Friday, January 31, 2014

If, If, If...

 ... I had the $$$, those would be my hands around that Fujifilm X-T1camera body ($1,300)! Along with a 14mm (21e- $900), 18mm (27e- $600), and 27mm (41e- $430) lens! Those three in the bag and BOOM! And having a 1:1 aspect ratio (don't ya just love that term?) is like having yet another camera in that bag- love it! The thing is, can I get used to an EVF, and even more importantly... will the files yield satisfactory B&W results? The major reason for me to get a digital camera would be simply to reduce the amount of work it takes to convert a silver neg into an exhibition quality file. But once I get past the digital learning curve, will I get results that will satisfy those aesthetic concerns? Or would I simply be left with some beautiful, contemporary equipment (for a few months) that yields the kind of soulless B&W imitations* I've learned to abhor?
*(not that all digital B&W is necessarily bad)

Anyway, it's a moot question since I stand with ready hands and- empty pockets. That $3,000+ investment is just a middle age crazy wet dream...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Art Of Photoblogging...

Well, not really. More like the hierarchy of photoblogging...

Recently I had someone suggest that I might catch a break in a photo competition since I was a... photo blogger- something I've been doing for the last nine years. The mere suggestion of which sent my mind reeling back to the seventies when I remember some folks thinking that I would naturally catch a break in the photo biz since I was a... "minority." I suppose both could be misconstrued as 'logical' assumptions- which could not be further from the truth. But I digress...

As with most anything else, there are established hierarchies in (photo) blogdom. Blogs run by technical photo experts, blogs run by pro photographers, blogs run by represented artist-photographers, blogs run by professional reviewers, teachers and print columnists... They're the first column of power- and rightfully so since they have a foot in the actual biz. There are also the super commercial, latest product blogs, the aggregates with a little bit (ie- a lotta) of everything, and the videographers who grant us the privilege of actually viewing the most obvious and long established photographic axioms in the most watered down, obvious manner imaginable (inexplicably popular).

And then there's a whole 'nother echelon, the rest of us- guys like me. The bottom of the barrel, the pissing in the wind crowd, the no respect guys- like most everyone else in blogdom. We do it for the same reasons we continue to photograph without fanfare- although we may aspire to bigger and better, after a coupla years, it becomes obvious it's because we want to, have to. For better or for worse...

 And the reward is, the reward is whatever we find of it within ourselves.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fresh Air (w/o Terry Gross)!

At least that's what it felt like for a few days treated to some excellent B&W work over at Lenscratch. Now, I ain't got nothing against color... really. There's just as much mediocre and awful B&W out there as there is color- OK, I totally made that up, I really have no idea what the head count is (neither does anyone else).* But in the midst of the constant deluge of color, it sure was nice to see some exceptional B&W work online during Jan 20-26, particularly that done by Osinski, Yates, and Jordano. The (clothing) styles may be dated, but the work looks a helluva lot more dynamic and vital than some of the milk toast being passed about now...

*Whoa! Hold on there... definitely, indubitably- color, which became the people's norm as of the mid '60s and art's primary go to as of the late '70s, long before the digital (ie- color) avalanche!

Monday, January 27, 2014

"We Love Everyone!"

Just another in the long line of people who "don't see race." Now supposedly there are two of these chairs, one white, one black, and they could no doubt make one very legit comment concerning misogyny in the proper context.

But one really has to wonder what message this White, privileged female thinks she's sending out with this particular pose and photo... Or does one?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Traversing the Woods

Photo: Ian Stout

Well, The Sisters Wood got written up over the weekend in The San Francisco Chronicle. A nice half page article featuring their fledgling enterprise... Cool!

Friday, January 24, 2014

That Time Again...

Now me, I ain't got a chance in hell- so why am I entering anyway? Because I got some portraits tucked away that deserve to see the light of day, and they got a shit load of jurors on this thing. And maybe, just maybe, one of 'em could find a home for 'em somewhere, sometime...

PS- Did I mention it's F-R-E-E!?!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Confrontier- Kai Wiedenhofer

Photo: Kai Wiedenhofer

Just what I needed, another must have book. And Confrontier by Kai Wiedenhofer is just that! A beautifully edited and produced work on the monumental physical barriers throughout the world meant to separate various peoples. No angry diatribes here on the evil these walls support and project, but neither are there any Koudelkian metaphysical reflections commenting solely on their effect on the... landscape. Interesting to note both the similarities and differences between how the two look, and feel.

