Monday, June 26, 2017

La Tierra

I generally don't make a habit of photographing murals, I just enjoy them for what they are- when they warrant such. But I did take a snap of this one since I liked the graphics, and more importantly- the saying within...

  Photo: © S. Banos

La tierra es de qien la trabaja con sus manos- Zapata.  
Translation: The land belongs to those who work it with their hands.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Trump Matryoshka!

Photo: © S. Banos

Huh? Oh, those little Russian doll thingies, exactly- like in keep peeling the layers, and guess who you're gonna find deep down inside... and it ain't gonna be no babushka! 

Photo: © S. Banos

Gonna be outta town for a week (non-photo work/vacation), don't think either of the above two will happen in that short a time period, but I'm a "hopeful" kinda guy- one who can still remember how even Watergate was a painfully s-l-o-w... process.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

If You're Not Angry...

What kind of person are you? So asks Ken Loach, whose most recent film I, Daniel Blake presents an aging carpenter hitting on hard times, times that will not be unfamiliar with many working class Americans. It's a small film with no major stars, but it packs an emotional wallop mercifully without the usual Hollywood histrionics. And it does so because the actors are so very, very credible and the story line without contrivance. 

The divisions between classes, socially, economically are ever deepening- and in turn being used against us, and often with our own consent- consciously or not. And those naive enough to think America a classless society are truly unhinged. I, Daniel Blake does not preach, if anything, it's almost documentary in pacing; it depicts the anonymous lives of those struggling to stay head over water, young and old. People we walk amongst every day...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Street Foto San Francisco 2017

One of the better photo exhibits I've seen in a while in San Francisco is currently at Photoworks.* It features work by Daniel Arnold, Aaron Berger and Troy Holden, replete with a colorful variety of the pleasures and surprises the street can offer. 

I didn't stay long after perusing the work at the official opening; there was many a photographer there and while they all seemed nice enough blokes, I didn't know any of 'em, ain't much of a mingler and all the Leica's strung about their necks and shoulders made me slightly nauseous. So I ambled my way unto the street where soon enough- yet another Leica guy thrust his camera in my face and snapped away... Can't complain too much when karma slaps ya upside the head (with a Leica no less)... OK, so what if I've always secretly kinda lusted for one- fortunately, economics prevented me from becoming the guy I would feel uneasy becoming. 

Tomorrow (if my mouth isn't completely swollen from the dental surgery I'm scheduled for in the afternoon), I'll hit SF Camerawork to catch Blake Andrews and Steven Bollman- won't stay too long for that one either (gotta watch them Dubs in The Finals)- sorry, Blake!

Other good stuff happening at The Harvey Milk Center include lectures by: Don Hudson, Bruce Gilden, Jesse Marlow, etc. 

*In the interest of full disclosure Photoworks has made some great quality prints for me this year in color and B&W- and no, not a paid endorsement...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Losers 2017 Cont...

These are the three losing photos I submitted to the "Best Street Photo" segment of The StreetFoto San Francisco 2017 Contest. Didn't think I'd have much of a chance in this particular segment (kinda reminds me why I don't do Lotto), in fact I had no idea what to even submit, it's such a ridiculously broad category- which I'm betting is judged from a rather narrow spectrum of all that could be considered relevant to this genre. So I ended up submitting three shots that all had a camera in it, even though it was a singles competition with no extra points gained for my chosen "theme."

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Thrill Is Gone

Me and the wife attempted to watch House of Cards last night, it's been a perennial fave. From the opening scene... I knew it was just not gonna be the same- ever. It was fun watching all these years, making believe that a complete sociopath had somehow commandeered his way into the White House. Just think of it!

Now that we live it- not so much...

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Camera Covfefe

What!? You bought the very same camera you so vehemently put down just a coupla years ago? I did- and didn't, at least, not quite; that is, I didn't put it down completely. The problem on initial purchase was that I went into it desperately hoping that the Fujifilm XT-1 would be my be all/do all camera. And no, it is not! Far as I'm concerned, B&W remains the sovereign terrain of analog film (with exceptions for B&W digital taken in shade)- digital still retains that unnatural/washed out look in direct sunlight. And my GR remains my everyday camera w/o question.

