Metamerism Color Theory Definition; Is Color Real & Does it Exist Outside the Brain? How Lighting Affects Paint Color

When beige looks pink, blue appears green and red turns into orange, it’s not necessarily cause for concern. These changes take place on a regular basis, but what’s really going on? It might surprise you to know that your eyes are not playing tricks on you and the fix is usually a change of light bulbs! This is metamerism, and it can affect any color at any time, day or night; indoors or outside.

Is Color Real & Does it Exist Outside the Brain?

This may be an odd idea to grasp but there really is no such thing as color. This is because what appears to be a certain hue is nothing more than reflected light. Anyone who has tried to distinguish red from blue in the dark of night soon finds that it’s impossible. Without light, color just does not exist. There is more to it though. The type and quality of that light can appear to change any color vastly from what you may have thought it was before. You spend countless hours in front of the paint display and you finally choose a color only to find it is quite different by the time it has reached your home. This will happen to everyone. You’re sure the paint store has made an error, or the color has changed inside the can, but are one of these things even possible? You need to realize that lighting makes a difference.

Colors Change in Different Lighting

When you’re at the paint store, particularly the big-box variety, they generally prefer to light their environment with fluorescence, and there are good reasons for that. Fluorescence provides good general illumination, and for another, the practice has had a more benevolent effect on the company’s bottom line. This type of lighting will cause few problems in most cases but it’s a different story where color is concerned. The fact is that every different light source contains its own distinctive combination of color frequencies. Some colors are more sensitive to the effects of these frequencies than others are, and these are the ones most likely to fall victim to metamerism.

Different Lights Emit Warm & Cool Color Tones and Tints

Every light source has its own particular ambiance. Incandescent light imparts a warm yellowish tint. Halogen light burns bright and cool and daylight bulbs emit a cool, bright light to mimic the great outdoors. White fluorescent lighting is extremely cool and full-spectrum bulbs are the closest possible to neutral. Many of us experience bringing a sample of paint to the store for matching only to find that the selection that looked so well in the store no longer looks that way at home. When two swatches that appear identical under one light source fall entirely out of sync under another, you can blame it in a difference in their reflective curves. This factor is present in all objects, and because the human eye can only perceive the color of reflected light, the curve determines which color the eye that observes it will actually see.

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As annoying as metameric failure can be, it is easily conquered. You just need to understand what is going on and why. Knowledge is power. Take this information to the paint store when picking out paint, with the confidence that the battle against metamerism is one that you can win. Call L.W. Winslow Painting, Inc to help you win the war over metamerism.

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