The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

I’m ending the year with my very first photo challenge entry, Patti’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #77, Favorite Photos of 2019.

There’s not much rhyme or reason to my selections. As I scroll through a year of photos I’m not looking for anything in particular; just that brief recognition that something in the image strikes me.

Silver Terraces Cemetery, Virginia City. Ghostly graveyard.
There was never any doubt about including this photo as edited in black and white. The photo as originally shot in color is a flat daytime scene. After editing, the ho-hum daytime shot turns into a ghostly nighttime image. The shadows against the stark white give the impression of an unseen full moon. (The original color image is below the monochrome).


Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show, Cow Palace, San Francisco California. Sad sack setter.
The Golden Gate Kennel Club dog show in San Francisco is a benched show which means that when the dogs aren’t struttin’ in the ring they are on display at a “bench.” I imagine that for the first few hours they love the adulation and the hugs and caresses from kids. Two days in and this English setter seems to be saying, “The thrill is gone and I’m tired dad. Can we just go home now?”

english setter portrait 2

Silver Terraces Cemetery, Virginia City. Boothill and the mustang.
Silver Terraces is a stark, dry cemetery on a patchy carpet of sagebrush and dotted with gnarled trees. It dates back to the mid-nineteenth century and houses the remains of miners, immigrants and pioneers. It is a place that evokes scenes of the old American West. As I strolled the cemetery I spotted a wild horse grazing next to an old tombstone. I’m not thrilled with the composition but it’s still classic Americana. IMG_2000-2

Saint Matthew’s Cemetery, Quebec City, Canada. The bistro and the graveyard.
Rue St. Jean is a festive, bustling street and a cemetery in the midst of all the gaiety is something of an incongruity made all the more apparent when I came across the view below. A solitary, centuries old gravestone sitting a few feet from al fresco diners at Le Veau d’Or. What could the spirit in that old mound have been thinking? Clearly the diners were oblivious to the irony. Shot in color with the gravesite edited in monochrome. IMG_1496

San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Stamen
I’ve always labored under the notion that most of the photo should be in sharp focus with a minimum of blur. After experimenting with a new macro lens and some flower photography I found that lots of blur isn’t a criminal offense and can highlight and carry the eye to the main subject. IMG_0285-2

A thorny subject.
Staying with the theme of using blur to draw the eye to a subject I shot some cactus thorns through a hole in one of the pads of a prickly pear cactus. The photo was color edited. hole in the cacctus

Classic car show, Rodeo, California. Reflections.
If there’s one thing that characterizes classic American cars it’s chrome, and plenty of it. Browsing these beauties I noticed the reflections in these shiny machines. The hub caps, bumpers and even the headlamp frames provided mirrors into the surrounding show.

Ford in a Ford

The front panel of a 49 Ford provides multiple reflections of it’s sister Ford.

MIRA Tower, San Francisco, California. Urban photography.
I’m not much of an urbanite or suburbanite for that matter. Give me a cabin near a trout stream with no internet and I’m content. That said, one of my favorite cities is nearby San Francisco which has lured me on numerous occasions to try my hand at urban and architectural photography. Most recently I shot the MIRA Tower a unique building near downtown. It gave me the opportunity to get a little wild with photo editing.

Twirling MIRA

No, this is not the actual appearance.

San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Color.
What’s more eye popping than vibrant colors in a photo? These exotic flowers were natural photo subjects for their unique appearance and bright colors. Botanical - 2 5x7

Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Dead trees and monochrome.
If color is eye popping, monochrome can enhance a mood. Monochrome best expresses the starkness of this stand of trees killed by the heated waters of a nearby geyser basin. Dead trees Cistern Spring Mono

Washington D.C. Dawn clouds over the Washington Monument.
I was out for a morning run through the mall in Washington D.C. when the clouds presented some unforgettable photos. For this shot I was standing at the opposite end of the reflecting pool and noticed what dawn’s light was presenting. I had to sprint to the other end before the opportunity was lost. Taken with my cell phone. Sunrise Wash Monument

A photo is a singular moment in a greater story.  There’s always a tale behind the images. They recall special times, events, people and places. The emotions birthed from an image can be universal, deeply personal, or both.  Even the most poorly shot photo can inspire, bring a laugh, break the ice, touch the soul, fetch a tear or break a heart. The photos below are ones that kiss my heart whenever I see them.

Virginia City, Nevada. A mustang moment.
My wife Cora and I were driving through the edge of the old mining town of Virginia City when we saw a band of wild horses by the side of the road. I asked her if she wanted to stop so that she could take some photos with her phone to post on Facebook. We got out and one small horse unexpectedly approached Cora. I don’t know what surprised me more, the horse’s approach or Cora not running for the car (she’s usually been timid around horses). The horse came right up to Cora and she stroked the horse’s muzzle. It was a brief bond that seemed to be fated. Technically it’s not a great photo and the composition could be much better but it’s one that touches me every time I see it. Cora and horse 2-2

Rose Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Nana
This photo, over 40 years old was one of my first real attempts at portrait photography taken with a Canon A1, with, yes, film. Her name was Nana and she was my first true love. We were both 26 years old and in love when she left suddenly. I’d not seen her since. While working on an unrelated post I learned by mere chance that she’d passed away six years ago. I was crushed. This photo takes me back and still hurts my heart. Photos can have that effect. Nana Rose 2 edit

My best friend. Almost every morning we go for a run and she leads out. Every now and then she turns her head and looks back as if to make sure I’m still there. what do you want


16 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #77: Favorite Photos of 2019

  1. Chris says:

    Oh, Paulie, these are all winners! Beauty all over the place.

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you so much Chris. A Happy New Year to you.

  2. Leya says:

    This is a wonderful, touching and beautiful gallery – excellent photos and a great idea to go for ” something in the image strikes me”. Well done. The feeling is there all the way. A favorite? Well, maybe your best friend, Lexi, – and the opening monochrome. Welcome to the challenges – wishing you all the best for the new year!

    1. Paulie says:

      Hi Leya. Thank you for your kind comments. I apologize for not having responded sooner. Your comment was originally directed to spam and I just this morning found it.
      Thank you again.

      1. Leya says:

        Paulie, those things happen to me quite often – Glad you found me!

  3. amoralegria says:

    These are marvelous photos, Paulie! I was blown away by the MIRA tower in SF until I read that this is not its actual appearance – too bad! More Gaudian than Gaudi!

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. Alas the photo in this post is not the actual appearance but you can see the actual and a few other renditions in a previous post.

  4. bushboy says:

    Great Gallery 🙂

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you for commenting and visiting. I apologize for the late reply. Unfortunately your comment was originally directed to spam. Just found it this morning.

      1. bushboy says:

        Not a problem 🙂

  5. Amy says:

    Beautiful, beautiful photos and stories to end 2019.
    Thank you for sharing with us, Paulie!

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you Amy. I think it’s been almost a year since I asked you how these photo challenges work. Took me a while to finally join.

      1. Amy says:

        Happy to see your photos and read your stories via LAPC, Paulie!

  6. endardoo says:

    Some lovely photos there

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you for visiting and thank you for the kind compliment.

Would love to hear from you

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