So what need/hole/purpose does the XT-1 then fill? Well, at the current $800 price tag (down from the original $1,300), it is significantly more alluring- period. And that said- the XT-1 is one of the best looking cameras... ever! I'll never afford the Leica mystique, but the XT-1 is one little gem of a beauty, and something I can currently afford, now that I have a few extra bucks in my pocket- something that has not occurred in a long, long (long) while...

And while all EVF's are basically shit in direct sunlight, my eyes ain't doing all that great with an OVF either, under any light these days- so autofocus compensates. The XT-1's gonna be my official camera covfefe,* my special event/project camera when B&W is not of primary consideration- and even then, I'll still pack my FM. Fujinon glass is topnotch, and even with only 16 megapixels, it renders some really crisp 16in prints (as does the GR), the size of which I've really become enamored of- just big enough, and still hand friendly.

Fujifilm XT-1, 14mm   The Batman: © S. Banos

So I should have just stayed with the XT-1 since the get go, right? Well, I couldn't afford to keep a camera I didn't see a real purpose for, and if I had, I would've never discovered the GR- a camera I continue to have a daily need for...

Bottom line: B&W analog/digital post- hours/days, B&W restorations- days/weeks, color post- 1hr... tops! And right now, I have enough B&W files to edit right into eternity. If I can get viable images in digital color- so be it; one has only so much time.
* as of this writing, this top secret Trumpism has yet to be officially deciphered/declassified

Monday, May 29, 2017


A recent convert to reincarnation, I just knew I had seen that face before- that evil, Machiavellian leer hoisted atop a shrew like appendage of a body. Roy Cohn was the living embodiment of a back stabbing, shadow lurking misanthrope down to the very pore. From Joe McCarthy's henchman to Donald's advisor, to... human snake who tried to physically force a drug induced, senile 84 yr old to sign over his money to him while pretending said papers concerned his divorce.

Demi-god of death and The Man Who Made Trump

And now he stalks the living once more, lurking about doing the dirty business of his present day prince of darkness. The torch has been passed, the transition seamless, there can be no doubt- the names differ, the mission remains...

Stephen Miller- Shit On A Stick Take II

Thursday, May 25, 2017

With Or Without

So... I've been photographing primarily in color for the past year and three months (after 40 years of B&W exclusivity) and although I still shoot film when I specifically want B&W, the thought occurred to me- how many of those photographs would not exist if it wasn't for the color, and how many are basically B&W photos with color thrown in? 

Gathering my 100 and change color keepers, I decided to have a go. How many owe their existence solely to the judicious and discriminating use of color? My suspicions were correct- not a helluva lot! The vast majority would still work sans their color genes- does that mark me a failure as a color photographer, or does it say that I can successfully facilitate the added info into my worldview. Offhand, I'd say a definite, yes, to the latter- a definite undecided on the former.

Anyway, here are the select few who probably would not exist, if not for their inherent color (and the one I had to decolorize for success)...

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

She can carry it any damn day w or w/o- but color definitely helps bring it!  Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos
Photo: © S. Banos

Guy walking on extreme left had very distracting lime green shirt. Photo: © S. Banos

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Great Unraveling...

The thing is, I'm not only outraged by Donald J. Trump, I'm also highly entertained. Make no doubt, this guy now has the highest rated reality show ever- let us all give credit where credit is truly due. Here is a man who is not only perceived as a charismatic leader by a large section of the American public, he is also seen as a trustworthy, influential, and yes, exceptionally wise elder (with a hot wife no less) capable of cutting through all the subterfuge which lesser minds simply cannot fathom. Snowflake libtards like myself cannot possibly perceive of reality as it actually exists. Or as he himself so modestly proclaimed... "I alone can fix it."

Curiously, one of the first things Trump supporters will anxiously exhale is how The Donald is an established billionaire of genius, mastermind proportions- conveniently disregarding or denying (Fake News!!!) the long and inconvenient procession of bankruptcies and business failures he's accrued throughout his career, and the fact that he doesn't even own half the shit in his name. All we have to know, and accept, is that he is The Master of the Deal- there are none better. He cannot possibly be fooled, swindled or taken by any competitor out there- real or imagined, in business, life or politics...

