On Owning Your Own Quirks

By | 2012-05-31T09:17:00+00:00 May 30th, 2012|

You may or may not know this about me but I am red/green colorblind. Usually upon hearing this, the common reaction from others is to go into a curious circus freak mode and begin pointing at various objects and asking what color this or that is. I especially love the notion some have that because I can’t see red, for example, that anything red is invisible to me. :)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that these questions aren’t being asked to patronize or ridicule, but rather they are asked in a truly inquisitive and curious nature – and I am totally ok with that… otherwise, I wouldn’t share this little bit of very personal information.

But one question always stands out more than any other and, depending on the state of mind I’m in at the time, can be very jarring to try and answer. The question is: If you’re colorblind, how can you even be a photographer?

If there is one thing that the fragile ego of an artist does not need, it is the veil of doubt being cast over your eyes. :)

But in all seriousness, it is a very valid question. If I can’t see the full spectrum of visible color, how can I be entrusted to accurately represent them back to you here? The simple answer is that I can’t be entrusted and in all honesty, I don’t care to be. I’ve thought about this long and hard and if there is one thing that I stand tall to, it is knowing that I am as much of a photographer as any other person – I’m just my own photographer.

I chose this image today because it includes a dominant color that I have a hard time discerning and representing, especially in foliage. I can’t really tell the difference in hue between yellow and green. Does that mean that I should abdicate to someone else who can fix this for me?

Absolutely, positively not

What you see here is what I see. It is what I find to be fitting for the image and how I want to convey it to you. I can’t tell you if these colors are truly correct, for whatever that is worth. To verify that, you’ll need to visit Shepherd’s Dell along the Columbia River Gorge to find out what it looks like to your eyes. What I can tell you is that when I was processing this shot, these values are what seemed visually appealing to me and I want to share that with you.

So for those of you out there with your own quirks and deviations, I’m here to tell you that you should own up to them. Embrace them. Make them who you are and have your work embody them.

Your quirks are not your limitations. They are your own personal signature

While we’re at it, I’m tossing this in for today’s #waterfallwednesday , curated by the great +Eric Leslie.

In terms of processing
This is a two-exposure blend that was masked together in Perfect Layers 2 by +onOne Software. One exposure metered for the bright water while the other metered for the darker foliage that flanked it.

The composited layer was then sent to Perfect Effects 3 (also by onOne). I selectively applied a custom Green Enhancer onto the foliage along with a custom Blue filter onto the water and rock surface. I wanted to create some color contrast here. Next, I applied a global Deep Forest glow and some Tonal Contrast to taste.

Final touches were applied in Adobe Lightroom 4.1.

In album Pic Picks Over The Years (1 photo)

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30 Comments

  1. Sandra Parlow May 30, 2012 at 8:53 am - Reply

    thank you for sharing this Brian.. for what it's worth – I love the bright greens in this shot and I am happy to see them through YOUR eyes!

    My quirks….oh – I have many…. but they are best saved for another time and place… ;)

  2. Eric Leslie May 30, 2012 at 8:54 am - Reply

    +Brian Matiash Two of my sons have the same blindness and it's really no big deal. I also think this notion of perfect color is a farse. I spent a lot of time color correcting my images, but I don't fret about screen calibration or color spaces. People who consume photography don't give a flying flip. This is a beautiful shot and the greens look great to me :)

  3. Monique Yates May 30, 2012 at 8:55 am - Reply

    The green looks great. Embracing my quirks…I think I like it. haha

  4. Chris Lazzery May 30, 2012 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Awesome comp and detail. Looks great to me.

  5. Paul Ciura May 30, 2012 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Great post +Brian Matiash.

  6. Amtul Rahman May 30, 2012 at 8:57 am - Reply

    love the color contrast and textures in this one.

  7. Michael Stuart May 30, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Besides your awesome photos it's posts like these that make you a no brainer top tier Google+ user in my eyes. Thanks for such a revealing and well worded share!

  8. Kimm Gaillard May 30, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Great thoughts and post +Brian Matiash Keep up the great work and keep being the great photographer and inspiration that you are to so many of us.

  9. Matt Hernandez May 30, 2012 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Hey +Brian Matiash , I remember you briefly discussing this at the +Google+ Photographer's Conference . I agree. While I'm not color blind and could argue it might be an advantage for you. Because you see color differently than the rest of us it helps make your images unique.

  10. Ken Zuk May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Good post +Brian Matiash!! And very nice shot!!! I posted today in #waterfallwednesday too, fun theme by +Eric Leslie!!

    Thanks also for your Perfect Inspiration posts over at OnOne! I just watched episode 9…good stuff that I can put into practice (I just upgraded to Perfect Photo Suite 6.1)! Thanks!!!

