The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

This week John, of Journeys with Johnbo, leads the Lens Artists Photo Challenge with his topic, The Road Most Often Taken. John is speaking metaphorically. He writes, “I want you to think of your favorite type or style of photography as the road you’ve chosen to take most often.”

Quite honestly I’ve been all over the photographic map. Landscape used to be my go to. And then I visited the S.F. Botanical Garden and got hooked on plants (photographically speaking). Then it was urban photography and architecture. Or was it oceanscapes? Then I got buried in cemeteries. My road has more forks than my kitchen drawer.

My current passion is monochrome. Now, whenever I go out and shoot, I do so in color. But I also stop to consider what a shot might look like in black and white or sepia. I might compose a shot a bit differently if I think there’s promise in editing in monochrome. Cemeteries, old buildings, people and relics? I almost always shoot with monochrome in mind.

Places and things left to the whims of time fascinate me. When I’m traveling, I’m always looking out for an old barn, a building in some stage of dilapidation. I’m drawn to the detritus of the ages.

During a road trip in the autumn of 2021, I left Hannibal, Missouri, headed for Springfield, Illinois. I stopped for breakfast in Louisiana, Missouri, on the bank of the Mississippi River. Near the riverbank are the remains of an old ice house. Built in 1924, it burned down eight months before I passed thru town.

Louisiana, Missouri

Just outside of Virginia City, Nevada (those old enough to remember the old western, Bonanza, will remember Virginia City, and old Sheriff Roy Coffee) are the remains of an old wagon.

Virginia City NV

Last fall, my wife and I traveled to Bodie, California, a ghost town in the true sense of the term. I posted about Bodie recently. Below are a saloon (on the left) and a barber shop (note the barber pole design on the far right).

Saloon and barbershop

I’ve always considered landscapes to be best viewed in vivid colors. Recently I started going through some archives and played with some monochrome editing. Some worked and others not so much. Below are two that I figured were keepers.

Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park


Lake Tahoe

Almost every portrait or people shot that I take gets edited into black and white.

Street musician, Market Street San Francisco

Portrait includes four legged creatures. The Mudi Dog below has appeared in this space before.

Mudi Dog

Most of my urban photos were shot in San Francisco.

The photo below was taken in Montreal.

And then there’s just random stuff.

Seen in Ritzville, Washington

To travel down the roads of other lens artists visit John’s page.

27 thoughts on “Monthly Monochrome: The Road Most Often Taken (Len-Artists Challenge)

  1. Ana says:

    Wonderful images!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Ana.

  2. Toonsarah says:

    Your monochrome images are always so effective, it’s very apparent you ‘see’ that way when taking the shot. I especially like your ‘dereliction’ themed photos – you have a great eye for composing them in a way that makes the old and rejected seem beautiful 🙂

    1. Paul says:

      “I especially like your ‘dereliction’ themed photos…” Maybe that’s because I’m something of a derelict myself 🤣🤣
      Thank you for reading and commenting, Sarah.

      1. Toonsarah says:


  3. I am a big fan of black-and-white, and I can see you have an eye for creating a monochrome image. Beautiful work. Your portrait of the gentleman with the microphone is my favorite. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you John.
      I enjoy taking photos of people. I always try to ask first. That said, I figure street musicians are fair game (though I always leave a tip in the tip jar).

  4. I love these shots, Paul! And yes, I do remember Bonanza quite vividly. 🙂 One of the beauties of the American landscape is the vast empytness in wich decaying structures very slowly crumble into dust. Like in Bodie, indeed. The portrait is a beautiful photograph as well!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you as always Peter.
      Here’s a fun Bonanza fact. In the show, the Cartwrights often rode to Virginia City to pick up supplies or do some banking or visit the saloon (they never went to the Virginia City bordellos because, well, they were the Cartwrights and also you couldn’t have bordellos in a 1960’s TV show). The fact is that according to the map, the Ponderosa was more than a short ride away. Would have taken them the better part of a day just to get to town.

  5. Jane Fritz says:

    Brilliant photography as usual, Paul. And I love your way with words, for example, “My road has more forks than my kitchen drawer.”

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Jane.

  6. PR says:

    Lovely shots Paul. It’s wonderful that you can visualize before you shoot. I don’t have that skill yet where I can imagine how a shot would look like after post processing. I shoot what I see and like although sometimes I don’t manage to make my camera capture what my eyes find fascinating in a scene 😂.
    Burnt Ice House – feels contradictory, unless you pause to think there was no ice there!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you so much.
      “It’s wonderful that you can visualize before you shoot.” I have two response to that. Before I take a picture that I would like to process in B&W, I want to make sure that there is a fair amount of contrast. The other is that I’ve made enough mistakes to know that people, wires, cars or any other unwanted elements can ruin a shot. So I visualize what I can crop out or what I can eliminate with a healing brush.
      “I shoot what I see and like although sometimes I don’t manage to make my camera capture what my eyes find fascinating in a scene.” That is disappointing isn’t it. There have been more times than I can count when I think that I’ve got the perfect image and then I bring it up on my computer only to be disappointed. There have also been times when I’ve returned to an image that didn’t inspire me, maybe years later, and after playing with it a bit, I find some redemption. You have the right philosophy though. Better to take the shot of a scene that inspires you than walk away from it. Thanks to digital photography there’s no financial cost.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

      1. PR says:

        Thanks for explaining your thought process while capturing a shot. I’ll try to remember the hints the next time I am taking a picture 😀

  7. mistermuse says:


    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Mr. M

  8. Tina Schell says:

    Wonderful monochromes Paul, I loved all of the older subjects especially the first two. You’ve captured the many shades of monochrome perfectly and to great effect.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Tina.

  9. JohnRH says:

    Wow. Great great monochromes. Excellent.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you John

  10. stacey says:

    Again. Beautiful pics. I love them.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Stacey.

  11. Wind Kisses says:

    Outstanding gallery regardless of the theme. But you nailed it. I love your words, “My road has more forks than my kitchen drawer.” Funny. Anyhow, I love that you keep in mind that a photo will be monochrome. The crispness and expression in your photos is stunning. I especially love the old wagon. Very nice.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you so much Donna.

      1. Wind Kisses says:

        You are welcome

  12. Neat and interesting photos in black and white. There is something special about them for me. Maybe its my age. Ha, ha. Cheers, Muriel

    1. Paul says:

      “Maybe its my age.” I don’t think so Muriel. Monochrome has made a comeback. It’s the new/old greatest thing. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Would love to hear from you

%d bloggers like this: