Friday, April 28, 2017

Diptych

Photo: © S. Banos

Guess I haven't taken a "sunset" since... and that's round about ten years ago. Anyway, minor miracle I even got the (above) shot off considering that 45 minutes prior I almost lay writhing in agony on a bar room floor. No, not from drunken fisticuffs over some imagined slight- I merely reached out for a bar stool, and before even making contact, the sharpest of searing pains shot up my back, bringing tears to my eyes and almost buckling my knees. I slowly retreated into a corner to regain my composure (or call an ambulance), and regained stability after ten minutes. I was sore for the remainder of the weekend, but in a lot better shape than I would have initially imagined.

The photo has some dramatic, visual bells and whistles to it (deep warm colors, long shadows, etc). And if for that reason alone, dunno... I kinda like it, but kinda don't trust it- visual candy, perhaps a tad too saccharine. I'm assuming that's a girl, but dunno that either, or care for that matter. It's San Francisco, and it's not always the case of either, or- so why concern oneself? Like I said- dunno if I even like the picture.
 
Photo: © S. Banos

Must say- the almost exact positioning (and "pose") of each subject is strikingly... coincidental? And I definitely like the second shot (less is more?), taken a little over a year ago, the first weekend I got my GR- my lucky photography year when pictures seemingly fell outta the skies. Either way, the wife now thinks me a bona fide stalker...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Brief History Of Republican Presidents

During my lifetime, anyways: First, we start with the guy who couldn't take his own advice, then* we go to the guy who repeated whatever his wife whispered in his ear, the guy who told us to read his lips to see if he lied (we did- he did), his son who was known for actually relying on his brain to make decisions (even if his brain actually belonged to someone else). And now, now, we got the guy who seemingly has no real need of one! Have a listen:


And that's why, ladies and gentlemen- we have to keep America for Americans, because everyone (and I do mean everyone) knows it's the only way that proud, patriotic Americans can continue to learn to talk the good English!!! 

*Geez- Almost forgot the comic interlude...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Next...

Well, I finally got to take a few snaps this past Tax Day (aka- show us your taxes, you lyin' SOB day). And we had quite the decent turnout here in SF for the local protest and march. I never go to "document" these affairs- more like try and find a few worthwhile images as a byproduct thereof. Was accompanied by my GR and FM3A, and while I shot mostly B&W with the FM and 20mm (1 roll- quite a bit for this tres conservative shooter), I did manage to get 2 keepers in color, although both were slightly "compromised."

Photo: © S. Banos

The portrait of the guy was mistakenly taken at ISO 800, while it could've been taken at 200 (drats!!!); it's still very much OK. Truth is, I've gotten much better at reminding myself to watch my ISO- it's just that it would be considerably easier still, if I could actually see it on the screen, alas, it's but the tiniest of blurs (as is the shutter speed). Can make it out with considerable concentration, but...

And the portrait of the female observer taken during the march (worthwhile photos of participants during an actual march, any march, before or after a protest are rare indeed), was taken on the sidelines as she watched in... fear, confusion, defiance? Close analysis will reveal some degree of camera shake (for once, sure wish I had had ISIS, I mean ISIL, I mean some sort of... IBIS?- sorry, really couldn't help that), but it's definitely on the safe side of sharp enough. 

Photo: © S. Banos

Meanwhile, I was having quite the battle in the analog arena just trying to manually focus my damn 20mm! Was I outta practice! I kept going back and forth like a, like a... guy having a really hard time trying to focus! My eyes are shot close up, but they're still pretty damn good in the field. Fact is, focusing with a twenty has never been easy under the best of circumstances; I kept waiting for it to "snap" into focus, but this lens doesn't snap, it more like... gradually coalesces without any digital beep, light or warning. Tough shit if ya don't notice. So it'll be interesting to see not only what's on that roll, but how much is in sharp focus.

Question is- where to go from here; that is, do I even stick with B&W analog? I got enough B&W restorations to see me a lifetime. And what's the use of a nice analog viewfinder- if ya can't even properly use and appreciate it anymore? Perhaps now's the time to finally pick up a "new" XT-1 for $800, it would eliminate the analog/digital, 2 camera balancing act when covering events- but I still haven't found a satisfactory way to post process digital B&W (should that even be a consideration?). Or maybe I should just dust off the bulky 'ol F100- and finally use... its auto focus! 

