Coming to Terms: Brightness & Lightness

Coming to Terms: Brightness & Lightness

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Many of us love to “geek out’ on color…whether it be with tools, materials or terms.  There isn’t always agreement about what each term actually means, and some of them seem to overlap.  Maybe some color terms cannot be neatly tied up in  one definition.

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Let’s perceive this post as an exploration, an investigation, and a drilling down into some of the color terms we use every day.  Well, the color terms we may use often, without truly thinking about it, or considering what they mean.  Perception…that’s the ticket!  We’re going to take this slowly, step-by-step, working (and playing) through the Terms, like Noah’s Ark, two by two. We started at the beginning, with Color &  Hue.  We worked  our way through Colorfulness  & Chroma and Saturation & Intensity, (which was, no pun intended…tee hee…intense!)

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Now we are ready to wind up the series with a look at the concepts of “Brightness and Lightness“, which sounds like a definition of Grace.   May this exploration (just can’t quite call it a romp…drilling down into the definition of these Terms does take some fortitude!) be an illuminating experience for us all.

light8What is “Brightness”?

Brightness  is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light.[1] In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target. This is a subjective attribute/property of an object being observed. 

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In other words..the experience of “brightness” is “subjective”, or personal which can vary from person to person, as I understand the latter definition.  We experience “brightness’, as a response to the scientific phenomena of “Luminance” ...a photometric measure of the luminous intensity per unit area of light travelling in a given direction. It [Luminance] describes the amount of light that passes through or is emitted from a particular area, and falls within a given solid angle.

Thus, Brightness is what we see/perceive/experience as a result of that travel and “fall” of Light.  Still poetic.

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What is “Lightness“…and how does it relate to “Brightness”…(besides rhyming with it…and creating poetry!)

Lightness  (sometimes called value or tone) is a property of a color, or a dimension of a color space, that is defined in a way to reflect the subjective brightness perception of a color for humans along a lightness–darkness axis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightness

light9Speaking of Light and Shadow…

Key here is the phrase “…along a lightness-darkness axis.” “Value” is the property, aspect or dimension of color that references its relative lightness or darkness. We may speak of “That is a sky blue, lighter in value, then the darker midnight blue of the night sky.” Also note the use of the word “subjective” (“…defined in a way to reflect the subjective brightness perception of a color for humans…).  Our perception of Brightness is to at least some extent, personable and variable.  The measure of Luminance, which causes the level of brightness that we perceive, is an amount.  Lightness refers to our perception of Brightness in terms of lightness to darkness.  This is about as far as I am able to break it down at this time!

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At one time in San Francisco, there was a Theatre Company called “Thick Description“.  This term also refers to an explanation of behavior, as well as its context…so that it can become meaningful to to others.  Sounds about as “thick” as our attempt to clarify the meaning of the Color Terms we use.

We may have to work through the “Thick Descriptions”, but my hope is for this series of post to shed some Light on Color…for YOU!  Out of the Darkness..into the Light…and Color!  We know Color is an effect of Light…after all.

Cheers!

 


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Coming to Terms: Saturation & Intensity

Coming to Terms: Saturation & Intensity

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Many of us love to “geek out’ on color…whether it be with tools, materials or terms.  There isn’t always agreement about what each term actually means, and some of them seem to overlap.  Maybe some color terms cannot be neatly tied up in  one definition.

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Let’s perceive this post as an exploration, an investigation, and a drilling down into some of the color terms we use every day.  Well, the color terms we may use often, without truly thinking about it, or considering what they mean. Perception…that’s the ticket!  We’re going to take this slowly, step-by-step, working (and playing) through the terms, like Noah’s Ark, two by two. We started at the beginning, with Color &  Hue.  We worked  our way through Colorfulness  & Chroma. Now let’s look at the intertwined concepts of Saturation and Intensity.

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Many of us use the term “saturated” often…and the term “intensity” even more. But, what do they mean? is there even an agreement as to what they mean?

Saturation has been described as the strength of a color, the dominance, and/or vividness of hue in a color, the intensity of a color,, the degree of difference of a color from a gray of the same lightness or brightness as the color.  Saturation is one of the three aspects by which a color is described, the others being hue, and value.

We learned that “Colorfulness can be defined as ‘”the degree of difference between a color and gray…and Chroma is the colorfulness relative to the brightness of another color that appears white under similar viewing conditions.”

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Saturation may be defined as “the colorfulness of a color relative to its own brightness.”   or “ the degree to which it is different than gray at a given lightness.” Saturation measures the degree to which a color differs from a gray of the same darkness or lightness.

Thus, the Saturation aspect of a color may be defined as how far is from gray (“Colorfulness”), as regards to the aspect of “ visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light.”, or, Brightness. Thus Saturation relates to Brightness, which relates to to Luminance, which will be discussed in a subsequent post!

We have ascertained that “unpacking’ these Color Terms is akin to a a tongue-twister AND a brain-teaser!

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To desaturate, (lessen saturation, or make less intense, give the appearance of being less strong, or, less full of, color) in a subtractive system, such as paint color, gray, black, white, or the complement (the color opposite on the color wheel) of the color in question can be added.  All will serve to lessen the intensity, strength, “purity”, concentration, and / or colorfulness of the color, and thus make it less saturated.

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The term “Intensity” is often used interchangeably with “Saturation”, by painters and others.  I prefer to think of the term “Intensity” as a descriptor or adjective of “Saturation”.  Also known as “intensity,” saturation describes the strength of a color with respect to its value or lightness. What that means is a color’s saturation is the degree to which it is different than gray at a given lightness. For instance, colors near middle gray are relatively unsaturated compared to brighter, more vibrant colors….”–http://www.colorcube.com/articles/theory/theory.htm

“….saturation tells us how a color looks under certain lighting conditions. For instance, a room painted a solid color will appear different at night than in daylight. Over the course of the day, although the color is the same, the saturation changes. This property of color can also be called intensity. Be careful not to think about SATURATION in terms of light and dark but rather in terms of pale or weak and pure or strong.”http://www.colorcube.com/articles/theory/glossary.htm

Remember, Saturation is related to brightness, light, and luminance.

