Saturday, March 07, 2015

It Ain't Easy Being Blind

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For many years, I worked as a half-blind photographer. A half-blind videographer as well. If vision is the #1 requirement for any decent photographer, I was (technically) handicapped by only having 50% of the vision the vast majority of photographers rely on. Or, was I? Handicapped, that is.

How was I a half-blind photographer/videographer? Well, I was blind in one eye. 100% blind in one eye; my right eye. I was 100% blind in my right eye for about 15 or so years, plus slowly going blind in that eye for quite a few years prior.

To paraphrase Kermit the Frog, it ain't easy being blind.

Being half-blind is easier, of course, than being all blind. Much, much easier. With all blind you see nothing. With half-blind, you still see, albeit not the way most others see. While being half-blind is  infinitely easier than being half-blind, half-blind still ain't easy if you know what I mean. Actually, you might not know what I mean because most of you probably haven't been blind, half-blind or otherwise.  Some of you might be blind-ish to some extent but, if so, you likely wear optics to correct that. There were no optics that could correct my half-blindness. It wasn't correctable with lenses or prisms or, for years, by any other means.

The interesting thing about being one-eyed is that the world you see is two-dimensional, just like the world we see in photos. It takes two, functional and working eyes to have depth perception. (Depth representing that third dimension.) From that perspective, only being sighted in one eye might have actually been something of an advantage for photography. I suppose I could more easily see what a photograph might look like before shooting it. Leastwise, with both eyes open and without a camera's viewfinder hoisted to my eye. Course, once that camera is in mine or your hands and pressed to our faces, we're all one-eyed in terms of our photography. (Unless we're using Live View on a camera's rear LCD screen or a camera with a two-eyed focusing screen, e.g., a twin-lens reflex or the way some larger format cameras have.)

Eventually, much the way modern digital camera technologies have evolved and advanced, medical technology caught up with my right eye and the vision in it was restored via surgery and an artificial lens implant. That's right. I have a bionic eye.

At first, the success of my bionic eye was looking rather dubious because my blind right eye had atrophied over time. As a result, I was left with a serious case of double-vision after the artificial lens was implanted.  My right eye, you see, wouldn't de-atrophy itself for a while and I wondered if I wasn't better off being half-blind.  But, in time, my right eye corrected itself all on its own.  To my great delight, I didn't need prisms. Yeah. Prisms. That's what the doctors called what I might need in the form of eye-wear that resembled the bottoms of glass Coke bottles to correct the double vision. For a while, I thought I might have to change my name to Poindexter or something similar. You know, if I had to wear Coke bottle glasses.

Did being a half-blind photographer impact my photography? I have no idea, although I've thought about that more than a few times. Frankly, if it did have an impact, I'm not sure if it was a positive or negative impact. Perhaps it really didn't matter? I'm right handed but have always swung a baseball bat as a lefty. I can't do so like a rightie. Never could. I played a lot of baseball as a kid. Being a lefty at the plate was an advantage for the most part. Not sure if being a lefty with my eyes contains any sorts of advantages though.

BTW, although the sight in my right eye was restored, I still shoot with my left eye. I didn't shoot that way before I lost the sight in my right eye.  I shot with my right eye the way most people do. At least, I think that's how most people shoot. Then, when I lost my sight in that eye, I became a left-eyed shooter by necessity. Since the sight in my right eye has been returned to me, I haven't been able to return to right-eyed shooting. I don't' know why that is. It just is what it is, I suppose.  I don't really see any reason to return to right-eyed shooting. There certainly isn't any necessity to do so.

I've been happy and grateful for becoming sighted in both eyes again. More than happy about it:  Ecstatic! My bionic eye is more sensitive to blue hues, i.e., everything I see with it is to the bluer or cooler side of the spectrum, color temperature wise. It's like the world has a slight bluish cast to it when I look with only my right eye. With both eyes open, however, I don't notice any shift in color perception. At least not consciously. I suppose human brains, like most modern digital cameras, have an auto-color function which corrects for color... but only when both of my eyes are open. I can only see the difference in color between each eye when I close one and look with the other, then change which one is closed and look out the other and so forth. . I don't do that very often but I have done it enough times to be aware of the difference when it comes to color perception between my two eyes.

Sorry if this update doesn't contain anything useful in terms of helping anyone with their pretty girl shooting.  Hey! After over one thousand updates to this blog, coming up with anything write about can be a challenge and, more often than not, when I think up or stumble on something to write about, I'll often go for it even it's, like this update, mostly about me.

The image at the top is how I imagined people would be looking at me, at least behind my back, if I ended up having to wear a pair of Coke bottle prisms like those I mentioned in this article. Yeah, yeah, I know. That's just insecurity. Still, it's how I envisioned things might be.


Lynne Rogers Battista said...

My husband got stabbed in the eye as a child by his brother. He has a vision deficit since then. He too, is right handed...for writing only. He shoots left handed, plays golf lefty, softball, everything else. Says he can't aim correctly with that affected eye. I'll bet your playing baseball as a lefty was an effect of the vision deficit as well.

jimmyd said...


I already was batting lefty before the injury to my eye which, like your husband, happened when I was a kid. In my case, I was hit in the eye with a rock which actually split my right eyeball open. I was in the hospital for a few weeks and had to keep patches over both eyes for a month or two. They weren't sure if I'd ever see out of my right eye again but I did, until my 40s when I lost the sight in that eye completely.

Bill Giles said...

I'm glad to hear that your vision has been restored. Although I have vision in both eyes, they don't focus together and I have always had difficulty with depth perception. Maybe these problems are more common than we realize.

Lynne Battista said...

Ambidextrous then, hmm?

Jim Felt said...

Good for you! And your images obviously didn't suffer before your corrective surgery.

Jim Felt said...

I was wondering what you were up to. That's great news! Awesome really. Technology met your needs. Though I doubt your images ever much suffered.