And while I'm figurin' on that- even though my original Plustek 7200 scanner's still going strong after more than ten years... Plustek refuses to let it jibe with Windows 10. And while there may, or may not be, a way to reconfigure the computerizer to make it go, It would probably be a whole lot cheaper to buy a whole new scanner (even for a few remaining scans) than to accidentally kneecap and sabotage my computer trying to somehow tweak it to run something I know not of...

First World Problems to be sure.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hypocrite In Chief

via: HuffPo
And don't forget the cost of security (incl various family members) at Trump Tower and other hotels, etc- all on our dime... Nice!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

One Of The Sadder Things I've Read In A While

I kept looking for the happy ending, but like oh so many other instances in life- there was none, other than the realization that sometimes (and those times are indeed rare and far in between)- there are real saints in this world

Unlike media hypes like Mother Theresa; often they work in relative anonymity, known only in their local circles. But their work does have consequence, and their lives, and those they serve, do have meaning...

I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people. -Mother Theresa

Friday, April 14, 2017

Why We Don't Need The EPA...

or regulation of any kind (for that matter) on any private business, corporation or government agency for any reason!!!!

Plastic in our sand, oil in our water, cancer in our food- Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

And everyone knows climate change is a hoax.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Hate Teeth!

Anything and everything to do with them! They should be yanked outta our miserable mouths immediately upon birth while we're still writhing, screaming masses to begin with and replaced with detachable metal plates whenever necessary. Forget ceramic look a likes; I don't want anything to remind me of 'em, period. It'll take a generation or two to adjust to aesthetically- but well worth the effort, and the pain and effort saved, if you ask me... 

That's right, I'm in the midst of a two part root canal that will be followed by oral surgery and I am not having fun. Feeling like Dustin Hoffman's double; no joke, I ain't never felt this level of Gitmo at the dentist- ever! I thought I had more than paid my pain dues in full the last coupla years with my kidney stones and Shingles- apparently the universe thinks otherwise...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

On Droughts And Weather

Well, the CA drought may well be over (it's rained a ton and then some) but I've got me own going. Last year, shitty as it was, was probably the most productive ever; this year, thus far... absolute crickets. And even though the shots ain't falling, experience dictates I take it all in stride... Of course, it just never sits well- does it?

As mentioned previously, some would say: the excitement of the new (ie- new camera, new medium, etc) has finally waned, I'm simply not trying hard enough, etc, etc... And sorry, no- every bit as motivated and every bit trying hard as ever. Shit just hasn't been going down is all; every corner I turn, instead of finally finding something to salvage the day- I just get another sorry bagful of... nothing!

Things will come around eventually- no doubt. It's just an all out shit feel when you're doing your part, and the whole bloody universe acts like it just don't care! 

'magine that...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Amerca's Non-Funniest Look-A-Like Judge


Tom Bergeron
 Do you think we could slip in the guy on the left, for the guy on the right (and I do mean... Right)? I mean no one would notice until discovering the former not only has some semblance of a sense of humor, he would also make considerably less robotic decisions that could favorably influence the lives of fellow citizens, instead of... endangering them.


Attorney Robert Fetter, who represented Maddin in his lawsuit, said Gorsuch's "folksy" and "pleasant" demeanor in the confirmation hearings contrast sharply to the judge he saw on the bench. 

"I did not detect any of this pleasant disposition or folksiness. He was hostile. As a matter of fact, he was quite hostile," said Fetter, claiming Gorsuch went out of his way to "cherry-pick" the law to uphold firing Maddin.

"He went quite a length, in my opinion, to find a way to rule against him," Fetter said. "It shows something about his judicial philosophy or perhaps his bias being pro business or pro corporation. It's just bias."

The Real Deal

Friday, March 24, 2017

RIP- Chuckie Baby! Chuckie Baby! Chuckie Baby!

