Monday, December 29, 2014

Dichotomy and Reconciliation in the Desert Southwest

There is a curious dichotomy that exists here in this desert… A definite fear and loathing that accompanies the endorphic wonder.

There is an overwhelming sense of incredible wildness and wilderness, vast open spaces - and the edgy sense that getting lost is a reality still in our modern, crowded and ever-shrinking and interwoven world… The slot of Arrow Canyon had a flash flood this year that wiped out the I-15 at the other end for well over a week, tamarisk washed in from miles away still stacked along the edges of its towering walls. Tarantulas and cats claw, barrel cactus and hawks still rule here.

But coupled with Las Vegas, you can have a foot in two very distinct and disparate worlds… The midnight glow creating its own Borealis effect from scores of miles in any direction - even when hidden behind ranges. A hyper-cosmopolitian reflection of the modern with fancy strip malls, casinos, the uber-fashionable - and more scraped/lost earth every day.

Its a difficult thing to reconcile…

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Solstice Swapped

Swapping hemispheres with this image - celebrating the longest and shortest days of the year simultaneously… I hope that we all may find incredible adventures in the coming year!

I resolve to wake up for as many sunrises as possible… and to find more views like this with Andean condors, and perfect granite...
A view of Poincenot in the Fitzroy Range, Patagonia - Image ©Bennett Barthelemy

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sea Bird Portraiture

Spent an hour enjoying some different company today… Instead of pointing the lens into the surf and at the surfers as I had envisioned, I began to notice another vibrant and intriguing world a few feet in front of me… When the action is frozen and brought in tight, a new world unfolds… There is nothing static about the sea and the birds there… Constantly in motion - and requires a fair bit of anticipation to capture moments… I really enjoyed the challenge in getting these 300mm portraits… hope to return tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Called by the Sea

Storm rolling in at C Street, Ventura ©Bennett Barthelemy

Been feeling pulled by tides lately, called to the sea. A place I have not spent much time as of late… Many more images at my Instagram account @bennettb

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Light

Finding a different side of shooting lately… Adding light, bouncing light, subtracting it. Massive learning curve. Uncountable permutations and possibilities. Grateful for the opportunity to work with a professional model as I stumble through this process. Thank you Caren Moyers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Serendipity - 35 Years of Play

I think having a high play quotient, a valued and lofty threshold for play, and not only a propensity for as well as appreciation - but a decided lean toward the ridiculous and laughter - is a key ingredient in life…

My parents, Joe and Lilly, opened up a toy store, Serendipity, in 1979 in the small Southern California town of Ojai California. Its avocado and orange orchards of the East End, the sweeping sycamores and valley oaks, helped provide an insulated and otherworldly feel that set it apart from the rest of congested Los Angeles, Ventura and nearby Santa Barbara. The rugged Coast Range peaks and the transverse range gave it a more wild sense and they decided it would be a good place to raise kids… Thankfully, this holds true to a large degree.

In a way, my tireless parents have helped raise much of the children of this town for three generations - kids that came by in the early 80's saving allowances for Dungeon's and Drangon's modules or Snuffles stuffed bears, then they had their own kids, and some of those kids now have tiny kids so the legacy continues.

My parents still tackle the ordering, shipments and stocking of shelves, and gift wrapping with a hardly slowed vigor that amazes me - nearly there seven days a week but garnering solid support now from Maddie and a serious continent of other townies - my brother, sister, cousin Morgan and myself (more than a few ex-wives and partners) have taken spins behind the counter. Many youth in local school programs did stints learning retail skills and a "work" ethic in a locally-run shop.

I am helping out again this Christmas season after a number of years appreciating a hiatus from the intensity of the busiest season. It is nice to reconnect with old junior high friends that are back visiting their parents for the holidays, old climbing partners that are now back and raising kids here. I visit regularly but its a different sense when you are behind the counter. Instant recognition/association - for better or worse - there is no hiding when there is an extant 35 year legacy with a store front and open door.

Last night Morgan, now in DC, made it back for a few hours, and my sister Melissa and her partner Diane from UCSB. A celebration was in order. Morgan I think hit the nail on the head when he said, "People love this toy store because it is not formulaic." The old catchphrase that I believe my mom came up with and is still on the business card is where the unique is common.

I think my parents did a stellar job instilling in us an appreciation of course for uniqueness, but more importantly for the value of play… I can't thank them enough for that...

