Winter Scenes for the Visually Impaired

Peter Visser, Staff Writer

I have often wondered how those with less than perfect vision see the world around them. My natural curiosity and lack of visual impairments have caused many hours of contemplation and imagination. It seemed, to me at least, that the only way to experience such a phenomenon was to damage or distort my own eyes.

Unfortunately, despite my best wishes, such practices of self-harm are frowned upon. So I set out to find a new solution to satisfy my search for visual imperfection. Then I discovered photography. With the turn of a dial and the press of a button, the photographer can manipulate a scene however they may please. Unlike the human eye, the lens of a camera can be changed and distorted at will. The freedom of the camera lens got me thinking, “Is it possible to artificially imitate visual impairments on my camera?”

With my Canon in one hand and a handful of plastic wrap in the other, I stepped outside to attempt to create a series of winter scenes from a visually impaired perspective. As I fired off shots at frozen rivers and frosty mountain peaks, I placed crinkled plastic wrap in front of my lens. I constantly over or underexposed my images, doing my best to capture my interpretation of visual impairments. If the plastic wrap was not cutting it, I would purposefully fog my lens. Soon, after some trial and error, I had discovered a technique that I felt best represented the world through the eyes of those with impaired eyesight.

I am sure that my interpretation is not completely accurate, but after reviewing the images that I had produced I understood. I understood the hassle that such people face on a day to day basis. I understood that the winter scenes for the visually impaired, while frustrating, still hold the same mystifying beauty that any clear image would, perhaps even a little more.