Like the Berlin Wall of yore, I now realize that these formidable structures are more obstacles than impenetrable barriers, and that eventually, each and every one comes written with its own due date. Large scale documentary projects such as this remind us all of the inherent power of photography, the power to preserve the fleeting present for posterity- and should also serve to remind that photography itself is not immune to the ravages of time...

 More on Confrontier here, and here...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Recently, I once again allowed myself to think I had a chance, a pretty damn good chance of being accepted in a group show that United Photo Industries was presenting on the topic of Surveillance. I really thought I had put together a winning team of images illustrating various aspects of surveillance in our private, public and inner lives (within the 8 images requested). Obviously, they didn't think so, and just as obviously, there is no way to decipher why...

SECRETS & LIES  is a juried photographic exhibition that explores issues of anonymity, surveillance, and the illusion of privacy in a digitally inter-connected world.
Photographers are invited to submit photographs that address, respond, criticize, and/or challenge the new realities of our public/private existence.

 Artist Statement:  Watching The Watchers Watch 
Government surveillance and its accompanying paranoia of secrecy and anxiety are now prevalent on several levels of consciousness, both real and imagined. Spying in our name throughout the world is meant to keep us safe from "others," and monitoring our private info right here at home, to protect us from ourselves. Surveillance programs exist in the public domain and consciousness as both threat and savior- from the reality of our everyday, workaday world to our utmost delusional machinations.
 All Photos © All Rights Reserved- Stan Banos

Flag & Camera(s)

Never Broken

George W.

United We Stand...



Military Talk-Watch

Watching The Watchers Watch

Monday, January 20, 2014

Two Photography Films For 2014!

In addition to the long awaited, much anticipated biodoc Finding Vivian Maier due this March, there is also Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People.

 "I will sell the shadow to support the substance."    --Sojourner Truth

Sunday, January 19, 2014

9/11 Explained And Dismissed...

Well done!

I don't pretend to know how much of 9/11 was sheer arrogance, subterfuge and incompetence- and what (if any) was an inside job. But there is no doubt whatsoever that the investigation(s) covering these events were compromised, sabotaged, and fabricated- as were the major investigations of the political assassinations of the '60s.  (via TYWKIWDBI)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Two Possible Futures....

Double Trouble

Must say, for someone who doesn't even own a digital camera, I'm rather anxious to see the advent of the so called "organic" sensors and their promise to deliver a more film like experience (ie- more middle and highlight values) that could once and for all deliver B&W digital from that cheap, plastic, rather soul less look it so often displays. Hook one of those up in a micro 4/3 body with a small 20mm(e) prime and... but so far- even the latter doesn't exist!

Doesn't get hotter than that!

So I get to thinking, maybe what I really should be looking at (far as the future is concerned) are the two beautiful babes above. Check out those vertical lugs- chick magnets supreme! Imagine, an entire "kit" unto themselves; one for portraits, the other for most everything else! One could walk around, one at each hip like some bad ass, Wild West gunslinger! Actually, the WA version would do for most my needs, thank you very much! And I could very well leave it happily at that if it wasn't for the fact that- gonna need a medium format scanner too. That baby ain't cheap (and neither are the Bessas), flatbeds can't deliver the goods as far as resolution, and sending original negs out in the mail to have them scanned makes for one very queasy feeling at best. Alas, the chick magnet route seems a whole lot more high maintenance and... expensive!

So.... we'll see what happens, and as per usual, be thankful for what we've got.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal...

It's 2014, and I just finished scanning, editing (remember when that referred to only one process in the photographic "workflow"?) and submitting a few hopefuls (for what will currently remain an unnamed competition). I suppose a valid question is... why persist in participating in what traditionally culminates as an endless collaboration with futility? Well...

Photo: SB (not an entry)
1)  It's one way to actually motivate my ass to make print worthy, hi-res files from my silver neg scans (and that alone is reason enough).

2)  Yes, photographing for oneself has to be one's major motivation (granted), but it would be nice if a few other people got to see one or two results- particularly in a manner that celebrates them for a small period of time at proper viewing quality, rather than just having them diluted into the endless deluge of daily, lo-res imagery.

3)  I don't exactly enter and participate in each and every lame competition that comes by each and every year- and then, only after reading the fine print.

4)  Hope springs eternal... No, really- these are going to win!!!  Serious.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Zoe The Magnificent!

