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.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Souvid Datta- You Da Bomb!!!

Photo: Souvid Datta via Mary Ellen Mark

All due credit where credit is due- Souvid Datta has got the biggest set in all Mumbai! Make no doubt- this guy is YUGE! We're not talking simple, petty Steve McCurry clone and delete here- we're talking major, I'm in it for the gusto, criminal master mind duplicity writ MFing large deluxe...

This guy wasn't... lemme see if I can possibly get away with this, uh-uh, this was pure- I piss in your face: judges, editors, photo gods and public alike! He could have easily heisted a figure from some anonymous snapshot- but again, masterminds make master statements.  And you know he was wearing one major shit eating grin the whole time he was cuttin' and a pastin'!

He had so much integrity and respect for his chosen profession and award winning career- you just know how much sincerity and compassion he had for the subject matter at hand. The beauty in any of this was that he was caught not by the elite lords and guardians of photodom, but by someone (social worker Shreya Bhat) who wasn't pretending to be doing something for the subjects and survivors he depicted, and pretended to champion. 

With huevos that big, I wouldn't be surprised if we're in store for Part II, where he sincerely apologizes that in his zeal, he somehow, mistakenly sought to honor the memory and dedication of Mary Ellen Mark by channeling her very essence directly into his essay...  

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