Friday, September 22, 2017

Dear Lens Culture...

Some of you, many of you, whatever portion of you will take this as sour grapes, and hey... whatever. I'm putting this out there because I think I'm probably not the only one, and some may have had even worse experiences. Most of my years are now behind me, and I still find myself struggling for those fifteen, ten, I'll settle for five minutes worth of sic transit gloria mundi...

I am not a professional photographer, so I don't have the contacts one would make in that world, neither have I been able to afford going to all the exclusive photo reviews, festivals and seminars where one gets to hobnob with the elite gatekeepers of the photo art gallery and publishing scene. Those are just facts- not pleas for sympathy. And those of us in the same dire boat also do other things in addition to, or instead of... we: self publish books and zines, blog, create online portfolios, Instragram, etc, etc. 

Some of us (like myself) also enter the occasional competition. And I wish to highlight occasional, since it's important that one enters those that respect your copyright (read the fine print), as well as your aspirations. People will ask, "Why do you even bother?" And again, I always reply that it's a relatively cheap alternative to getting your work seen by people "in the biz," as well as an "opportunity" to edit, review and maybe even rethink your work. That said, yeah- it's still a major crap shoot writ large!

While I have garnered the rare entry into an online or gallery group show, I've yet to win anything I'd consider tres formidable (eg- prize status, feature showing, etc). And for the competition at hand- all I was striving for was finalist status. Most of the time when I fail to win anything, I have a pretty damn good notion as to why I, in fact, failed. A lot of times I've grouped together loosely knit photos into a a single theme- and kinda hoped I'd get lucky that nobody notices they're just a bunch of singles that I... kinda loosely grouped together into one of their chosen themes. Hey, I'm no pro- don't usually do themes, I'm a singles kinda guy. Other times, when I do have a strong connection going, I might only submit 4 out of a possible 6, or 8 out of a possible 10, cause that's all I got on that particular theme- and again, hope I get lucky. Well, realistically, with all the legions of competition out there- luck ain't gonna save your ass when ya haven't fulfilled the full potential, while others have. Granted. Other times, I suspect judges are looking for a very particular style, or styles- this happened on another competition I recently entered. The winners confirmed I was right.

But I was ready for this one- 10 outta 10 rock solid entries, all on topic ("Street Photography"), all dynamic compositions... I've taken my lumps, I've weathered the storm- no excuses this time 'round, luck wasn't entering into the equation... my time to shine!

And I get the usual form rejection email...

My first reaction was to email back, "100% Complete Fucking BULLSHIT!" Whether that actually got back to be seen by anyone- I don't know.

A day later I officially wrote back to Lens Culture Support: 

I have no delusions of grandeur concerning myself, or my work. I submitted 10 strong, dynamic photos to your Street Photo Competition. Each one could stand individually on its own, each one contributed to and reverberated with the subject at hand- not a weak link in the entire group.

If my series could not be judged fairly on its own merit because of its explicit sexual nature (consciously or unconsciously) then I should have been notified from the get go, and my money refunded.

Stan B.

Needless to say, I'm still awaiting a response. And while I'm waiting, it also occurs to me that even though I've submitted work to Lens Culture at least a half dozen times- not once have they even featured one of my "non-leather" photos on their online promos during any of their competitions. Really, Lens Culture- not one of my photos, not a one is worthy of your site under any circumstances... Really!?!? Amazingly, a couple of competitions ago they sent me a routine email about their latest contest, and I replied, "Why should I bother since I never win?" Someone actually responded that "you never know" and that... I "consistently registered in the top 15% of their entries." Uh-huh.

These photographs are documentary in nature, and as noted in my Artist's Statement- that very documentation is currently in jeopardy due to an "Ask First" movement that raised its very dubious head last year and which may very well curtail candid photography at the event should it somehow become the norm in this celebration of personal freedoms. If these photographs are somehow deemed lewd or pornographic (certainly not their intent), then the proper action would have been for Lens Culture to both reject and refund with explanation- not that I'm holding my breath... even if I am "in the top 15%."

