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Seeing The World Through Colour Blind Eyes

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I look at life differently than most. Colour blindness is not my curse, but an added ability to look through the viewfinder with fresh eyes. It’s not been a hinderance so much, but rather something that I’ve had to learn to live with – and I’m sure that’s the same case for my identical twin.

When I started out printing photos in a film lab I didn’t have to worry too much. I used to look at rolls of 37 or 25 negatives and know exactly whether to add or take away magenta or cyan based on the reverse scene that I made out in each frame. The interesting fact was I couldn’t see the magenta and cyan if my life depended on it – that’s why printing from negatives was so much fun. When the photos were printed into a positive through the wet lab I knew that they were perfect based on my years and years of experience.

Now I did get it very wrong in the beginning (I tested my printing methods on my own photos), but by the time I had mastered a rhythmic pattern of looking at each negative, I could print around 100 rolls of film back in the day.

Being able to read negatives this way made me understand what made a photo rather than what makes a photo.

I understood the elements of colour and how the world was shaped around them. For instance, the best example I could give would be the typical travel photo – people standing in front of a landscape normally backlit (their faces were cast in shadow). In order to lighten their faces I would have to add density by either adding +1 or +2 stops. This would then brighten the blue sky, so to bring back some of the ‘washed’ colour in the sky I would have to compensate by adding some cyan and a little touch of magenta. To do this I would simply use the + buttons next to the labeled colour and then manually press the ‘expose’ button to turn their negative into a positive. I then manually moved the dust free negative to the next frame and continued the process one frame at a time. I suppose what was really great was seeing all the photos from peoples travels. Having spent significant time processing film I felt like I had vicariously travelled to everywhere on earth!

So, based on my own visual challenges I suppose the next time someone says you can’t do something think to yourself that with a bit of determination and practice anything is possible! 

You’ll always find a way around the obstacle as long as your looking over it.