Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Launch Date!

FYI--- 17/August/2016 @ 12:00
The official launch date of Reciprocity Failure's latest incarnation...  


Saturday, July 30, 2016

And So It Goes...

Photo: © S. Banos

As you can plainly see, practically ALL of the photos below on this entire site (post 8/2011) have simply... vanished. I unknowingly deleted them while "cleaning house" on some SOB Google related site that had accumulated a seemingly random collection of my photos along with a host of other unrelated odds and ends I had never seen and had somehow gathered under my name. Of course, I had no idea I'd also be deleting content from my blog (Google purchased Blogger)- but there you have it. 

At this point I have neither the time, will, nor energy to repair and restore 10 yrs of said damage, even if I could- perhaps nature's way of telling me the time has indeed finally come to end this little endeavor. I will soon start work on (self) publishing three photo books- 2 B&W and one color, which I have every intention of completing this coming spring. And lord knows I still have a shitload of B&W files and restorations (last year's mega-catastrophe) yet to complete thereafter. 

Again, thank you one and all for having dropped by. Perhaps, I will again return at some later date- under a new venue. But right now... I'm tired, not in the best of health, and need to regroup just to keep keeping on. This is the last thing I expected to do today- but then, life has a way of doing that. All my best...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fridgeir Helgason- Landscapes Heavy With Life

Photo: Fridgeir Helgason

One can almost hear the stillness in Fridgeir Helgason's photographs, solid affairs that weigh upon your interest not unlike the heavy, bayou humidity that presses tightly to your skin. And his landscapes do that despite the weather or latitude- they're rife with presence, thick in atmosphere. His work a mirror of an existence that does not come without cost.

Photo: Fridgeir Helgason

Friday, July 22, 2016

Composition 20- Naama Tsabar

Photo: © S. Banos

I was in Manhattan's former Meat Packing District (one of the most gentrified areas imaginable) during the magic hour one late Spring day, when I heard this loud "ambient" music coming from... seemingly everywhere. It was "atmospheric" yet edgy, and I was immediately drawn to it (unlike so much of music today)- so I set about trying to discover its source. Eventually, I realized it had to be originating at The Highline, and so it was. With Composition 20, what one eventually realized was that Naama Tsabar had devised an open environment in which one could travel directly within an ever changing musical landscape, as opposed to a single wall of sound aimed directly at you. 

The tiny snippet below of the entire 3 hr experience is more "traditionally" melodic than the portion I stumbled upon. But it was quite the experience walking in between the musicians, walking in between the music, as it incrementally changed from corner to corner, side to side, musician to musician, as one traversed the entirety of the area- the "back" side playing a considerably different tune from the "front," while the more harmonizing midground somehow balancing both. One of the more memorable, interactive and public musical/art experiences I'll remember in my hometown...

PS- Hopefully, there will be a high quality recording of the event available in the near future... but it just occurred to me- how would it be mixed? Since several melodies were being played concurrently, which one anyone heard at any one time depended on where they were situated...

Monday, July 18, 2016

That's What I'm Talking About... Luck & Lucky Streaks, Pt. 2

Photo: © S. Banos

Recently, I wrote about hot streaks and riding the wave of "luck," something which doesn't much come my way. Hot streaks are such incredibly rarefied creatures, it's hard enough conjuring enough luck for one good shot.

On an ordinary day, on an ordinary late afternoon, there wouldn't have been an extraordinarily handsome couple locking lips all Hollywood like as I was going from point A to point B on a daily errand. And even if there was, that alone wouldn't have made for more than a sappy romantic postcard, unless: the begging guy had also been there to add his layer to the story, and he would've been too far removed, unless the guy walking outta the subway (gotta love that face) hadn't walked between him and the couple to help tie the two ends together, and if the sun hadn't kissed the lovers' faces just so for the spot fill... and had I come just a few minutes sooner, or a few seconds later...

But on this particular day I was still riding the streak; otherwise, the only thing there would've been exactly what I saw there some weeks later- a skinny, dead tree in a pot.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Can I Take Your Photo?

