on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Memory Colour

What you think really does matter!

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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In the first article in our series on colour we jumped in a bit at the deep end and looked at just what colour is. This second article will take a look at our perceptions of colour and debunks the accepted belief that colour is something that an object has and that we can clearly see just by looking.

Firstly though I’d like to talk about a rather clever experiment that was done in Germany about 10 years ago. They showed the experimental subjects a set of pictures of real world objects and abstract shapes of various colours and all placed on a grey background. They then gave the panel a set of colour controls to adjust the red, green and blue components of the object and told them to play with them until the object was a grey. (i.e. the object had no hue component)

When the subjects were shown abstract shaped objects, e.g. squares & triangles, they successfully adjusted the colours until the objects were neutral grey. However, when presented with real world objects with strong and well known colour e.g. a yellow banana, the final colour wasn’t neutral grey - it actually ended up a slightly blue colour. This makes sense if we remember that the complementary or opposite colour from yellow is blue. In other words they had over adjusted the banana.

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