Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => The Coffee Corner => Topic started by: dreed on June 20, 2012, 01:04:41 AM

Title: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: dreed on June 20, 2012, 01:04:41 AM
http://www.empiricalzeal.com/2012/06/05/the-crayola-fication-of-the-world-how-we-gave-colors-names-and-it-messed-with-our-brains-part-i/

This makes for an interesting read.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Farmer on June 20, 2012, 07:06:27 AM
Interesting.  If you are interested in colour science, I recommend http://www.mostlycolor.ch/ and going through a lot of the past articles (they have a lot of discussion about colour naming and the like).
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on July 12, 2012, 08:03:08 AM
http://www.empiricalzeal.com/2012/06/05/the-crayola-fication-of-the-world-how-we-gave-colors-names-and-it-messed-with-our-brains-part-i/

This makes for an interesting read.


That certainly is interesting, Dreed. I recall finding it very strange many years ago when I first came across the claim that the ancient Greeks were not aware that the sky is blue. Despite their great interest and involvement in art, sculpture, drama, philosophy and poetry etc, there was apparently no record of any ancient Greek commenting that the sky is blue.

I wondered at the time whether it was correct to claim that the real reason was because the ancient Greeks were physiologically unable to discern that the sky is blue, or whether they actually were able to discern that the sky is blue but didn't consider it to be worth mentioning.  In other words, it was too commonplace; of little interest. What was perhaps more interesting for them was whether the sky was light or dark, which is something they did mention in their literature.

To add to the mystery, the ancient Greeks apparently did have a word for blue. I believe 'kyanos' is the Greek word for Lapis Lazuli, as well as dark blue tiles or dark blue enamel on pottery. It's the origin of our word 'cyan'.

The article you link to could explain how a culture might fail to make an association between the blue of lapis lazuli and the blue of the sky.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: stamper on July 13, 2012, 04:17:26 AM
Ray...you need to get out more? :) And dodge the men in white coats at your front door whilst exiting. :) ;)
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on July 13, 2012, 05:52:32 AM
Ray...you need to get out more? :) And dodge the men in white coats at your front door whilst exiting. :) ;)

Don't blame me if you happen to be intellectually challenged, Stamper.  ;D
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Rob C on July 13, 2012, 06:04:38 AM
The ancien Greeks had no need to comment on whether or not the sky was blue; for a start, they mostly didn't know they were going to become Greeks and when you have no tourist trade, why would you find it worthwhile remarking on the colour of the empty space above you? Far more important that space after dark, when colour is but a memory and the real value of the sky comes into its own: navigation! As long as they knew and had commonly accepted terms for both red and green they were home and safe, man-made collisions avoided unless heavy drinking had been enjoyed.

Now, had they been able to enjoy photography as well as/instead of the juice of the grape, then yes, they'd have been well versed in the nomenclature, numerical make-up as well as characteristics of underexposed Kodachrome 25 and Velvia 50. Technicolor and probably lapis lazuli, too, would have been credited with mind-blowing visual properties. Just be grateful they didn't have the Web.

Rob C
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: stamper on July 13, 2012, 06:48:20 AM
Don't blame me if you happen to be intellectually challenged, Stamper.  ;D

Ah....just more pertinent things to dwell on. ;)
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Jim Pascoe on July 13, 2012, 08:33:36 AM
The Greeks would not talk about the sky being blue because it's always blue.  If you live in England a blue sky is very rare and therefore a subject for comment.  We rarely comment on green grass in England because we have plenty of it, and it's always green because of THE INCESSANT RAIN! There I feel better now.  I should be photographing babes in a hot tub at a local holiday park, but the weather has conspired against me again.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Rob C on July 13, 2012, 09:27:20 AM
The Greeks would not talk about the sky being blue because it's always blue.  If you live in England a blue sky is very rare and therefore a subject for comment.  We rarely comment on green grass in England because we have plenty of it, and it's always green because of THE INCESSANT RAIN! There I feel better now.  I should be photographing babes in a hot tub at a local holiday park, but the weather has conspired against me again.