Photo: Zoe Strauss

I'm in absolute awe of Zoe Strauss, always have been, and that amazement only grows with each succeeding project, with each remarkable success. Here's a person with no formal training, no bankroll, the very humblest of backgrounds- and yet, she overcame and achieved whatever she set out to do, and then some.  No excuses, no self imposed parameters, no paralyzing self doubt. She just goes out... and does it- not by courting those on top, but by working from the ground level up (and curiously enough- the agencies, galleries and museums soon follow).

She would no doubt have succeeded in whatever she set out to do, I'm just happy she chose photography.  I'm sure her enthusiasm must be infectious, otherwise she would never accomplish half of what she does. While I see obstacles, she sees possibilities; while others simply dream, she realizes what she envisions, and accomplishes those dreams one step, and perhaps most importantly- one person at a time. No superpowers, just sheer perseverance and force of will- not by conning or steamrolling people as per your average politico, but by acknowledging each one, treating them as equals, and bringing out the best in them. Which, when all is said and done, is very much a super power- I can't bring out the best in me most days.

And so I stand in awe, with each remarkable photograph, with each enlightening project. She is her own best creation- the embodiment of human potential. And I salute her.

Friday, January 10, 2014

American Hustle

A most peculiar factional movie- very intense and very... claustrophobic. I couldn't exactly put my finger on why, but it was hours later when I finally realized how many close ups there are in this movie. I mean, looking back, it seems over half the goddamn movie was shot in close up. And it does have a rather pronounced effect, particularly when the characters are so very, very intense, so very, very desperate, and the movie keeps switching off from character to character in rapid tag team fashion as we delve further into their broken, cheatin' psyches.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hugo, Kin And Trust

Photo: Pieter Hugo

I think Pieter Hugo to be a brilliant photographer, so do a lot of other people. He is, no doubt one of the premier portraitists working today- so why do I still feel a bit queasy, a bit uneasy, even a bit guilty when I look at his work and find so much of it so... good. I was struggling to put it into words when I uhhh... came upon this, which I must say, pretty much explains exactly why I feel the way I do.

Kin, his latest work, seems his first earnest attempt to at least ask himself the very question he shrugged off before ever so dismissively. Everyone pretty much has a right to photograph whatever the hell they want; but if you put it out for public consumption then you should be willing to at least openly and responsibly present and discuss it- or not. And if not, particularly when highly offensive to certain groups of people... well then, it's up to you to deal with possibly being seen as an arrogant, insolent, insensitive prick. And when you refuse to validate and address legitimate concerns, it kinda makes one wonder about your intention and motivation.

Of course, those concerns are pretty much forgotten by most- if it ever was a concern. Some of us have longer memories however- not that Mr. Hugo is losing any sleep. And I long ago learned to separate "art" from the artist. Yes, I can even appreciate (and respect) works of beauty when funded by the very forces that actively destroy that very beauty. As for the person who creates it... I guess what we're talking about here is- trust. Do you trust the messenger, is he or she responsible with how they portray their subjects, and the way in which they can be used and/or interpreted? The latter is particularly tricky in our digital world (granted!), and was a major sticking point with Nollywood. Hugo once swore he wasn't responsible for how the world interpreted his work- neither do the people able to afford it. But perhaps his work is finally starting to reflect the gravity that question implies.

Photo: Pieter Hugo

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saints And Sinners

What Mr. Snowden should be receiving (along with full amnesty).
Even if the subsequent reforms are cosmetic at best, Mr. Snowden can, in fact, claim Mission Accomplished in the sense that people are at least now aware and can no longer claim ignorance. Still, that won't stop the torrent of government bankrolled criminals, liars and outright bastards* from their onslaught of continued disinformation and malfeasance.

*hear one @ 44:40 into the video- followed by his compete evisceration by Mr. Greeenwald...

Friday, January 3, 2014

WWl- Joe Sacco

I've posted on journalist/cartoonist (definitely not your usual combo) Joe Sacco before. This time he's not reporting on what he has witnessed and/or experienced personally. On a unique departure from his favored modus operandi, he delves into researching and depicting one of the bloodiest days in human history, namely... July 1, 1916-  the first day of The Battle of the Somme. You know, WWI- The War To End All Wars. This is his amazing 24 foot long (accordion style) panoramic and tribute to mankind's continuing fascination with killing itself in grand fashion.