Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, working 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 ‘canada’

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…

Thanks for your visit. If you like, please SHARE with friends, and FOLLOW us for more.
Photographs copyright of Derek Galon, please respect the copyright.

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

Advertisements

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

Anna with father, colonel Zbigniew Brochwicz Lewinski.

Anna with father, colonel Zbigniew Brochwicz Lewinski.

We usually post here notes from our journeys, or photography related stories. Today however, we share with you a sad story about a last journey – the one we are all to make one day to come.
Last month we lost Anna, a fine editor working closely with us on our Ozone Zone books. She also happened to be my mother. A double loss – like a single loss is not enough. She was an internationally respected language expert, and we were lucky to have her in our team. She was an exceptional person, and we were lucky to be in her family. It is now hard to come to terms with the simple fact of her departure – forever. Perhaps we should find some comfort in knowing that she had a long, very colourful, although sometimes quite dramatic life.
Anna M. Galon (often using her maiden name Brochwicz – Lewinska) was born before the Second World War in Poland, in a very privileged family. Her father, colonel Zbigniew Brochwicz Lewinski, was one of the most trusted officers of marshal Josef Pilsudski – the legendary Polish leader behind many Polish successes of early twentieth century. In fact, marshal Pilsudski was Anna’s Godfather. Her early childhood was filled with interesting people and travels, and with lots of happiness.  But it all ended too soon.

As a young girl, she was thrown with her family by the war on a lengthy and painful path of constant escape through Rumania, Italy, and France, to eventually land on the British soil. Anna spent there many years studying arts, philosophy and literature at the University of Glasgow, and the famous Glasgow School of Art (later studying also at Oxford). Scotland became her new, or perhaps the REAL home to her. However, she fell in love with a young and attractive Polish concert pianist Lucjan Galon. When deciding to return with him back to Poland, little did she know it will totally change her entire life. Going back to a different, communist Poland was a one-way-ticket kind of trip. Once there, you had no way of going back (or anywhere else, for that matter), and coming from the “capitalist West” you were under magnified glass of communist special services for a long time.

Fifties and sixties brought for her harshness of everyday reality and proved a tough time to bring-up and educate two boys – Daniel and Derek. She never felt at home in this totally different Poland  managed by the heavy Soviet hand. Anna found a refuge in classical music, also indulging herself in teachings of the East, studying various masters from India. She found some fulfilment in teaching languages, also sharing her extensive knowledge of Tibetan and Indian philosophy – making life-long, deeply-rooted friendships with some of her students.

malwina-sm

University years – Anna Malwina Galon in Scotland.

To Canada she went unexpectedly in early eighties. Divorced for some time, she packed her things in a hurry at the news of her older son Daniel being gravely ill. Daniel escaped from Poland couple of years earlier, and emigrated to Ottawa. There, diagnosed with severe heart condition he did undergo a life-saving heart transplant operation. Anna stayed in Ottawa to help with Daniel’s recovery, and never returned to Poland. But she wasn’t entirely happy in Ottawa either. Fluent in several languages, she reinvented herself as an accredited court interpreter, also translating for Canadian government, various writers and also poets. Translating poetry was always a joy for her, and she did it splendidly. Perhaps because – as her brother Andrew recently said – Anna did not translate just words – she was great at translating the meaning.

At that time – it was in late eighties – we both with Margaret arrived in Canada, but not being in love with Ottawa, we soon moved to Victoria. Then, some ten years later my brother Daniel died, using up the gift of extra years of life he received from Canadian doctors. It was a devastating time for my mother, and soon after, she decided to move to Victoria and join us. And here, in Victoria, a small miracle happened. She met lots of interesting people and made lots of very good friends. Anna also found a group of people with whom she could pursue her passion for poetry – she simply found her home! Yes, last years of Anna’s life in Victoria became perhaps her most happy time. Still translating to make a living, she devoted herself to arts, creating well respected “Poetry Lovers’ Circle”. Public performances with the Circle, presentations of best Polish poems translated often by herself, and world poetry readings at the exclusive La Run theatre rewarded her for many hard years. This was the food for her soul, and her joy. Only the closest friends knew that for each performance she paid with days, and later with weeks of health problems. She never complained, and always found reasons to be happy. But while Anna’s soul was in bloom, her health sharply deteriorated – she became practically homebound.

malwina-z-lucjanem-sm

Anna with her husband, concert pianist Lucjan Galon

Unable to perform with the Poetry Lovers’ Circle, Anna concentrated on studying teachings of the East thought by her friend and spiritual teacher, Nadhia Sutara. Poetry and writing remained vital for her, same as working with us on our books. Her mind was always so fresh, crisp and young that people talking to Anna by phone never realized they talk to a lady over eighty years old.

Postponing and cancelling our overseas photo jobs we were able to be with her on her last days. She suffered badly, enduring strong pain. We will never forget her incredibly brave attitude and amazing detachment from unbearable pain and misery of her body. In her last hours she cracked some very sharp jokes about her passing, and her very last words were to thank all people she knew – for  interacting with her life, both in good and not so good ways.
She left behind a walking stick awaiting in vain her touch, an old computer on which she typed with her sore fingers her last poems, and a sense of emptiness – a great sadness that we could not be with her for any longer.

