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Fading gently


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Fading gently

11 Apr 2021 8:53AM   Views : 515 Unique : 305


A couple of things have made me think about the adverse effects of time on both machine and manÖ Last year, I realised that some of the batteries I have for my older Alpha 7 bodies donít hold a lot of charge: they spend hours on the charger, but go flat over the course of a couple of dozen shots. I bought some new ones and Iím in the process of identifying and recycling the ones that are terminally short-lived.

And an awareness that my left eye had got significantly more short-sighted took me to the optician on Friday, where a lengthy process led me to new lenses (for only the second time in a couple of decades: the last time was two years ago) and my first pair of reading glasses. And I shall eventually need an operation to deal with cataracts.


Now, my eyesight and I have always had an interesting relationship with photography, as being short-sighted used to mean that I could examine negatives without needing a magnifying glass Ė as the accommodation (the ability to change focus) deteriorated from my mid-forties this changed. Now, I can do it once more. Itís not all bad.

I was asked whether I have problems with bright lights Ė the answer is not really any more than when I was young. I could never read books or papers in direct sunlight, and Iíve always been keen on clean glasses and windscreens because of the flare. I think Iím actually fussier about that than my camera lenses.


Apparently, the lens in my left eye had hardened, yellowed, and changed refractive index. Thatís why my prescription has changed, and the new lenses will disorientate me when I first wear them, as my eyes will form different size images and it will take my brain a while to learn to sort things out. It will, though: test subjects wearing glasses that inverted their view saw things upside down for a couple of weeks Ė and then their brains flipped the view, so that it became normal. Eyes are wonderfully adaptable.


We forget this at our peril when we take pictures. Human brains are adept at making up for the shortcomings of the eyes they use, and adjust the view to make sense, and provide the best picture of reality. Cameras lack this facilityÖ They wonít adjust colours, move around to get extra detail, Gestalt together highlight and shadow detail for a perpetually and unconsciously HDR view of the world. Letís have a round of applause for our personal optical systems, and the way that they perform.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
11 Apr 2021 8:56AM
Plus some random pictures of challenging situations - both for cameras and eyes. Stephanie Dubois has, wisely, closed her eyes against the sun. When she opens them, after some seconds of a bright red view through her eyelids, her view will be distinctly cold, as her eyes have already started to accommodate to a red view of the world. Try it, by closing one eye when you're in bright light...
FredColon Avatar
FredColon 3 3 United Kingdom
11 Apr 2021 9:10AM
Slightly off topic but...

Quote: Letís have a round of applause for our personal optical systems, and the way that they perform.

I recall reading many years ago that, optically speaking, the lenses in human eyes are not particularly high quality and that our brains are effectively doing a lot of processing (equivalent to Fourier transforms, edge detection, convolution matrices...) to compensate. I guess this must be a fairly fundamental process as most other animals have similar arrangements. The accommodation and adjustment to inverting spectacles, coloured lenses and the like are most likely differences in the 'coefficients' in the processing and trigger levels in nerve connections.

I never followed up on reading about this, but this has triggered a thought and now maybe I'll see what's been discovered in the past few years (the Internet can be a wonderful thing).

Like you, I've noticed changes in eyesight as I get older .. in my case it's the artifacts from persistence of vision when seeing a bright light - these seem (subjectively at least) to last much longer than they used to.
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
11 Apr 2021 9:19AM
Varifocals, the best things ever invented, for me anyway.
Chrism8 Avatar
Chrism8 16 1.1k 34 England
11 Apr 2021 10:09AM
I've been short sighted since my early 20's, as I've done a few more years, the short sightedness had decreased, confirmed by my last visit to the opticians when the strength of the glasses has also decreased, not the cost thou !!

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
11 Apr 2021 10:40AM
Fred - yes, the eyes are wonderful in terms of making imperfect technology perform wonderfully. A bit like hte way the latest cameras compensate for the falloff and distortion that lenses give.

I remember being fascinated by a course at university that included the different types of receptor in the eye and their sensitivity to motion, or colour or low levels of light, and the way that different creatures have eyesight tailored to their needs, so that - for instance - cats see in low light and detect movement better than we do, but don't have the same fine-tuned colour vision.

And eyes have one great big advantage, given that there's a single varifocal lens element at the front: the retina is spherical, so that many of the corrections needed for a flat film or sensor are not required.