My cousin, despite having a very seriously high speed job in DC with the DOT proves that age has nothing to do with the necessity of  play… 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Luz Loco Por Siempre

Here is a vicarious view into my gallery installation that is going up tonight for the month of December at Ojai Coffee Roasting Company in my home town of Ojai California. A somewhat rambling and cathartic retrospective/perspective sharing… Come check out the prints and enjoy some awesome coffee and gourmet food if you find yourself out this way. 

With a camera and the light as guide, I have been blessed with a nomadic life that has allowed for some wonderful connections and experiences… I have tried to encapsulate that here - and in this gallery space.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Araps… Retrsopect

Such a sweet place. Great people, great climbing. The Arapiles will forever remain as a top pick of crags in the world for me… These shots are from last month...

Mandy cruising an Arapiles classic 19

A stumpy tail lizard - Tiliqua rugosa

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Latest Feature... Splintered Coalescence

Most recent feature in Southern California Mag, Ojai Quarterly... Written last month on my iPhone whilst in a Wollongong coffee shop... Due out on the US streets any day...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New Zealand Seasons

Chris Sierzant spotted by Libbi Gibson at Castle Hill, two ridiculously fun people to spend a bit of time with! - Image Copyright Bennett Barthelemy
 So many awesome moments here in Oceana... The locals say you can have all four seasons in a day in late spring and that is holding true for us - sometimes within an hour... Wild surf, mind-blowingly scenic settings for climbing mixed with incredibly friendly locals. NZ is a sweet destination. So much to write about and photos share... but will have to wait till stateside again in a couple weeks...
The mythical backroads of New Zealand's North Island - just don't tell the rental agency... - Image Copyright Bennett Barthelemy


Friday, November 14, 2014

Australia Part II

 As we wind our way down the North Island of New Zealand it is the geography - what it doesn't hide in its folds and fissures -  that is the striking contrast. This island is the land of rain, and green. No snakes and spiders to worry about as we wander into the black of night in search of glow worms across Miles' - a local dairy farmer's - back paddock - The 6 bulls he keeps here for his breeding for his 300 odd dairy cows and the squishy-slippy cow paddies keep me alert.

Australia was somewhat monochromatic with its 600 plus species of gum trees but rich in crazy creatures that wandered across the endless highway miles and through and over the parched outback. While camping at Arapiles, with a headlamp, a thousand flourescent green huntsmen spider eyes would stare back at you from beneath the scrub. Laughing Kookaburras and Major Mitchell cockatoos would awaken you at dawn with raucous birdsong.Grey roos would congregate and unabashedly hop around the gum trees at sunset.

Definitely looking forward to a return to Oz and reconnecting the good people met along the several thousand KMs from Newcastle to Melbourne... Also looking forward to uploading the crush of photos from the Grampians, the Araps, Mt. Buffalo and beyond...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Awesome Aussies

Lucy checking the surf in Newcastle
Been a whirlwind here in the land down under... Amazed at the hospitality of so many awesome Aussies... Mike and I would be eating wiggety grubs by now if it wasn't for so many great people met along the way that have let us crash on their floors and couches, boats - and submitted to letting us take photos, sharing  ropes and waves with us... Hope I can repay the favor someday if anyone makes it across the Pacific!

Here are some shots from the first couple week of our mis-adventures...

Mike Calabro making friends

Professional tri-athlete Julina at Mereweather

Carole rapping another classic Grampians frightfest with overhangs and offwidth pods

Byron and crew at Palm Beach
Crab about to fly, Newcastle
Lynne and the Sydney Opera House
Captain Alan
Bibi finding some sweet lines for us in the Blue Mountains

Monday, October 20, 2014

Swapping Hemispheres...

Been a sweet few weeks in Colorado... Hard to leave as the Fall is in full swing in the Front Range and Rockies, many great adventures still to be had before the snow flies - but stoked to have gotten to spend some quality time with some amazingly inspiring people before having to swap hemispheres...
Emily Jean and Molly Mitchell en route to the Emeralds in RMNP
Matt Lloyd tying in for another burn on his ridiculous project, Molly Mitchell belayer
Emily Jean finds a moment of repose
Diane Wagner V.M.D. with Carol and Shambhu

Matt Owen solo storming the Bastille in Eldorado Canyon State Park...
Molly Mitchell never missing a moment to laugh