Life in black & white – Hawaii (big island)

Back in the days of waning days of film photography, I was always frustrated when I would see a shot that I thought would be magnificent in black & white (b/w), but I knew my camera contained film for colour photographs.

I hardly wanted to ream off a dozen or more photos just to empty the camera so that I could change for one or two frames of b/w photos…and that assumed I could find anyone who even sold b/w film.

Ah, bless the advent of digital photography and photo manipulation software. While I appreciate that it is not the same, I can now take a colour photograph and make it b/w with a simple click of a button. At the same time, I realize I still have a lot to learn about special considerations for b/w photography, e.g., appropriate light balance.

A friend of mine once told me, if you have a nice photo that just doesn’t pop, try converting it to b/w and see what happens. Wow.

A year ago, I put that principle to work while traveling through the island of Hawaii.

Sometimes the object you’re photographing is already black and white, so making it b/w may seem redundant, but I found it softens things and adds depth to the image, in this case, a blow hole in the lava rock (Kailua-Kona).


B/w is also great when you want to focus the eye on the emotion of the image rather than have it distracted by the surroundings. I loved the expression on the dog’s face. The most active I’d seen him all week. (Kailua-Kona)


Same scenario here. I think the b/w helps simplify this image, allows me to focus on the key elements: the man serenading the Pacific Ocean, the white cross of commemoration, the crashing waves dancing to the song. (Kailua-Kona)


I think b/w can also impart a sense of history to an old building that otherwise would simply look derelict. The rust and decay are still there, but become a patina rather than a sign of decay. (Hilo)


The treatment can also add a bit of emotion to an otherwise ordinary image. Whereas I took a photo of a woman standing bored while her husband and son fish, the image becomes that of a woman from any era, possibly considering the plight of her family. (Kailua-Kona)


Cannery Row was the first thought that popped into my head as I walked by the back of this building, but in colour, that thought couldn’t be realized. (Hilo)


I call this image “Porcelain”. I was on the fence as to how best to treat this image. In colour, the flower is a gorgeous cream, but the flaws in the petals told me I had to make it b/w. I should really show the colour and b/w side-by-side here. (Kona coffee plantation)


Damned smartphone! To me, that is the only flaw in what I wanted for this photo. An aging warrior rests in a pool surrounded by lava stone, weary of life (and checking his ruddy email). (Kailua-Kona)


One of my favourite images from this trip. To me, it looks like the little tree is getting reamed out by the big tree, a la “What the hell were you thinking?” In colour, this image is meh. In b/w, it speaks volumes to me. (Mauna Kea)


7 thoughts on “Life in black & white – Hawaii (big island)

  1. OMG… you really nailed it with the big tree bawling out the little tree. That thought would NEVER occur to me – but now, it seems like the image can’t be anything else and is so obvious… I’m feeling really bad for little tree. 😦

  2. Nice photos! I love black and white photography. Almost everything I shoot ends up in B&W. In some ways it is a matter of taste, but I think these images could benefit from increased contrast. To me they look gray, without much white or dark blacks. Of course when you adjust contrast you may also need to manipulate exposure and/or brightness. Not sure what program you use to edit your images but even the most basic have these controls. Maybe give it a try and see what you think! I hope I don’t sound critical, just trying to be helpful.

  3. Hello again. Great blog, by the way. I am new to wordpress as well. Its looks like you are off to a great start. Regarding my previous post, I’m certainly no authority on photography but have been at it several years and have taken a few classes along the way.

    Also, something If failed to mention in my previous comment: I think it’s really fantastic that you are in the process of creating your own short film. I remember reading that elsewhere on your blog. How is that coming along? What is the basic premise of the film (if you don’t mind sharing)? Feel good about yourself because you have already made significant progress; you are finished with the writing! That is the most important part, in my opinion.

    I really admire your ambition. You mentioned concern over financing. Luckily with digital technology it is much cheaper than it would be using film. But one possibility to consider is turning to Kickstarter. I have a friend who makes conceptual/art films and she raises funds using the site sometimes. You may have heard of the site already. Kickstarter facilitates crowd-sourcing where the general public can learn about your project and then decide to invest/donate money for to help you complete your project safely and securely. This was just an idea I had in passing.

    I also recall you mentioning that you’ve written several screen plays. I am really passionate about film and for the longest time have been interested attempting some screen plays of my own. I’ve done a lot of fiction writing but nothing for stage or screen. Do you have any suggestions for good instructional resources? Resources that instruct on how to write for film? Or any resources about structuring/creating stories in general?

    Wow, I apologize for getting so long winded here in a past. You will have to keep us posted on your various projects. Best of luck with everything!

    • Wow…a lot here and all of it amazingly enthusiastic, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

      As to photography advice, I am all over ideas from everywhere…while I am happy with my creative efforts generally, there is no ego and I want to learn more.

      As for favourite resources on screenwriting, I can make that a blog this weekend. My best advice though is scour the internet for copies of screenplays (avoid transcripts, which have no formating) and if you can, take a class just to learn the fundamentals of story structure. As you’ve written stories before, you’re already ahead of the game.

      Kickstarter et al., already thinking of it!

      As for the plot of the short film, it’s a comedy that starts with a guy taking a heavy hit to the head. As he goes about his life afterward, he starts to see odd things that freak him out. Slowly, these visions become more frequent and interfere with his life until… (you’ll have to wait for the movie).

      More soon and again, thanks for your enthusiasm…Randy

  4. Thanks for your willingness to post a blog about those screen writing resources. I will definitely look foward to that. Your suggestions about getting copies of (actual) screenplays is a really good idea. Simply reading those will help me get a sense of the process. I have seen copies of these online and will order a few. Thanks for the advice. And good luck with your film project. Sounds interesting and I will look forward to being able to see it somehow.

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