Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Some Of This, Not Much Of That...

Interestingly, have been quite the "prolific" for this early in the year- well, relatively speaking. No Pulitzer Prize winning achievements mind ya, but getting anything 'round this time is pretty unusual, least for me... Random shots here and there have been popping up on a freakishly consistent basis (as opposed to the usual Biblical drought). Most, but not all, falling into my "Squared" collection. 

When the Women's March rolled around, I was ready for... the more "serious stuff!" Had my used, recently purchased X-T1 in hand along with my original (with 20 and 28mm equivalents), surrounded by thousands- got one photo for my 4 1/2 hours afoot. Sheesh! Oh, well- still got a ton of B&W scans and restorations to attend to. Meanwhile:

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Photo: © S. Banos

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tales From A Master Sensor Cleaner

Until two weeks ago I knew nothing about cleaning a digital camera sensor- the very thought sent chills down my spine; I wanted nothing to do with sticking my uncertain, unknowing hands down into the very heart of the most vital and fragile component of digital technology.  Screw that up, and there goes the ballgame! But deep down inside, I knew without doubt, rhyme or reason that at the most insidious and inconvenient time imaginable- my date with destiny would most assuredly arrive, and I best be prepared...

Well, having recently picked up a used X-T1 body for $425 in seemingly V Good Cond on eBay- I was, at the very least, somewhat leery as to the cleanliness of the sensor. So I studied a good half dozen sensor cleaning videos on You Tube, purchased the necessary tools and manned up for what would probably be my first "wet cleaning." Sure enough, the camera sensor did have a few spots, so I steeled my nerves, steadied my hand and dove right in. After the initial air blowing, I applied one even stroke followed by another in reverse, and the spots were gone- but now in their place were a myriad of streaks across the entire length of the sensor; and not one of the videos viewed ever mentioned anything about any dreaded... streaks!

So I did it again, and again, and again- and got more, and more, and more streaks. All the videos said not to over saturate the cleaning swabs- so each time, I put on less and less cleaning solution (Aero-Eclipse). So yeah, as can well be imagined, I'm pretty much in scream for my life crisis mode- I Google "streaks sensor cleaning." And finally, some useful information... Seems the (new) Aero-Eclipse solution is prone to streaking, and the (new) Sensor Swab Ultra (the brands used) is ultra absorbent. So instead of delicately applying 2-3 drops on either side of the swab, one really has to saturate the dang thing with 4-5 on both. The manufacture alludes to this on their video, which I hadn't found previously. Tried it anew, and... streaks begone- I finally achieved one nice, very clean sensor!

I notified the manufacturer of said products concerning my trials and tribulations, and David M. Stone replied, explaining that the new, non flammable (ie- airport worthy, thus the prefix) Aero-Eclipse cleaning solution was more problematic (and now: Discontinued) and prone to streaking- he was also nice enough to send me two bottles of the regular, less problematic Eclipse solution (more alcohol based, quicker drying). Don't think I'll ever use all the solution in my remaining lifetime, but I may need an extra swab or two...

Monday, January 22, 2018


Was not even quite sure I wanted to see this movie, it's received zero publicity, and ya know... a Western. The word "somber" kept reverberating in my mind throughout the start, it cast a pall upon every scene and situation- no matter how scenic or beautiful. I guess another word would be "morbid," but that casts too negative a tone on a movie that does make one think- despite the omnipresent threat of death. In fact, violence and death are not just the end results of the brutal existence portrayed- they are ultimately the factors of change and insight.

Both sides, White and Indian hate each other intensely, for reasons both good and bad- which is certainly not to say that both sides are equally culpable. It's the way things are, and its how they lead and live their lives. But when we join the main protagonists in this movie, as fervent as they are in their beliefs, they are also painfully cognizant of the inherent insanity it imposes on them all. But sanity and redemption is not something they believe within their grasp.

Of course, things are bound to change on a monumental scale (for those that survive) when all these more than world weary characters are thrown together in the Captain's last assignment before retirement. Some of these insights occur perhaps a tad too quickly or unconvincingly, but the story is one whose earnestness allows it, and the recurrent brutality of all sides concerned allows anything even remotely sentimental a certain welcome.

Although never releasing us from its somber grip, Hostiles does manage to end full circle. Christian Bale as the army Captain and Wes Studi as Chief Yellow Hawk dutifully pursue and play out their destinies, respectively- brutal as they are, they do leave some room for hope...

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Post

The owner of The Washington Post, Katharine Graham, was rich, influential and... female. She hobnobbed with fellow well connected, well to do movers and shakers, and yet... despite the influence, position and inherent power, she was a woman adrift- condescended to however slightly by her very peers and underlings simply because of her sex. She was the ultimate figurehead, who ruled not by individual decree, but through the consent of her male colleagues.

