Being A Colour Blind Photographer

Photography can be a challenge at the best of times however being a colour blind photographer can sometimes make it a bit harder.

Colour blindness is a term used to describe a persons inability to see colour. The term colour blindness is really a misconception as people can see colours however they may not be able to distinguish between colours. In most cases it is referred to as being colour deficient not colour blindness.  If you are unable to see colour you would be an achromatopsia sufferer. Fortunately for me I can still tell if a traffic light is green or red (thank goodness) but when it comes to identifying colours it becomes more difficult. This can affect my photography in a number of ways.

I found a video that might help explain the subject more clearly than I can:

There are three basic kinds of colour deficiency.

  1. Completely monochromatic vision, where two or three of the photo pigments in your eyes cones are missing.
  2. Dichromacy occurs when you’re missing a pigment: red (protanopia), green (deuteranopia) or blue (tritanopia).
  3. Anomalies occur where one of your cone pigments isn’t quite right and doesn’t have the right spectral sensitivity, resulting in a reduction of your ability to discriminate colours. The red and green pigments are the most similar so it is easier for differences in them to impact the ability to distinguish colors. Protanomaly occurs when you have a slightly shifted red sensitivity, deuteranomaly occurs when your green sensitivity isn’t quite right. Tritanomaly is uncommon (as is tritanopia) and this occurs when your blue pigment isn’t right. This makes blue-yellow discrimination difficult.

When editing photos on my computer I don’t seem to have too much difficulty adjusting colour. Over time I have learned where the colour sliders should be to best represt colour.  Something that also helps a great deal is the camera’s RAW files. I am able to change the white balance setting in post production which automatically corrects the colour within the scene. My problems start to occur when I play around with photos using Photoshop or Lightroom. For instance I may edit the colours within a seascape making the sunset more vivid. If I make a wrong move the rocks may turn a pink hue when all I wanted them to be was a natural colour. I have no way of distinguishing if the colour is correct so I rely on users comments and my memory of colour tools in Photoshop as my best guidance. Most of the time in my photographs I get away with correct colour. On the odd occasion you may see some horrid colour present in my photographs. If you do please tell me as I can’t see it!

When it comes to printing I leave it to the professionals. I have no clue what to do if a photo looks like it has too much magenta because I don’t know if it has too much magenta. Sounds a bit confusing I know but I can tell you now it is more frustrating than anything else.


I have had a search on the internet to find a similar test to ones I have done in the past. In the following video I could only see 3 of the numbers in the patterns. How many could you see? (some advice before watching the video….mute the music!)

Thanks to Kev Isabeth for the suggestion to write on this subject and to The Colour Blind Photographer for your descriptions on colour blindness.




5 comments on “Being A Colour Blind Photographer

  1. Mondrak says:

    You do a fantastic job with your photos then. There is no way you could tell that you are colour blind.

    I remember years ago, I was arguing with a couple of friends of mine over the colour of a canoe on the idiot box. They were so set in their ways that I decided I would go and get myself checked to see if I was colour blind. I wasn’t, so they went to be checked, and they BOTH were!!

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