With Little Sight Left – Color Calibration Saved Me

By Ted Tahquechi
 
ttahquechi_selfportMy name is Ted Tahquechi, and I am an award-winning photographer living near Denver, Colorado. I have a degree in Fine Art Photography, and I am almost completely blind. I have been in love with photography since 1986, when I was shooting and developing black and white film in college, using my camera to capture moments from family vacations and my children. In 1999, a car accident robbed me of all but 5% of my vision, forcing me to give up my dream job in the Video Games industry. I picked up the camera again, and began to use it as a tool to capture the day-to-day moments around me, and later see them fully on my computer screen.
 
 
 

 

With very little sight left, I returned to school and completed my photography degree. This is where the inspiration for my Landscapes of the Body (http://www.bodyscapes.photography/) series was born. My vision fails at about three inches, and is mainly black with some light and dark, shadow and highlight. A person is a large colored blur to me, and I cannot see their facial expressions. Because of this, I took an alternate approach to portraits and focused on parts of the body rather than the face. The Landscapes of the Body series evolved over six years to what you see today: an abstract, non-explicit, portrait series embracing negative space, shape and form and representing my remaining vision. The collection is body-positive, featuring professional and amateur models ranging in age from 19 to 76, both male and female. Landscapes of the Body celebrates body size, age, and ethnic diversity in its imagery.
 
Creating an image is a methodical process for me. Composition requires that I meticulously scan the viewfinder and previsualize an image before it is taken. I shoot tethered into a MacBook, and lighting is a straightforward setup consisting of a single Photoflex monobloc strobe and silver/gold reflector. My current camera setup is a Canon 5dMKIV with a 24-105L and 70-200L is II. Camera lens calibration is done with the SpyderLENSCAL, which allows me to make precise adjustments in focus, making sure my images are tack sharp.

 

 

One of the largest challenges I face is keeping a consistent look to the images regardless of when and what they were shot with. Since the project started, technology in cameras and printing has certainly evolved. Early images were captured with a Canon 7D, eventually switching to a Canon 5DMKIII, and now a Canon 5DMKIV. Consistency in my images is very important to me, particularly in color, brightness and contrast.
 
I have relied on Datacolor Spyder monitor calibration technology over the years as a sort of safety net, which has helped me to achieve a natural look to my images. I originally started with the Spyder3, moving up to the 4th iteration upon its release, and I now rely on the Spyder5 in my daily workflow. The Spyder monitor calibration technology helps me bridge the gap between my remaining vision and my desire to create beautiful images. Proper monitor calibration ensures that my images visually fit together, compensating for differences in camera sensor technology, and my lack of sight.

 

 

For me, monitor calibration is only the first step in making a great image. Since 2010, the SpyderCHECKR has also been an invaluable tool and is always in the first image I take, ensuring correct color and consistency in my images even when I can’t fully see it.
 
Regardless of the project I am working on, ensuring that my entire workflow is calibrated, and rendering the correct color at each step of the process gives my photos a true color consistency that creates a cohesive body of work, whether my final images are in color or black and white.