Wayne Levin’s Akule
You could say that the Hawaii-based photographer has a school of black-and-white imagery, in this portfolio that features clusters of big-eyed scad.
Wayne Levin’s view of Hawaii goes beneath the water’s surface. Particularly off the Big Island’s Kona Coast.
The photographer and world traveller has for more than 20 years studied the ocean and rendered it in black-and-white imagery of a compellingly artistic kind. In more recent years, however, he has zoomed in on schooling fish–particularly, akule, or big-eyed scad (Selar crumenophthalmus).
Usually in Kealakekua Bay and sometimes in Keauhou Bay, he finds unusual clusters of akule that can number into the thousands of fish. “Viewed as a whole, the school appears to be living sculpture,” Levin says. At Kealakekua Bay, he free-dives with a Nikonos 5 film camera and polarising glasses that let him spot schools as much as 30 feet below the surface. At Keauhou Bay, where there’s busier boat traffic, Levin will scuba. “When free-diving with akule, I would often dive down facing away from the school, then very slowly turn toward them,” Levin says. From there, he slowly and smoothly plots his shots. With scuba, he says, there’s even more time to capture what he thinks would make the best photographs. “Sometimes I would swim into the school, which would open up for me like a tunnel.”
There are benefits to using black-and-white to capture the underwater world, Levin says. This includes being able to shoot larger subjects such as fish schools from farther away, using contrast control that can sometimes render an image’s abstract quality.
His upcoming book, titled Akule, is scheduled to be published this summer, and his award-winning work has appeared in exhibitions and collections worldwide.