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07-18-2013, 04:24 AM   #1
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A colorblind photographer?

I have always been interested in photography however I'm slightly colorblind and have a very difficult time seeing certain variations of colors including purple fringing, or if the pic has slight hues to them. I can mistake orange for red, and have other issues as well. I can stare at a pic all day long on a lens review for example, and the reviewer is pointing out how terrible the purple fringing is and I swear I can barely see anything if I see it at all. Just wondering if there are any others out there that have to deal with things like this and if you found some solution or software that helps in any way?

07-18-2013, 04:43 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I know a locally famous reportage photographer who is colour blind to some extent (I think in the area of reds). When he told the class we were all stunned. Beginners often think that to be a good photographer you need amazing eyes, but thats not quite true. So here are your options:
-Just take photos that look good to you, they will probably look just as good to people with different sight. You can also automate CA and fringing correction for modern lenses.
-Post process your photographs to make them monochrome, black and white, sepia,..

While colour is important in photography, things like the photo content, the focus, the composition and framing are also very important, probably much more than just colour.
07-18-2013, 04:57 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I was also going to suggest that making black and white/sepia/duotones your speciality could be quite rewarding. Good black and white photos are fabulous and powerful.

Hues on pictures can be a real pain even with full colour vision. Sometimes it can be seen that an image is not quite right, but pinning down how to correct it can be frustrating.
07-18-2013, 05:05 AM - 3 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by harleynitelite Quote
I can stare at a pic all day long on a lens review for example, and the reviewer is pointing out how terrible the purple fringing is and I swear I can barely see anything if I see it at all.

I think this is more to do with a lot of reviewers being excruciatingly anal and pedantic about even the most minor thing (I find there's a trend in lens price vs abberations supposedly seen)

Don't worry about that aspect, I'm fully sighted and have no colourblindness, and I can't see most of the stuff reviewers carry on about.

07-18-2013, 05:33 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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I have reasonably bad colour blindness (I have protanomaly and deuteranomaly - Color blindness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and it is occasionally a problem.

Firstly though, it's not all bad news, if you ask me! I have found that colour blindness enhances your ability to see tones as you are not be distracted by colours, so you may find black and white photography easier than most people. Also, you may find patterns and changes in texture pop out to your eyes more than others. This is difficult to quantify, but I suspect I see these things more readily than my non-colourblind photographer friends.

However, I would not restrict myself to black and white and neither should you (unless that's what you want to do).

Software can be very helpful. For fringing I use Lightroom to correct aberrations automatically (it has profiles for most modern lenses), and often I can't see any difference, though I'm assured there is! So for everyone else's viewing pleasure I make the corrections.

As an aside, even for black and white, you often CAN see the colour fringes if after you convert to black and white you start changing the lightness of the colour channels. For some lenses/conditions it's more of a problem than others.

When I take photographs I use RAW and set a white balance preset according to the conditions (ie if it's cloudy I set white balance to cloudy!) and never manually set colour temperature - though I have learned the colour temperatures of various conditions so I could estimate it I required it.

In Lightroom or Photoshop I sometimes click on an area in the shot I know is white and have the program set the white balance using that. For critical work, I will ask someone to help me identify the correct white balance or check I have it right (no shame in that!)

As for things like saturation and vibrance, it's not as if there is a 'perfect' setting - different people would dial in different amounts, Personally, I will shoot quite flat RAW then play in lightroom to make it look good to my eye. Whether it looks good to others is a matter of their personal preference, though I do err on the side of caution and don't super-saturate most pictures.

I also do video work on DSLRs, and again I use presets as post-processing gives less control than for RAW photographs. Some cameras allow custom profiles to be saved using a white or grey card, so I will often use those. Usually I'll quickly confirm the white balance with another person though, particularly in mixed or unusual lighting. Because I use presets I'm probably right 90% of the time.

I suppose colour blindness is an obstacle that other photographers don't have, but it doesn't really bother me. I've always been colour blind so it's not as if it's a sudden burden. I just like taking photographs and making videos, and most problems can be solved with a little forethought or software! Don't let it get in the way and just enjoy taking photographs that look good to you.

Good luck with your own photography.

Last edited by metaphiston; 07-18-2013 at 06:04 AM. Reason: Spelling
07-18-2013, 05:54 AM   #6
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This is a great topic! I am also color blind and have a problem with blue and purple (as well as red and green if they are close together). One time i sent out a pic of a gorilla to some of my frineds that i was pretty proud of, and they said "what an interesting purple gorilla", needless to say i was a little embarrassed.
My WhiBal card is absolutely invaluable to me.
07-18-2013, 09:09 AM   #7
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I would suggest using a good friend who is not colour blind to look at some of your photos. Make sure some of them have high contrast edges (branches against a sky would be good) and ask the friend to point out any purple fringing, green fringing or red fringing to you. If you have only purple fringing, all I do is reduce the purple saturation to zero in Lightroom. This reduces it enough that it doesn't show, and doesn't seem to bother the overall image enough to be noticeable.

