Google releases Color Enhancer plugin for Chrome

According to Google it's a color filter that partially colorblind users can customize and use to improve color perception.  

At least for me, I'm not sure it's doing much, but I am also finding the calibration routine it wants you to go through is fiddly and unreliable for me.  Could my wide gamut displays be messing with it? I don't know, but I'm going to try it on another machine/screen tomorrow.

It may work for some though, and it's a nice idea.  There are similar programs out there designed to enhance color perception of images, and a browser plugin is a logical extension of the concept.  Accessibility options for programs to help colorblind users are not as common as they could be, and the web doesn't always design with the colorblind user in mind either.

Try it out for yourself, maybe it'll be helpful for you!

Color for the Colorblind

Valspar has teamed up with EnChroma to produce this short video.  It shows people supposedly seeing colors for the first time thanks to the EnChroma glasses.  EnChroma has a more technical breakdown of how their glasses work although it's a notch filtering system that purports to help users differentiate colors by blocking wavelengths that the cone's photopigments overlap on. 

Unfortunately the glasses won't work for everyone but they do seem to have the greatest success rate with deuteranomalous and protanomalous users.  I'd love to try them myself some day, videos like this certainly make me wonder what I might be missing.  

I was recently asked by someone with a poor sense of smell and taste how horseradish tasted.  How do you answer that?  If he suddenly regained his taste I'm sure it would be much like if I could suddenly identify and see all colors, some things might make more sense and certain expressions that many take for granted would suddenly have meaning.  My color blindness is certainly not as bad as it gets so I imagine the effect is even more profound for those who are more strongly affected.

For more on the project check out the Valspar Color For All site.

Painting with laser light

Trying new things with lighting, particularly when it comes to painting with light, is an endless source of enjoyment for me.

I've done flashlight and multiple flash exposure of many things in the past but recently I got to make the leap to painting with laser light.  I couldn't find my ancient green laser pointer so I went out and bought a new red one for this.   As is the way with things I quickly found the green one after returning home from the store.  

Having both wound up being a good thing.  The red laser creates an eerie red glow in most cases while the green laser is much brighter overall.  I left the red laser images in color but felt the results from the green laser lent themselves to B&W images (such as the ones above).  Down the road I can use subject color to vary the brightness of the reflected laser light, which gives me more options.

I am trying to get a blue laser to add to my collection so I can take this even further.

Thanks to my friend Rundio for playing along with this experiment.

Why I explored and why I want to start again

Abandoned buildings have always interested me.  The stories they tell, the history hidden within, and the things you can find are all fascinating.

Some of my favorite local places have been torn down or have suffered fires since I last visited and I haven't done much exploring for a couple years now.  A new career (among other things) has gotten in the way but I need to get back to it.

I'm especially glad I've been able to preserve some of the content from my old site.  I will be bringing back more as time goes by, but two of my favorite locations made it here in the initial migration and that was important:

More than anything, one of the reasons preserving those was so important to me was the community that popped up in response to those articles.  I realize I don't owe it to anyone but I never could have imagined the number of comments and the number of people who would reconnect over their past at these places.  It doesn't surprise me anymore, after all those people are a part of the history of those places and those places were a part of their lives, but it still has an effect on me that I can't describe.

Getting settled here

This is a big change, but hopefully for the better (for me).

I'm hoping Squarespace will let me focus more on putting up content and having fun and less on maintaining the site which I just haven't got the time or desire to do anymore!

No Such Thing As Color

I was recently contacted by the creator of the short film "No Such Thing As Color."  In it she features a colorblind musician named Evans Forde as he tries to identify the color of things and explains how colorblindness affects him and how he understands the concept of color and its perception.  In some scenes Laura processes the colors to simulate colorblindness for 'color normal' viewers of her video.  It's a great 9 minute look at how colorblindness can affect someone and really touches on how it can feel to be colorblind.

