Wide-eyed Wonder: an artist's musings on three-dimensional vision

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

In search of verification

with 5 comments

As blankets of clouds give way to bluer skies and the light grows stronger, I am checking my vision with my red-green glasses. I want to see some color mixing between the right and left eye to verify teaming.

the graphic designer's color wheel

Red and green light mix to create yellow, unlike red and green pigments that mix to create black, so I should be seeing yellow, or what Vision Therapists call “luster” in the areas that I believe are starting to develop 3D.

This is the color wheel that designers for the web and print media use. Four color printing presses and photographic papers use black, yellow, magenta and cyan inks or film layers to create all the colors we see. Magenta, yellow and cyan (a sky blue) are represented in the inverted triangle. Computer monitors and televisions mix red, green and blue to create all the colors of the rainbow, including white. Red blue and green are represented in the base down triangle.  Half way between red and green is yellow, a perfect mix of the two.

This morning, my white bathroom sink was bathed in soft sunlight. I photographed it through the red and green lenses of my analglyphic glasses and layered each photo at 50% over a white background in Adobe Photoshop. Then I started erasing where my right eye has vision loss. This is pretty much what I am seeing when I allow my right eye to dominate by suppressing the left eye when I fixate on the top of the bathroom fixture while wearing the red-green anaglyph glasses. My best educated guess it that I am experiencing normal correspondence with eyes aligned, but my brain is creating a map of right and left viewpoints because my brain is unable to suppress the left eye in the areas where my right eye is blind.

My unique analglypic view of things

The red area is highly unstable, as I can switch back to left-eye dominance and make it completely green. My goal is to make the red area yellow, a combination of both eyes pointing at the same place at the same time: the top of the bathroom fixture.

The elusive yellow “luster” didn’t happen, probably because I was trying too hard and thinking about it too much. My attempt using a finger to create physiological diplopia easily made two faucets when I converged on my finger about 5″ in front of my nose. What eluded me was the single faucet about 20″ away and two fingers at 5″ that would verify that I was diverging to point both eyes at the faucet.

The elusive divergence, of which I am slowly gaining ground on the Brock string, is what is needed to see 3D more than 5-12″ beyond my nose, which is my current maximum distance with confirmed eye teaming on the center bead of the string.

The cereal bowl that became 3D was 8-12″ under my nose. So I’m fairly certain my 3D experience was valid. On April 6th I had written:

This morning I had just vowed I wasn’t going to try anymore today, after nearly driving myself crazy with looking for anything and everything 3D since getting up an hour before.

I picked up my bowl and resumed eating my granola and BLAM!— the rim of the bowl looked different. I could tell I had both my eyes rooted to it’s outer edges. The rim looked larger somehow, and was slightly misshapen in the upper right part of it’s curve, probably due to the edge of my blind area. I just kept gazing at it in wonder, and something else appeared within a blink: I could see the space inside the bowl, hollowed out and tangible, with my spoon resting against the bottom.

UP. DOWN. BOTTOM. These are such abstract concepts to me … not things to be SEEN other than depicted on a flat surface. But I am seeing these and other words that describe WHERE in three dimensional space with an explosion of never before understood meaning.

3D dishwashing and weeding fall into a more gray area, as those distances were about 16-20″ … in all probability, what I was experiencing was normal correspondence with a map of both right and left viewpoints, similar to what is depicted in the photograph of the bathroom sink.


5 Responses

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  1. Lynda,
    This is an incredible depiction of what it’s like to not see luster. Your artistry will go a long way at helping doctors and therapists appreciate what patients with strabismus are possibly seeing. I appreciate your writings immensely.

    Dan Press

    April 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    • Thanks Dr. Press … but what IS luster exactly? It should be yellow … according to physics and if the lenses are a true green and red … lot’s of questions about what I’m looking for over here. :-)

      Lynda Rimke

      April 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      • Color is a subjective experience. I don’t know what magenta is, it’s either purple or pink but I would never be able to pick it out as a separate color because I never learned it to be an individual color. It’s the same for luster, it’s not yellow because yellow is perceived by the mixing of certain wavelengths interpreted by the brain. The brain can’t make artificial colors when combining a separate image from each eye with a filter. My long winded point is that my luster will be different than your luster. It’s not red, it’s not green, it’s not yellow, it’s our brains interpretation of what we think it should be (which ends up a mush of all three that is constantly morphing).

        Dan Press

        April 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      • Lynda,
        Ask someone with normal vision to put on the red/green glasses and look at a light bulb. Then ask them what color the light bulb is. You’ll get some funny answers (although I have never heard anyone say yellow).



        April 14, 2011 at 5:57 am

      • “Luster” will appear to be a different color depending on the kind of light illuminating the white object (eg incandescent light has a yellow cast and florescent has a green cast and overcast sky has a blue cast.) This is why there are settings on digital cameras to color correct for these conditions.

        “Luster”‘s color will be influenced by all these light sources, just as a white object would be. However, our brains always interpret a white thing as white, no matter the color of light it is reflecting. That’s where some of the subjectivity comes to play.

        If you are trained to recognize color, it is possible to name it and work with it objectively. eg. I routinely add or subtract magenta from a photo to color correct for too much or too little green. I also know if the photo requires red adjustment because it is not too much green but cyan tinting the photo. Yellow color corrects for blue. All are complementary colors on the wheel and cancel one another.

        For the untrained, it all seems completely subjective. There’s a common running joke that most women recognize and use “taupe” in their color vocabulary while most men remain clueless! ;-)

        But the one thing I’m fairly certain of is that “luster”‘s value is considerably lighter than red or green. If you half close your eyes and look at the color wheel, the yellow appears brighter …perhaps this is why it has earned the name “luster”?

        Lynda Rimke

        April 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

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