We lost two Chucks this past week, and although one can never overemphasize the contribution(s) of the one and only Chuck Berry, it was "the lesser of the Chucks" that stole my heart...

For a time back in the Seventies it seemed I'd almost quit TV cold turkey; not that I meant to mind ya, it's just the way it worked out- least that's how I remember it. I was just too busy: going to college, partying, working P/T, partying and failing abysmally at street photography. So I was more than a little amazed when quite by accident, I turned on this wondrous gem of a program that was literally a portal into someone's hysterically manic and manically hysterical mind. 

It was called... The Gong Show- here at last was the epitome of everything TV had ever aspired to- home entertainment at the peak of creativity! How could one possibly explain its appeal? Bad jokes, and sorry "talent," in a god awful format that repeatedly held me transfixed with a big shit eating grin, one solid half hour at a time. The cast, the "talent," The Unknown Comic and... Gene, Gene The Dancing Machine!!! Thank you, Chuck Barris for ART writ large in any decade!

"We'll be back with more... stuff!" 

Murray Langston (still alive)- The Unknown Comic

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Banned On PetaPixel!!

I know- Oh, the Humanity... I, Stanley Joseph Banos- officially banned on PetaPixel! How does one ever live this down... 

PP is like the Yahoo News of photography, and the comments section is very much likewise. I don't blame it for the former, while it features a shitload of shit (far as photography is concerned), it also features the occasional worthwhile news bit if only by default. And the really sad "commentary" on all of this is... it's one of the few online forums left anywhere today where one could "openly" discuss (ie- comment on) the various photographic topics at hand. Unfortunately, many of the commenters (not to mention many of the actual posts) are as knowledgeable about photography as... the average Trump supporter commenting on Yahoo. 

OK, OK- who the fuck do I think I am anyway... Mr. no name, no gallery, nobody! Admittedly, no one. So why was I booted off PP? For being misogynist, homophobic, racist? No, no, no- you can find plenty of them commenting on PP on any given day! I was officially booted for being... "negative!"

Here are the lengthiest comments (again, in response to queries) on the last post I was officially banned on, which were the very... very... last... straw:


Yes, you too can no doubt feel the abhorrent, malevolent "negativity" soothing from my very pores! Almost makes one ill- doesn't it? My preceding comment on this post was in response to a comment asking what National Parks had to do with politics. I had simply responded that it was the political activism of concerned citizens that established our National Parks to begin with! Again- the epitome of "negativity. " Of which I was informed I had a long, lonnnng history of over the past years...

And my "negativity' knows no bounds- as one can plainly witness... here.

But fuck me, and fuck Petapixel- Again... the sad thing in all of this is that there are so very, very few places left to discuss photography in a fairly decent manner anywhere online (FB be damned)....

Sunday, March 19, 2017

RIP- Jimmy Breslin


Jimmy Breslin was always about the little guy, the guy in plain sight (usually somewhere within the 5 boroughs) who never got the press, the spotlight, the praise and adulation. He didn't give one small shit about the Trumps and Kardashians; for him, it was all about those that had to struggle both for a living and a life, and did so with a shrug, a laugh, or a finger pointed high...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Curious World

 
Photo: © S. Banos


We now live in a rather curious reality of competing truths and alternate facts. And if anyone was actually listening to the other, they'd soon reach the same paradoxical crossroad where they discover that either side accuses the other of the same crimes and abuses- and often... using the same terms and language. It's the other that's corrupt, the other that is trying to take away and tear down our rights and Constitution, the other that manufactures and believes fake news- and on and on it goes...

And so the question arises- could both sides possibly be... right? Well, many are most definitely mad at the very same things, and while either side most definitely deserves to be angry- the difference comes down to who and what to blame, and why. But like the saying goes, "You have the right to your own opinion- but not your own facts."

The mid-America that overwhelmingly elected Trump is now besieged by every plight and ailment that was previously perceived as the "exclusive" domain of inner city America: massive under and unemployment, wholesale societal neglect and the resulting and inevitable, wanton drug addiction. Those were always their problems, that they single handedly brought upon themselves because of: poor choices, bad life styles and flat out laziness, if nothing else. But now the shoe is more... one size fits all, and it is anything but a comfortable fit. How could this happen to the proud and silent majority, the flag waving patriots, those who traditionally got to look down and point the finger at darker regions elsewhere?

