respect the copyright.
This image “Pan, Bacchus and Ceres” can be ordered as a limited edition signed print from Photo Art Gallery Vibrante, or as a smaller, open edition print from 1X.com

You can also see it in bigger size on 1X.
A separate story on art of Jon Hoadley was posted here.
An earlier story on working with Michael Ward (Knight of Might) was posted here.
My review of ControlMyNikon is here.

I had it posted on my technical blog, but I received comments I should share it with other Nikon users as it may be of use to them. So, this one is mostly for photographers – Nikon users. More regular posts are coming soon. Cheers! Derek

Derek Galon - Photo Tips

Often working in studio, I wanted to use tethering to fine-tune my images. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with tethering options I had so far. My experience was not so good with my older cameras (Nikon D700, D300s and D7000), and it turned for even worse with my new Nikon D800.

I tested Lightroom tethering, I tried Nikon’s Camera Control Pro, as well as some other third-party software. The story repeated itself: errors, crashes, “camera not found” messages, sluggish action, unbelievably crude and user-unfriendly interfaces, you name it. Yes, user unfriendly – and plain silly too. For example – you have a Live View window on your laptop, but it remains so small (and you can’t resize it) that it really defeats its purpose of seeing better than on camera LCD. On top of all that, control options offered by most software are so basic that it makes you run between…

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Jon Hoadley – Between Light And Shadow

4e94e2c7ae9d1In our previous post we profiled Julie Lea – a fine painter from far-away Bequia. Today, we will bring you closer to our roots – photography. We also return closer to our home – Victoria, BC, Canada. Right here, at our doorstep in Victoria, you can meet one of the finest, most outstanding photographers we know. It’s Jon Hoadley – a real master of studio art photography. Working in the same studio space since 1984, he can be compared to the great Dutch or Italian painters of the past centuries.

_MIK2361Perhaps the most visually arresting aspect of Jon’s work is his masterful use of light and shade. He is a virtuoso of chiaroscuro and “shading” – creating depth by using light effects. Shadow and light are powerfully contrasted and used in different degrees, subtle or strong. They are deliberately interwoven to give the work spatial and psychological depth and to create an atmospheric mood. On the human body, chiaroscuro makes a very powerful effect.4aa10d3bd7e9a

Had Jon been born a painter in Italy in the early 17th century, he would easily be one of the followers of Caravaggio, a master of powerful chiaroscuro, whose use of light to create dramatic intensity inspired generations of artists often called “Tenebrists” or “Tenebrosi” (“Shadowists”). 50c15dc87a679Jon’s work often reminds me of other paintings by famous masters of light, like the 17th century Spanish painters, with Jose de Ribera among them. Perhaps Jon doesn’t always seek such strong dramatic effects. The light in his art portraits is often used to create a broader and more intimate union between figure and space.

493f0ba58c704Similar in feel to fine paintings, Jon’s portraits are carefully composed and stylized. Only the photographers themselves and models (sometimes exhausted after the process) know how much time and energy consuming such shoots are; how much care, and – clearly, love – goes into their preparation and each actual photo session. Not to mention hours of digital work afterwards “to get the image right.” And yet, Jon’s photographs don’t appear to be that heavily staged and controlled. Models are given freedom of expression within the boundaries of the image. That gives us, the viewers, a glimpse into their true personalities, each different and unique. It also creates a psychological bond, touching directly the viewer’s soul, a rare feature in art of portraiture today.

49c1b3a6907a5Obsessed with fine nuances of light and forms of the human body (be it in portraits, art nudes, or other styles), Jon Hoadley works tirelessly expanding his huge collection of masterpieces. Digital photography gave him much needed expansion of editing tools.

Earlier back, he worked very successfully on the international commercial scene, photographing for renowned brands; but although his photographs were winning awards, he was never really interested in that or in any competitions.

Same with his self-promotion – rather than making efforts to promote and market himself, he uses all his energy and time to create ever new images. For those reasons, Hoadley’s works are relatively little known – but they stand really strong among the best of art portraits on the international scene – real masterpieces, fit for the finest collections. His best, heart-and-mind-touching art, selected for limited editions, can be displayed proudly by the most discerning connoisseurs.4f30b73de8b56

4974036fe8134See more works by Jon at www.modelmayhem.com
Browse and order his art prints at Photo Gallery Vibrante

We hope you enjoyed this post. If so – please SHARE with friends.

Until next time!
Cheers!

Text by Margaret Gajek, art historian, researcher, writer
and by Derek Galon, photographer

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Images – copyright Jon Hoadley – please respect his copyright.

Jon Hoadley contemplating Zen of Perfect Lighting

Jon Hoadley contemplating Zen of Perfect Lighting

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