Coming home from the local pub this Friday, I notice this rather interesting looking bloke* coming towards me carrying this rather large plant and thinking possible (portrait) photo op, ask if I can take his photo:

Plant Bloke: You mean the kind of picture I have to sign and autograph?

SB: Ummmm, uhhhhh... No... not really... you just have to...
       Hey, tell ya what, don't let me keep ya- have yourself A Great Day!

I was a coupla beers removed from reality, plant guy...

* full disclosure: I am not British. All dialogue- guaranteed... Verbatim!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hot/Cold, So It Goes... Luck & Lucky Streaks, Pt. 1

Photo: © S. Banos

Been quite the first half of the year (at least photographically), here we are mid year and I already have fifty plus keepers- that eclipses 2012, my all time record when I had 50+ for the entire year! It's in large part due, of course, to the new tool in the arsenal that I obtained this February. The GR has really paid off image wise, they seemed to be dropping from the skies for a while, and now it's slowed... to... a... trickle.

Many would say that it's probably cause the novelty has diminished, and I'm not as open to new images and experiences as I was at first, or not concentrating, or not.... The first part undoubtedly rings true, working the GR is no longer a novelty- I'm still acclimating, but considerably more comfortable; the latter I've always had trouble digesting (no matter the camera, medium or technique used). I'm always hungry for images, but when you're working the streets, sometimes (most of the times?) no matter how armed and ready: the raw materials never show; the lighting is off; the people you do ask to shoot give you a dirty look instead of a simple, "Sure;" the "decisive moment" happened a second before you could possibly reach it, or hours after you moved on to seek your fortune elsewhere. 

Recently, I got off work early, and camera in hand, decided to make the most of the remaining day; for two long hours, absolute... crickets. Called it a day, went to the Dave Jordano exhibit and on my way home- an opening; literally stalked my subject for a couple of blocks and a coupla snaps to get the shot above. Granted, not the greatest photo ever taken- but a keeper nonetheless; something to add a smile to your sore feet, so you can toast a beer, instead of dejectedly downing one with thoughts of... next time.

And that's where the story should end.

That 11th hour keeper reinforced the age old axiom that persistence always wins out. And it often does, or... at least just often enough to reinforce the belief, ie- feed the addiction. That last second, end of the line shot fueled yet more days of dogged, determined, hard core persistence- and not a damn thing to show for any of 'em. What it was, was the parting shot to one phenomenally lucky shooting streak. Days soon turned to weeks, as the days of plenty became ensconced in the past, instead of the ongoing present.

Of course, the photos will come, eventually, in dribs and drabs, one here, one there in their own good time. Got freaky lucky first half of the year, and "lucky" spurts don't happen often, least not for me. And when they do- I get spoiled, and think I can turn it on and keep it on simply by trying hard enough.

But reality is never far behind to bite ya firmly in the ass and remind ya just how damn hard it is to get even one good shot.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Photo of the Decade

Photo: Jonathan Bachman

Yes, I know it's gone viral and can be seen absolutely everywhere, and for absolutely good reason- I, like so many others, can't stop looking at it. And like any good great photo, there's good reason for that, basically because it works on so many levels, and does so, so very, very well. Composition- check, decisive moment- check, content- check, check and check.

What I first thought when I saw this photo was... superhero. Nefarious, super villains rising from the netherworld to wreak havoc on the lone guardian of the light. Alone, unafraid, strengthened by the very forces of the winds and nature at her command; she is secure and confident in her calm demeanor. Those advancing in attack formation are quick, aggressive and heavily armored- but overwhelmingly cautious all the same, fully cognizant of her latent power. 

And then, of course, there's real life- what seems an entire city's police force vs. one lone, very human Black female. And such has it always been, no matter the decade, when men of color have been attacked, beaten and killed by overwhelming forces. Their women have never been far behind, and in fact, often leading many of the various opposing and conciliatory forces at play. And always too... the iconic photo to remind us of just that.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun."

