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LIFE magazine is online and enjoying it’s first day today…

 

 

 

A big reason…the biggest reason actually, that FiveBlocks takes photographs today, are the hours spent on the living room couch, my dad’s waiting room, the library, my sister’s beach bag, my grandmother’s home, the barbershop, long car trips, the doctor’s office or the dime box at the American Veteran’s Thrift Store in Oceanside, and anyplace else that had a spot big enough to stack a pile of LIFE magazines on top and wondering over the larger than life images that detailed how humans worldwide live their lives.

 
lincoln

 

In our neighborhood, growing up, I imagined my own everyday pains and struggles embroidered within the images I would see each month.  Even with the images that were taken before I was born; I would look back on the frozen moments in time captured on the oversized page, thinking and comparing what I held in common with the grainy black and white faces I stared into.

 

depression

 

Every possible emotion held up for the world to see and almost in the size of a poster.  It was more than a few times that I contemplated everyone else turning the same pages as I would do and thinking if what they saw, brought forth the same feelings and thoughts.

 

rlk

 

How could it be that, at these extreme moments, a photographer could be ready and sane enough to hold the camera forward, frame a photo, control the exposure and freeze time so that everyone could see and arrive at just the smallest understanding of what the moment was actually like.

 

wright

 

Today, we talk and share what we think about that funny  Utube video or that unusual website but do you remember talking about that LIFE photo and imagining through your conversation what it was about and what it must have been like to actually be there.

 

ali

 

mlk

 

marylin

I so much hope that in our own modern way of seeing things and sharing life on our planet, that we can be in the moment of what its like to live on the edge of our lives where every step is the unknown edge of a new frontier.  LIFE magazine reminds me of that and thats why I am so glad its back.

 

onthemoon

 

 

It occurs to me that with every photo I take, as I take it, I imagine, for an instant,  those bright white letters on a red rectangle in the corner, that spell out “LIFE”.

 

FiveBlocks

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Carrie Turbow on the 99 switchbacks on the main Mt. Whitney Trail.  The summit of Mt. Whitney is the peak on the right.  The switchbacks gain about 1,300 feet in about 1/2 mile.  Hikers are rewarded at the crest at 13,300 feet,  with views of Inyo National Forest to the east and Sequoia National Park to the west. It wasn’t enough that Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow climbed Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states at 14, 496 ft, a week and a half ago.  What took place as they began at 3am on the trailhead, at 8,362 ft, sparked an idea at about 10,000 feet and matured at about 13,000 feet. 

 

The plan was a go at the top and as Beresbach explains it, Turbow signed off on the project exactly there at the highest point at 14,496 feet; there sitting on a rock, Turbow,  responded with a simple “yes” to his marriage proposal.

 

“Well, you know I had thought about it and it was in the back of my mind when we started….at 10,000 feet, I really started thinking about it and at 13,000 feet, I knew it was a good idea…we were sitting on some rocks, actually at the highest point on the summit…I was low key, I said some things first, like what she meant to me and then asked her and she calmly said “yes” …I expected her to cry a little and so when she didn’t, I asked her if she was going too…she said no and then a few moments later she let go a little…”

 

Outpost Camp is surrounded on three sides by 1,000-foot walls.  It sits in the pine trees at the base at about 10,400 feet. They took their time coming down after spending about half an hour on the summit.  They didn’t get back to the trailhead until 11pm or so.

 

“We really took our time and stopped along the way…it’s probably why we weren’t very sore…still though, 18 hours on the trails…”

 

The Whitney climb is 8,362 ft of elevation change in 10.2 miles, from trailhead to summit, for a total of 20.4 miles.  That would be like walking from San Clemente to South Coast Hospital in Laguna and back and half of it uphill.  You have to carry your own food and although they had a fine day for the ascent, you still have to carry the gear for the odd storm that could blow through.  Don’t forget that you have to filter water every little bit of distance as well.  That’s a lot of ingredients for one great day.

 

It seems to me that it was worth it; two separate people went up and a single unified one came down.

 Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow on the summit of Mt. Whitney at 14,496 feet.

Congratulations to Paul and Carrie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the story on The Orange County Register here: 

 

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/trail-feet-down-2074073-snow-control

 

 

 

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Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow on the summit of Mt. Whitney at 14,496 feet.

