A Study of Kauai in Black and White

When you conjure an image of Hawaii in your mind, what do you think of? Turquoise oceans, green jungles, lava flowing from volcanoes? Those images are what I used to picture when thinking of Hawaii, and for the most part still do. However, now that I have visited the beautiful island of Kauai (yay!) my memories and the photos I took inform a large part of what I visualize.

When I initially began looking through the photos from that trip, nothing much stood out to me. There were a few photos that I loved, and of course some great photos of my family, but I was left wishing that I could have gotten more out of the trip, photography wise. Many months later I decided to have another look through the Kauai file and was pleasantly surprised. I discovered some photos that I barely gave any credence to originally because I didn't think there was much to them.

I did this by changing how I perceived the photos and Kauai itself. Originally I was very concerned with preserving and enhancing the natural richness of colors. Because that is Hawaii, right? You don't see Hawaii without a white sand beach and blue ocean waters. However, doing away with that notion helped me find new beauty in Kauai's landscapes. Instead of solely focusing on the color, I changed the images to B&W to highly other aspects of the composition. It brought a new richness and life to the photos that helped me to appreciated these landscapes in a new way. These B&W images tell a different story than their colorized versions.

There are definitely a few photos where I struggled with doing away with the color, but in the end I wanted to test how we can view images differently.

I have always been a fan of high contrast images, and B&W emphasized that so beautifully. I think it hails to when I was first studying photography in high school and using an analog camera to study the basics. My practice is definitely informed by those early studies.

When I first viewed the two images above I liked them, but visually thought they were kind of boring. B&W breathes something new into them, tells something different than if they were colorized.

In the end, I love using B&W because it emphasizes different aspects of the photo than if it were in color. Form and contrast become important in distinct ways. Changing these photos to B&W breathed something new into them for me, and I am enjoying it immensely.


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