Hey, NRA! Someone's not hearing the playbook! Seems the Dallas police have their own preferred game plan when facing a mass shooter, and ain't all that concerned with your grade school motto du jour. Instead of waiting for Wayne Robert LaPierre, Jr. to show and save the day, they simply sent in a robot with a bomb. What a perfectly good waste (of a dumb ass slogan)!!!

What Double Standard?

It's as clear as- Black and... White!

Friday, July 8, 2016

What To Say...

I'm not for the taking of any innocent life; I do not support terrorism, revenge killings or any form of brutal hate attacks. But this killing of unarmed African-Americans and people of color has gone unanswered and ignored for far too long in this country. It hasn't mattered if those "in question" were: armed or unarmed, compliant or obstinate, male or female, healthy or infirm, minor or adult, felon or upstanding citizen- if you're Black or of color, guilt is assumed; your death, a simple statistic on another night's shift... 

When the police actively target you, the law fails to protect you, and the economy sees you primarily as fodder for their prison industrial complex- why should anyone be surprised that the other side finally countered with some senseless killing of their own?

Monday, July 4, 2016

What Manner Of Shooter R U?

Intense?   Photo: © S. Banos

Laid back?    Photo: © S. Banos

No prisoners?    Photo: © S. Banos

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Up In "Smoke"

From time to time you'll get occasional reflection mention of how we all single handedly speed view the plethora of photographs now available at our instant disposal. And despite being schooled of this particularly vile habit, I fall victim to it time and time again like any other shallow 21st century mortal. So I find myself constantly reminding myself, constantly retraining and committing myself to slowing down, seeing what I'm actually attempting to look at, and trying to make sense of what I'm experiencing- before feeding the compulsion to rush to the next image for no, good, rational reason.

This scene from the memorable 1995 film Smoke approaches that very subject back in the analog days when one could still inhale and imbibe at one's own leisure in a public interior. And it concerns nothing less than photography's major raison d'etre- the very capture of time itself, and both the subtle and sublime appreciation of said power...

 How Auggie got that camera...

Why not... the true meaning of Christmas (for good measure)!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

SFMOMA- Free Every First Tuesday For Perpetuity... NOT!!!

With the recent grand reopening of the new and improved SFMOMA, I was anxious to know when open day (or night) was scheduled for the unwashed masses such as myself. The above proclamation can be found on the official SFMOMA website- but it yields absolutely no results. And if you want to go to SFMOMA on first Tuesday, or any damn Tuesday you want- you're gonna have to pay the full, whopping admission price of... $25!!!

Well, it seems "perpetuity" doesn't last all that damn long, in fact, it ended in 2013... 
Who the fuck knew!?!?!?

Update: SFMOMA actually called me back, said something to the effect that, yeah, maybe that wasn't the best way to describe and conduct their admissions policy and that they would probably be making "community" oriented changes come September. To be continued...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

In Memoriam

Photo: © S. Banos

On a spectacularly beautiful Sunday afternoon, came upon one very apropos memorial for The Orlando Massacre where every name of those so needlessly killed (by someone who sought to kill that part of him he could not accept by killing those who had) was read aloud and commemorated at Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco on 6/19.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

RIP- Chris Wood

The subject of mothers-in-law is a sometimes thorny, difficult or emotionally ambiguous affair. I was fortunate, I had a good one. She was open to all people in a manner that boarded on... innocence- the very basis of what constitutes a humanitarian, and a very rare human being.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Nat Geo Moment

Photo: © S. Banos

Never contemplated or attempted taking a Nat Geo type photo, but can't help but think of that very genre upon seeing this image. The pronounced and exposed earthen skin tones, the engaging natives taking time from their daily activities attempting communication and interaction with those from neighboring tribes, demonstrating their unique cultural practices and traditions amidst their indigenous habitat.

Perhaps in twenty years time I'll crowd fund to search and locate the female in the photo with the distinctively colored eye shades. But let me not get ahead of myself- first, let me see what I can add or remove to increase the photo's storytelling capabilities...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

From The Hip...

