Although it sounds like a nasty disease, like athlete’s foot or tennis elbow, the photographer’s eye isn’t that. We take our eyes for granted, and they are an essential part of photography, both metaphorically and literally.
I wonder how many chapters in photography books have been written about the photographer’s eye. It’s the title of one reference book I really enjoyed reading and recommend. Of course, it is usually applied figuratively and refers to the photographer’s ability to create a compelling composition. However, it also has a literal meaning.
It’s a constant news item that the world’s population is aging. The United Nations says that, globally, the median age has increased by seven years since 1950. It was 24 and is now 31. Here in the UK, the average age is 40.6, and in the USA, 38.5. Saying that, nearly two thirds of the world’s population is under 39. When I visit camera clubs or see other photographers walking around with their cameras, most are my age and older. Indeed, far more than half of my trainee clients are older than me. Consequently, more than half of those clients need their vision corrected.
Do You Use Glasses When Photographing
Not so long ago, I started wearing glasses. They were not something I had needed before, but having perfect vision in one’s youth usually means needing some optical correction when the eye muscles become less tight than they once were. My slowly deteriorating vision is helped by the precise autofocus of my camera and the focus assistance that outlines the in-focus area with a colored line.
Like me, many of my clients are battling with close vision and the problems of wearing spectacles. Luckily, the diopter adjustment on my camera’s eyepiece is sufficient for me to see through the viewfinder. It surprises me how many people are unaware of the diopter adjustment on their camera. If you haven’t found it, it’s the little wheel next to the viewfinder. Use the autofocus to lock the camera onto a subject, and then turn that little wheel until what you see through the viewfinder looks sharp. There should be a lot of resistance on this wheel. A client of mine recently told me that his diopter was forever getting accidentally readjusted in the camera bag.
But that doesn’t help me when it comes to looking at the menus or using the Live View screen and I am not wearing my glasses.
For a while, I wore a string that suspended my glasses around my neck, which mostly worked. Sometimes, however, my camera would get caught on them, and the loops attached to the glasses would fall off, resulting in my specs hitting the ground.
I tried keeping my glasses in my top pocket, but that was a nuisance. So, in the end, I bought multifocals, which are the best solution. I use those for photography and driving. I have two separate sets of reading glasses. One pair has the distance set for my computer screen, and the other is correct for reading a book. Nevertheless, they are still not without their difficulties.
Recently, I tested a lens I had agreed to review. It looked and felt great, so I attached it to my camera and went for a walk on a sunny winter morning. But, looking through the camera’s viewfinder, I could see a significant chromatic aberration around high-contrast edges. Consequently, this tainted the rest of the shoot for me. Despite the speed of focusing, the build quality, the ability to get shallow depth of field, the close focusing distance, the lack of distortion, and the fantastic ergonomics of the lens, I didn’t enjoy using it because of that optical fault.
I only like reviewing gear if it’s worthy of recommending to you. If it’s terrible, I don’t want to write about it. So, what was I going to do?
I got home and uploaded the photos to my computer. There wasn’t a hint of chromatic aberration there. First, I turned off the lens profile. The images were still clear. Then, I looked at the photos using different software. There was still not a hint of purple and green lines around the contrasting edges that I could clearly see when I took the pictures. Next, I put the SD card back in the camera and pressed the play button. There was still none to be seen on the camera’s Live View screen. So, I looked through the viewfinder and couldn’t see it.
After scratching my head, I put my varifocal glasses on. There, in the viewfinder, I could see the chromatic aberration. It was the glasses causing it, not the lens.
Right Eye Dominance Helps Photographers
Are you left- or right-eyed? Most of us have a dominant eye. If you need to determine which yours is, and assuming you have two working eyes, keep both eyes open. Now, point at an object a few yards from you. Next, alternately close one eye and then the other. You will see your finger move in relation to the distant object when you close one of your eyes and move back to its correct position when you open it again. That is your dominant eye.
Years ago, I worked providing adventurous outdoor activities. I had a fantastic time climbing mountains, sailing and canoeing on sea lochs, and scrambling up rivers. One of the activities we did was archery, and the archery instructors would always talk about left and right-eye dominance. If you are left-eyed and try to shoot right-handed, you will miss. Teaching someone to shoot left-handed was always more challenging for the instructors to get their heads around. Left-eye dominance more often occurs in left-handed people. So, the first question they would ask the clients would be: “who is left-handed?” I used to tease the instructors by secretly telling the groups of clients beforehand to all answer yes to that question. It’s a question I still always ask my photography trainees.
Most of us are right-eyed, and cameras are built for us. Holding my camera to the right eye, the rear of the camera doesn’t push against my big nose, and if I keep both eyes open, I can see objects moving into the frame from the right. That isn’t true of every camera. I have tried bigger cameras that painfully squash my nose; yes, I have a big nose.
If I try holding any camera to my left eye, my nose gets in the way, and I cannot see anything out of my right eye because my right hand obscures the view. Just as the world is prejudiced against left-handed people in so many ways, cameras are designed for right-eyed people or maybe left-eyed people with tiny noses and hands.
I’m still looking for a perfect camera and glasses combination solution. I don’t want to wear contact lenses and won’t consider laser surgery, but any practical suggestions you have will be welcome. Have you already discovered whether you are right or left-eyed? If you are left-eyed, have you noticed the inconvenience of right-handed cameras?