Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hubbard's Lament

There's a lot that Ms. Hubbard gets right here, a considerable amount she also disregards or glosses over. Of course, White folk will be cheering this on as righteous affirmation that everything they say and believe is absolutely true, case closed- while the facts, and the truth are so infinitely more nuanced. 

As an inner city teacher of adolescents who were officially classified as "Extremely Emotionally Disturbed & Socially Maladjusted," one quickly observed and realized (again- depending if one had both eyes open) that there was blame aplenty to go around on all sides: parents (or lack thereof), school teachers and administrators, clergy, police, and even the children themselves... yes, society as a whole from the President on down. Plenty of blame- and plenty of reasons. The latter are often shoved aside or conveniently ignored, the former usually short or one sided, and the solutions ranging from ineffective, to non existent.

You can't effectively address, confront or attempt to remedy this madness of spiraling crime and violence without effectively including all sides concerned. And so much of the insanity that occurs within the inner city is a direct result of what occurs (or doesn't occur) far outside it. First and foremost, if there are no jobs to be had in the hood, then you pretty much have to give people the credit for creating them- and you know where those self made jobs are going to be... cue in: drugs, guns and death. Also see: the never ending cycle of crime, incarceration and despair that doesn't just suck in individual lives, but entire generations. What use are good decent schools in the inner city (when they do exist) if there are no institutions of higher learning that are affordable; and ultimately, if there are no jobs or opportunities to be had for all that desperately need and want them- not just for the handful that somehow manage to succeed beyond every and all possible obstacles!

Yes, it's easy to blame individuals for lack of personal responsibility, and individuals certainly must take responsibility- but how can anyone be expected to succeed in a society that has given up on them and cast them aside, looking their way only when the situation inevitably arises to cast blame, and accusation... or as a possible source of personal revenue in one of the few growth industries left in the country- the prison industrial complex.

Education is not held in very high esteem by much of "minority" youth, often it's looked upon more as a sad joke than anything else, something for other people with lighter skin in another world where they don't have bullets buzzing by their heads. Those scant few grants and scholarships, and those far fetched possibilities cannot protect you from the violence all around you each and every day.

Cops are not concerned with societal cause and effect, they want to go home in one piece to their nice peaceful neighborhoods where some measure of hope and sanity can still be salvaged. They don't have any skin in the game other than their own, "Protect and Serve" starts and ends with them.

So yes, Peggy, it's a goddamn shame that little girl was killed by one of her own, and the idiot that died by the gun (like so many others, before and after in his circumstances) got what he gave; but you really should know that TV's talking heads wouldn't have covered her death anyway, and countless others just like her. They both died statistics, together in their separate world.

This madness is all consuming, it sucks the very life out of you even if you survive it. Every inner city is a little Iraq and Afghanistan where PTSD runs rampant at every age and every household. To succumb to a one sided blame game is both very human, and very understandable. Ultimately, it just continues to perpetuate and conceal the very madness it so inadequately seeks to address.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

(Way!) Long Overdue Tech!

Bet people would have been salivating just to stand in line for a chance to buy this simple piece of low budget, common sense tech back in the day. Don't have the need to use one anytime soon myself- only question is... Why'd it take so freakin' long!?!?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Diary Of A Teenage Girl

No moralizing here, we're watching this develop from the mind of a fifteen year old girl who wants to grow up fast, and finds herself ensnared in a world she cannot possibly begin to understand or fathom- not that any of us can at any age. And Diary of a Teenage Girl does a bang up job of showing just how confusing, hypocritical and thoroughly maddening adults have made this world we live in, and in so doing, defy our offspring to do better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Return Of The (Analog) Prodigal

Photo: © S. Banos

Alas, my ever so brief, ever not so torrid, middle aged, digital affair has reached its natural conclusion- and fortunately without regret, despite the fact that it did not achieve its intended consequence... becoming my go to, do everything, photographic imaging device from now till...

Photo: © S. Banos

The Fujifilm XT-1 is one very beautiful, very capable performer; truth is, it can do it all- but its strengths do not particularly suit my needs, and to be fair, its one major weakness is shared by all mirrorless cameras of its ilk- namely, its much touted EVF, which constantly reminded me of a '60s era color TV. Fine in the shade, better in the dark- but mediocre at very best in sunlight, changing or contrasty lighting situations. If I was a color aficionado, I would probably just shut up and persevere, the resulting images being that good. And it was fun seeing a few color images after decades of B&W.

