The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

“Black and white is mix of toughest simplicity and easiest complexity.” ~ Vikrmn, Corpkshetra

I’m a late arrival to this party, the black and white photo challenge, hosted by Anne Sandler. Better late than never?

“There are some locations I go to and they scream black and white to me because of the ambiance. For me, great black and white images fall into two categories: very dramatic with stormy skies and bold compositions and at the other end of the spectrum a calm and minimalist composition.” ~ Helen Rushton

Who could disagree with Ms. Rushton that some locations scream black and white?

Graveyards for instance? Not cemeteries – graveyards. There’s a difference.

The image below was shot on a sunny afternoon. It was washed out, bland. Editing to black and white the photo is suddenly transformed into a spooky moonlit, nighttime scene.

Silver Terrace Cemetery, Virginia City, Nevada

Silver Terrace Cemetery, Virginia City, Nevada

Silver Terrace Cemetery, Virginia City, Nevada

I almost always shoot in color in raw format, allowing me to edit a photo to black and white if I want to create a particular mood.

In color, the photo below of the old C&H Sugar refinery in Crockett, California is just a color photo of a sugar refinery. It did nothing for me until I dabbled in black and white and came up with an image that has a mysterious, gothic aspect.

Walking around the old town of Cuervo, New Mexico, for all intents and purposes a ghost town, you can get the feeling that spirits inhabit some of the old abandoned buildings.

“Black and white photography erases time from the equation.” ~ Jason Peterson

Maybe, but I’d like to think that black and white adds time to the equation. Old things and places don’t quite look so old in bright colors.

Goffs, California

Train car, Nevada City, Montana

Cool Springs, Nevada

The remains of a fishing boat.

Black and white puts the ghost into ghost signs.

Cuervo, New Mexico.

Virginia City, Nevada

If a tree isn’t in full bloom or leafy glory, leave it to black and white to bring out it’s character.

Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP

Silver Terrace Cemetery, Virginia City, Nevada

Below, trees that fell victim to California wildfires.

Banner photo: A lonely section of Route 66 in the Mojave Desert.

16 thoughts on “Black and White: Simple and Complex

  1. Anne Sandler says:

    Wow. Amazing black and white images. Now I have to go to the Sacramento Historical City Cemetry to see how it would look processed in black and white. Your sinking boat wouldn’t tell the same story in color, and the C & H Sugar factory is simply great in B & W. I’m going to have to re-edit one of my photos! I’m so glad you posted rather than missing it. Thanks for participating!

    1. Paulie says:

      Hello Anne,
      Thank you for the kind words.
      I may have to pay a visit to the Sacramento Cemetery.
      When I first saw all of those photos in color they did absolutely nothing for me. The very first photo of the cemetery was taken in the middle of the afternoon. When I first saw it, in the raw color version, it was disappointing. It’s a favorite of mine in B&W.
      You seem to be relatively local. I’ll have to explore your site a bit more.
      Thank you again

  2. Some things do scream for black and white, and you hear those screams very clearly. Wonderful set.

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you.
      In color nearly all of these photos lack character, in particular the first cemetery shot.

  3. Very nice Paulie! I’m a lover of B&W myself and I find you made wonderful pictures.

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you Peter. All of those photos were enhanced when I edited them from the color.


  4. eden baylee says:

    Hi Paul,

    You should enter that final shot in a contest. It truly captures the silent aftermath of devastation – fucking sobering and heartbreaking.

    Great pix.


    1. Paulie says:

      Hi Eden,
      I don’t know about a contest but I will probably print it.

  5. Toonsarah says:

    Excellent shots! I love your ghost town images in particular (as you already know) and that top photo of Rte 66 makes me want to get in a car and drive it right now!!

    1. Paulie says:

      Hi Sara,
      The interesting thing about that Route 66 photo is that when I put it on Facebook it got more “likes” than some photos of waterfalls and mountain ranges.
      In color, that photo is flat and bland. In black and white it seems to tell the story of time and the loneliness of that forgotten stretch of road.

  6. gifted50 says:

    Wonderful photography, you see a different kind of beauty.

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you so much.
      I do see beauty in those things that are worn down by time and by nature. They have a special character about them that the new and shiny have yet to acquire.


  7. These are great shots Paulie! I’m playing around with black and white more in Lightroom. It can really change the tone, and bring out the photo in new ways. My favorite here is probably that second one from the top, of the cemetery. Nice!

    1. Paulie says:

      Hi Lisa.
      Thank you so much. At first, I didn’t think much of the photo that you mention. It was one of those deals in which the photo grew on me after taking a second and third look.
      I’ve been lazy with LR and PS. I have the tutorials but I’m not wanting to take the time to learn all that they have to offer.
      Thank you again for visiting.

  8. Your tree photos reminded me: I’m no photographer, but I like to take pics of naked trees. Usually their bark is gone and the innate beauty of their form is all that remains. Live oaks, pecans, and longleaf pines are the most graceful and photogenic.

    1. Paulie says:

      I can’t argue with you about the appeal of bare trees. For me things that look worn by age and nature have a unique character that makes me want to photograph them. Things that are new and shiny quickly lose their appeal. Maybe that’s because I’m no longer new and shiny.

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