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Nikon Owner Issue 17

NIKON OWNER GALLERY - Paul Ringdahl

Life through the Left Eye by Paul Ringdahl

The remarkable story of how the loss of Paul Ringdahl's eyesight re-kindled his love of photography.

Paul Ringdahl

Nikon Owner subscriber, PAUL RINGDAHL, had been an enthusiastic self-taught photographer from the age of 18. In the latter part of 2000, after returning from a safari in Africa with his wife, he tragically lost the sight of one eye. Then, unexpectedly suffering from temporary blindness in the other eye as well, with the distinct possibility of having to deal with total blindness for the rest of his life, he spent much of 2001 in and out of hospital undergoing invasive surgery. But by mid-2003 his eyesight was starting to improve, and it was his wife Denise who suggested that he purchased a good camera.

Paul continues the story:

"That week saw the arrival of my first Nikon, an F100 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens a 70-300mm zoom and a 18-35mm wide angle zoom. A SB-80DX flash arrived a week later. Within a week I was hooked on photography once again. I just could not believe all the lovely colours I could see through these quality optics. Another unexpected bonus for me was the use of the AFS zoom lenses. For the first time in eighteen months I could see distant objects clearly and in focus through a camera lens at the press of a button.

My next acquisition was an F5 and I fell in love with this camera too, with its new metering system and machine-gun motor drive. I now also have an F6 with a Nikon 1.4 x teleconverter and a brand new 500mm f/4 AFS series II lens. My wife and I joined a local camera club in Abergavenny that was fortuitously just starting.

Over the last twelve months my vision has continued to improve. Although blues and greens can be a problem and night vision is still dreadful, a lot more detail is now much more visible. The new technology from the Nikon range of cameras has been significantly helpful, and auto-focus is particularly useful for partially sighted people. Whilst I use mainly the Aperture Priority mode, the Programme Auto-mode is a great help in some situations.

Because of my poor colour recognition I doubted my judgement to produce accurate images digitally, and until recently only used film cameras. With the steady improvement of my sight over the last three years, I decided to purchase a D2X, which is the best camera I have ever owned.

On my first day with the D2X I took an image of this 'blue breasted roller' using a Manfrotto 441 carbon fibre tripod and a 500mm AFS lens. The bird is tack sharp from beak to feather, and it is this shot that has truly made me admire digital technology. Well-done Nikon!

My advice to those who have a visual impairment is to never give up. Join a club and get involved. Life through a lens is fabulous. If you use a dioptre eye adjustment, you do not even need to wear glasses. I was told I would have to close my business down, make my staff redundant, stop travelling abroad. But I am busier than ever. I am so blessed to have one eye working. It takes a while to get your co-ordination right but that comes in time.

You are the only person who can make a difference to you. You will never know how good you are with a camera if you don't try.

Paul entered an image called 'Me Myself Eye' in the Stanley Chell Trophy Competition. It scored 20 out of 20 and was his first recognised and judged image. Six months later he managed to get three other images accepted and displayed in the Welsh Salon of Photography and this year his image of 'Me Myself Eye' was published in the Mike Maloney star prize section of Amateur Photographer.

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