Print Story Green, you know. Everyone does.
Diary
By ana (Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:17:55 PM EST) perceptions (all tags)
The chromatic ontology of green.

It came to our attention early in our relationship, toxicfur and I, that our experience of the phenomenon known as "green" is rather different. Below the fold, please find some thoughts on the subject.



There's such a thing as color blindness. Human eyes have sensors called cones in the retina, which have three dyes in them. Each of these is sensitive to a range of wavelengths of light. From the signals it gets from these sensors, and a lot of very deep magic the brain manages to come up with a perception of what color things are.

Note that we experience color as a property of objects, not the condition of illumination. It may be that the lighting (say, under low-pressure sodium street lights) contains very few of the photons actually required to render an object blue, but nonetheless, except in very low light (and even then; see Land) the brain manages to come up with a color to assign it. This property is called Color Constancy and Edwin Land had a lot to say on the subject.

Color blind people have a genetic condition, nowadays thought to be the result of a DNA mutation on the X chromosome for the protein that forms one (or more) of the retinal dyes. This leaves some people (nearly all male, given the location on the X chromosome) sensitive to only two (instead of the usual three) sensory inputs to feed the brain's color-generating algorithm.

Nonetheless, it's often possible for such people to function undetected in normal society. From the time they can talk, most kids are subjected to quizzing on what color things are, and so they associate whatever their internal sensation of a given object is with the syllable "green", and get a lot of praise if they get it right. It's an interesting philosophical problem as to whether or not my experience of green is like yours, but it's mostly unanswerable.

But not completely so. We can at least compare notes on where the edges of certain perceptions occur.

I have this hat... For me, it's brown. For toxicfur, it's green in some light. It has a sweatstain, and I should see about getting it cleaned.

In a similar way, some examples of Army Olive Drab appear brown to me, without hint of green. At this remove it's difficult to know what the colors of uniforms were actually like in World War II, but here's a picture of Eisenhower in his dress uniform. Seems brown to me. Courtesy of google image search, may I present Olive Drab. Some of those seem are to me, others not.

Online demonstrations will all depend on your monitor, of course, as well as your eyes. That being said, here are a few interesting ones.

This one, for example, asks you to rearrange the tiles in each row for the most gradual possible transition.

When I'm done, in the second row, I see about 8 or 9 tan tiles (including the fixed one) followed by a range of greens. Kellnerin told me they're all green for her.

My results (see screenshot above), show cityscapes near the boundaries between tans and greens, and between green and blue.

When we're picking out paint colors, we're aware of the differences in our perceptions (or at least that such differences exist), and so we're trying to be careful to come up with combinations that seem restful or whatever to both people.

I once saw a paper on the presentation of quantitive information by colors, and how some "natural" or "spectral" color scales are in fact worse than useless when viewed by color blind people. Since it's utterly unlike everything else in my work e-mail collection, it's been at the bottom of my inbox for 10 years or more. I see the article is online. They present a map with a spectral color scheme, and as seen by a color blind person. The color scale goes from blue to yellow to blue again, which is not useful. They then suggest another scheme, which while different for the two viewers, is useable for either.

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Note that the subject line is one of a collection of nonsense phrases we (the small group of geeks I hung out with) often repeated while we were high school students. Other examples include "Are these your Egyptian bells?" and "Are all of your clothes hand-made?"

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Green, you know. Everyone does. | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Your hat by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:22:37 PM EST
In the picture you posted, and on my monitor, it looks pretty much brown to me. On the camera's lcd preview screen, it looked very green. And in the sunlight it looks green, while under most of our indoor lights, it looks brown. It's a tough case.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
I use the cmyk formula to determine if it's green by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:26:06 PM EST
because my eyes aren't the most reliable, but enough M and Y, it's green.


Wouldn't C and Y by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:44:30 PM EST
make green?

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
Doh! by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 07:25:20 PM EST
Yeah, C and Y.


[ Parent ]
Interesting test by komet (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:35:44 PM EST
I can't believe my result was not hampered by monitor shittiness:



--
<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.

I scored the same by Herring (4.00 / 2) #7 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 07:27:25 PM EST
Despite being old, tired, stressed and slightly drunk. And listening to Radiohead.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
Like by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 07:52:33 PM EST
Well, maybe not the Radiohead.


