View Full Version : Colorblind photographers??!!?

11-18-2006, 15:58
In the thread about the hideous (or not) Ralph Gibson MP, the subject of colorblindness has come up. As a colorblind photographer myself, I do have to wonder... How many of us are there? Do we tend to favor B+W? For those who work in color, how you manage it?
The poll is anonymous, for those who'd rather not reveal their identity. Yes, there is stigma and misunderstanding out there towards the colorblind.
Also, the poll allows multiple answers; the last three questions concern how your vision affects your choices- do you shoot color, and if so how do you deal with color correction?
I'm deuteranomalous, shoot mostly B+W, and survived color class by getting help from friends.

11-18-2006, 16:06
I mix up a few colors, blacks, browns, purple, blue and gray to name a few. Its not bad though.

It takes practice. I sucked at color printing in school, but as soon as I got to work with photoshop I started to pick up color correcting a lot more. I bet I could color print very well now, but I dont have the supplies for that anymore.

I like B/W but I'm just as comfortable shooting in color.


11-18-2006, 16:43
I've never worked with chemical color printing, but I struggle with it on screen. I just get help when I need it.
I took a certificate course in photography, and half of it was color. I got through it just fine, but something came to light during this- how much disagreement there was about color balance and naming among my color normal classmates.
I don't think I ever told my teacher or fellow students about myself; just compensated as best I could, asked for help at home, and otherwise winged it. I decided I'd "come clean" if it became necessary, but it never did.

11-18-2006, 16:44
Just to point out that very, very few people are colour BLIND, but colour deficiencies are more common. Many people say colour blind when they actually mean colour deficient....and there's a BIG difference!

11-18-2006, 17:01
I chose the "standard" term for the conditions in spite of its inaccuracy just because it's standard. Maybe this poll will help dispell some myths?
I was "discovered" by a very sharp and understanding 5th grade teacher. She suggested that my mother have my vision checked out. This was much, MUCH better than the well meaning sunday school ladies that thought I must be depressed or traumatized when I would color grass brown or people green....
And all that because other kids would remove the wrappers from the crayons! I remember wondering how a person was supposed to discern the green crayon from the brown one...

11-20-2006, 06:25
Colour perception is about the only thing not wrong with my eyesight (6+ dioptre myopia, astigmatism, "lazy" left eye), but I shoot all b&w anyway.

11-20-2006, 17:00
I did a few online tests after posting to be sure, and with a control, a workmate, I failed with flying colors.

11-20-2006, 17:57
I read a book years ago called "The Anthropologist From Mars" ... can't remember the name of the author! He deals with various neurological disorders and there were about six case histories in the book. One was about an artist who after suffering a very minor head blow in a car accident developed monochromatic vision ... totally! Scientists discovered however, in subsequent lab testing with him, that he could perceive light wavelengths that didn't even exist to normal colour perceptive individuals! From memory I don't think they ever worked out what had caused the change but were amazed to discover that he was able to indentify colours accurately by their light wavelengths.

He would have made a fine photographer ... and I suspect, should have been involved in the research and development of the M8. :angel:

11-20-2006, 19:35
I can honestly say this wasn't aimed at Leica...
Interesting story about the man losing his color perception after a head trauma. Wonder what made different colors seem different to him if they didn't "feel" like colors did before the accident?
Supposedly the U.S. military used to train the colorblind as snipers and machine gunners since they were better at distinguishing camouflage. Some scientists have suggested it may be an adaptation that would have made hunting easier.

11-20-2006, 22:47
Some scientists have suggested it may be an adaptation that would have made hunting easier.
Humans are amongst the relatively few mammals that have developed colour vision. Reason is that colour vision allows us to spot coloured fruit within a sea of green and assess whether it's ripe or rotten by merely looking at it, that is, whether it's worthwile risking breaking your neck climbing into a tree..

Colourblindness is not a trait that's gained, it's an ability lost..

11-28-2006, 19:56
My color vision is pretty bad. Red, Green, Blue and Yellow are at the mercy of my eyes ruining them....not sure why I bother shooting at all in color. At least I have a wife that doesn't mind helping out now and then.


11-29-2006, 16:54
I guess I am just lucky. I am VERY color sensitive. I used to print color, and I also worked doing color separations. After leaving the Navy MANY years ago I worked in a motion picture lab processing, proofing, and testing 35mm and 70mm color movie film. I can still look at my (calibrated)screen in photoshop and pretty much know the amount of each color I will need to color correct the pic.
But, I digress, I now only shoot B&W film, but I do a lot of digital color.

