I started wearing glasses when I was 12… maybe 13 years old. I got my glasses just a couple of weeks before the school year started, but I really only needed wear them in the classroom. My most distinct memory of those early days of glasses belongs in a classroom. I often forgot or neglected to get out my glasses because I didn’t need them until I was sitting in the back of my English class and my teacher’s handwriting in faint chalk just wasn’t distinct enough. My friend Nikki had just about the same prescription and I’d lean over and whisper, “Can I borrow your glasses for a minute?”
I’m not sure when my vision really took that turn down the path that says, “You can never go back.” I started wearing contacts in high school out of convenience. It was difficult dancing and cheering with glasses on and drove me crazy. After all, I’d only been wearing glasses sparingly for the last two years. I had (regular) problems with my contacts… losing them because they were the wrong fit, protein build up from allergies, and dry, bloodshot eyes from hours of wear. It was a small price to pay for contacts.
In the last year, my relationship with my contacts has rapidly declined. I’d put my contacts in and immediately, my eyes hurt. I couldn’t open them. They watered uncontrollably. It was frustrating and so I returned to my glasses. The glasses that were last updated my freshman year of college (six years ago). I assumed I had a cut or scratch on my eye and I wasn’t concerned. In fact, I’ve never been concerned. I waited the typical two weeks and tried the contacts again. No go. I’ve primarily worn glasses for the last year or so as a result. The contacts come out two or three times a month and for special occasions. I live with the headaches and lack of peripheral vision because I prefer it to the angry, watery eyes (and the headaches and double vision that ensue). My prescription is old and incorrect (for glasses and contacts), but it serves me well enough since I’m without insurance.
Why are we talking about this?
Since I received my LensBaby a few weeks ago, I’ve made so many personal connections to my own photography. My camera has better vision than I do. In fact, most of my cameras have had better vision. The LensBaby Composer can focus to infinity. I can’t even focus on the size of this type from a foot and a half away without glasses. I peer through the viewfinder into a blurry image and try to focus as best I can. I can usually come away with an in-focus picture: a picture that looks better on my LCD screen or computer than it did to me in real life.
Typically, I make my camera see as I don’t. I work to focus on the image and capture the moment as others might see it. It is how I’d like to see it and how I *would* see it if I had perfect vision. But now, with an SLR and manual focus lenses, I can make the camera see as I see. I can focus the image… not quite enough… and let others view the world through my eyes. With the LensBaby, this is even more prominent.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been wearing my glasses more and more often. For those of you that don’t wear glasses, they don’t make things crystal clear. Even if your prescription is right on, the image is broken and distorted by fingerprints or scratches on the lenses. The image is broken where the lenses end and the frames begin… it’s the place where the world gets blurry again. I look side to side and it’s blurry. I glance out at the scene around me, and it’s (almost) clear, but if I move my eyes, I catch both clarity and blur. Take the previous picture for example: only the middle of the tree is (pretty much) in focus. I can only focus on what is in front of me. The sides of the picture become a blur when the glasses end. Lights become bigger balls of light instead of tiny twinkles. At Christmas, you seen a lot of lights in bokeh. Without my glasses, all lights are in bokeh… like here:
This camera… this lens… has taught me a lot about my own vision. It has helped me understand why I tend to fall in love with soft, ethereal images and colors. They see as I see.
Don’t get me wrong though… I wish that my vision was perfect, but for now, I’ll accept a different sort of clarity.