 

Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow didn’t get enough last year and so this year they are going back.  If you happen to be up at 2am on Sunday morning for a glass of water or to check out why the dog is barking, take a moment to think of Bersebach and Turbow as they hit the trailhead on the way to a one day summit ascent of Mount Whitney; the highest point in the lower United States at 14, 496 feet. 

 

 Look skyward after a slow leisurely lunch around 2pm and you can imagine them at the summit.  At 8pm, after dinner and a post bar-b-que walk around the block, you can be assured that they will be just about back to where they started 18 hours before.  Their latitude and altitude in the California Sierras will allow them a few more seconds of sunset; for both of them, it’s worth it and everything they will have hoped for…again.

 

Bersebach and Turbow signed their names into the logbook at the top of Mount Whitney.

 About this time last year they had made the climb for the first time.  The 2007 effort had been a three day long tour of sorts but this year, it will be a sprint.  Bersebach, a staff photographer at the Orange County Register, is incorporating this climb, like last years, into a journal for the newspaper, to chronicle his efforts along with Turbow, his girlfriend. 

 

 

The two have only been hiking for three years and originally began after thinking back to common and shared moments on the trails with their fathers.  Upon signing the National Forestry logbook at the top Whitney last year, they each dedicated the climb to their respective dad’s.  I am wondering if, in order to solidify their thoughts, memories and love for dad, they haven’t organized the climb for father’s day this year.

 

“Carrie and I really have each thought back to the times we spent with our fathers, hiking and just spending time together…our focus has been to get back to that somehow with our climb on Whitney…”

 

View looking west from Trail Crest on the Mt. Whitney Trail at 13,360 feet.  Below is Guitar Lake.

 

 

 

 

Bersebach explains the immense satisfaction and relief of attaining the summit last year and it’s clear that it is the backbone to the plan for this year as well.  The mechanics of preparing equipment and practice climbs, each one more difficult and demanding than the one before, have meant more than a few trips to REI and a recent practice climb in the San Gorgonio Mountains. 

 

 

A big component of this year’s climb will be that they will be traveling a lot lighter and so will be “pumping” or filtering water as they go.  There is one thing that Bersebach will change from what he did last year.

 

“…last year we took a lot of energy goos and energy bars and this year we are going to concentrate on more things that are actually food…”

 

I asked him if he thought if he would learn or discover anything new this year on the climb and in that true straight forward common sense way that Midwesterners seem to be born with he said,

 

“…Nothing new…but the satisfaction in the completion of a goal….and …sore legs…” 

 

Actually, it sounds more Bersebachian than Midwestern.

 

 

2008:

 

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/dark-day-hike-2063413-feet-whitney

 

 

2007:

 

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/local/sanclemente/climbingmtwhitney/article_1654215.php

 

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/local/sanclemente/climbingmtwhitney/article_1679707.php

 

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/local/sanclemente/climbingmtwhitney/article_1690557.php

 

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/local/sanclemente/climbingmtwhitney/article_1697104.php

 

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/local/sanclemente/climbingmtwhitney/article_1715975.php

 

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/local/sanclemente/climbingmtwhitney/article_1733403.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ruaridh (Rory) Stewart (shown at left photographing a car at the recent LA Car show), 37, of Laguna Niguel, knows the business of what makes photos work.  He describes a photo of a Vietcong guerrilla captured by US troops photographed by Philip Jones Griffiths, a Welsh photojournalist from the 60’s and 70’s.

 

“Griffiths set the standard for what makes a news photo…how he shot events, no one had done before, his approach…everything…students of photography should begin with his books and photos, he started it all really…”

 

 

Griffiths published Vietnam INC, and the book had major influence on American perceptions of the war and became a classic of photojournalism with astounding and compelling images.  All qualities that Zuma Press, a full service photo agency based in Dana Point and where Stewart works as News Director, look for when they license photos for magazines like Time, Newsweek and National Geographic. 

 

 

This image conveys the tragedy that is war, there are multiple elements to his images that cause the viewer to really pause and look…”

 

Stewart, born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1971 is tall, lean and serious, but not without a certain kindness in his gaze.  He pauses between points and reflects, seemingly editing his words one last time, just before telling you what he thinks.  It’s his thoughts on photography and how he got started that you realize his greatest trait must be his innate compassion.