So on to the photographs... five in B&W/five in color- best of both worlds!

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Check out the utterly smooth transition from B&W to Color... bound and nekid guy in front of a chain link fence on one side/bound and nekid guy in front of a chain link fence on the other- smooth as butter, I tell ya!

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Monday, September 18, 2017

Notes Post Road...

All Photos: © S. Banos

I'd been jonesing for a real vacation for years, and an honest to god road trip with the eternal promise of freedom and adventure at every twist and turn was exactly what was called for. And the great American desert, with all its grandeur and banality, its natural beauty and all too human unpredictability would more than meet the urge. This would be The Official Grand Farewell To The Great American Southwest Tour, featuring as many of The Greatest Hits that could conveniently be served in twelve days... and since it had all been done before, there was no great urgency to actually do each and every one. Allowing for the law of diminishing returns, I didn't expect to get many photos (I didn't), even if I was focusing on this new medium of color. This would be more for the in the moment, joy de vivre- all else, simply icing...

What else can a girl do (but text) when surrounded by nature in all its beauty and majesty?

Getting photos that go beyond the picture perfect postcard in majestic natural settings is not the easiest of endeavors, particularly when you have no particular control of the light, time of arrival, or length of stay. And by that I mean, you arrive at an undetermined time- and make the best of it, before moving on to the next subject at hand, which in the case of the American Southwest is usually measured in terms of hundreds of miles... And to get something, anything that goes beyond the pretty (petty) landscape shot, my solution is to include people in the foreground of those majestic scenics, voluntarily adding their very real, all too unique, and often disparate sense of humanity. One can do an entire essay solely of tourists reacting to the wonder and grandeur of "Park Avenue" in Arches National Park, or the moments of sunset at Monument Valley, or... provided the necessary time! As it is, one deals with the light, people and situation presented at any given time and area; and when the temp is over 100F degrees- your visit is limited, like it or not! As often said- it's a crap shoot.

There didn't seem to be the usual amount of roadside craziness this time 'round- even the desert has gentrified!

So on to highlights and also-rans... There were two places I hoped to hit which were closed previously, both naturally situated pretty much in the middle of nowhere. One was the Kiva Koffeehouse which is located overlooking what pretty much, for all practical purposes (I swear) appeared to be The Garden of Eden nestled betwixt the Tigris and Euphrates river valley where civilization first arose. I kid you not- this round edifice built into a cliff hovers over this incredibly lush, painted to perfection valley that knocks your socks off- the coffee ain't bad either (and they have two great little cottages as well- maybe next time). The other was the so called "Alien Research Center" situated on one end of The Extraterrestrial Highway. Now let's get this straight- I did not expect anything near what the name implies, neither did I expect nothing but the worst collection of second rate souvenirs (some of which had nothing to do with aliens). What I did expect was some sort of hokey alien exhibits created with the help of local artisans that would make for an enjoyable experience (as they've learned to do at Roswell, NM). It looks great from the outside (a giant quonset hut with a towering metal alien standing beside), but that's where it ends. I took a pretty good shot of a promotional sign with a dramatic cloudy sky, but my photoshop skills are presently lacking in producing it (at least for the moment). Anyway, stick to The Little A'Le'Inn.

One thing that is immediately apparent upon hitting the road is not just the sheer size of The Southwest, but the sheer size of the Americans that inhabit it! They're Uuge!!! Seriously! I mean what can one say!? Where is this America where children appear on talk show programs complaining about being made fun of for being... fat- certainly not this one! 

Ode to Stephen Shore, Las Vegas

Also, amazing how fairly small municipalities like a Moab or Havasu City have expanded in recent years, the former is the mountain biking capital of the world, the latter is the current site for The London Bridge- I bet no one's making fun of the guy who came up with that idea now. People gotta go somewhere, so it's no surprise they're now arriving en masse in deserts where 100F is as cool as summer gets- between power walks from your AC home, to your AC office, to  your AC car or store...