I hope those babes are over seventeen!

Rob C
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on July 13, 2012, 10:10:27 AM
The Greeks would not talk about the sky being blue because it's always blue.  If you live in England a blue sky is very rare and therefore a subject for comment.  We rarely comment on green grass in England because we have plenty of it, and it's always green because of THE INCESSANT RAIN! There I feel better now.  I should be photographing babes in a hot tub at a local holiday park, but the weather has conspired against me again.

You know, that's a good point. The last time the sky was blue in England was Wednesday afternoon at 3.46pm in 1960. I was there and made a note of it in my diary.
A few years later, when hitchhiking through Greece, I had a lasting memory of blue skies, red poppies, Retsina wine, and wild parties involving the smashing of empty wine glasses into the fireplace, and picking up chairs with one's teeth.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me, so you'll just have to believe what I write.  ;D
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Rob C on July 13, 2012, 03:17:32 PM
You know, that's a good point. The last time the sky was blue in England was Wednesday afternoon at 3.46pm in 1960. I was there and made a note of it in my diary.
A few years later, when hitchhiking through Greece, I had a lasting memory of blue skies, red poppies, Retsina wine, and wild parties involving the smashing of empty wine glasses into the fireplace, and picking up chairs with one's teeth.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me, so you'll just have to believe what I write.  ;D



You pick up chairs with your teeth because of the effects of Retsina. You might also feel inclined to tear your hair out, but wait: there are  better ways of winding down. I learned this the nice way in Cyprus after consuming my share (and most of my wife's share) of the aptly named Aphrodite white... it sure works, and I have often wished that it had been available in Mallorca. Who'd need a siesta and sleep?

;-(

Rob C
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on July 14, 2012, 04:49:43 AM


You pick up chairs with your teeth because of the effects of Retsina. You might also feel inclined to tear your hair out, but wait: there are  better ways of winding down. I learned this the nice way in Cyprus after consuming my share (and most of my wife's share) of the aptly named Aphrodite white... it sure works, and I have often wished that it had been available in Mallorca. Who'd need a siesta and sleep?

;-(

Rob C

Actually, Rob, I should make it clear that I was not one of those who picked up chairs with their teeth. I'm far too sensible. I was just amazed to see the local farmers do this. However, I recall doing a bit of dancing, getting very drunk, and sleeping on the hard floor of the Inn. I recall being surprised that I didn't have a hangover the next morning and was feeling quite envigorated after a good night's sleep, despite the hard floor. In the morning, I recall the vivid experience again of a glorious blue sky, clean air, and lovely red poppies in the fields, as I set off on my way, in very high spirits.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Rob C on July 15, 2012, 03:11:45 PM
Actually, Rob, I should make it clear that I was not one of those who picked up chairs with their teeth. I'm far too sensible. I was just amazed to see the local farmers do this. However, I recall doing a bit of dancing, getting very drunk, and sleeping on the hard floor of the Inn. I recall being surprised that I didn't have a hangover the next morning and was feeling quite envigorated after a good night's sleep, despite the hard floor. In the morning, I recall the vivid experience again of a glorious blue sky, clean air, and lovely red poppies in the fields, as I set off on my way, in very high spirits.



I believe you; I'm assured that you are still over the legal driving levels of alcohol after a good night's sleep because it's very slow to leave the blood stream when you sleep. Best to stay riotously awake and sing (for example) the entire night away instead.

8-)

Rob C
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on July 17, 2012, 07:05:51 AM


I believe you; I'm assured that you are still over the legal driving levels of alcohol after a good night's sleep because it's very slow to leave the blood stream when you sleep. Best to stay riotously awake and sing (for example) the entire night away instead.

8-)

Rob C


Rob, I was hitch hiking. Being over the legal limit was not a concern. My exhiliration the following morning was not due to the alcohol still in my blood, but the wonderful countryside, the clear and clean air, the amazing blue (or kyanos) sky, and a complete sense of freedom and joy.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Rob C on July 17, 2012, 06:26:02 PM

Rob, I was hitch hiking. Being over the legal limit was not a concern. My exhiliration the following morning was not due to the alcohol still in my blood, but the wonderful countryside, the clear and clean air, the amazing blue (or kyanos) sky, and a complete sense of freedom and joy.


