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When Is A Block Of Colour Actually A Colour Block??? (Or - An Attempt At Explaining My Problems With Black And White)
I know I have written a bit about my problems with certain colours.  To be perfectly honest I was hoping never to feel I have to write this blog post but I seem to keep getting stuck in the same old arguments over and over again about what effect certain colours have on my vision.  The two colours I am going to concentrate on in this blog post are black and white - or what I call my "shapeshifting colours".

I honestly wish I could take photographs of exactly how those colours appear to me but - seeing as they have yet to invent a camera which can be inserted anywhere near an optic nerve - I hope my attempts at explaining are not too confusing.

I would like to start this blog post by asking you to do a little experiment on yourself.  Don't worry - this does not involve any nasty substances getting anywhere near your body.

All I would like you to do is close your eyes and concentrate on what you can see with your eyes closed for two minutes.  Take very good notice particularly of the colours as these are going to help you understand part of what I am going to tell you (at least I hope they are).

You are probably now looking at the screen and thinking I should submit myself for psychological assessment because I told you to pay close attention to the colours you can see with your eyes closed???

There is a very good reason for me to ask you to do that.

If you said "Don't be stupid - the only colour I could see was black", I have one thing to say to you - Congratulations - you have failed my test.  Your sight is nowhere near as bad as mine.  Not only that - this blog post is specifically aimed at you.

If - on the other hand - you said "I can see a variety of colours - none of which are black" welcome to the club.  (The exception being if you have nearly 20/20 vision - if this is the case I suggest a quick trip to Accident and Emergency should feature in your very near future as you may have a very serious problem with your eyes.)

People with my level of myopia (shortsightedness) can only see black in its artificial forms.  For people like me there is very little in the way of "true" black - except when we get what are called "floaters" - debris floating inside our eyeball which disrupt our vision.

Stand me in a space with no light whatsoever and I will tell you that I can see multicoloured spots in front of my eyes.

There are two rather annoying things which are connected with this phenomenon. (Apart from me being useless in a powercut that is.)

First - I will claim it is getting dark quicker than most people.  You might tellme that it is still daylight but - if my eyes start getting those multicoloured spots in front of them - the night is definitely drawing in for me.  On average I will head for the nearest lightswitch around 20 minutes before my Dad (who has got near "normal" vision) will.

The second annoying thing is the fact that black is one of my "shapeshifting colours" colours (the other one being white but for a slightly different reason - which we will get to a bit later).

When I say "shapeshifting colour" I mean exactly that.  Unless the black object I am looking at has definite edges - as in a TV, a Ford Focus estate, a fence, etc - the object in question will change shape.  The change will not necessarily be in ways someone with "normal" vision would expect either.

There are three examples I can give you off the top of my head.

If you really want to frighten me to death feel free to find a clip of the old "Milk Tray" adverts and play them to me.  (This may also explain why I find it difficult to immediately identify Police Officers, and Niqab-wearing women who are dressed head to foot in black, from street furniture.)

For those of you who do not remember the "Milk Tray" adverts - they featured a black-haired man who was dressed in a black polonecked top, black trousers, and black shoes, seemingly doing a brilliant impression of a burgular, but leaving a box of chocolates in a woman's flat.

Why does that advert frighten me so much???

Allow me to create a man for the purpose of this explanation - he is approximately 6 foot tall, of a chunky (solid) build.  Oh, and he has got dark hair topping a friendly-looking smiling face.  (I am going to call him Chris.)

When we first see Chris - he is wearing what has to be my favourite outfit on a man.  He is wearing a white tshirt with blue jeans and trainers.  (As long as he is not in bright sunshine I can look at him all day.  The fact his arms are naked makes the tshirt easy to focus on.)  He also looks very huggable.

Chris decides to get changed into another outfit (maybe he is going to work, or a wedding, etc).  This outfit involves a pair of black trousers, a tinted shirt, an eye-shatteringly bright tie, and black shoes.  No problem so far - I can still see him and focus on him.  Then he puts on a dark jacket (this only has to be in the range of black - as in a very dark colour) - and promptly gains approximately 5 inches in overall size (height and width).  Unless we put Chris on a diet - so his undressed dimensions are those of a very slim man indeed - his outfit now has the effect of making him look not unlike a solid wall.  I tend not to attempt to hug walls.  Chris may well still have a friendly smile on his face but I am not going anywhere near him unless I absolutely have to.

The next problem involves "concealment".  Forget any legal definition of that word - I am talking about black being the best colour to use if you want to hide something from me in plain sight - coins, coloured paper, pens, you name it.  If it is not completely concealed the object will usually shrink somewhat (unless it is white).

The third problem is where the background merges with what I am looking at - this is usually when the surrounding area is lighter than both the background and the object (or human) I am looking at.

This can cause me no end of problems - either when I am out and about r when I am watching TV.

Two examples now follow;

Have you ever seen a car with 10 wheels and two doors on one side of it???  Or a car that appears to be bending around a corner when it is stationary???

Try standing anywhere near two queues of traffic, one waiting to go straight one and the other one in a staggered line to turn right.  This only works with my eyesight.

Finally - we have the ever expanding Mr Clive Myrie from the BBC News Channel.  I am sure Mr Myrie is a very nice person - I just wish he would change his outfit when he is in the studio reading the news.  I much prefer his outfit when he is reporting from a distant land - at least I can see him properly then because he usually wears a light tinted top.

If you have never seen Mr Myrie he is a black man.  However, when he is presenting the news, all I can usually see of him is the white shirt on his chest, his mouth, and the whites of his eyes when he looks at another camera.

The rest of him merges with the very dark (to me anyway) background of the area behind him.  This is extremely disconcerting for someone like me.

Mr Myrie adequately represents another phenomenon concerning my sight and the colour black.

For the "normal" sighted among you black objects and people will shrink the further away from them you are.

As in - if we were walking along a street and we saw a black car parked with its wheels on the kerb, you would be able to judge the size of it and it would scale itself up as you approached it.

It is the exact opposite for me.  That car will appear to have the dimensions of a van when I first see it.  The wall, etc, it is nearest to can appear to be touching it (even if it turns out to be some distance away as I approach it).  To get a proper visual measurement of it (and the gap between it and any walls, etc) I need to be within arm's length of it.

I said that white was my other "shapeshifting colour" but in a different way, didn't I???

What I meant was - whereas the colour black has a habit of expanding and contracting itself in relation to the distance between me and the object or person I am looking at - white just stays big and shapeless (unless the angles are very defined) and it has a nasty habit of drowning everything else out if I am not careful.  This is especially true when it comes to backlit screens, sunlight, etc.

I hope this has given you something of a taster of my dificulties with black and white.

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