Bifocal/varifocal glasses? Maybe one day, but for now I'm happy as I am. I wear glasses for driving and cinema/theatre/TV. In future, I'll wear them for computer work, and maybe for reading. But mostly, they get in the way of the viewfinder...
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
11 Apr 2021 11:08AM
Overall good work from the 'designer'. I love the auto white balance and exposure, the auto high ISO shift to black and white in low light.

Then there's the software corrections for falloff and distortion and craziest of all, the function that cuts off the feed to the brain when you turn your head rapidly.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
11 Apr 2021 11:10AM
Go on, somebody spoil this thread now, and say something about Prince Philip's eyesight. I think this blog has escaped him so far.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
11 Apr 2021 11:12AM
Without our software corrections we would be seeing the world like a Lensbaby.
PaulCox Avatar
11 Apr 2021 11:50AM

" And I shall eventually need an operation to deal with cataracts."

Don't be afraid of that, as a result of a misplaced shuttlecock in 1970, I needed a cataract operation on my left eye in 1996 and the result was completely sorted, I do now where glasses "varifocals" to quote "Chase" the best thing every invented, to correct the Lens implant, more expensive but I think well worth it. Paul.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
11 Apr 2021 12:05PM
So, with the Varifocals ((or any other single element glasses) you now have a triplet. So, similar to the 3 group Tessar, you might think Rolleicord or Practika Domniplan 50 2 8. Or possibly Cooke Triplet.

As a Canon user, I want to know if red framed glasses are sharper?
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
11 Apr 2021 6:04PM
Red frames are definitely sharper in the sartorial sense...
cooky Avatar
cooky Plus
19 7 11 United Kingdom
11 Apr 2021 9:46PM
I've worn varifocal glasses for years and manage really well with them. Just don't look down at the steps on staircases! If there was an operation that would sort out my sight so I didn't have to wear glasses, I would have it.

Saw a lovely documentary film on Scottish artist James Morrison couple of weeks ago. He was losing his sight but still painting until his death in 2020. Inspirational man. He was remembering how he applied the paint etc and was still being highly creative though his eyesight was failing rapidly.

We can overcome lots of things as long as we overcome our self doubt...

'Nothing has changed but my attitude, therefore, everything has changed.' Anthony de Mello.

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
11 Apr 2021 10:19PM
Attitude matters!

Realistic and positive.
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
12 Apr 2021 4:33PM
I've been short sighted for many ye, and I agree it's a bonus when looking at transparencies and negaives. And indeed screens on the back of cameras as if I held them at arm's length without using glasses I wouldn't see them clearly so having to bring the camera close in is more stable.
I've never had an issue with using glasses and a viewfinder.
Acancarter Avatar
12 Apr 2021 5:14PM
Good discussion - I enjoy these! I have an Optoelectronics Professor/ Friend/ Colleague at Southampton Uni who is carrying out a personal experiment on 'can the eyes improve themselves?'. Remember how sharp your vision seemed with a new set of lenses? Didn't last though, did it? The eyes seem to adapt and deteriorate when we don't push them. My friend is regularly calibrating his eyesight and recording the correction level needed - over several years! When he doesn't need the extra sharpness, he doesn't wear his glasses. Do without, and let the brain/ eye system work the problem. ... and, quite convincingly, his eyes are getting progressively better, to the point when I rarely see him wearing glasses! He is unfortunately a lot younger than I am, and I expect the auto adapt function in my brain is wearing out. I do check the astigmatism in my better eye, by rotating the frame slightly - it slowly changes, quite noticeably. It makes the optician take note when you suggest the cylinder axis has changed a couple of degrees, clockwise... I'd really like a live view 10x button on the side of my head...
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
12 Apr 2021 6:24PM
I am with you on the 'when not needing sharp vision' thing. I passed my driving test without glasses, but a twilight accident persuaded me to get my first pair: I have only changed frames three times since then, though lenses have been updated more often (not much more often, though, until recently).

And I find - even now - that my uncorrected sight is good enough for walking around with a camera, or even watching a film at the cinema if the detail isn't fascinating. I once explained this to my optician, who found it very odd: but it's actually helpful in terms of seeing the wood, rather than the individual leaves on the trees. Detail can be beautiful: but concentrating on it too much has a thoroughly adverse effect on the bigger picture...

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