The Science of Colour - The Observer.

The Science of Colour - The Observer.

I have been exploring the science of color and will be posting regularly about different aspects of color, such as the physics behind it, the fundamentals of what color is, even the code of color. Stay tuned!

Now, let's dive into the third part of the triad, which is all about the observer – that's us! As passionate quilters, we share a profound love for the rich and vibrant colors that bring our fabric creations to life. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the magical way our human eyes take in all these splendid hues? In this blog post, we're going to explore the incredible process of how our eyes perceive color. Gaining a little insight into the mechanics behind color vision can truly elevate our grasp of color selection, harmonies, and the wonderful impact they make on our quilting.

The Observer

Isn't it fascinating to learn that a small percentage of folks out there see the world in slightly different shades? Roughly 8% of men and about 1% of women experience some form of color blindness. Now, here's the science behind it: there's this gene that's responsible for inherited color blindness, and it hangs out exclusively on the X chromosome. This quirk in genetics is why you'll find color blindness more often in men. You see, men are only equipped with one X chromosome, the other paired chromosome is Y, while women are equipped with two X chromosomes, so if one carries the mutant gene, the other one can kind of step in and save the day, reducing the chances of color blindness in women.

The interesting thing is that most people with color deficiencies don't even realize that the colors they perceive as identical might look different to others. They still see colors, but some shades get processed a little differently in their brains. The most common type is red and green color blindness, where those two colors appear pretty similar. There are other types that affect different pairs of colors, too. Total color blindness, where everything's in grayscale, is rare, though!

So, let's take a stroll into the fascinating world of color perception, starting with a quick peek at the machinery inside our eyes. Here, we've got these special cells known as rods and cones, and they're the superheroes of color vision. Imagine rods as the unsung heroes hanging out on the outskirts of the eye, rocking the black and white vision scene. On the other hand, we've got our cones, the real stars of the show, chilling in a special spot called the fovea, responsible for our super-sharp central vision. Cones come in three flavours – red, green, and blue – kind of like our favorite ice cream choices. When light enters our eyes, it's like a little party for our photoreceptors at the back of our eyes! These photoreceptors get all excited and send messages to our brain, which then goes, "Hey, that's a color!" Now, here's the fun part: our color vision also depends on how bright it is around us. Imagine it like this: we're better at noticing warmer colors when there's a good amount of light. Why? Well, because about two-thirds of our cones are really into longer wavelengths, like reds, oranges, and yellows. It's like a magical dance where the intensity and type of light can work wonders on how colors appear to our eyes. Whether it's the warm glow of natural daylight, the slightly chilly vibe of fluorescent lighting, or the cozy warmth of incandescent bulbs, they all bring their own unique twist to the color party.

Now, why does this matter for us quilters? Well, picture this: you're creating a masterpiece, and you want your colors to pop just right. To make that happen, it's crucial to think about where your quilt will be hanging out. See, when the sun's shining bright, both your cones and rods in your eyes team up, giving you this detailed, full-color view of everything. But as the day turns to dusk, it's all about the rods, and color takes a backseat. Darkness? Well, then it's all about shadows and shapes; colors take a coffee break.

Here's the cool part: color isn't just sitting around, waiting to be seen. Nope, it's this amazing live stream that happens in your brain when light and the level of brightness come into play. It's like your brain is this supercomputer, better than any other in the world, classifying all these impulses of light and brightness to give you the vibrant world of color. So, next time you're quilting, remember, it's not just about the fabric; it's about how the light makes those colors come alive in your masterpiece! 

Happy Quilting
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