At one point Evans is looking at a house trying to decide what color it is and he says "I just don't know."  I understand everything about that frustration!  To me it's really interesting to think about how other people look at objects.  Evans says he looks at an object and considers its shape, texture and any other attributes except its color.  If I know what an object is I assign it the color it should be for a normal observer but if I don't I might consider how warm or cool it is, its 'ish-ness (reddish, blueish, yellowish) or if it appears more or less saturated.  Perhaps that comes from my interest in visual arts such as photography.  Color can be an important element so maybe I've trained myself to try to be aware of it, as best I can.  With his background in music Evans tries to relate colorblindness to being tone deaf which is an interesting comparison (since I'm not really tone deaf) and one I'll probably be rolling around in my head for a while!

This video has made me ask myself people who can see color without difficulty look at and consider the color before everything else or whether it depends on what they look at?  Perception is a complicated thing and how much of our color perception is learned, such as when he talks about the red apple, is something I have heard asked many times (and is perhaps something worth going in to at a later date).  It's hard to imagine what perceiving colors must be like for the color normal yet at the same time you get used to how you see the world and don't even think twice about it most of the time.

I have to point out that she brilliantly includes a clothes shopping scene, every colorblind person's worst enemy!  Matching colors is NOT our forte.

You can check out the site for the short film here or click through the video to its YouTube page.

The grass is always oranger. (Answering a search query)

Since beginning this site I've always found it interesting to see what search queries drive some of the visitors to this site. Just the other day someone came here having searched for an answer to the question "do colourblind people see grass orange?"

An interesting question, and one that doesn't have as simple and straightforward an answer as most might think.  As Daniel points out on his site, he wouldn't be able to see an orange laying in grass.  Does that mean he sees the grass as orange, or the orange as green?  I'm sure people could argue over this for a long time but in some ways it's neither.

What's in a name?

As with anyone, when a colorblind person is a kid they learn the colors of common objects which serve as reference points.  Grass is green, oranges are orange and the sky is blue are some common examples.  Whether a colorblind person has trouble with those colors or not, they will still know what color those things are.  Color names are just words used to describe a particular range of spectral properties.  Something that is blue reflects more light in the shorter wavelengths whereas a red object reflects more light at longer wavelengths than it does at medium or short.  While it may seem like an arbitrary system we've all been taught to apply the same names to the same things which means that barring any color vision or cognitive issues, you should be able to identify most things the same way as other people.

Seeing is more than the eyes

The problem I run in to is that sometimes I can look at something and I don't even know where to begin to try identifying the color!  In the soft pastel greens, peaches and skin tones everything starts to blend together making it pretty much impossible to identify a color without any sort of contextual information.  This sort of problem is also exactly why I came up with the term blurple.

Vision is a complicated system relying on the eyes and the brain and since the concept of color is a perceptual property of the human visual system I wouldn't say that a colorblind person sees the grass as orange.  They may not be able to distinguish the green of the grass from something that is orange, but they know the grass is green and the orange would just happen to blend in for them, such as in David's case.  If you showed him a colored patches that match grass and oranges in color he wouldn't be able to identify them but given the context of "this is an orange on a field of grass" he would "see" the colors.   Sometimes I would describe it as though there's a big tool tip hovering over things labeling the colors as I identify common objects and tell myself what color they should be.  Maybe David sees "GREEN" in bold hovering over every lawn he sees, hopefully he uses a nice font.

More searches

I had been thinking about sharing some of the more amusing search queries that have driven traffic to this site in the past, but I don't think I've put any thought towards that in the past year or so now.  This post will likely be the first of a never-ending series of posts that respond to more interesting (or amusing) search queries.

Here are a few other searches from way back, when I had originally been thinking about doing this:
screw the colored blind - October 31, 2008
screw with color blind people - August 23, 2008
being color blind as a white person - September 16, 2008
color blind test color blind people suck - September 17, 2008
blind photographer - September 19, 2008