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Well, I hope your brain is not completely scrambled! It may be time to take a deep breath, relax, let our minds unwind, and take a moment to simply enjoy and revel in color…and saturate our soul and senses with it…pure, intense and full.

Coming to Terms: Colorfulness & Chroma

Coming to Terms: Colorfulness & Chroma

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Many of us love to “geek out’ on color…whether it be with tools, materials or terms.  There isn’t always agreement about what each term actually means, and some of them seem to overlap.  Maybe some color terms cannot be neatly tied up in even a colorful bow of one definition.

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Let’s perceive this post as an exploration, an investigation, and a drilling down into some of the color terms we use every day.   Well, the color terms we may use often, without truly thinking about it, or considering what they mean.  Perception…that’s the ticket!  We’re going to take this slowly, step-by-step, working (and playing) through the terms, like Noah’s Ark, two by two. We started at the beginning, with Color &  Hue.  Now let’s work our way through, and look at the inter-related terms Colorfulness and Chroma.

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Colorfulness:  The definition that made the most sense to me is: ‘”the degree of difference between a color and gray. “–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorfulness   In essence, Colorfulness is the level, or amount of color in a color! Not to be confused with “Hue“, or the “color of a color”. IE-the question,  “What color is it?” Relates to Hue, while “How full of Color is it?” relates to Colorfulness.

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Gray is a mixture of black and white, Grey or gray is an intermediate color between black and white, a neutral or achromatic color, meaning literally a color “without color.” To drill down a bit on “Gray”, and its components, Black and White: “Black…. is the darkest color, the result of the absence of or complete absorption of light. It is the opposite of white. ….the color the human eye sees when it looks at light which contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum, at full brightness and without absorption. White does not have any hue.”

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Chroma may be described as “the colorfulness relative to the brightness of another color that appears white under similar viewing conditions.”  According to this definition, Chroma is a type, or aspect of Colorfulness, which relates to Brightness (which relates to Light, and  Lightness.)  This exploration  is becoming quite a tongue-twister as well as a brain-teaser!

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Thus, according to the above definitions, Chroma, means how far a color is from achromatic gray (Colorfulness),  as compared to the brightness of another color that appears white under similar viewing conditions.  Spoiler alert: “Saturation is the colorfulness of a color relative to its own brightness.     (We will get into Saturation, Brightness, Purity and Intensity in subsequent posts!)

Thus the term Chroma is associated with Brightness, or the perception of luminance.  I am repeating here, but sometime repetition helps us to drill down into, dissect and finally understand meaning.

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Well, that is about all the drilling down we have time for at the moment, so I  will leave You with my heartfelt wish that your Life be filled with as much Colorfulness, and the highest level of Chroma that you desire, with the Achromatic moments far and few between.  Unless you love shades of Gray, of course!

Coming to Terms: Color & Hue

Coming to Terms: Color & Hue

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Many of us love to “geek out’ on color…whether it be with tools, materials or terms.  There isn’t always agreement about what each term actually means, and some of them seem to overlap.  Maybe some color terms cannot be neatly tied up in one definition…

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Let’s perceive this post as an exploration, an investigation, and a drilling down into some of the color terms we use every day..or, well…often…without perhaps knowing exactly what they mean.  That concept of “exactitude”…might be a little hard to come by, when attempting to define these terms. Perception…that’s the ticket!  We’re going to take this slowly, step-by-step, working (and playing) through the terms, like Noah’s Ark, two by two, starting at the beginning, with Color &  Hue.

What is color? This is one of the best definitions I found:

  1. That aspect of things that is caused by differing qualities of the light reflected or emitted by them, definable in terms of the observer or of the light, as:
    1. The appearance of objects or light sources described in terms of the individual’s perception of them, involving hue, lightness, and saturation for objects and hue, brightness, and saturation for light sources.
    2. The characteristics of light by which the individual is made aware of objects or light sources through the receptors of the eye, described in terms of dominant wavelength, luminance, and purity. (http://www.answers.com/topic/color)

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    In other words: the composition of the light itself, the way the object receiving the light reflects it, and the way our eyes perceive that reflected light.  In other words, in terms of material objects, color isn’t really there…it is an effect of light…how we perceive it.  There is science, physics and optics behind this…but in essence, you might say that color is in the eye of the beholder…

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Sometimes color and hue are used interchangeably, but they are not the same.  Hue is an aspect, attribute, or property of color, along with colorfulness, chroma, saturation, lightness, and brightness, (to be explored in  subsequent posts.)

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I have often defined hue as “the color of a color”.  hue refers to the variety of colors, or, effects of light, that we see, caused by different wavelengths of light. As regards to paint color, the term “hue” refers to a “pure” colors, colors without black or white pigment added, which comprise the color wheel.

WEBcThe color of a color.

The term Hue then, is what allows us to perceive different colors. If color is the overall phenomenon, then hue is its  particulars and specifics. Hue is how color plays out in our brains, through our seeing mechanisms, and thus gives us the richness and range of the color pantheon. It is “the attribute of colors that permits them to be classed as red, yellow, green, blue, or an intermediate between any contiguous pair of these colors….”.  A classification system, allowing colors to be identified and named.

Delving into these terms…becomes more complex then you might think…er then “hue” might think? (!).

Here’s to You…and to Hue, and to coming to terms with Color!

Published in: on July 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm  Comments (6)  
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