Booting down the Interstate as a passenger, I have ample time to admire the bare fields. In the warm low-angled January light, they practically glow. I make approving noises and the Big Guy gives me that look. You know the one.
Are you kiddin’ me?
He doesn’t speak, but the communication is clear enough.
Oh, right. I’m wearing my sunglasses.
As I peek over the top of the frames, squinting against the harsh light, the landscape is revealed as somewhat less appealing than I had thought.
Sighing, I retreat behind my tinted lenses, where the view is more to my liking.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had this silent conversation. The grain fields of southern Alberta, the badlands of South Dakota, the corn stubble on fields carved out from the Canadian Shield, the high desert of Arizona – all these and more have benefited from whatever tint is added to my prescription sunglasses. Through them, the world looks warm and lovely, especially in the shoulder seasons, and I am often left modifying my photos to match what I remember seeing.
Should I stop admiring this artificially enhanced view, since it’s not real?
Colour isn’t so much a feature of the physical world as the result of our interaction with it. Even excluding the special case of colour-blindness, the experience of colour isn’t standard across humans. And other animals have their own perceptions – some see less than we do, and some see more, even into the ultraviolet part of the spectrum.
So if my sunglasses change what I see, that’s OK by me. Who’s to say that what they show me isn’t as real as what I see without them? Well, besides the Big Guy, I mean.
But it is a good idea, I think, for me to remember that the lenses I wear make a difference, and not just when booting down the Interstate.