We could as mature, responsible adults recognize our common plight and future, and finally strive to work together to end these historic national ills (that clearly affect one and all), once and for all. But we are neither. 

So we gather on round the usual tried and true- the "savior" who will protect us from all the savage ills and mendacious accusations inflicted by "the other." Once again, he will lead us straight into the redemptive repetition of shameless blaming and vindictive attacks- the easiest, most well traveled road, for those who seldom venture. And once again end up exactly where we started... except, worse.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Every photograph by definition is previous and elsewhere. -John Gossage


Don't know if you bothered watching the video (in the previous post) featuring John Gossage talking about The Pond. To be sure, the book doesn't exactly contain the most exciting photographic imagery ever produced, although quite a few of the photos do sustain a rather hypnotic allure about them. But Mr. Gossage does impart a sizable chunk of photographic wisdom to those willing to listen, while also revealing (amongst other things) that the number of people that approached him at his first book signing amounted to exactly... zero. Oh, and it was the first photo book to not include a photo on the cover (I just caught up to that trend... last year!) and was conceived to be a book only- he turned down Mr. Castelli's request for an actual exhibit (can't tell ya how many times I had to turn him down).

The Pond is loosely inspired by Thoreau's Walden; truth is, it's not even the actual Walden Pond, in fact- some of the pictures contained within the essay are taken in different countries! Gossage did not care about remaining true to documentary constraints, he was concerned about remaining true to his own vision...

"A photo is a fiction. It's not the fiction that implies a lie, it's the fiction that describes the experience you're getting is fleeting, transitory and at the same time, permanent. It is not reality as we normally navigate it."

Monday, March 6, 2017

"Soft Eyes"

Photo: © S. Banos

One of the reasons I (and so many others) will always be condemned to mediocrity is the fact that I lack the proverbial "soft eyes," as Henry Wessel describes it. Basically, it's the condition where we empty our minds into a zen like state of being that allows us to be open to all the photographic possibilities around us. Usually, that would be yet another, nice photographic adage- if it wasn't for the fact that if you look at his work, you can see that is exactly how he operates. The majority of his work is as simple as simple can be: Leica, Tri-X, 28mm- and yet the diversity of his images is striking; he most definitely practices what he preaches. 

I like to think I do the same, but I know I don't succeed very often, or very well- most photo ops have to hit me upside the head to recognize them staring me in the face; and I know that I too often look for those exact things that meet my limited criteria- at the risk of failing to notice all that do not. And that's a failure to grasp opportunities that help one grow and develop. It's something I continually strive to overcome, but something which continues to constrict and limit my vision- tell me to empty my mind, and it's an automatic cue to endlessly ponder the most obvious.

John Gossage is another photographer that can often transcend our mundane world and reveal it for the visual miracles that abound within it. It's a gift which they've obviously honed and mastered. That doesn't mean we won't get some share of keepers to be sure, if only from our constant, if impaired, effort- it just means that we'll forever remain the small fish (in a... small pond).


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Two For The Road


Photo: Louis Porter

Bought two other books while in NYC, one was called Bad Driving by Louis Porter. Although I've never met Mr. Porter, I find it relatively safe to say we share two things, a love of photography, and a not so great fondness for the road- or more specifically, driving upon it. The book features various signs and other roadside sundries that have been knocked silly by the careless and accident afflicted. Porter's keen eye transforms these funny, colorful snapshots into compositions that appeal to an art house, aesthetic banality. And his other essays, like Crap Paint Jobs and Emergency Assembly Points also delight with their humor and engaging visuals- always great to see in the, oh so serious, world of photography!

The other book is Manhattan Out by Magnum photographer Raymond Depardon. A series of street photographs taken in the seventies- it depicts "my" New York, so I'm particularly drawn to them. While not particularly innovative or spectacular for that matter- they do have a dark, foreboding dread about them. Besides, how many Steidl books can ya pick up for a twenty (at Strand)?