Take away the visual element from photography and what have you got?
Quite a lot, according to Partho Bhowmick, founder of the Blind With Camera project in Mumbai, India, which to date has taught more than 500 blind people how to express themselves through photography (you can find a gallery here).
Randall Munroe over at XKCD posted this fascinating comic today that demonstrates some of the peculiarities of human vision. Roll up a piece of paper to set your eyes the correct distance from the screen, and then observe how they perceive things like detail, color, polarization, and more. Click the image above for the large version.
Visual Field by XKCD (via Boing Boing)
One tip that instructors often pass onto the beginning photographers is to use their dominant eye (i.e. the eye they prefer seeing with) to look through the viewfinder. If you want to find out which of your eyes is the dominant one, here’s a quick test you can do: extend your arms straight out and form a small triangle with your hands. Looking through the triangle with both eyes open, frame something nearby (e.g. a doorknob) and place it in the center of the triangle. Then close your eyes one at a time without moving the triangle — your dominant eye is the one that placed the object in the center.
Interestingly enough, many people (myself included) choose to use their right eye for their viewfinder even though the left one is dominant — likely because it’s the way they started shooting from the beginning.
The Nero Multi Trigger is a nifty camera triggering device that can make your DSLR and external flash unit respond automatically to sight, sound, and motion. It has built in optical, audio, and laser sensors, allowing you to shoot everything from lightning flashes to balloon pops. There’s also an intervalometer for time-lapse photography. The device mounts to your DSLR’s hotshoe and is powered by a pair of AAA batteries. They cost $200 each and are available for both Nikon and Canon DSLRs from the NERO website.
Nero Trigger (via OhGizmo!)
Cincinnati native Amy Hildebrand was born completely blind due to albinism, a disorder in which the body is unable to produce melanin (the pigment that gives color to hair, skin, and eyes). After receiving a special surgery as a teen that drastically improved her eyesight, Hildebrand fell in love with photography and went on to study it in college. She is now a successful commercial photographer and is nearly finished with an ambitious “1000 photos in 1000 days” project she started in 2009. Her mother says that Amy’s albinism is actually an advantage in her photography:
As sighted people we have so much information we are processing because our eyesight is seeing so much. It complicates it. But in Amy’s view of the world, she’s so used to seeing things in intimate spaces, that she’s learned to appreciate what’s in front of her. [#]
You can find Hildebrand’s commercial work here, and her photography blog here.
Blind From Albinism, Photographer Uses Camera for Eyes (via Photojojo)
Photo enthusiast Chris Malcolm needed a better way to aim his 500mm lens at fast moving subjects (e.g. birds in flight), so he upgraded his lens with a DIY sighting aid by attaching a non-magnified red dot sight:
They’re designed to clamp onto a gun sight wedge mount, so some kind of adapter is required. I played with the hot shoe mount, but it was too flexible — the sight needed re-zeroing at every mount, and was easily knocked out of calibration. The degree of precision required to aim the central focus sensor at the target via the dot also made parallax error a problem on the hot shoe. So I decided to mount it directly on the lens. Least parallax error, plus the geometry of the lens barrel and the sight mount naturally lines it up with the lens. To protect the lens barrel I glued the sight clamp to a cardboard tube slightly too small, slit open to provide a sprung grab on the lens body. The slit also handily accommodates the focus hold button on the lens barrel.
Malcolm reports that the site “works amazingly well”, making it “trivially easy to aim the lens at anything very quickly”.
Here’s an interesting gadget that can help you with wildlife photography, or can simply make you look beastly while doing street photography. This tactical sight can help you lock your camera onto a faraway animal, making finding it much easier to find when you start looking through your massive telephoto lens. With longer focal range lenses, it can be pretty easy to lose sight of where exactly your subject is, and finding it again might require pulling your eyes away from the viewfinder. This sight can help you more accurately lock onto the subject prior to using the viewfinder.
After poking around a bit, it looks like this is actually a Phantom Tactical Sight for rifles that has been rebranded and repurposed for photography:
The sight can project a point, circle point, circle cross, or cross onto the screen (it’s not a laser pointer), and has two colors (green or red) and three intensities. This gadget will set your back about $45. Happy shooting!
Wildlife Photography with Tactical Four Reticle Sight (via Wired)