11 January 2011

Maps of How We Perceive Color

I had the luck to study photo color theory with MJ Toles in undergraduate school at CIA. It was so meaty I took the course twice to get to digest it better, and one of the perks was the chance to take the rare "Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Color Test for the examination of Color Discrimination" pigment test. Rare only in the fact that this beautiful kit costs over seven hundred dollars and must be taken only in pristine daylight lighting conditions to truly be accurate. "If natural daylight is used, the test should be given near a window illuminated chiefly from the north sky, lightly to moderately overcast." Color is tricky.

But there was a point to the specifics, as it was an experience that not only was a color test for your vision, but also functioned as an experiment where the only variable became your BRAIN and how it perceives color. I'm still so awestruck by this map of how my brain perceives color hues-- I seem to get fuzzy with cool tone green hues, and warm toned blue greens, but not enough to not be considered well within the norms of a very good and average discriminator of color. Imagine that! Your orange-red could be a different orange-red to me, but my blue green is a different blue-green to you. And this isn't colorblindness, but within the norm of about 70% of the population. (There is only about 16% of the population that has "Superior Discrimination" or, a perfect circle in the smallest ring, and about 16% of the population could have significant difficulties to be considered some degree of color blindness.)