It was a dynamic I immediately recognized- subtle, discreet, where one is perhaps heard, but never truly acknowledged. And it happens whether you're female, or of color. A dynamic that has always given me the impetus to sound off, even when (particularly when) denied the power. And to have this movie come out at the exact time when women are doubling down on their right to be heard and believed is particularly fortuitous!

In The Post, Spielberg finally just lets the story play through- no cgi, no fancy cinematic techniques, no all conquering heroes. History has a story to tell- one several we have well yet to learn...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Truth To Power

This is what it sounds like, the red face is what it looks like.
 The good pastor is one class act- articulate, succinct, unafraid...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

When A Shithead Speaks...

Anything of worth cannot be expected, anything of worth can only be demeaned. Interesting US history lesson in The Nation, on why every American should, in fact... thank Haiti: 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

IGNORANCE- It's A Shithole!

1)  For the sake of argument, I'm gonna assume what you see before you was created out of sheer, blatant ignorance- not out of willful, modern day, in your face racism. I'm also gonna assume that before this actually went to print, it passed through a variety of adult hands, many of them well educated, some even possibly intelligent. And at no time was an eyebrow raised, a question forwarded.

2)  American history is long and rife with racially disparaging insults "comparing" Black children to monkeys, Black men to apes- and this "tradition" continues throughout the White world to this very day, so the fact that this is a foreign based ad, does not conveniently excuse it away. 

3)  But Mum says it's... OK!  Granted, moms is definitely not of the Rosa Parks mold, but the only person who can claim both ignorance and innocence- is the person pictured. And she certainly wouldn't be the first stage mom of any color that knows the price of her meal ticket... 

4)  Ignorance and racism walk hand in hand, it is how the US electorate managed to propel not only the most wantonly obvious of cons, but a thoroughly avowed and proud racist, into the highest office in the land...

PS- And... if you think photographers as a whole are any more enlightened reality based as to what's in front of their very own eyes - just check out most of their comments rationalizations...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Deal Utopias...

Photo: © Jason Reblando

Well, for someone who said that photo books weren't lighting his fire of late, this is the second one I heartily recommend in a matter of a coupla weeks. I first caught sight of it on A Photo Editor which publishes This Week In Photography Books every Friday, and is a consistent source of what's worthwhile and out there (another being the Photo-Eye Bookstore).

I was anxious to get New Deal Utopias upon first viewing online- and like I said, I don't get much excited by most books of late... In a word, the photos had presence, the images not only grabbed my attention, they sustained it- and like a good song, I wanted to experience them better and keep going back to them. The subject matter is an interesting one on paper, but not one you'd think exactly conducive to memorable vistas, or photographs for that matter. In a word, the locale is pretty... mundane; fortunately, most of the photographs are anything but... Jason Reblando manages to make complex yet subtle compositions of the surrounding area with a poetic, discerning eye- don't believe mine's as nuanced to so effectively discern such beauty from such banality.

One small caveat- some of the photos (particularly in the beginning of the book) are printed considerably flat and on the light side- I don't know if that's the photographer's preference or just a printing shortcoming,  either way, it was not sufficient to deter me form appreciating the book as a whole... This work will not be denied.

Jason Reblando - New Deal Utopias from Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg on Vimeo.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Absolutely 100% TRUE!!!

Photo: © S. Banos

Much has been said of Millenials, much of it not quite positive- I know, cause I've said my fair share. But... Really, there is just no arguing it! No justification, no rationalization, no lame ass excuse imaginable. Yes, we were supposed to be the instruments of change- the generation who became educated, enlightened and inspired enough to transform our nation's (and in turn, our world's) ills into something more equitable and visionary... did we ever drop that ball!

Racism, poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, political corruption, war mongering and profiteering- and I can rant and rave all I want about how much more ignorant we all are in this century (at least in this country), but... it all happened under our watch! Is what and where we are today the vision of the Woodstock generation? More like a doubling down on everything we ridiculed, disparaged and pledged to dismantle- once and for all.

We have waged endless war (even when not attacked), rolled back many of the rights that even our predecessors fought for, and continue to maniacally usurp every last drop of oil, as we methodically disembowel a once life giving planet. We, The Baby Boomers, stand guilty as charged. We did not transform, we depleted and ransacked tenfold, at first excusing and then ultimately denying the consequences of our actions. We deserve in full, the anger, disgust and accusations of those that have inherited the remains of our wanton greed, arrogance and destruction. We were the ones who knew better, who swore to do better...

Friday, January 5, 2018

MAGA-Baby... MAGA!!!

Errrr, I don't have one (yet), so... I can't exactly vouch for where they're actually made...

This is how you Make AMERICA Great Again- Good Ole Yankee Ingenuity! This is the future- right now! It sure don't get better than this- seriously, this is the world class leading technology I'm talking about!!!