  11. Grant Meyer May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Once again +Brian Matiash when I am feeling so so about my place in the photography world, you are able to inspire and instill a little confidence boost. You words have have as much impact as the images you bring to us.
    I love the simplicity of this image, it conveys a calm and relaxing atmoshere. Thanks

  12. Shelly Gunderson May 30, 2012 at 9:09 am - Reply

    It looks gorgeous to me. My question would have been how would you know that the reds and greens were what you want but I would guess you would remember what they looked like to you at the time when you were shooting just like anyone who can see those colors do. We can get it not quite right too. :-)

  13. Monico Havier May 30, 2012 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Cool capture, +Brian Matiash. If you didn't say that you had color blindness I never would have guessed (based on all the great images you've shared). I suppose that we all have our own personal vision of the final image and thats what we share with the world. I happen to believe that photography is a personal expression and the images I share look the way I want them to (not necessarily how others think they should).

    Thanks for sharing the picture and your story about working without limitations. I'm really happy to have you in my circles!

  14. Rachel Houghton May 30, 2012 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Two out of my three male cousins are color blind. One of them is a stunning visual artist who also has a photography degree (he had intended on photography as a career). He gets asked the same question all the time, +Brian Matiash. I like your photography and would never think to ask that question.

  15. Amy Heiden May 30, 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    You have conveyed a very valuable lesson, a lesson that takes many people a good number of years to figure out.

    Be happy with who you are and embrace every little imperfection, because perfection is downright boring.

    As far as I'm concerned as photographers, we are artists. Who's to say that the way you view a composition or subject is better or worse than anyone else? You could say the same for color. You might not be able to distinguish the greens, but maybe I chose to focus on the highlights and shadows instead or that lime green hue in the leaves. In the end, it's art and the artist holds the reins.

    Thank you for sharing your story +Brian Matiash.

  16. Brian Matiash May 30, 2012 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind words and sharing your own thoughts on the matter – it is truly appreciated.

  17. Brian Matiash May 30, 2012 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind words and sharing your own thoughts on the matter – it is truly appreciated.

  18. Justin R May 30, 2012 at 9:55 am - Reply

    A successful photographer who has the same condition as I do! Post processing is one of my favorite things. But it's hard sometimes; I often run my edits past a couple of my friends just to make sure the colors aren't wonky :P. I enjoy your work good sir. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Justin R May 30, 2012 at 9:55 am - Reply

    A successful photographer who has the same condition as I do! Post processing is one of my favorite things. But it's hard sometimes; I often run my edits past a couple of my friends just to make sure the colors aren't wonky :P. I enjoy your work good sir. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Jim Denham May 30, 2012 at 10:05 am - Reply

    +Brian Matiash Vision is vision, regardless of color or shape. Every image is uniquely you Brian. We all have something to overcome, or better put, work with, and the process of doing so makes us who we are and makes the images we produce a part of us. Excellent post!

  21. Jim Denham May 30, 2012 at 10:05 am - Reply

    +Brian Matiash Vision is vision, regardless of color or shape. Every image is uniquely you Brian. We all have something to overcome, or better put, work with, and the process of doing so makes us who we are and makes the images we produce a part of us. Excellent post!

  22. Eugene Simonalle May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Brian I too have the red/green differential problem. If I remember right about a third of men have this to some degree. It's just our quirk. It's not like we can't see colors, just that our eyes don't process the hues the same way. That's okay, because I have great night vision as a compensation.

  23. Eugene Simonalle May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Brian I too have the red/green differential problem. If I remember right about a third of men have this to some degree. It's just our quirk. It's not like we can't see colors, just that our eyes don't process the hues the same way. That's okay, because I have great night vision as a compensation.

  24. Jeffrey Yen May 30, 2012 at 11:13 am - Reply

    You mean that I've been wearing green and you've been able to see me all this time? Why the hell do you ignore me if you can see me? Jerk… :)

  25. Josemaria Toscano May 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    I too am Red/Green Color blind. Good post. I wholeheartedly agree.

  26. Karen Hutton May 31, 2012 at 6:30 am - Reply

    You are my hero +Brian Matiash!
    And this photo is breathtakingly awesome.

  27. Justin Van Leeuwen May 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    If only I could get the suite to work on my copy of CS6 :(

  28. Brian Matiash May 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    +Justin Van Leeuwen What's the issue you are having? It works perfectly for me.

  29. Justin Van Leeuwen May 31, 2012 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    +Brian Matiash I guess the issue was I needed to uninstall and grab a new install file. It's all working fine now. ALL THANKS TO YOU!

  30. Lou Horton May 31, 2012 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    There's a huge range of ways people perceive the visual world, through differences in colour and focus, to the disturbances of some migraine sufferers. You're absolutely right that what matters is your response and interpretation.
    Though if 7-10% of men have some degree of colour perception difference, I'm hoping that they remember to calibrate their monitors. ;)
    BTW, if you have elderly relatives who seem to print images with a blue colour cast, it's because they are compensating for the gradual yellowing of the lens in their eyes.

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