Gabriel M.A.
11-29-2006, 17:01
I see purple...

11-29-2006, 17:28
I call myself color deficient, but truthfully, without learned experience, I'm in BIG trouble. My clothes are labeled for odd colors (I think I'm down to one shirt labeled) and I'm big in beiges and light yellow or blue shirts.

Otherwise, the GF laughs. My mother has laughed. Friends have laughed. And I don't see it. My car, a Mazda, looks orange. Everyone says it's red.

I shoot color and balance things so that they look right. Then the GF comes along and helps. :-)

Almost no real sensitivity, unless it's big, bright, and not next to any other colors.

Doctor Zero
11-30-2006, 02:54
Keith Novak: the author of the book is Oliver Sacks. A neurologist by training, his books are an interesting mix of the purely physical ("body is a machine that can be fixed") and the more esoteric ("There's more 'twixt heaven and earth"). At least, that is how I read them. Very interesting.

The man who became colourblind was particularly interesting - if memory serves he didn't want to go back to "normal" (whatever that means, no offence meant etc.) since he had gained a new appreciation of the world around him. The lack of colour made him appreciate other things - and more than just the gradations. At least, that's how I remember the story.

Colour perception is a frequent discussion point where I work (our lunch discussions are rather infamous by now :cool: ). Is what we perceive as red, actually red? Ultimately it's just electromagnetic radiation, of a wavelength (~680 nm) our eyes can detect and our brains process into a colour. We can't see wavelengths longer than about 700 nm, but suppose we could. Would there be another red? Is colour like sound, then. An "A" in music is defined as 440 Hz, but that has changed in the course of history. After all, "A" is just a name (I grew up calling it "la"). If 440 Hz is A, then so is 880 Hz, 1760 Hz etc. - each doubling is an octave. Hence: if 650 nm light is red, what about 1300 nm or 2600 nm? We can't see them, but what if we could...

Incidentally, a friend of mine on a bored afternoon used this trick on the Cosmic Background Radiation. Take the wavelength of it and keep doubling it until you end up in the visible spectrum. It turns out that the universe is dark green!

Perhaps more interestingly - is my green as green as your green? Even if you have "normal" (save caveats as before) colour vision, how do I know that you think my green coat is as green as I think it is? Or: I take a picture and use a certain film to achieve a certain effect, say Velvia vs. Portra. But if you perceive colour different from me, is that even meaningful? And from that: how would you test this? It's a fun thought experiment and we've yet to decide whether there is an observer-independent way of doing this.

I'm rambling. This is how our lunchtime conversations go (except we don't always keep it this clean ;) :D ).

Doctor Zero

Edit: And this is all without considering perceiving colours individually or next to each other. The human eye is very sensitive in comparing two colours next to each other, but much less good if it's shown one first and then another. Lots of optical illusions are based on this.

11-30-2006, 03:57
I guess my color perception is OK, I can pass my FAA physical without a problem so far as the color test goes.
My Dad was very Red deficient. He could see green apples on a tree at five miles but had a hard time seeing red ones up close. He knew red was at the top of stoplights, but when we went to a city where they had horizontal stoplights he had to ask Mother.
He did a lot of color photography with slide film, so that wasn't a problem. His darkroom work was all B&W.
Oh yes, he had a lot of trouble with the FAA color exam, but somehow managed to squeek through for 30 years. :cool:

11-30-2006, 04:48
I have normal color vision. I shoot color or b/w depending on what I think I want out of the photo or what is available to me at the moment. If I don't have b/w I don't mind shooting color and converting. If I think the photo I want will be better in b/w and I have it, that is what I will do. I have no overall preference just based on what I think I want at the time.

Just for curiousity, Vietnamese and Koreans seem to think of blue and green interchangably much of the time. Yet they can distinguish between them (unless they are color deficient). Don't know why that is. The Vietnamese put a lot of stock in color. I remember a Vietnamese soldier telling how he had nothing but a yellow colored paper to send a letter home so he used it to write to his girlfriend. She took it as a insult and didn't correspond with him again. If I remember correctly, yellow is the color of jealousy to them. One learns.

03-13-2007, 10:06
I am colour deficient, but I am not sure which kind, but possibly low on red. However, I love colour in art, such as Van Gogh or J. Turner or the pastels of Klee. But as I have the deficiency, I have never even really tried to shoot colour at all. I "see" in B/W and I love it.

The other side of this, in spite of loving colour in paintings, I find much of it somewhat alien in photography, unless it is Autochromes or something that veers away from the normal.