As I spend more and more time experimenting with Black and White photography, I find myself enjoying it more than I'd ever expected. Color is a very powerful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility. Many, if not most (myself included), photographers jump right into color photography without learning the basics of composition. I've always wondered why, whenever I would walk through the art building on campus, all of the photographs submitted by students were in black and white. I now realize that shooting in black and white really forces the photographer to focus on the basics. Color in photography can be used as a cover-up to help excuse boring images. It distracts the viewer from the lack of intention in the composition of an image. In black and white photography, everything must be intentional, even shadows.
The above image was shot at Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii during the blue hour (as the sun rose). This time of day is bursting with vibrant color, and most photographers would find it silly to shoot in black and white. I chose to take this time to focus on simplicity.
I shot this image with the intent to process it in black and white. I wanted to capture the man walking on the rock as a silhouette. I was hoping that the other rocks trailing off towards the right would be enough to balance this image. I was wrong. My other intention was to capture a cool wave (since they were very large that day - maybe ten to twelve feet). I realized in post-production that the wave was too distracting and the image was lacking balance.
Luckily, I took enough pictures to have some backups (Rule 1: Always take more pictures than you think you'll need. You never know when they'll come in handy). After some experimentation, I decided to remove the wave and cover it with the ocean from another image. I chose the water from the calmest image I could find. They were shot from slightly different perspectives, but water is pretty easy to blend. Watch below to see how I blended them together.
The final step I took was to create an artificial moon to help balance the image. On the left of this image, there is a silhouette of a man which captures the viewer's eye immediately. This also adds a lot of weight to the right side of the image, which could be detrimental if not properly balanced. The silhouette is also one of the darkest points in the image. Placing a moon on the right side of the image creates a perfect balance by being small (like the silhouette) as well as the brightest point on the image (a direct balance of the darkest point on the image).
Please watch the video below to see me create this image from scratch.