All photos: © S. Banos

If you've never done the ol' Intro Photo 101 exercise of shooting blindly with your camera, you really owe it to yourself to do so- if only to drive home the fact of what pure chance can achieve completely independent of: your vision, your judgment, your personal choices and aesthetics (granted you choose when to pull the trigger). The overwhelmingly vast majority of images will be little more than a mumbled, garbled mass of arbitrary chaos- but also included will be the miraculous frame of serendipitous magic where random bits and pieces of fragmentary imagery amass and congeal into something much greater than the sum of its parts in ways unimagined! A very important lesson for those (like me) who don't crop and like to control every single millimeter of every single image...

Somewhere between complete random chaos and hyper controlled vigilance is the age old act of shooting from the hip- a greater degree of control in that you are actively choosing your subject matter and aiming in the general direction, but the ultimate outcome is still in the hands of the gods of chance and serendipity. Again, most of the results will be far wayward of the mark- too far away, too close, too far to the left, too far to the right, too far up, too far down... But the chances of something coalescing into something that succeeds are considerably greater than if you hadn't taken the shot at all, particularly when raising the camera to eye level would have destroyed whatever spontaneity you were choosing to capture in the first place! Armed with my newly acquired Ricoh GR, I was curious as to what I could achieve doing just that on a recent 3-4 day return to my hometown...

All Photos: © S. Banos
Conclusions: Most attempts did end up courtesy of the Delete button. And on any given day, I'd much rather take a graceful layup (with a chance of three) than the awkward Hail Mary shot from half court (granted, not the best analogy since shooting from the hip does get you in closer- but we are talking percentages). I'm also betting the more one practices and refines the experience, the more keepers one is bound to acquire.

No doubt the percentage of hits would've risen with just a bit more help in the visual guidance dept-  I sincerely hope the next GR takes a page from the Fujifilm X-70 playbook and incorporates a flip screen (after all the X-70 took pretty much everything else from the GR). Yes, it will definitely increase the camera size a tad in depth, but it will also make it a much more formidable street image making machine!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

LIFE- It Don't Always Make Sense

     Photo: © S. Banos

I spent a considerable amount of time, money and effort to do "the right thing" and get my father in a different place where he would hopefully have a better time of it in his remaining years. This not to laud my own efforts, they've been absolute minimal- my mother has done the totality of the heavy lifting. And I mention it only because in the end, I succeeded in getting him placed in a setting where he this week broke his hip and now lies in a hospital post op in stable condition with a screw holding him together. 

And all he wanted to do was die in a dignified manner a few years back, when he still had his mind.

Friday, May 27, 2016


Jose Banos (1923-2016  ); Photo: © S. Banos

Like most men, my father was riddled with all too human faults and frailties, and as with most of us, it would be best to delve and concentrate on our own inadequacies. As a man, he was best defined by his life long religion of hard work. Arriving in NYC with wife in hand in 1946, the subway was a nickel, a cold water flat (in SOHO, no less) cost all of $15 per month, and when necessary (ie- Puerto Ricans weren't always treated with kid gloves), he could quit an unskilled labor job in the morning and have another by lunch. He loved his homeland dearly, but developed a strong affinity for his new island of tall buildings and even taller contradictions. He worked, endured, had a son, and ultimately retired (although he continued to work P/T till ninety). How does one reduce an entire life's frustrations and accomplishments into a few short sentences- how does life itself betray one of its very sense of self?

With each passing day my father now loses yet another small part of himself, replaced with some mutant aberration, some mocking misrepresentation of what he once was. At times, one can actually see him struggle still, trying to make sense of a situation of which he can no longer make sense of, and then just as, just as... Poof- the fog again takes hold before it ever cleared. Soon, even those brief, approximations of clarity will also dissipate. And you're left wondering- where is the fine line where you stop being you; where does your true self, the totality of all you learned, shared, succumbed to and overcome then reside? 