Anna Galon in Victoria

Anna Galon in Victoria

Her friend Nadhia at the news of Anna’s passing, wrote from her ashram in India a few words which perhaps best summarize Anna: “I shall dearly miss her, as I am sure you both will. She was a great inspiration to me all these years, especially as her health deteriorated. She always found something to be grateful for, something to rejoice in, and never ever complained. I have invariably found people get ‘deader’, not wiser, as they get older, but Anna was the greatest exception and a wonder to me. I’ve never met anyone over 50 who was so alive, so innerly vital, so willing to grow and break new ground as she. I’m a typically broken product of the ‘Great American Dream’ (Nightmare, actually, as you are finding), unable to deeply love or trust anything, and her gift for unconditional love and trust left me breathless.”

Derek Galon and Margaret Gajek

Stashing for a rainy day

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

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

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

the symphony of the forest…
wind whispering among leaves

plump groundhog
– little brown pillar of curiosity
on watch among the weeds…

the inconceivable vastness of ocean
hurling its might against the shore

a blade of grass
a flower

each moment of delight ––
Stash it!

Carefully put it away
into the storehouse of joy
within your heart

For future use…
for a rainy day…

To act as source of strength and endurance
through frosty winters and dark nights
through quagmires of despair…

Reminders of light!

Anna M. Galon
Ottawa, New Year’s Eve, 1989/90

The Knight Of Might – His Longest Night



Trying to have a break from Caribbean and architecture photography every now and then, I enjoy working with models from Victoria.
Continuing with series of portraits and studio works, I just had the privilege of working with a seasoned artists’ model, Michael Ward. He models professionally for some 30 years, and over this period of time worked with countless fine artists – photographers, sculptors and painters alike. Shooting with him was a real treat, and I was excited that he agreed to model for me in his fine armour from Britain – one of his 250 outfits, as I learned. We also selected one of his swords – a fine authentic Claymore blade.
I spent a bit of time thinking ahead about the concept for the shoot. Surely, photographing a knight in armour asks for some mystical ambiance, a fairy tale like scenery, and for atmosphere like from famous William Waterhouse paintings. But if I would go too much this direction -and only this direction-  it could be risky, touching of a cheap and pretentious style. So, I decided to combine the mystical feel of this shoot with real feelings and expressions – a deeper human drama.

How was it to be a warrior on his long battle path centuries ago? How many horrors hardened his soul, how many tragedies and lost comrades made him weep when nobody was watching? Were there enough of happier moments helping soothe his way through pain in the name of glory, God, and loyalty?
How about physical pain? The 40 kilograms of armour made him really heavy, struggling with every step and move. Wearing it in hot sun would add to this misery. Just helping Michael to dress for our shoot was an eye-opener for me. This gear is amazingly heavy and uncomfortable.

What about such knight’s personal matters? If he was lucky, his beloved woman would wait patiently for his return home. But without any means of regular communication he would only keep his faith and remember her by embracing a little treasure she gave him as farewell gift – perhaps a handkerchief, a locket?
I decided that my Knight has to be a tragic person, longing, almost broken by too many unknown factors and hardships – but still believing in his return home and victory.

We discussed details with Michael prior to our session, and when he started to act – it was pure perfection. He gave me all I wanted – and more.
Rough and rocky ocean location near Taylor Road in Metchosin near Victoria, added to the feel of our setting.
For most shots I used a  white balance shifted to tungsten light, and flashes with yellow gels, creating a late evening and bonfire mood.
The whole series has about a dozen of very different images. Some of them are saturated with vibrant colours, some are more documentary in character black and whites. I will remember working with Michael on this shoot for long time, and I hope you find these images interesting.
Live long, my knight. Let your path be filled with victories, so you can return to your castle with pride.

If you like it, please click SHARE on right top side of this post.
More photos from this series on my Model Mayhem page.

All photos copyright Derek Galon, please respect it.
Some of these images are available for purchase at Art Gallery Vibrante
This is a re-post from my older blog which had very limited number of visiors, before I switched to WordPress.

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.

Abkhazi Garden – The Garden of Love. (Victoria, Canada)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


We were told sometimes slide show does not work correctly. If you experience this problem, please use this link to view all photos on Picasa.

When we arrived at the entrance to Abkhazi Garden, we both stopped for a moment as if afraid to open the gate. The reason for our hesitation was clear enough for us: we wondered – is this garden still as beautiful as we remembered? Or perhaps it is now totally changed, or has fallen  into neglect? We had visited Abkhazi garden several times after it was saved from the developers. Our humble donation was only a tiny drop in an immensely successful and quite heroic public fund-raising campaign in 2000, which led to the acquisition of the garden by The Land Conservancy.

Unique benches look like they always been there as an important part of this garden.


Slowly, we stepped into the garden leaving the city street behind us. We found ourselves in a woodland, under towering old rhododendrons and native Garry Oaks underplanted with lush ferns and hostas. As we were slowly walking a winding path through the garden, all our fears completely disappeared. We noticed how splendid the garden looks, cared for not only with expertise and knowledge but also with love.

Beautifully created, this spot brings to mind large vase full of freshly cut flowers.

Love and passion are ever-present here, making it quite a magical place. It is “the garden that love built,” love between its creators: Peggy and Nickolas Abkhazi who shared the same passion for their new piece of paradise, a safe haven in their rather dramatic lives. After their death, it seems like that love was carried on by all the people whose hard work and dedication enable the garden to flourish.  One of the first were Christopher and Pamela Ball who continued to keep up this world-class garden for the next 10 years.

Fine bird bath at the first wide vista near entrance instantly adds to happy feel of the place.

When the land was submitted for rezoning, Cyril Hume, a garden historian led the fund-raising campaign and the garden restoration. All the head gardeners who came after him shared the same passion and devotion to the project. Today, the garden is in the capable hands of Jeff de Jong and a group of impressively skillful  volunteers. As a result, Abkhazi Garden is resplendently beautiful.

Jeff de Jong talks about the garden

“For me, gardening is a work of joy,” says Jeff. “What you love doing – it’s not work. It is for me a privilege and honour to take care of Abkhazi garden. Peggy and Nickolas are always on my mind. I ask myself: is it something that they would approve of? I recently planted Magnolia grandiflora knowing that Peggy loved it and had it in this garden. In order to honour the Abkhazis I thought it was the important plant to have. In this garden the challenge for me is to preserve its sense of history, and yet still progress and move forward.”

Ponds look like colorful jewels mounted in greenery of the garden.

We finished our garden tour inside Abkhazi house, built by John Wade in the style of simple modernism. Broad glass windows offer spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, while connecting the interior to the exterior spaces. Perhaps the most striking feature of the house is that organic flow with the surrounding landscape, perfected in architectural designs of the tropics. 

While working on our book ”Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean”, we were often fascinated by architects who mastered this skill of seamless integration of outside and inside spaces, like Oliver Messel, or Lane Pettigrew. Standing on a stone-paved patio, we marvelled at the brilliant layout of the garden complementing the natural landscape.

Peggy’s wish was that the garden was going to be seen by the next generation” comments  Jeff.  “Thanks to the Land Conservancy, it’s going to be seen by even more generations to come.”

Story by Margaret Gajek
Photography by Derek Galon

Another view at the ponds, where on a sunny day you can spot sun bathing turtles…

Thank you for stopping by. If you like this post – please click SHARE button or other media button you use.
Until next time, cheers!

 

Playfair Park – “Ghost Garden of Greater Victoria”

Playfair Park, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - feast of rhodos.Not too many people know about this garden, perhaps only locals and admirers of rhododendrons go there. It is not even listed on Victoria Horticultural Society’ website list of Local Public Gardens (one would think that such a list should be the most complete and impartial) – and yet this forgotten, colourful and interesting spot is a real jewel hidden in a quiet residential area of Saanich.

This small garden had really grand and unusual beginnings. It was planned long ago as part of a national arboretum in Canada – an ambitious project envisioned by Adam Szczawinski, Polish-born botanist who saved Thetis Lake from development. Szczawinski was a curator of botany at the Royal BC Museum, creator of an extensive BC plant collection housed at the museum’s herbarium, and at the University of Victoria. In 1956 he brought together a group of about ten people to form The Arboretum Society of the Pacific Norhwest. There was an official plan to set up a series of small areas in Victoria to display specific plants. Playfair Park was chosen as a first site for display of rhododendrons. However, after general election in Canada, it was decided by the new government that the best place for a national arboretum has to be Ottawa. Despite this disappointing news, a group of enthusiastic volunteers decided to complete work on the park.

The other end of Playfair park is full of mixed, attractive plants blooming all summer long.

What remains there today is still a glorious and beautiful display. The Camphor tree is one of the most spectacular in the garden, recognizable also by amazingly aromatic leaves. All the rhodos were planted under Garry Oak trees for protection from sun and wind. Today, some of the rhodos are up to majestic 8 meters tall, creating an impressive and colourful display. We walked under their arching branches looking at the magical carpet under our feet, made by their spent bloom.

What was once a dream about the arboretum it is now a splendid garden, as much worth a visit as other famous gardens of Victoria which do charge an entry fee. Beautiful, free to visit – but not on lists of Victoria fine gardens and sadly forgotten – a ghost garden, full of real beauty.


Thank you for reading, and as always – if you like it, please share – let others know about this beautiful garden.


Once more our blog brought us to our home town – Victoria, Canada. We are working on more posts from here, as well as a few posts from abroad. Stay tuned!
Until next time, cheers!
Derek and Margaret.

Playfair park can be accessed both from Quadra Rd. and Blenkinsop, with free parking near Union St.

More info about Adam Szczawinski
http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/ben362.html

Post written by Margaret Gajek, author of our books Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean, and Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean, photos by me – Derek Galon.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: