Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Kauai in B&W

The island of Kauai (in Hawaii) is arguably one of the most beautiful islands on earth. Words alone certainly cannot do justice to the extraordinary beauty that awaits the lucky visitor; images, even superb ones, also invariably fall far short of communicating the experience of seeing, feeling, breathing, hearing, tasting and simply being with Kauai, as its sweet gentle rhythms slowly embrace your mind and soul and lift you into truly another dimension of light and form.

Why B&W? Kauai (indeed, all of Hawaii!) is nothing if not fantasmagorically colorful!?! So why present images of Earth's natural gift that are devoid of color? My answer is that, as a fine-art photographer, my eye/I responds most strongly to light and form (followed by texture); color, while undeniably enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing, more often than not (at least for me!) diverts my attention away from the core beauty of a composition. Ironically, Hawaii is so intensely colorful that when color is present in a photograph, it is hard (sometimes impossible) for me to visually penetrate the deeper layers of a scene (and it is precisely those deeper layers that drive much of the "art" in my photography). When there are too many blues and greens and reds, I am effectively blinded! (On the other hand, if I am to be completely honest, my propensity for B&W may stem simply from an inability - thus far - to faithfully render the color I remember "seeing" with my camera on my computer and by my printer. Perhaps in time I will learn to do this to my satisfaction and actually start enjoying natures joyous colors!)

In the meantime, here are a few images from Kauai (and only a few, as it will likely take me six months or more to finish processing even the first drafts of all the images I captured on our Hawaii trip!). The image at the top is taken from the first of two Kalalau Valley lookouts that reward the patient driver who has managed to make it to the end of Waimea Canyon Drive on the western end of Kauai, as are the first and fourth images that follow. The others are assorted images from the northern coast (horse scene and water) and a view along Waimea Canyon Drive itself (last image below).


David said...

New postings! How wonderful. I will have to come back, when I have a few more minutes, to read through your thoughts and admire the photos.

A.V. Michaels said...

What GORGEOUS shots! Thanks for posting and sharing these, you truly are talented, both as a photographer and a writer.

Zen said...

I just came upon your site, via Japan blogs. A new place to expplore. Wonderful pictures. I love B/W shots.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the second one from the top. It reminds me of certain Chinese landscape paintings, like this one.

I have been thinking about the issue of color in photography for sometime, but couldn't reach a conclusion yet. In one hand, I regard B&W as a historical accident in the development of this medium. It took a while to develop emulsions sensitive enough to reproduce color and not fade away, in the meantime conventional B&W established itself as the 'true' way of doing photography, especially in the fine-art sense. If it were to be feasible, I doubt that we would have such a thing called B&W today. Artists like William Eggleston and Stephen Shore had to fight against B&W purists in the 70s to establish color as a legitimate way of going about taking pictures.

Unless you suffer from a certain type of color blindness, you don't see world in monochrome, so color seems the way to go for a more 'natural' expression. But interestingly, in our visual perception, color information is usually redundant. We can recognize objects easily by changes in luminosity values, without any need for color.

So my temporary conclusion is that this is a matter of taste. Color is a useful addition to one's palette, but most of the time photographers probably don't need it.