Don't let that go; it probably won't come back if you lose it.

Rob C
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: lfeagan on July 17, 2012, 08:31:21 PM
http://www.empiricalzeal.com/2012/06/05/the-crayola-fication-of-the-world-how-we-gave-colors-names-and-it-messed-with-our-brains-part-i/

This makes for an interesting read.


Great read. I learned a lot. Thanks for posting this.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: dreed on September 11, 2012, 05:47:19 AM
Part II

http://www.empiricalzeal.com/2012/06/11/the-crayola-fication-of-the-world-how-we-gave-colors-names-and-it-messed-with-our-brains-part-ii/
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: RFPhotography on September 12, 2012, 09:14:05 AM
I think he's ascribing far too great a relationship between colour differentiation and language. 
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on September 13, 2012, 10:14:14 PM
I think he's ascribing far too great a relationship between colour differentiation and language. 

Disagree. I think he got it about right. In fact, I'm surprised the differences are so subtle, except in the case of young children who are in the process of learning the names of colors.

It seems entirely plausible to me, if a person doesn't have a word for the object that is seen, or the sensation that is felt or perceived, there will be at least a slight delay in differentiation.

I believe that certain primitive cultures, remote tribes with their own unique language, do not distinguish between different species of trees. They have just one word to describe all trees. However, that does not mean that such people are not able to visually distinguish between the different shapes and sizes of leaves, and the different textures of bark on different species of tree, but it must surely make the entire process slower and more confusing.

What I find particularly interesting is this lack of specific, primary words that distinguish between blue and green in may cultures, including China, Japan and anctient Greece, as well as less prominent cultures.

This must surely seem particularly odd to most of the readers of this forum who have a fair experience in photography and understand that Red, Green and Blue are the three primary colors. Blue and Green are primary colors yet certain cultures do not verbally distinguish between them. That is a surprise, surely.

Attempting to understand how this can be, I recall that during certain conversations in the past, with people who were not into painting or photography, being surprised that sometimes someone who was undoubtedly intelligent was not familier with the word cyan. Didn't know what color it specifically referred to, although they would certainly have heard of the word.

What's going on here, I ask myself? I'll venture an explanation.

In some cultures, Cyan is the primary color which encompasses both blue and green. That which we consider a pure blue is merely a bluish shade of cyan. That which we consider a pure green is merely a greener shade of cyan. One can get by with just one word for blue and green.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: opgr on September 14, 2012, 05:38:26 AM
It is actually very simple: when we learn colors as infants, we usually are being taught incorrectly about colors. Pure Cyan doesn't typically exist as a subtractive colorsubstance, neither does pure Magenta, so we usually are taught subtractive colormixing based on impure colors, which also due to the complexity of the names, are taught as "Blue" and "Red" instead.

Later in live most people have very little need to distinguish colors any further. And then it is no different then asking people to distinguish between different chords in music. (Uh oh, did I just link auditory and visual properties???) Most people can distinguish between Major and Minor chords, but how many people can name a Major 7th or a Major 9th if they hear these? Not to mention absolute hearing. How many people can actually name the base note of a chord? etc...

But that doesn't take away from the fact that people can still enjoy and appreciate music, as well as visual arts, in all its complexity and nuances. So, people don't necessarily have to be colorblind or tonedeaf, even though they may have never learned the appropriate words for the constituent parts.

What the language experiment primarily teaches us imo, is whether there is some survival need to making the distinctions, possibly related to regional features and cultural habits, not whether there is some inherent visual acuity relation. In that respect I have always wondered why we don't have a specific word for the color between Cyan and Green, even though the color does appear often enough in images for example where ocean and beach meet. I would think that the color happens often enough to be named by western society? (I am referring specifically to the set of general primary colors, not the artist colorpalette naming).
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: opgr on September 14, 2012, 06:10:38 AM
For discussion's sake I submit the attached image.