But novelty fades and I'm back in my monochrome world of reality, and you can't beat starting out with the image qualities you desire most in film from the get go- rather than struggling to replicate them to one degree or another in post. If I could afford it, I'd be tempted to keep it, despite my vow to simplify. That said, I will definitely miss its quiet stealth, low light capability and 1:1 crop, but I'll continue to get what I require most from what I've already used for millennia. When the EVF looks as good as the LCD on the rear of the camera, I may just have another look see- in the meantime, it's on to eBay...

Photo: © S. Banos

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Stanford Prison Experiment

A few observations on The Stanford Prison Experiment:

1) First, the age old truism of what can happen when ya give someone a uniform.

2) How closely the study environment resembled a real life prison- and how true to life the accompanying results mimicked real life prison culture (in just 6 days), from Attica to Abu Ghraib.

3) How big a dick Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo was at the time for allowing himself to become so personally involved in the study and not conducting the "experiment" as an actual scientific experiment, so that his research and conclusions would be beyond reproach.

4) How easy it is to create a Nazi (see #1)- although can't help but think had the study been done with some say... students from NYC (rather than the burbs of CA), the "prisoners" would have been considerably more rebellious- though with probably similar results, considerably faster.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Not So Torrid, Middle Aged, Digital Fling

After decades of rigorously maintained analog self control and moderation, the very first chance I got a little extra change in my pocket, I immediately made a play for the young hot bod housed in the petite looker known as the Fujifilm XT-1 (complete w/14mm). The mere sight of her drove me crazy with desire- all those buttons and dials to press and caress amidst her tight young curves... OK- Enuf.
Love those muted greens.   All Photos: © S. Banos

Yes, the XT-1 can deliver the goods, it has also driven me half crazy getting to know it. The first few days were absolutely maddening- pressing every wrong button for every wrong reason (purposely and accidentally). We're a tad more acquainted now, starting to respect each other's space and preferences. Still, there is a very palpable tension between us...

The main drawback remains the EVF which may be the best out there, but still looks like a vintage era color TV from the '60s if you ask me. It's especially annoying in changing, contrasty light, as well as sunlight, where seeing what's in the shadows is particularly difficult- particularly ironic since one thing this camera can do is render shadow detail extraordinary well! The body is superbly compact but that also causes one to push things one doesn't want to- at least I'm getting familiar with how to undo it. 

Did notice slight shutter lag for high speed action shots.

I came back from my initial real life, field test (see results) fully prepared to put it up for sale on eBay. It hadn't been a fun experience, and had really missed my Nikon analogs. If there's no joy in the actual experience- what is there? Case closed. But before I got to actually packaging the camera away, I decided to take a look at said photos, and... First, there were the colors (and you must understand that except for a literal handful of SX-70 shots, I have not shot color since 1978), some lovely reds and muted greens- Wow! And it complemented the compositions, it wasn't just filler. OK, fine- but back to reality, I still wanted to know how it performed as a tool for B&W. I completed my first B&W conversion, and it came out... OK. Amazingly, while the color corrections took mere minutes, it was still a slow drive getting the local tonalities in B&W down pat (although selections were easier). But in the end, it still had that plasticky digital look- it needed.... grain. It had to have grain to feel "real." Fake grain for authenticity, Stan? Really? Yes, it's one slippery slope...

The self professed "King of  Pain." Yes, that is a taser. Yes, that is a (very) sensitive area.

I had read how grain software was pretty awful at best, but reluctantly went ahead and... I've been looking at 35mm Tri-X grain for decades, and this fake shit looked looked pretty damn good to me. Scanning B&W negs somewhat exaggerates grain, so I didn't pump it up as much (the grain software can be infinitely massaged or intensified) as it appears on my scans, gave it more a Plus-X feel- but it was enough to soothe the craving, and rid the image of its digital curse. It had achieved the look and feel of B&W film.

Relationships- they need constant work and attention.

So is everything copacetic? Not really, I may still sell it. Or I may sell all my analog film stuff to finance 28 and 40mm equivalents. I honestly don't know right now, but I can't afford to keep both. The film cameras are fun, simplicity and ease in the field- they can also last me a lifetime. The digital is more a working tool with various perks, like getting color & B&W (and a 1:1 crop) on demand. It's definitely not a one night stand, I just don't know if we're ready to commit just yet.