No amount of work will ever make sense of it.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ain't It The Truth!

Uhhhhh... yup.    Photo: © S. Banos

Sometimes (sometimes) as I wonder about on my lifelong quest to avoid stepping on used needles and dubious piles of excrement, I'm actually rewarded with a smile, a word of wisdom, or... both.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Spring Time Photography in San Francisco

Some really good stuff (as in photo exhibits) are to be found in San Francisco right now and into June- and three of those exhibits are to be found in one building! In no particular order, there's Ai Wei Wei's series of finger photographs, where he flips the bird to pretty much the entire world in a long series of photographs covering the entire length of a long gallery wall at The Haines Gallery. I know, doesn't sound like much (agreed)- but surprisingly, they work better than expected, and quite a few work quite well on their own. The one at the Eiffel Tower with the red sleeve is quite beautiful indeed. Never gave much thought to Ai Wei Wei till I saw the documentary Never Sorry, and ever since... much respect.

Photos: Ai Wei Wei

Then there's the "classic" B&W work of conceptual photographer Kenneth Josephson at The Robert Koch Gallery. Any kind of conceptual art is a long shot at best in my book, but those rare times when it does in fact work can be enlightening and quite... fun!

Photo: Kenneth Josephson

Photo: Christian Marclay
And speaking of fun and conceptual (photographic) art... The Fraenkel Gallery is featuring some wicked "slide shows" (for lack of a better term) by one Christian Marclay. One features a succession of square format images of single straws poking through their plastic container lids. Before you take in the whole image image, you are introduced to another, and another, and another... Definitely more visually compelling than most, static grid presentations. And while that leaves ya with a smile on your face, the next coupla typologies accelerate the experience well into warp drive! A Q-tip is centered in square format as the backgrounds rapidly change by the hundreds while the Q-tips furl and unfurl, first left then right, gently seesawing in progression. Yes, it's one very hypnotic, drug induced meditation- same goes for the cigarette butt that lengthens and shortens, shortens and lengthens as it rolls around without ever leaving its rapidly changing center stage. And there are others...

Photo: McNair Evans

Finally, right in the basement of San Francisco City Hall itself, one can find the work of Guggenheim Fellow McNair Evans and his travels on Amrtack called In Search Of Great Men. This is what making the most out of whatever your dealt truly means as Mr. Evans proceeds to do just just that, photographing a myriad of  interesting: portraits, still lifes and landscapes taken in or from the various trains and their immediate environs. Be sure to also visit upstairs where some of his photographs have been handsomely blown up wall size, adorning what is already a pretty impressive building interior...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day! May Day!

Thomas Morton

Like punk, May Day originated in the good ol' USA, before it became all the rage and celebrated in many a country abroad as the true worker's holiday. Unfortunately, it was quashed, neutered and then repurposed in the country of its origin to suit the powers that be. Workers' Day demoted to yet another sales holiday, in September- want fries with that?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sound Advice

Take it from someone who... can't do it very well.       Photo: © S. Banos

I did do it once, swim that is. Kids always ask, "You know how to swim?" And I would always reply, "Yes, of course." Like who wouldn't? And technically, I was being quite truthful- I did know... I just couldn't do it very well, if at all. I knew what I had to do, and how to do it- but like most other things physical, I was damn shitty at it. I was very familiar with the forward sweeping motion of the arms and the repeated paddling of the legs in a coordinated movement that thrusts the body aloft in a steady forward momentum; saw it countless times in books, movies, even in person even- could say I was practically expert in how it was done... but damn if I could actually do it! It took all my effort just to keep my mouth sucking in precious oxygen one quarter inch above water while the rest of my body inexplicably remained at a 45 degree angle rapidly going nowhere no matter how hard I tried. Naturally, I never wandered more than a few inches away from anywhere I couldn't readily stand up.