Bombay Beach, The Salton Sea

Speaking of places disparate and afar, in Southeastern CA, there are two communities that are, in fact, relatively quite close to each other- and a whole 'nother world apart. One consists of tiny communities sequestered around the Salton Sea; despite the rather romantic ring to the name... this is a place no one would volunteer to live in. The stench alone from the rotting fish in what has been essentially a dying body of fetid water is enough to keep most people from even visiting. And yet, those who can't afford to move live in what is essentially a no man's land of intolerable heat, stench  and virtually no facilities when it comes to just about anything you can possibly name that makes a normal, daily life somewhat tolerable. Ironically, sharing that very same heat (very much minus the smell of dead fish and poverty), and just a hop, skip, and jump away is the town of Palm Springs- where every social amenity, and then some, available to mankind is front, right and center! American disparity and inequity at its complete and utter extreme.
If America had a halfway adequate railroad system (Oh, the technology!)- it wouldn't need so many dangerous, polluting 18 wheelers clogging up our highways nationwide...

Without a doubt, the highlight of the trip was Monument Valley- not that we hadn't been before to experience its beauty and majesty, but because this time we actually got to have it as our very own backyard! The Navajo Nation has built the most splendid of hotels (appropriately named: The View) directly adjacent, blending in remarkably well to its remarkable environment and surroundings. It wasn't there the last time we went and I walked into the lobby as a lark, never expecting to afford a room even if one were actually available... and one was (the very last), and at $200US! To wake up and slide open a glass door that reveals The Mittens at sunrise is truly an event to treasure throughout life. Fantasy in the flesh! Photographically, it's not anywhere as magical as sunset- but experientially...

Monument Valley, Sunset

And speaking of sunset at Monument Valley, the dance and celebration of humanity displayed there most early evenings can be quite the sight to behold. The day I was there was overcast, and when all seeming hope of the sun's appearance had departed, the wife and I set out to eat. Sitting down and picking up the menu, I noticed The Mittens from the corner of my eye, now bathed in a glow of bright incandescent red. I grabbed the camera, ran out the restaurant and squeezed off a few odd exposures. I wonder if one can get a Guggenheim for taking sunset photos, every day, for one year? 

I was psyched to experience the transparent "Skywalk" at the Grand Canyon, and was more than a tad miffed to read that it costs over $75 dollars a shot; and (get this)... you are not allowed to photograph- WTF!!! All cameras are checked into lockers upon arrival.  No thanks- and the Grand Canyon still looked damn magnificent from its usual vantage points...

Try as I might, I've never been able to get a good shot of a Saguaro- this'll just have to do...

This year we got wise and decided to leave the rental in Las Vegas instead of driving it all the way back home, a stress inducing denouement one can well do without. The flight home was cheap and just an hour and a half- No flight should last longer than an hour and a half! We stayed an evening at The Golden Nugget on Fremont Street which is without doubt- the cheaper, louder, crazier part of Vegas! How and why Gilden hasn't documented the people here is beyond me. We usually stayed at La Concha, a large motel on Las Vegas Blvd. which no longer exists, but instead has magically relocated and transformed into The Neon Museum. The tour of the town's glittering neon tinsel revolves around it's very history, and is well worth the price.

Vegas, particularly Fremont St with its blocks long video canopy and people flying by wire overhead (and they ain't half as wild as the people below), was one overpowering sensory overload of stimuli and overindulgence, even for this New York City boy. But beyond the glitter, glitz and festivity, there is a very visible, very sizable contingent of homeless people slowly shuffling about zombie like throughout the adjacent streets looking for whatever sliver of shade they can possibly find. Being homeless is bad enough, being homeless in unrelenting triple digit heat is unbearable to even think about. And yet, there they were- and there they still are...

Six Palm Trees at a mortuary parking lot, Las Vegas.

