Sunday, July 30, 2006
Waimea Canyon in Color
On the heels of my prior post (Kauai in B&W), comes an unabashed about-face (at least regarding this particular photo!) and the "almost self-evident" observation that some pictures are destined to be captured and expressed in color.
As "proof by demonstration" (as a mathematician might say) I present the image above. This was captured at the Waimea Canyon lookout on Kauai. While I do have a B&W version of this photograph, I am unhappy with it, as it fails to convey what I really felt as I stood - mostly in awe - gazing into my viewfinder. As any honest photographer will tell you, if your image does not communicate at least something of your inner state/vision at the instant of capture, your image is, at best, a banal "postcard"; and, at worst, a failure (as an artistic expression). In these terms, I therefore confess that, to the best of my current ability to work in the digital darkroom, I simply cannot create a "successful" B&W print from any of my RAW images of Waimea Canyon!
The colors, in this case, cannot be ignored. They are Waimea Canyon! To try to collapse them onto a grey-scale tonal range (and desperately try to make up some of the lost aesthetic ground by selectively dodging and burning) seemed to me, in the end, to be carelessly blind to what I really want to convey about this magnificent spectacle. And to try to do this, haphazardly, without having first previsualized (ala Ansel Adams) what I wanted to do with the image before I pressed the shutter, was encroaching uncomfortably close to the land of "false" art. Indeed, I will further confess that Waimea Canyon is so spectacularly, and colorfully, beautiful that it is a rare instance of a scene where I did not (could not!) first previsualize it in B&W! While for most non-fine-art-B&W-photographers such a statement is either silly or meaningless, I can assure you that it is a very strong statement for a fine-art B&W photographer to make (and is never made lightly)! ;-)
Keep in mind that even the color version you see here - though I hope many viewers will enjoy it - also falls short of communicating the true spectrum of colors that the "real" view consists of. In posting to the web, I have converted the image's color space from Adobe RGB (my usual work space in Photoshop) into sRGB, which has a relatively muted palette; and in any event, I cannot account for different kinds of monitors and calibrations.
For the best view of what is truly one of nature's wonders, you must go to Kauai, rent a car, and drive the 50 or so miles from Lihue airport along Highway 50 west toward Waimea. Take Waimea Canyon Drive, which appears right after mile marker #23. The winding road weaves its way though the canyon area and will eventually deposit you at Pu'u o Kila Lookout. Enjoy the view!