Dramatic Black and White Photos of Surfers in Oahu, Hawaii

surfer in hawaii

Oahu along with the other Hawaiian Islands is one of the surfing capitals of the world. The island is also home to some of the best and most famous surfing locations. The North shore, for example is packed with many familiar names to surf enthusiasts, such as  Sunset and Waimea Bay , Pipeline and Backdoor, Log Cabins, and Off the Wall. The world’s finest surfers also converge on Oahu when the huge winter swells come in. The south side of the island is also a surfer’s paradise with many world class breaks. One of the negatives that arise from these wonderful surfing spots, however, is often overcrowding of Oahu. Photographer Toby Harriman recently took a 10-day trip to the favorite surf island in Hawaii and managed to try his hand at surf photography. The San Francisco-based Harriman got hooked immediately on the subject.

surfing in hawaii

“I have a ton of surf photos from Hawaii and I am trying to figure out what to do with them all! I think I might put together a black & white series with some of them, try something a little different. I am so glad I picked up a 2x extender for my 70-200mm, making it 400mm,” says an enthusiastic Harriman of his brief experience shooting the surf of Oahu.

surfer in oahu

Shortly after renting a water housing and the 2x extenders for his camera, he chose to remain on shore and try his luck at shooting the surfers riding the marvelous waves. He shares how he processed these images,

I shot hundreds, if not thousands of surf photos. For a while I had no idea what to do with them all. As I scrolled though them, they looked cool, but not something that really clicked for me, didn’t make the cut. A few days is all it took, I don’t remember where the inspiration came from, maybe some of my previous photo series. So I found one I had marked and decided to process it with my favorite black and white software, Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software. I got the basic black and white version I wanted. Then I decided to take it to the same style as my architecture series, Man – Made. Which is a lot of Lightroom brushes to darker and lighten area of intrest to me. With Lightroom 5 new Radial Filter this made things a lot easier.

Hinting that he will be back, he calls this initial work Chapter 1 of his Modern Surf series.

hawaiian surfer

Inspite of not being a surfer himself, Harriman was captivated with the sport as well as with the images he had seen other photographers shoot. As a Colorado native, Harriman speaks of how the shoreline is such a different experience. “I am used to skiing and being on top of snow. The ocean is a whole different animal with zero control over its power and intensity. As I like to describe it; It’s like being in little, 10 to 30 second avalanches. Not only that, the swells we had while I was there were pretty big.”


hawaii surfer oahu

You can view prints from this awesome Chapter 1 of his Modern Surf series over on his online store.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.