Vast, distinctive and yet part of the overall prize and puzzle, the Southwest will hopefully always maintain its unique allure- and maybe even one day help point towards a solution...

Sunday, September 3, 2017

That's The Signpost Up Ahead, Your Next Stop...

Photo: © S. Banos

Will be off in the wilds of the great American Southwest the next coupla weeks. Some people love the beach, others lakes or forests, and those are all well and fine, but we're somewhat partial to the high desert- barren, unsettling, yet strangely serene nonetheless. And a helluva welcome change of pace- The Great American Road Trip; and in The Age of Trump, very much the grateful get away...

PS- Hopefully, upon return: The Great Orange Wonder hasn't already started his very own Tremendous War- honestly think he doesn't want to start his very own (with his very own... brand)? And has actually paid his promised $1 million to Texas flood victims...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

East Bay Holds Facists At Bay

Fascists, White Supremacists and The Alt Right pulled a massive No Show in San Francisco and were literally run out of town in Berkeley this weekend. Score a one-two for the good guys...

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Monday, August 28, 2017

Busy Weekend!

Friday, saw a rather curious (and brilliant) little movie (which I probably would've skipped if it wasn't for The Wife's urging) called Ingrid Goes West, which is equal parts: comedy, satire and biting social commentary. Timely, spot on, often funny, and surprisingly humanistic- a modern day look at modern day social media addiction...

Saturday, the Alt Right abandoned their much publicized "Patriot Prayer Rally" in San Francisco, opted for a relocated "Press Conference" in Alamo Square Park (mere blocks from where I live) and pulled a no show there as well- although many an everyday San Franciscan did manage to turn out.

Later that day, I actually made it to "The Fight" (I sure  wasn't gonna lay down no $100 to watch, but for forty at the local bar...). I didn't have a dog in this fight, both are great fighters at what they do; but I'm not a particular fan of either and McGregor (despite predictions) managed a fairly impressive showing- whenever "the experts" got it all laid out, it's usually sure not to go that way. Somewhat stiff at the start, it was still his footwork that was making Mayweather look awkward in the early rounds. Effectively changing his stance and counter punching, it actually almost started looking kinda iffy for Floyd. But the long and torturous length of a championship boxing match caught up with McGregor (big difference between 5 and 12 rounds) and he simply ran outta gas... Mayweather pummeled him in the 10th before it was stopped. It wasn't so much fighting styles that determined the fight, as it was stamina and conditioning. All said, McGregor made quite the decent showing- he might be (definitely is) one crazy fuck, but he's a smart fighter too- ya don't get to be a Champ in your league if you ain't. 

Sunday, it was off across the Bay to Berkeley for an even larger rally where the occasional Nazi/Alt-Right/White-Supremacist/Trump-Supporter could, in fact, be seen scurrying either this way or that with a crowd of black clad Antifa in avid pursuit. Yours truly would enthusiastically retreat in the opposite direction whenever I saw anyone approaching at speed- I got a vacation coming next week.

PS- And that said- please keep the people of Texas in your thoughts...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Empire of Diminished Returns...


It's curious (least to me) as to what catches the public's attention, particularly when it comes to one Donald J. Trump. Seems more and more people are finally starting to realize that there really is no there... there! And I find it especially curious since it was so blatantly obvious the moment this man first opened his mouth- particularly since I hardly consider myself the intellectual powerhouse. This was and has always been, a simple matter of common sense- all one had to do was listen... He laid it all out plain as day from the get-go, the inexcusably little there was. Lie, Excuse, Blame- Repeat... LOUDER! Let the hate, blame and book burning go far and wide- this was a blatant, all out calling to the least common denominator, the lowest of the low. The very epitome (and confirmation) of half a century of purposely dumbing down America!  And if the malformed, intellectually deficient, verbal histrionics weren't enough- the optics of an elderly man smirking, mocking and pantomiming his displeasure at enemies, both perceived and well earned, should have convinced anyone and everyone that the very thought of this overweight and overwrought Il Duce stunt double becoming POTUS should have been grounds for insanity for whoever foolish enough to consider it. I'm not even gonna get into the blatant racism that he doesn't even pretend to deny or disguise.