If you use one of the advanced photo editors (Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop/Elements, GIMP, faststone, etc.) you should be able to memorize the fixes and apply them without the help of your friend once you have identified the problems.

Good luck, and if you really must, go for monotone. One of my all time favourite framed shots on the wall is black and white. It is irreplaceable, and was my very first contest place image. It is irreplaceable because HMS Bounty replica was lost in a hurricane this year, and placed second in MGM's photo contest when she visited Vancouver, BC on her world tour advertising the movie.

Pentax (original, no letters, 1/50 shutter sequence), Takumar 135/3.5 preset, #2 orange filter on Tri-X.
07-18-2013, 11:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
I would suggest using a good friend who is not colour blind to look at some of your photos.
It seems you’re (OP) in the “Blue-Yellow” colorblind category. I’m in the “Red-Green”, though not as bad as some of my relatives. I can distinguish purple fringing but the issue I encounter the most is white balance, where I tend to lean on warmer tones. I usually get it right but on occasion I ask my best friend (wife) for color accuracy.

-Thought I'd sahre this story -
A few years back two of my colorblind relatives went along with my sister-in-law to buy her new refrigerator. When they got home and waited for delivery, one relative commented on how nice the new “brown” refrigerator would look in the kitchen. Second relative commented on “not brown, green!” They argued brown/green back and forth. When the fridge eventually came – it was beige!

07-18-2013, 12:13 PM   #9
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My younger son has congenital nystagmus. This basically means that in 'camera terms' the in-body lens stabilization people are born with is on the fritz for him. Life to him is a steady unfocused shake. I still intend to see if he'll want to get into photography some day, and I'm sure he'll do well (if he takes to it) despite the rather serious blow life's thrown at him as far as his vision is concerned.
07-23-2013, 01:55 PM   #10
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I remember reading something somewhere concerning WWII and various classified techniques utilized to help the allies win the war. This included the use of American native indians for communication that didn't need to be encrypted or whatever as their ancient language was unknown by the Japanese, and only a select few indians in the U.S. could still speak it fluently. No matter how hard they tried, the Japanese couldn't figure it out. Another technique was also to have a colorblind soldier on board a bomber as somehow they figured out this soldier had little difficulty in being able to see right through camoflauge and spot various large weapons where anyone else couldnt see it. I found that facinating and began to wonder if the world would seem much different if I wasn't colorblind. Matter of fact, I recall starting elementary school and having to read the color on the side of a crayon before using it on assignment where a picture would be divided up in certain sections and were numbered according to what color was supposed to be used for that section. For me though of course that was normal and I didnt know any different. Hell, I didn't even know it until around 8th grade when I was given one of those standard school ocular assessments they did waaaay back then,
07-23-2013, 08:57 PM   #11
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You color perception is only a problem if you allow it to be one. Estimates vary that between 8 & 12 percent, depending on the source/study, of the human male population experiences difficulties with color perception.

While you may not be able to physically perceive (some) colors as well as other people, you absolutely can train yourself to see and correct your photos as well as people with full color perception. You just have to be more attentive, sometimes a lot more attentive.

Some things that help:
  • Start by trusting your own eyes. It doesn't matter that you don't see the world the same way other people do. If your photos look, to you, the same way that their subject looked, to you, when you photographed it - there's a really good chance the photo will look "right" to everybody else.
  • Buy and use a colorimeter for your monitors. One thing that is absolutely vital for those of us with color perception challenges is that we painstakingly calibrate our monitors. You/we need colors presented as accurately as possible.
  • Learn the math behind color correction. Good tutorial here: Correcting Skin Color: CMYK Tone Values & Nationality (Ethnic) Variations | Measuring and Correct Skin Color
07-25-2013, 09:47 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I am also moderately color-blind (in the Red-Green area), and have difficulty with color correction. However, I've learned to deal with it as Venturi points out, but I add one more point: Make use of your nearest, honest female! My wife, daughters, and granddaughters have excellent color vision and know their colors really well, so I ask them if the work I did results in natural-looking colors. I get it right about 95% of the time now. Many years ago when I first began computer-based color corrections, I was lucky to get it right 50% of the time. As was previously mentioned, I do tend to gravitate to B&W, and if I have trouble with color correcting an image I'll just convert to B&W. Topaz B&W Effects has been a big help lately in that area.

Something I learned along the way is that sometimes I have trouble with color correction and balance because of difficult lighting, e.g., mixed lighting with tungsten and sunlight coming in a window. B&W conversion is the fix for those!

Just jump in and start doing it - you WILL enjoy it!


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