And yet, as President, we collectively witness firsthand, someone who literally invokes his innocence through magical thinking- say I'm not guilty three times, and the word is made flesh; we literally have a President who called "no backsies" on the head of the FBI, as if on a grade school playground! Then he purposely went out of his way to declare that he never tattled on someone as reported, and proceeds to name the name- directly in front of those in question... when no one had actually named who he himself voluntarily revealed. This master of masters, this king of all deal makers with street smarts and business acumen up the yazoo repeatedly panics and gives up anything and everything at the slightest of provocations! Any twelve year old I knew growing up in Queens would've taken this guy for every nickel, dime and dollar his rich daddy ever gave him- without one single blow... taken his girl too.

And if that isn't already SAD enough... 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Stanley Greene- RIP

Photo: © Stanley Greene

I remember when I heard about the (first) war in Chechnya. And although I can't recall where I read it, the description literally sent a chill down my spine. It was described by seasoned conflict journalists as a time, a place where even the most basic rules of thumb concerning the regularities of war were either absent or discarded; this was an earthy hell beyond all others- more violent, more brutal, more insanely chaotic than any mass insanity they had ever witnessed, or imagined. 

That was but one of the situations that Stanley Greene returned to document- over, and over, and over again...

You can learn yet more about the poet-photographer... here and here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How To Lose, Part... Honestly, Lost Count At This Point

Well, no surprise here- my street photo series was... rejected! To be totally forthcoming, I entered three categories in the Streetfoto San Francisco competition. One was Best Single Street Photo (entered 3 photos), really didn't think anything would happen there- and... nothing did. Then entered the suggested 9 photos in Best Series- and really did have hopes for my Naked in San Francisco essay. One of my consistent weaknesses in competitions is that the ties that bind are not always as obviously solidified as one would hope; this time- each and every one... solid as a rock; and not a weak image in the bunch- even if a couple may be just a tad difficult to look at. End result... the usual: Nada, Zero, El Zippo Grande!

Finally, I entered Best Single Photo San Francisco and am informed I'm a "finalist," actual award winners to be announced... June 10, at the gala opening. Which is kinda weird if ya ask me; but yeah, at this point, the suspense ain't exacting weighing heavy- I'm pretty damn realistic about my... chances

Anyway, as promised- my losing essay (more inexorably to follow)...

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cheating Photographers Unlimited

Remember round about a decade or more ago when sports enhancing drugs first hit the scene? It suddenly became obvious a few bad apples were juicing up a storm, so sport by ever loving sport began to proclaim, "We're watching you. Stop it- stop it right now. We mean it!" And as if overnight, the world of professional sports, each and every one, was suddenly and miraculously wiped cleaned of this aberration once and for all. Just like White cops no longer beat and shoot unarmed Black civilians after the fist coupla videos came out depicting just that quite some years ago. Just a coupla bad apples here and there- every orchard has its share...

Obviously, police still have itchy trigger fingers, athletes continue to juice in pro and amateur sports alike, and even if Lance has been stripped of his titles- how far down the ladder would one have to go in each of his races before one finally gets to a clean rider? And now they're switching from clandestine doping to concealed motors.

Point is, it's never about "a few rotten apples," they're just the few that get caught, a symptom of a much wider "culture" that is now endemic in the world of professional photojournalism. Pellegrin, Datta, McCurry... these are but three of the names we are now familiar with- prime examples of a crisis brought to us via photography's ease and sophistication of technology, ferocity of competition, and the failure to adequately address the ethical considerations that have evolved. But are we seriously to think those three the only ones?

When I first saw the Datta photo, I too thought it first a poster, reflection- apparition? I really didn't know what to think- so I quickly reminded myself that I'm not exactly the digital wunderkind, and chalked it up to some kind of digital phenomena arising from: problematic WB/exposure, with competing and/or extreme light sources, blah, blah, blah... Obviously, this guy was a professional, and a star at that, and one whose work had been repeatedly vetted and published by respected agencies, editors and publishers who were up on all these things et al. So who am I?

But viewers do have our role to play. Where was the initial crescendo of voices from all those who now claim certainty that it was Photoshopped (and Photoshopped badly)? Why didn't I spot this major ethical lapse upon first viewing? I certainly can't blame digital technology on that one!

This is our current state where every player in the chain must step up their game. There must be rules at the top, that come into play methodically and universally, rules with teeth that both prevent, and discourage, not just to protect the 'virtues' of photography and/or photojournalism- but also to insure the safety and dignity of those it depicts. Ideally, violations should be caught and corrected from on high, but as with politicians of every stripe and color, it's left to those at the bottom to oversee and regulate their power and relevancy.