So, it's indeed interesting to finally hear the chorus of disbelief and objection suddenly rising! Hopefully, by this time next year- this particular nightmare will be over, and Donald J. Trump will have excused his way out of that dump of a White House after all the money, skulduggery and dirty dealings with Putin's Russia have been revealed and rendered irrefutable. And I'm gonna get good and drunk on that day, and revel in the street to my heart's content- cause next day I'm gonna have one helluva Pencian hangover! And all America (and its worldly backyard) can, once again breathe a little easier knowing full well that the usual bigoted, short sighted, profit before all else brand of Republican (sans the overt psychosis) is back in the saddle once again...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Streets Of San Francisco

Sometimes, I try and tell people how bad the homeless situation's here in San Francisco and I kind of get the feeling that they think I'm... exaggerating. This is particularly true of friends I know who lived in pre-gentrified New York, when President Ford told New York to drop dead. We had all noticed the ever increasing numbers of: beggars, bums, bag ladies and run aways, those that would collectively come to be known as the "homeless," throughout the city streets- hell, not a helluva lot we hadn't seen. 

But big money came in, and NY being as big as it is, managed to scatter the homeless about so they didn't clutter and collect too much in any one place at any one time. San Francisco doesn't have that luxury of deceit, it doesn't have four other boroughs to send them packing to; in fact, some adjoining cities make it a point to send their homeless here with a free one way bus ticket in hand. So when visitors do come here, and feel the filth sticking to their shoes, smell the stench and see the squalor of the streets downtown, the blatant, mid day, hard drug usage, the tent cities that pop up wherever, whenever like a 24/7 whack a mole game set- many are indeed aghast to realize just how off the hook the whole problem really is. It was pretty damn bad when I got here turn of the century, and now with all the additional tech revenue and prolific building construction that's been pouring in and occurring all over the city- it's goddamn worse than ever! 

Photos: © S. Banos

I certainly don't enjoy taking pictures of it, no one enjoys photographing people when they're down. But you can't close your eyes to it, with or without your camera; many of us half paralyzed with the knowledge and fear that we are but a paycheck or two from sharing these very same streets. This is  a massive problem in need of a massive initiative of: therapy, programs, housing and employment. And all that's ever presented year after goddamn year, rich ass mayor after rich ass mayor, is a constant diet of band aids, promises and excuses...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wind River

Quite simply, Wind river is one of the better movies I've seen in some while. Jeremy Renner excels when playing the reserved and introspective protagonist who rises to the occasion, and here, he's most effectively set against the quite beauty and ever present danger of the wilds of Wyoming- in particular, in the territory of the the modern day res. And all these factors play major, contradictory roles as they compete for some manner of meaningful coexistence: the magnificence of the wild, versus the wild extremes of mankind. The story is straightforward enough- who killed the woman in the middle of nowhere? But solving the mystery unravels a whole world of hurt involving personal relationships and the age old rivalries between peoples, authorities, and the very land that sustains and threatens them all. 

The movie moves methodically as histories and boundaries are introduced and alluded to, a lingering threat always within reach, like the wild animals that still roam about. And just when one thinks they have the ebb and flow of the narrative figured... all hell breaks out in a shoot out that makes Reservoir Dogs look so utterly contrived, you're left wondering how such tranquil beauty can exist there at all!

Walking out, my wife turned to me and remarked how she's getting tired of having White men always save the day on screen, I remarked that at least in this one, their complicity was not... whitewashed. Or as Renner's character remarked, "Quiet and emptiness is all we've left them, and you even want to take that away."

The ending credits also alludes to the wave of disappeared and murdered Native American women that continues unabated throughout North America... 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

On White Privilege

Please note: the following is written in the hope of furthering dialogue and understanding, and should be read and understood in said manner...
(You may want to skip to 1:15 on the video). 

