AuthorTopic: Black and white  (Read 11101 times)

Offline Dusty

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Black and white

on: April 10, 2007, 11:48:29 am
What are they? I've personally never taken any art classes other than a crappy one in school. But throughout my life I've came to the conclusion that they were just shades, and not colors themselves, but the absence or presence of color. Last week though on "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," they had a question, 'Which color absorbs the most light?" and the answer was black. So that kind of brought this to my attention.
What was everyone taught about black and white from an artistic point of view? Either way, I'd like to finally learn the truth about it.

Offline Feron

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Re: Black and white

Reply #1 on: April 10, 2007, 12:04:09 pm
'Which color absorbs the most light?" and the answer was black.

this question has nothing to do with art.  its physics.  Black absorbs most light, white reflects the most.  Color is just the product of different materials absorbing different parts of the spectrum and black absorbs all of them - resulting in no color.  White on the other hand can broken down into the 7 basic colors with a prism (which is why we see rainbows).  white cannot absorb color because it is all the colors itself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_spectrum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:PrismAndLight.jpg
« Last Edit: April 10, 2007, 12:05:51 pm by Feron »

Offline Rox

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Re: Black and white

Reply #2 on: April 10, 2007, 01:48:29 pm
Isn't that a bit off, though? Does black absorb light because it's black - or is it black because it absorbs light?

Offline Dusty

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Re: Black and white

Reply #3 on: April 10, 2007, 02:20:40 pm
Well either way I really didn't want the physics answer, I already knew about light and spectrum's and such. I just really wanted everyone's personal experience with what black and white is, and how they were taught and their personal opinions.

yosh64

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Re: Black and white

Reply #4 on: April 10, 2007, 02:34:44 pm
hey

@Rox: It would be black because it (whatever the light hits) absorbs all the colors of the light, or if there is no light in the first place, hehe :).

another edit
@Dusty: Here is something interesting I once learnt about black/white... (sorry I will just dig up the link and edit again)

I can't remember exactly of where... but there is alot about color at http://www.angelfire.com/ar/rogerart/index.html. I think the thing I wanted to point you towards was about optical illusions at http://www.angelfire.com/ar/rogerart/color6.html, I did quickly check it out, but still not exactly sure.

Anyhows, the thing I wanted to show you is... well try this... place a black and white pixel next to each other on a neutral background, now which seems larger? ;)

and another...
I was just playing around... and I found with some background colors (such as yellow), the black pixel actually appears larger! But yea, with most I think white appears larger :).

cyas
« Last Edit: April 10, 2007, 03:12:51 pm by yosh64 »

Offline snake

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Re: Black and white

Reply #5 on: April 10, 2007, 02:40:50 pm
or is it black because it absorbs light?

Yes.

The object has the ability to absorb or reflect. Black and any other colour is just the information our eyes get (or doesn't get) from reflected light.

As for personal opinions on black and white, I've never excluded them as colours. They are (reflected and non reflected light, as mentioned.) But they have to be treated somewhat differently because they are the utter extremes of the colour spectrum. You have to think before using pitch black and once you use full white, you can't go any higher. I also prefer not to use black and white for shadows, but that's more to do with my aesthetic choices.

Offline Stwelin

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Re: Black and white

Reply #6 on: April 10, 2007, 02:50:56 pm
it can't 'absorb light because it is black' because really, it's NOT black to begin with. It has to absorb light to 'become' black. When you see color, the thing you are looking at isn't that color, it's just reflecting that color back towards whatever is around it.

Something that is yellow reflects only yellow light, and absorbs red and blue. Something that is orange absorbs blue light but reflects red and yellow.

I hate when people get into the argument of "black is not a color! white is! white is all light!" or "no. white is the absence, when i mix paint, if i mix them all together you get black! NUURURRR I AM IGNORANT..."

anyway. when dealing with light, black is void, white is all color.

Offline Skull

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Re: Black and white

Reply #7 on: April 10, 2007, 03:38:00 pm
Absorb?

I've known Black simply as the 'Absence of Light'.

Offline ndchristie

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Re: Black and white

Reply #8 on: April 10, 2007, 08:01:15 pm
black is the result of no light reaching your eye, because all sight is based on light.  the eye does not see objects, only the light that bounces off of them.

if a "black" object reflects 0% of light that reaches it, even if it recieves 100% of the light that has a possibility to reach it, it reflects back 0% of that, which makes it appear black.

if there is no light to begin with, even objects that are "white" will appear black, because, while a highly reflective white object reflects close to 100% of the light that strikes it, reflecting 100% of 0 is still 0 is still black.

when there is visible light present, even a pure black object will not appear to be pure black, but it will appear to take on the color of the particles in the air that are between the eye and the object.  this is half of the physical reason for "make your darkest regions match the sky as they get farther away," although that is extremely simplified.

contrary to what i learned in art class, i now know from physics that pure white and pure black exist in nature all the time because of the atom's quantum properties. basically, a unit of energy must pass through an object to excite its ring of electrons, which absorb the energy, and then release that energy back out; thats how we see an object's color.  atoms which release less energy back when they drop down are percieved as darker objects.  the energy that is not released as light stays with the atom as heat which is why dark objects tend to become hotter. 

this quantum thingy makes two common artistic ideas false -
"there is always at least a little visible light" - No!  any time when there is not enough energy to reach a quantum, no light is reflected.  Also, the light reflected has to be enough to reach a quantum inside your eye.  we see only a fraction of the light that was originally emitted!  pure black is everywhere.
"there is never pure white because it is always reflected" - No!  because an atom can only absorb certain quantities of light, there will always be light that - get this - passes straight through it (atoms are 99% empty space).  Pure white is seen any time there is enough energy - emitted or reflected - to maximize the amount of light the eye can understand.    pure white is everywhere.


thing about this - the molecules that make humans, in particularl our eyes, are so sensitive that when this happens there is so much energy that the atoms keep giving off light and heat and keep getting hotter and hotter until they begin to break down the molecular structure, resulting in a sunburn on your skin, or blindness.  the effected parts of the eye though are shut off if there is far too much light, so as to preserve the functions - and there you get though ghost images on your eyes whenever you look at a particularly bright light.  please dont go looking at the sun to see if it it is actually white >.<
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Offline AdamAtomic

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Re: Black and white

Reply #9 on: April 10, 2007, 08:45:05 pm
the admonitions against using pure black and pure white are based on the way that your eyes and film work; i.e. you only see these tones when the exposure is in some extreme state.  For example, daylight streaming into an otherwise windowless room and the exposure is set to the room rather than the daylight.  pure black and white at the quantum level don't affect practical color theory because these tiny quantum bits of energy are way way way way way way way too small for the eye to perceive unaided.   these colors mix with the other reflected light around them to create hues that we perceive to be something other than pure black or pure white (i think of them as subpixels for our eyes).  regardless of whether the "colors" technically exist, they are rarely perceived by the human eye or camera.  Our brains may label them "pure black" but that is an observational failure, and a bitch of a habit to break!  Even when you close your eyes the light your eyes have been taking in persists, or the sun shows red through your eyelids.  your pupils constantly adjust for the amount of light present, practically ensuring that pure black and pure white are never perceived.  that's my understanding of it anyways!