 

“I was always taking photos when I was young and while traveling in India over the summer in 1993, I was doing travel photos, I knew it was what I wanted to do, something just clicked …I traveled all over Asia and it was the people…taking pictures of the people….you just have to go for it and make it work and that’s what I did…”

 

Stewart’s work at Zuma Press as News Director is what you might think at first to be the standard faire of deadlines, fact checking and the eenie, meenie, miny, mo of where to send which photo to which publication.  Consider that Stewart deals with over 700 contract photographers from all over the world and in every possible situation at any one time and delivers to hundreds of magazines worldwide; there is no doubt that many of the photos you see in your favorite magazines, he sees first.

 

It wasn’t too long ago that Stewart was looking through the lens and seeing it all first hand.  In 2000 he was selected as Photographer of the Year by the Hong Kong Press for a photo that depicts children praying at an assembly after their Principal has just shared that the Chinese takeover in Hong Kong would no longer allow English to be taught.  Stewart had the opportunity to work for several newspapers and magazines in Asia and traveled extensively on assignments that included sports, politics and earthquakes. 

 

 

“In 1999 I was assigned to cover the aftermath of the earthquake in Taiwan where over 2000 people died…the devastation was impressive….to see people in those conditions was humbling…”

 

Stewart had the unique nuts and bolts experience of literally working through the change from film to digital.  Assigned to cover the fall of  President Suharto of Indonesia in the spring of 1998, he was given a digital camera to take with him along with his equipment for film; that first digital camera cost more than $10,000 dollars and had less than 2 megapixels; soccer moms would scoff at anything less than 6 megapixels today.

 

“We would shoot maybe 5 rolls a day of the rioting and protests and then return to the hotel room to process the film in the bathroom and use the hotel hair dryer to dry the negatives….eventually I ran out of chemical and so I started using the digital camera…the image quality was terrible but it was that immediate result and even more I appreciated the speed”

 

Stewart explains that after returning to the hotel and developing the film it still took hours to edit the photos down to two or three that would get sent out to the paper.  He details the methodic orgy of using the bathroom as a darkroom, developing in the bathtub, drying the negatives on the shower rod with the hair dryer, scanning the negatives into the computer, getting a dependable international phone line, usually splicing the lines himself and then spending 3 hours to download 3 images.  The confusion, chaos and imminent collapse of President Suharto’s regime made for excellent and emotionally charged photos but wasn’t the safest spot to be.

 

“ I was shooting from behind a crowd, towards the government troops…I was getting the rioters throwing rocks when the soldiers began to shoot into the crowd…it all broke loose at that point…there was a wave of people…everyone was scattering, except for me…at one point I looked out over the top of my camera….in front of me just 10 feet away was a soldier…he was franticly trying to pull out his pistol from its holster but he had forgotten the little leather strap that held it in…he kept trying to get it out and then he was working on the strap…it just wouldn’t come…I just stood there watching until a hand from behind pulled me out…an Indonesian photographer I think…I don’t know what would have happened…”

 

Stewart is in the office now mostly and likes it better that way because now he can pick the assignments he wants to do and at the end of the day he goes home to Laguna Niguel, his wife, Sylvia and his little girl, Ailee, 18 months.

 

Stewart has had an ongoing assignment at US military installations photographing, the  Army as they train and prepare for duty in Iraq.  It keeps him close to home, it’s safer and it’s an easier commute but it’s not the only thing that’s easy.

 

 

 

 “When we first got the digital stuff…the image quality was not that good and the batteries were huge and we had to carry extra batteries where ever we went…now the cameras are just phenomenal…the point and shoot cameras that we have today take better pictures than what I had in Indonesia…”

 

Stewart feels that with the quality of digital cameras today, there is no reason why a reasonably skilled photographer couldn’t take a shot where you would be unable to tell if it were color film or not; digital only keeps getting better every day.

 

“There are some great digital cameras out there right now but, you know, I still have all my film cameras…”

 

Stewart knows what he’s doing; he’ll make it work out.

 

Ruaridh Stewart:

http://www.ruaridhstewart.com/

 

Philip Jones Griffiths:

 

http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.PhotographerDetail_VPage&l1=0&pid=2K7O3R149GCO&nm=Philip%20Jones%20Griffiths

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/20/arts/design/20griffiths.html?scp=3&sq=philip%20jone%20griffiths&st=cse

 

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/03/19/arts/20080320_GRIFFITHS_SLIDESHOW_index.html?scp=4&sq=philip%20jone%20griffiths&st=cse

 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,905816,00.html

 Zuma Reportage:

http://www.zreportage.com/

  

 

 

 

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