Yes, life is hard enough. It beats you down each and every day- and when least expected, just for good measure! No doubt, some have it easier than others; no doubt, no one escapes unscathed... not-a-one, anywhere.

And this is why some people (ie- Whites) have such a problem with the very concept of... White Privilege. And they'll be more than happy to tell you that they never got any privilege for being White long as they can remember. They got ridiculed, lied to, beat up and swindled same as anyone- regardless of race, creed or color. So where's the privilege in that?

And they're all good points- each and every one. The thing about White Privilege though is that it's not about all the indignities that everyone has to suffer through and experience in life- it's about the realm of degrading and often humiliating add-ons they don't know about or refuse to acknowledge, and don't have to experience.

Whites are justifiably proud when they have succeeded economically after having started with nothing- The American Dream! But they can quickly turn indignant should one mention that a person of Color who achieved the same also had to endure the additional prejudicial battles securing: housing, education, loans and other financial musts under conditions that Whites would never encounter or be subject to. Nothing enrages a White person more than suggesting that they had it easier on the ground floor than you- that you had to work twice as hard, struggle twice as hard, sweat twice as hard simply because of the color of your skin or the accent of your English. That is anathema to White ears, it undermines their paradigm of self serving beliefs; instead of just giving that person their due props, some will insist their success came about from monies and all manner of assistance from some "government program," some hand out, some entitlement- never by the sweat of their brow or... use of their intellect. And the fact that they were raised in neighborhoods that were red lined with the worst: schools, nutrition, medical care, economic opportunities, etc, etc never, ever comes into play. Many Whites unconsciously assume we all start on a level playing field- and do we really have to get into which group gets the severest penalties for the same exact crime (or gets shot for pulling out their... license)? Mention any obstacle you have to overcome solely because of prejudice, and you have more than crossed the line- you are now playing the dreaded, indefensible, and totally unforgivable... "race card!"

As one person of Color remarked, "Everyday I have to think about race." And that's because whenever we're slighted or wronged, we have the additional task of considering if that particular rebuke or mistreatment occurred not because we erred as a human being- but because of a knee jerk, egregious reaction to our color or accent. We have to experience a White world simply to work and live our lives, Whites rarely have to live in or even experience our segment of reality.

I could go on and on and on with more and more examples, but that is only likely to stir up more anger, denial and resentment, within certain factions. So the video cuts to the chase, and serves a very simple purpose... Because even the most truly hardened and prejudicial of people have to admit in their heart of hearts that had President Obama said half of what Trump has said (particularly that little ol' "pussy" thang), the (White) hordes would have descended en force, torches alight and pitch forks gleaming on that (dump of a) White House lawn, screaming with veins a popping in their necks to bring him on out so they could lynch that uppity, no good n.....

But the point is, they don't have to admit it, not to anyone, not ever- not even to themselves; and that, in a nutshell, is the very essence of... White Privilege.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Late On Arrival...

Photo: © S. Banos

Recently, I edited 11 digital color keepers in the period of one week after a Sunday shoot (yes, I do have a F/T job) with time to spare. It took me one week of post for this one hi-res B&W analog photo- some six or so years after the fact. 'Nuff said...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Trump's Lies...

As Trump's base rabidly applauds every fateful step that plunges us further into his arrogance based ignorance, it's at least somewhat comforting to know that some manner of reality based "Truth to Power" continues to persist...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fate, Luck & Happenstance

Maybe half of the four of you who read this blog remember I had a Fujifilm XT-1 two years back, and quickly sold it after I realized that the EVF sucked, the B&W was less than what I had imagined, and that it would not, in fact, be my do everything, be everything camera of the future (yeah, you'd think I'd know better)... 