[ Parent ]
ditto by gzt (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 08:00:15 PM EST
I didn't take it just now, but I've done that one before.

[ Parent ]
I was very close to that. by hulver (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 06:54:17 AM EST
I got a couple of square in the wrong order.

I always thought that I was a bit colour blind, maybe not.
--
Cheese is not a hat. - clock

[ Parent ]
it's brown to me. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:43:05 PM EST
But I can see a few tinges of green, and if in the right light I can see where the green could be coming from.


--
Click
One more thing... by ana (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 08:08:43 PM EST
I once saw Edwin Land give a lecture, with demonstrations of his color theories. One particularly compelling one, to demonstrate that it's not the photons your eye receives, but the context that's important went as follows.

The room is darkened, and Mr. Land (founder of Kodak, if you're having trouble placing the name) talked while everybody's eyes got dark-adapted. He had a collage made of bits of colored construction paper, which included a big red spot that was round.

When he figured it had been long enough, he got the projectionist to shine a beam of white light, very faint, on only the red spot. Having no context, we saw it as white.

He then had the spot widened. Same illumination exactly on the red spot, only now we could see swatches of other colors. Instantly, we saw the spot was red.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

Land? What? by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:01:53 PM EST
Wasn't he Polaroid? Eastman founded Kodak, we have a zillion streets, buildings and institutes named after him.


Yes by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:40:12 PM EST
So do we. Including Edward H Land Blvd in Cambridge, where Lotus Development is was.
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[ Parent ]
Right. by ana (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 07:10:48 AM EST
Sorry.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Links by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:45:39 PM EST
In my work, we once had an editor with deuteranopia, so I had to recode all the indicator colors to be recognizable by him. It's not as easy as you think.

This was helpful and interesting, though.
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I wish I was a trichromat dude. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 02:13:23 AM EST
Dammit, now I've used up my last wish.

Ike's jacket is OD Green and his trousers are a khaki tan. Do they appear identical in color to you?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

For me... by ana (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 07:12:50 AM EST
the jacket is chocolate brown, the trousers are a lighter tan (and the shirt still lighter tan). Nothing suggests green.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Olive and Peach are fruits, not colors! by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:43:44 AM EST
That said, Ike is wearing OD Green, and your hat is brown.

I have a pair of pants that are navy blue in sunlight and incandescent light, but a dark green (with no hint of blue) under most fluorescent lights.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

I hate persimmon... by atreides (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:56:32 AM EST
At my old job... by atreides (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 09:07:38 AM EST
...one of the attorneys completely switched red and green. Always had since he was a child. It wasn't that big of an effect on him because he could totally differentiate the two and all safely. It's just that until he was in college, when someone pointed at green, he knew it was green, but it looked red to him.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

I'm curious, by mrgoat (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 03:24:18 PM EST
How did anyone know that?

--top hat--
[ Parent ]
would you believe by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #22 Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 09:08:18 PM EST
I'm just getting to this diary now? (It's been some couple of weeks).

I didn't exactly say that the entire second row was green to me. I said that with a liberal interpretation of the word "green," arguably all those tiles fall into that category to some extent. Color is a linguistic as well as a perceptual concept. (Given a set of colored cards to sort into piles according to which color they are, people with different mother tongues will pretty consistently sort them into different piles.) That photo of your hat appears brown, but I can see that it might look green under some conditions.

Here's my graph (I closed the window the first time round, so had to redo it; the results are remarkably consistent however):

Last weekend I discovered this incredibly print-geeky iPhone game: Eye vs. Eye. (Well, to be truly print-geeky you'd have to compose colors in CMYK, but that's not really possible on a screen.) It's interesting in that it tests your color memory as well as the completely unnatural skill of being able to discern the R, G, and B ratios that make up a color. Mildly addicting, especially since I've always been in awe of production experts when I've watched them color-correcting proofs. (Kern and Press Check were too geeky even for me, however.)

--
"Plans aren't check lists, they are loose frameworks for what's going to go wrong." -- technician

That does look like fun. by ana (2.00 / 0) #23 Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 09:42:16 PM EST
And yeahthat, about how consistent the results of the test are. I think I can see the same warehouse on the skyline in the blue-green area every time I take it.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Green, you know. Everyone does. | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback