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 ‘volcano’

Revisiting Montserrat

Revisiting places you are fascinated by or feel affinity with is a very special treat. We were lucky to had an opportunity to come back to Montserrat, British Overseas Territory nicknamed “the emerald isle of the Caribbean.”

photographing outdoor activities...

photographing outdoor activities…

Life on this beautiful island was changed forever after series of volcanic eruptions on Soufriere Hills in the mid-1990s. Two-thirds of the island was destroyed including Plymouth -the capital town buried by a 40-feet thick layer of lava and volcanic debris.

photographing Volcano from St Joseph's hill - the closest possible point, already in the dreaded  zone V.

photographing Volcano from St Joseph’s hill – the closest possible high located point, already in the dreaded zone V.

Nineteen people lost their lives, eight thousand were forced to leave the island. Today, the volcanic activity is closely monitored by the Montserrat Volcanic Observatory with state of art facilities. Life is concentrated in the “safe zone” up north, where a new capital town is been constructed, and a new airport and marina recently opened.

Mutual attraction - Margaret photographing wild donkeys wondering over destructed old airport area...

Mutual attraction – Margaret photographing wild donkeys wandering over destructed old airport area…

Government’s renewed focus is on bringing new visitors to the island, and we were part of a creative international team working on a new promotion of the island, photographing it’s top attractions.

preparing our drone in the dreaded Volcano Exclusion Zone V

preparing our drone in the dreaded Volcano Exclusion Zone V

photographing volcano from a boat

photographing volcano from a boat

Along with the crew from London and Barbados, we were travelling island up and down, day and sometimes night, photographing and filming many different places. We are not at liberty to show you “official” photos, because they soon will be used in a major international promotion. However, we can share with you some photos showing us in action. We hope these will also give you a glimpse of this fascinating place….

photographing iguana gave me a chance of resting flat for a few minutes - a rare treat during busy schedule ;-)

photographing iguana gave me a chance of resting flat for a few minutes – a rare treat during busy schedule 😉

The island had changed a lot since our first visit 2 years ago. Perhaps the most striking difference for me was its lushness: some parts of the island which I remember as covered in ash are now filled with new vegetation. Boat tour around the island was a highlight of this trip for me: watching an awe inspiring, breathtaking scenery. As usually, we all worked long hours and hard …
We were able to get permission to enter the exclusion zone to photograph Plymouth, this time also using our drone which proved to be very helpful. You can read about previous our experience and see more photos in our earlier posts:

https://ozonezonebooks.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/montserrat-another-photo-shoot-trip-to-the-caribbean/

https://ozonezonebooks.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/new-pompeii-montserrats-old-capital-destroyed-by-volcano/

https://ozonezonebooks.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/plymouth-the-new-pompeii-margarets-notes/

leaving the zone V for a safer ground...

leaving the zone V for a safer ground…

We hope to be back in Montserrat for some more work, and would like to thank MDC, the Tourism Director, our amazing hosts and Montserrat Government, for having us in this brilliant international team. Not only it was a fascinating work, but we all became good friends.

We also thank you for stopping by at this post. Until next time – and Happy New Year to you!
If you like this post, Share and Like it, or Follow to be updated on further stories. Cheers!

Margaret and Derek

Margaret with our boatman after boat tour, along with Patrick and Mark from our creative team.

Margaret with our boatman after boat tour, along with Patrick and Mark from our creative team.

Written by Margaret Gajek, photographs by Derek Galon and Margaret Gajek. Please respect the copyright.

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Dominica – We Arrived!

So, we did it! We said goodbye to Victoria, BC, Canada, and left for Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean! Flying from Victoria through Vancouver and Toronto, we had three days in Barbados before getting on the final LIAT flight to Dominica.

Hunte's Gardens, Barbados - in October 2014 (photo Derek Galon)

Hunte’s Gardens, Barbados – in October 2014 (photo Derek Galon)

Air Canada prepared for us a farewell surprise – they lost our luggage. We arrived in Barbados in rather warm long-sleeve Canadian clothes, and were kept on a warm side for two extra days until our luggage materialised again. That did not stop us from visiting our favourite places in Barbados – the Welchman Hall Gully and Hunte’s Gardens. Both places look quite amazing, they matured and changed quite a bit since our last visit.

Hunte’s Gardens are now  a definite #1 attraction on Trip Advisor, and we fully agree with it.  It is an unbelievably designed, beautiful garden full of nooks and surprises.  Photographing it was actually our first job in the Caribbean as Caribbean residents. Despite the sweat  (our warm clothes) we spent several hours documenting recent changes all over the place.  These photos will be used by Virgin Atlantic for their guide to Barbados, and by Barbados Tourism Board for a local tourist map.

Hunte's Gardens - lower level (photo Derek Galon)

Hunte’s Gardens – lower level (photo Derek Galon)

 

Our welcome surprise in Dominica!

Our welcome surprise in Dominica!

Dominica greeted us with truly beautiful weather and very smooth proceedings through customs. We felt like returning home. A short ride brought us to the apartment we are renting in Eggleston – a village high in hills above capital town of  Roseau. A nice surprise – Dutch friends who live in Dominica dropped off some grocery shopping for us, along with a fine composition of local exotic flowers! Thank you!

Evening view at Caribbean Sea - from patio of our apartment in Dominica.

Evening view at Caribbean Sea – from patio of our apartment in Dominica.

So, here we are, awaiting arrival of our car ordered from Japan, taking care of formalities (permanent residency permit), and accommodating to the new life style. The last one is not so difficult, as getting around is a true delight to us.  Super friendly people, relaxed atmosphere – it all is just what we need at the moment.

View from our apartment at hills and volcanic mountains of Dominica.

View from our apartment at hills and volcanic mountains of Dominica.

Today we received news from Canada that our container started its journey from Victoria to Dominica, so we will be awaiting its arrival in about a month time.

Our container gets off -  first meters of 7,000 miles journey

Our container gets off – first meters of 7,000 miles journey

In regard to our photography work – it seems like a nice start. We are discussing with Montserrat Ministry of Tourism a week-long photo shoot in Montserrat (it would be lovely to return there – remember our volcano shots?), and we are also getting accreditation for the International Creole Fest here in Dominica. We arrived right in time for this huge yearly event. Three days and nights of concerts, with participation of the best Caribbean and international artists. We may not stay awake until 6am every night (yes, concerts end at 6am!), but I am sure there will be lots to photograph while we will be awake!

Stay tuned! And SHARE/FOLLOW if you like this!

Cheers!
Derek
(please respect copyright of my photos)

Breathing Color – Amazing Photo Papers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain Dance looks rich and elegant on Vellum paper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plymouth – the New Pompeii (Margaret’s Notes)

Plymouth – view towards volcano

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

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

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

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

One of school buildings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographs copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,  cheers!
Derek

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

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