This is the general distinction as I believe we understand it in the western world.
Disregarding for some subtleties due to colormanagement, the color distinctions are clear to most of us.
However, some of us may have been taught Cyan as light-blue, and Magenta as red, pink, purple, or even fuchsia.

If you make a lesser distinctions in the Cyan region, then mixtures in the direction of Green are possibly also less "relevant".
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: opgr on September 14, 2012, 06:21:05 AM
I used to live next to a spanish neighbor. He obviously loved soccer. So he was playing with his kid and continuously rolling a bright red soccer ball towards him and then naming the color (not naming the object). And I was wondering: when does the child learn to make the distinction between the object (ball) and the properties of the object (red). Because it sounded to me as if the child would end up thinking a ball is called "red".

I also wondered whether that is how spanish people become more passionate people: they learn the subjective and emotional properties before they learn the factual and objective distinctions… ;-)
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: RFPhotography on September 14, 2012, 07:36:06 AM

I believe that certain primitive cultures, remote tribes with their own unique language, do not distinguish between different species of trees. They have just one word to describe all trees. However, that does not mean that such people are not able to visually distinguish between the different shapes and sizes of leaves, and the different textures of bark on different species of tree, but it must surely make the entire process slower and more confusing.



Even without words, it would be simple and quick to distinguish between a pine tree an a birch tree.  As far as I understand the tests that were conducted in the articles, test subjects were asked to discern a visual difference between colours, not to provide a word for the difference.  That's not a language issue.  That's a visual system issue.  The explanation for the difference between whether the different hue were on the left or the right is also tenuous at best.  I might buy the left brain/right brain argument if one eye were covered.  But if both eyes are open then it doesn't really pass muster.  I can also understand the delay if people are asked to remember a word or series of words.  The brain is being asked to multitask so reactions are a bit slower.  But the extension that showing people pictures before viewing the colour circles didn't cause a change in reaction time and so therefore it must be a language issue is specious.  People weren't being asked to remember anything, just being shown pictures (I read the articles a few days ago so maybe I don't have that exactly right from memory) if I recall.  No multitasking so no delay in processing the hue differences.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: dreed on September 14, 2012, 09:58:22 AM
I might buy the left brain/right brain argument if one eye were covered.  But if both eyes are open then it doesn't really pass muster.

You're assuming that one eye isn't dominating perception:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocular_dominance

For photographers that put their camera up to their right eye all of the time, I wonder if we don't train our brains to treat the right as being superior to the left?

And I wonder if (or how much) of a difference this makes compared to shooting when you have to use both eyes...
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on September 14, 2012, 10:23:55 AM
Even without words, it would be simple and quick to distinguish between a pine tree an a birch tree. 

Sure! That would be like the difference between Red and Blue. But what about more subtle differences? Words have definitions and lots of associations. They appear to be necessary for thinking. They must make a difference, surely.  ;D
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on September 14, 2012, 12:17:54 PM
In that respect I have always wondered why we don't have a specific word for the color between Cyan and Green, even though the color does appear often enough in images for example where ocean and beach meet. I would think that the color happens often enough to be named by western society? (I am referring specifically to the set of general primary colors, not the artist colorpalette naming).


Interesting point! I think the answer must be that Cyan is considered to be halfway between blue and green and encompasses all shades between blue and green. At what point Cyan is considered to be definitely green and no longer cyan, or definitely blue and no longer cyan, is a bit dicey.

My own impression is, when I look at the color on my cyan ink cartridges sticking out of my Epson 7600, is that our modern concept of cyan is closer to blue than to green.

However, when we consider that 24 bit computer processing can result in 64 million different shades of color, we get an impression of the difference in scale between ordinary words and mathematics.

What is 'hot'? A heatwave when the temperature rises to 36 degrees C? The temperature of molten metal? The temperature of the surface of the sun, or the temperature of the interior of the sun? They're all hot in common parlance.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: RFPhotography on September 14, 2012, 01:10:55 PM
Dreed, true.  Again, though, that's not a language issue.  As an aside, shooting with both eyes open is an interesting exercise.  It takes some getting used to but it can be helpful in some situations.  I taught myself to shoot that way with hockey so I could better anticipate the play and be ready for the shot more quickly.

Ray, I don't agree.  I don't know the specific words foe the two different hues of green in the experiment in the linked article but I can tell easily enough which is different.  I just don't think language really has anything to do with it.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on September 15, 2012, 11:32:29 AM
Ray, I don't agree.  I don't know the specific words foe the two different hues of green in the experiment in the linked article but I can tell easily enough which is different.  I just don't think language really has anything to do with it.

I see. So let's get this straight. You are expressing in language, in terms of words and concepts, that you don't think that a lack of language and a lack of specific words for things has anything to do with our perception of those things.  ;D

You might be right, but scholarly research tends to indicate otherwise. You might care to read the following article, which reaffirms the previous points.

http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/01/31_perception.shtml
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: RFPhotography on September 15, 2012, 11:57:45 AM
Ray, that's the same information as in the article linked at the top of the thread.  With the same exact test.  It reaffirms nothing.  It's some of the work on which the first article here is based.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on September 15, 2012, 09:08:45 PM
Ray, that's the same information as in the article linked at the top of the thread.  With the same exact test.  It reaffirms nothing.  It's some of the work on which the first article here is based.

Yes, it's another report on the same experiment which describes the results in a slightly different way. It sometimes helps to get a similar interpretation expressed differently.

Try doing a Google search posing the question , 'How does language affect our perception of things?'

No need to read all 50 million results to get the clear message that language does indeed affect non-linguistic perception. ;D Here's a brief extract from one such result taken from the following article at  http://www.cs.indiana.edu/pub/gasser/Playpen/TR1/tr/node12.html

Quote
When we hear a description, we form images in our minds.... these images resemble visual percepts and seem to make use of the visual system itself. Different linguistic descriptions of the same scene may evoke quite different images.....The way a scene is described may also alter our memory of it. For example, people who see a green car and then have it described as ``blue'' are more likely to recognize a more bluish car as the one they saw before than people who didn't hear it labeled [Loftus and Palmer, 1974], and people who are asked to label non-prototypical color chips perform worse on a recognition task than people who did not label them during study [Schooler and Engstler-Schooler, 1990].

Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: RFPhotography on September 15, 2012, 09:56:41 PM
And how many of those 50 million results are just the same few regurgitated in multiple places? 

Look, you buy the theory.  Fine.  No problem.  I don't.  I think it's junk science. 
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: Ray on September 15, 2012, 11:31:38 PM
And how many of those 50 million results are just the same few regurgitated in multiple places? 

Probably most of them by far, leaving perhaps only a few hundred distinct studies that show varying degrees of evidence that non-lingual perception is influenced by the words and associations we apply to things

Quote
Look, you buy the theory.  Fine.  No problem.  I don't.  I think it's junk science.

Are you sure that word 'junk' is not coloring your perception?  ;D
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: dreed on September 16, 2012, 03:17:46 AM
I don't know the specific words foe the two different hues of green in the experiment in the linked article but I can tell easily enough which is different.  I just don't think language really has anything to do with it.

If I present you with one of those pictures and I ask you "Do you see 8 green squares?", do you say "Yes" or 'No"?

Even if they're different, as long as they all look like the colour which I've been told as being "green", I'd probably answer "Yes".

Now once I've declared that they're all green, part of my brain has therefore reconciled that despite there being some difference between them that they are all the same.
Title: Re: What is colour? When green is blue and blue is green.
Post by: RFPhotography on September 16, 2012, 07:59:48 AM
If I present you with one of those pictures and I ask you "Do you see 8 green squares?", do you say "Yes" or 'No"?

Even if they're different, as long as they all look like the colour which I've been told as being "green", I'd probably answer "Yes".

Now once I've declared that they're all green, part of my brain has therefore reconciled that despite there being some difference between them that they are all the same.

That's not what was asked though.  People were simply asked to identify on which side of the circle they saw a square that was different. 

Ray, no, the word junk isn't clouding my perception.  :D