So why, oh why, did I go out and buy another? Well, I'm actually quite glad I sold the first- it allowed me to go hog wild and experiment with a Ricoh GR a year later, which opened an entirely new window of opportunities in: what I shoot, how I shoot, even when I shoot. Now, I don't mind EVF's or LCD's or whatever manner of shitty, digital viewing device- long as the end results are sound. I've learned to sacrifice process for result. And I'm no longer thinking strictly B&W, which when lovingly and properly accounted for takes hours days in post. I now have more years behind me than ahead, already have more than enough B&W files yet to edit, and color post can be done in less than an hour. The latter is freaking... amazing! I haven't given up on B&W (analog, or digital, for that matter), but so far, color's been a kick- a nice change of pace I can live with after 40yrs of strict monochrome. 

Photo: © S. Banos

So when the XT-1 went on sale for $800- I was lucky to have the funds to grab one. Still the best looking digital camera ever made! Anywho, was putting it through the paces at the first of San Francisco's two annual Leather Fairs. And while it still delivers solid results, there were two other things I noticed straight off. The cute as hell 28mm(e) lens is like a freakin' wet fish, in that it has nothing solid and static to grab on to when placing or removing it on the camera body- a true major pain in the ass when in the field covering a fast moving event. I longed for the solid, knurled metal ring on manual Nikkors- instead, I was reminded of the frustration of handling screw mount lenses when they would fail to catch and endlessly go round and round and...

Photo: © S. Banos

The second thing was the ease in which the shooting mode dial could be accidentally moved- that desperately needs to be locked in, just like the ISO dial! It is that major bit of a nuisance that led to a most interesting bit of a lark... Twice, the dial moved to Advanced Setting which (I later discovered) was factory set to the Toy Filter, which basically consists of a very warm filter in conjunction with some very serious vignetting. Yeah, it's a pretty severe look- not one you would involuntarily volunteer for. Now, the chance of it accidentally happening for the one shot it would be most suited for is crazy enough... the chance of it happening twice, on two separate occasions, for the exact two shots it was most suited for is... absolutely insane! But that's exactly what happened- and I've now used up whatever negligible amount of luck I may have had for the rest of my life. Case closed.

I did ease up on said Toy Filter effect in post for the final product, but you can still see the effect to considerable extent- and I must say it does lend a nice feel to these two particular images, serving to soften and isolate the main subjects from the environment at hand. Weird... just plain, all out, freakin' Weird!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Of Smiles And Mysteries

As I've previously and unequivocally stated, I can't stand pictures with smiling people. So as I peered through the microscopic rear view mirror of my GR as best my non existent, close up vision now possibly allows, and lined up the composition at the corners- I just prayed that everything else would magically fall into place- pretty much the usual formula I've been using for the last year and a half with fairly decent results, though certainly not one I would recommend.

And when I finally glanced upon the recorded image, I was pleased to see the composition sound... only there it was- the killer nail right smack front and center, a smiley face! Almost deleted it right there and then, but decided to save it if only as an aside- besides, a coupla beers awaited.*

Once home, I opened it anew, and there before me sat a man both regal and unbroken, a man who probably has more to complain about in one day than I do my whole life... and he's giving me, a total stranger standing in traffic and asking a favor, his unconditional approval- who am I to deny the world (t)his happy, triumphant moment in all its vibrancy?

Photo: © S. Banos

*As for the mystery as to why I've been getting as many shots recently on Fri early eves on my foray to and from the local pub- it finally struck me, not that hard to figure really... This 3 square block section of town in SF sees perhaps the widest gamut of socio-economic disparity imaginable in the western world at any given time on any given day. On Friday quitting time, it's as if they're all unleashed in one mad, mutual tsunami: the homeless trying (in vain) to hit up whoever catches their eye, junkies shooting up in plain view while others walk about alternately conversing, laughing, then arguing with... themselves- and The Hi-Tech Haves rush and zig-zag about in the most desperate dance of all, trying to board their Ubers before having to acknowledge any one of 'em; all this and more in the most dramatic Golden Hour light imaginable. So yeah, come to think of it, the time can be rife with possibility...