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Ink Tea
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Seeing Beyond Sight Photo Challenge by Ink Tea

June 17th, 2007 3:04 PM

INSTRUCTIONS: Seeing Beyond Sight has partnered with SFZero to challenge you to see the world differently - with more than your eyes.

Welcome new users: SFZero is an ongoing game in which you can choose to participate (or not) after you do the Seeing Beyond Sight Challenge.

Click here for new user registration.

1. Blindfold yourself.
(wear shades or tape your eyes shut)

2. Go out in public and make your way in the world.
(go 1 block, 1 hour or 1 roll of film; go with a friend or alone; make up your own process)

3. Photograph things you notice. And, just notice.
(What do you notice differently about objects, people, actions, interactions?)

4. Embrace the whole experience as much as the picture taking.
(Engage. Have a conversation with people you encounter. Take it all in.)

5. Share your story.
(For each photograph write a caption about your experience - a few lines or several paragraphs if you want.)

6. Challenge some friends to do it.
(email them the link:

Please don't post all the pictures from your shoot, but chose 1 to 3 that are the best images or are most telling of your experience. Caption the photos describing something about your experience - that is as important as the image itself. Longer stories are welcomed and may be added to

If you depend on your eyes to get around, then it is hard not to use them. Although you can tell us about how difficult it is to be blind, focus more on what you noticed about the world as you embarked on this journey.

This experience isn’t about blindness – it is about seeing, noticing and paying attention with more than your eyes.

This challenge was inspired by SEEING BEYOND SIGHT: PHOTOGRAPHY BY BLIND TEENAGERS, a new book published by Chronicle Books.

Darwin is a beautiful 35mm Canon AE-1, which I got half of for my 18th birthday (making him just over 10 years in my possession). As you can see in my dot-faced user picture, Darwin is not digital. Darwin does not have auto-focus.

However, as I've used the camera for the past ten years, and quite a bit, too, I am familiar and comfortable with him. Beyond that , having studied photography helps a little, too. So I metered the light in the room before blindfolding myself and starting in. However, focus is such a touchy thing- with a manual camera, there is some amount of science you can apply, knowing your lens well, and estimating the distance between yourself and that which you are photographing. The images still end up softer, or focused on something unintended.

And yet, there's something I like a lot about this.

The first image is Celina. It's my favorite of the whole roll. She is also blindfolded, lifting her chin upwards, and in profile. I like the light behind her, the green and brown of the wall and the wood, and the softness of the whole thing out of focus.

The second image is Celina, Starfive, and Oliver. This is the most "in focus" of the images I took. I positioned myself in the doorway of my diningroom. A lot of the images I took on this roll, I was sneaking around as much as possible, taking advantage of the fact that we were in my house.

The third image is Oliver's shoulder, but mostly the piles of paper and bottles on the cabinet and windowsill behind him. The light is good in this photograph, and the angle is interesting.

The fourth image is the corner of the aforementioned cabinet. Strangely, it is perfectly in focus, and with warm light and good shadows surrounding it. Somewhere in the blurry foreground is a hand.

- smaller

13 vote(s)


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8 comment(s)

Digg the soft focus…
posted by Blue on June 17th, 2007 4:15 PM

It adds a Nice touch using film and not using auto focus.
Very Brave of you.

(no subject)
posted by Ink Tea on June 17th, 2007 4:29 PM

My heart is in film. Digital is about convenience, ease, accessibility, and immediacy. Film is about intention, mechanics, vision, and commitment. Each has their place, and you can bet your britches I wish I had a nice digital camera for ease and convenience sometimes, but my heart will always be in film.

(no subject)
posted by Ink Tea on June 17th, 2007 4:31 PM

I had the offer to use a friend's digital camera, but I wanted to think about the many parts of sight. I have perfect vision. This sort of thing makes me think about what it must be like to not see everything in sharp detail.

(no subject)
posted by Fonne Tayne on June 18th, 2007 12:11 PM

i have imperfect vision, and though one of my eyes is very strong, this isn't far off from how my left eye sees if it's on its own. like your darwin, my eyes can't (really) auto-focus.

(no subject)
posted by Galán de noche on June 18th, 2007 1:52 PM

i love the perfect focus on the dresser.

(no subject)
posted by anna one on July 6th, 2007 12:52 AM

That first blindfold photo is beautiful.

(no subject)
posted by Ink Tea on July 6th, 2007 6:15 AM

Thanks, Anna. It's a favorite for me, too.

Wonderful photos.
posted by Loki on September 29th, 2007 12:37 PM

The blindfold photo is great, and I really like the last shot of the corner dresser.

And kudos for bravery. Walking around blindfolded with a beloved camera is not for the faint of heart.