But there's always that one day, that one day where all the artifice must fall and your soul laid bare... And on that day I found myself with a friend and some of his acquaintances, who had since moved upstate (New York), on the way to the local watering hole. The "conversation" rapidly devolved into a mockery of how city boys couldn't swim and the inevitable, "You know how to swim, right?" "Sure do," I truthfully replied, wondering all the while how the hell I was gonna get outta this one.

And I was still pondering that very thought as we all plunged in, putting into play my vast encyclopedic knowledge of all things swimming. The group objective was to reach a water slide on the... far side of the lake, a goal well beyond ridiculous for me to even contemplate as I nevertheless huffed and puffed along as if, as if reality had no say in any of it.

My epiphany soon occurred about 1/10 of the way there when my subpar, labored thrashing about forced me to the realization that this fool's errand would guarantee I never make it to seventeen. The others had already pulled ahead by this time, and left quite alone, knew I was out of reach from being saved by any of my peers. I felt a wave of panic start to descend, and I wanted to scream in fright and anger for being so spectacularly stupid to have put myself in such a predicament. As an adult, I would have simply said, "Go off and enjoy yourself young lads while I quietly engage this good book in the company of this fine drink." As a dumb ass kid, all I could do at the moment was recall reading that after the initial panic- drowning was indeed, a rather genteel manner to die, a rather peaceful and euphoric affair towards the end.

Perhaps not wanting to die in a watery grave with virtue intact provided the necessary incentive, but right there and then I resolved to live another day, focus like I never had in my previous sixteen years, and turn the ship back to shore where I would continue to pursue the life of a happy landlubber the rest of my godforsaken years. Which is somehow exactly what I (barely) succeeded in doing.

Several hours later, everyone returned and someone asked if I was OK, "You don't look too good!" Don't quite remember what I replied, but I do remember telling myself- I don't give a bloody damn what anyone says or thinks (of me) anymore...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ricoh GR B&W Conversion

Photo: © S. Banos

Well, it just had to, had to happen- didn't it? It just had to rear it's ugly, uncalled for, utopia dissolving head, and shatter this delightful delusion of unfettered color fantasy, ie- I finally hit upon an image that looks better in B&W, an image that originated in digital color- the day of reckoning had arrived.

Don't even know if this image is a keeper as of yet (in any form), a decision made all the harder since one of the reasons I got this camera was to make images that weren't exactly like my analog photographs. But no doubt it works better in B&W, those bright orange pants and screaming red umbrella (nice as they are) completely detract from the main focal point of the image- the subject's thousand yard stare. So into Elements 9 I descended, messed with the color channels, and... Not bad! Looks kinda decent, due very much to the fact that it's taken in open shade and maybe, just maybe, by ISO 800 lending a certain "granularity." A bit more contrast, and local dodging and burning (interesting how much more B&W files of any kind must be pampered and massaged towards the same end) and it stands up fairly well. Now, do I like it as a whole- and will there be more conversions to follow that will be any the more acceptable (particularly those in direct sunlight)... Or this an evolutionary dead end?

Photo: © S. Banos

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Wonderful World Of Color!

If you'd told me this January that I'd be posting a page of color photographs on my website this spring, I woulda told ya you had a few pixels missing. Cornball jokes aside, in the midst of restoring 40 years of B&W, this was not even a possibility, let alone a consideration- or is that the other way around? Regardless, life is funny sometimes. 

True, last year I did take a few color photos, but that was with full intention of converting to B&W. And it's not just about color, it's about trying to capture those things I've been passing up for many a year with a new medium, a new manner of shooting and a focal length (28mm equivalent) that I haven't used regularly since my twenties. The website photos are people-centric, but I'm enjoying "other stuff" as well, serious or not. I've accustomed myself to seeing the world in a certain way photographically- literally through a certain lens. Not necessarily a bad thing, it helps select and organize the wheat from the chaff, but it can also limit and restrict what and how you see. Even at my age, it does a guy good to: 1) Stop, 2) shake shit around, 3) see what falls out. In that order. Or maybe, I was just waiting for the right tool, or the right excuse- just hope I didn't wait too long...

El Pendejo Donald     Photo: © S. Banos