Tips for dealing with color blindness

DeeJayK

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Came across this interesting article recently:

Interview: Color Blind Photographer Reveals How He Overcomes His Chromatic Condition

I suffer from color blindness as well and often find myself frustrated particularly while editing images. Thankfully my affliction is not severe (most tests categorize my condition as "moderate deutan"), but I did identify with Mr. Bushong's (the interview subject) descriptions of his condition.

I find that often my interpretation of the "correct" white balance or color saturation strikes viewers with "normal" color vision as off, or even bizarre. It's to the point that I don't trust myself to even touch those sliders in editing applications. The trepidation I feel really saps much of the enjoyment I get from post-processing, to the point that I find myself putting off the task (sometimes indefinitely) which leads to a massive backlog of photos that never get shared.

Statistically there have to be others on this forum who also have this condition. I wonder if you've developed any tips or hacks to help overcome it. If so, I'd love to hear them.

- K
 
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doady

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That feeling when someone who is colour-blind is a better photographer than you are... I like what he says about just being yourself and expressing yourself your own way, but I also think it is not bad to look at others' work and get inspiration from other photographers. Being inspired by others doesn't necessarily mean copying them.

As for white balance, I heard about white balance or grey cards. I never tried them, but they might help you. I don't know the exact process, but it's something like shoot RAW and use your software's "normalize" or "eyedropper" tool or whatever it's called to get the correct white balance.
 

DeeJayK

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As for white balance, I heard about white balance or grey cards. I never tried them, but they might help you. I don't know the exact process, but it's something like shoot RAW and use your software's "normalize" or "eyedropper" tool or whatever it's called to get the correct white balance.
Yeah, I use the heck out of the little white balance eyedropper. I think it's typically more accurate than relying on my own color sense. Similarly, I usually allow the camera to set the white balance as I've found that to be more accurate than any assumptions I make in post or at time of capture.

It's just a bit disconcerting that I can't know whether the particular bit of the image that I've chosen as the "neutral" color is the "right" one.

- K
 

RichardC

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Came across this interesting article recently:

Interview: Color Blind Photographer Reveals How He Overcomes His Chromatic Condition

I suffer from color blindness as well and often find myself frustrated particularly while editing images. Thankfully my affliction is not severe (most tests categorize my condition as "moderate deutan"), but I did identify with Mr. Bushong's (the interview subject) descriptions of his condition.

I find that often my interpretation of the "correct" white balance or color saturation strikes viewers with "normal" color vision as off, or even bizarre. It's to the point that I don't trust myself to even touch those sliders in editing applications. The trepidation I feel really saps much of the enjoyment I get from post-processing, to the point that I find myself putting off the task (sometimes indefinately) which leads to a massive backlog of photos that never get shared.

Statistically there have to be others on this forum who also have this condition. I wonder if you've developed any tips or hacks to help overcome it. If so, I'd love to hear them.

- K

Provided that your interpretation of a neutral grey is the same as the majority's interpretation of a neutral grey, then colour balance/colour cast removal is something that shouldn't present you with a massive problem.

If you use photoshop, and can identify neutrals in the mid-range to highlights (avoiding cast shadows), then there is an opportunity to get very close to an accurate colour balance with a single curves adjustment layer. The hard part is learning to identify neutrals to work with - it's simply impractical to use grey cards all of the time unless you do all of your photography in a studio.

You may find yourself more reliant upon numbers than someone who has typical vision. This isn't a bad thing. If you are choosing the right measuring point, the numbers don't lie. Better still, they are device independent.

I can recommend that you look at Linkedin learning (free first month's trial) and work through Taz Tally's courses, 'Learning Photoshop Color Correction' and 'Advanced Color Correction'. Do them in order and don't skip chapters.

The latter course focuses on very precise colour corrections. Once you have learnt the method, you should be in a good position to get consistent results regardless of camera or monitor.
 

DeeJayK

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I can recommend that you look at Linkedin learning (free first month's trial) and work through Taz Tally's courses, 'Learning Photoshop Color Correction' and 'Advanced Color Correction'. Do them in order and don't skip chapters.

The latter course focuses on very precise colour corrections. Once you have learnt the method, you should be in a good position to get consistent results regardless of camera or monitor.
Thanks! I'll check these resources out.

It is quite possible that my deficiencies in color correction may be down to just never learning the correct process (which is certainly true) as much as any physical limitations.

- K
 

frankmulder

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I am also colour blind. In general, I avoid correcting colours "by eye" and stick to things that can be "measured".

At some point, I even bought an ExpoDisc (which can be used similarly to a grey card), so I could always be sure that the white balance was "correct". However, I have since learned that getting the white balance correct for shots outside isn't that hard. "Sunny" white balance is often a safe bet, and if that's too cold, go to "cloudy" or even "shade" (for things that are in the shade, obviously). You can leave the red-green slider on neutral.

For shots inside it could be more challenging, but even there, with modern light bulbs at around 2700 or 3000 K, you can just set the white balance to that and you're good. And of course if there's something white or grey in the scene, you can use the picker on that. Pick a few different points to get a feel for what kind of range you are working with.

I have also found that (non-colour-blind) non-photographers aren't as sensitive to white balance as you think. I have sometimes done different edits, and said "I've improved the white balance on this one", but the people I showed it to couldn't tell the difference. They only notice when you're way out (with either the temperature or the red-green), but with the strategies outlined above you should be able to get it in the right ballpark. Also, their monitors will probably not be calibrated, so if the colours are off, chances are it's their monitor, not your edit...

It's also interesting to note that there's often not a single "correct" white balance. When you're shooting a sunset, do you want the whites to look white, or a bit yellowish? (Better set the white balance to "cloudy" in order to keep some of the sunset colours.) When you're indoors with mixed light, which temperature is right? Do you correct for the light coming from the window, or for the 2700 K light bulb?

I've found that I almost never use my ExpoDisc now. I do take a shot with it sometimes, just to have another reference point. However, I sometimes find the "accurate" white balance it gives you can leave the picture looking quite 'cold'. If you want to retain some of the warmth of the light bulbs in a room, maybe increase the temperature by a few hundred Kelvin.

To change the "colour rendering" of a picture, I stick to standard presets (like DxO PhotoLab's film simulations). I know the colours will be off, but they will be off in a way that's generally accepted. :)

As for altering specific colours: I sometimes do that, but I normally only touch the saturation and luminance sliders. If I really want to change some hues, I try to find a different part of the same picture (or a different picture) that contains the colour I'm going for. Then I use a colour picker, get the RGB or Lab values and use things like a Curves adjustment to match the colour.

Finally, a safe option is of course going for black and white. When I edit in black and white, I feel very safe and comfortable, knowing that I can use all sliders without messing things up. :)
 

ex machina

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Interesting article, thanks for sharing it. I'm red-deficient in one eye and that end of the spectrum is severely desaturated in a dime-sized centered area of my right eye's visual field due to a detached retina event from three years ago. It mostly manifests as an overall cooler temperature in my right eye vs. the left, with some other weird acuity issues that make photo editing a bit of fun (is this image in focus or not, damn-it?!).

Always interesting to read how folks manage this sort of thing. One of my photog buddies is strongly color blind and his color editing is quite garish to my eye, but he's mostly comfortable with pleasing himself over others, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .

FWIW LR's auto-WB works really well. I'll use the dropper to set it and compare to the auto selected version and the auto version usually is just as good if not better.
 
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I've often found that the Auto WB in the Olympus camera is very good, and much of the time, accurate. I also found that when I compose a shot and the WB isn't quite right at first glance, if I let the camera view the scene for a few seconds, it'll shift the WB until it looks pretty accurate, to my eye. You can see it shifting while you wait. I make further corrections in Workspace if I think it needs it. But, generally speaking, the Auto WB in my Olympus is usually pretty darn good.

My recommendation is to give Auto WB a little time to adjust and I think you'll find it works well.
 

DeeJayK

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...
Always interesting to read how folks manage this sort of thing. One of my photog buddies is strongly color blind and his color editing is quite garish to my eye, but he's mostly comfortable with pleasing himself over others, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .
That's sorta the approach I've tried to take, but would like my images to have a "natural" look to a variety of viewers. On the other hand, who says the way the majority experiences the color spectrum is "correct".

FWIW LR's auto-WB works really well. I'll use the dropper to set it and compare to the auto selected version and the auto version usually is just as good if not better.
When in doubt, I do rely on the auto-WB. Still, something about giving a machine the power to produce a result I'm incapable of validating is concerning.

- K
 

Stanga

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If you are using Photoshop, Lightroom, Photolab or AcDsee then there is a histogram like box that shows you the Red, Green, and Blue content of each image in terms of quantity and dynamic range. By using the RGB sliders you can get to align the RGB waveform until they are inline. That is basically the White Balance.
To get an idea of what I mean, you can have a read up of the web pages at;
https://www.scantips.com/lights/whitebalance2.html
https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/camera-raw/using/make-color-tonal-adjustments-camera.html

I started using this method when I started suffering from cataract and lost the ability to identify pure white. But after I had my operation I have continued to use it since it is far more accurate than my own judgement.
 

frankmulder

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I am rather surprised that no one has mentioned what I thought was obvious (lazy reading skills, so I could be wrong). If I have have a photo that I think (can't be sure with defective eyes) is giving me color problems, I convert it to B & W.

It was mentioned. ;)

Finally, a safe option is of course going for black and white. When I edit in black and white, I feel very safe and comfortable, knowing that I can use all sliders without messing things up. :)
 

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