AuthorTopic: Black and white  (Read 11103 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.

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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!

Offline sharprm

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Re: Black and white

Reply #10 on: April 11, 2007, 07:57:01 am
A hole is black because the light that enters has to reflect off the surface of the hole so many times that it is mostly absorbed. I thought that was a cool fact.

Adrias I don't think what you say about quantisation of a photon of energy is correct. When electrons become excited, they had to absorb a photon with energy equal exactly to the energy they gained. When the electrons return to the ground state, they release a photon with the same energy as the incoming photon. So why something appears black doesn't fit with you're explanation.

Another thing you said was that it is wrong to say that there is always a little bit of visible light. I think that there will always be a little bit of visible light, even if you had a totally dark room with no light source. This is because all objects emit electromagnetic radiation as their vibrating atoms are accelerating charge. This phenomena can be seen when a hot object glows, because the greater temperature results in the atoms vibrating faster. However, even at low temperatures, there should be some visible light emitted. Even if the intensity is too low for our eyes to register, there would be some visible light.   
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body_radiation

I don’t know if visible light can pass through all objects. Even though an electron can’t absorb and emit light unless its of correct energy, what about the atom itself? Even if the energy of an atom is restricted to multiples of h (h being plank's constant), as the photons themselves will have energy equal to a multiple of h (E=hf), they can all be potentially absorbed. I don’t think you can say that because most of an atom is mostly ‘space’, its unlikely light will be able to interact with an electron or atom. This is because there would be so many atoms in a small piece of material, so even if the probability of it being absorbed by a single atom is small, the probability of it being absorbed by the material will be much greater. Also, electrons won’t be simple billiard balls circling the nucleus with a neat path but occupy a much larger space over time. Even in transparent objects the atoms absorb the light (but re-radiates it).That is why light effectively travels slower in a material and why we get refraction.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_orbital

Anyway, I don't think I'm making a point at all but I think Physics is confusing and annoying and people who think they get it don’t really get it so we should all stick to drawing. Post your idea on "ask a scientist" for an expert opinion on you’re statements.
http://www.madsci.org/
Modern artists are told that they must create something totally original-or risk being called "derivative".They've been indoctrinated with the concept that bad=good.The effect is always the same: Meaningless primitivism
http://www.artrenewal.org/articles/Philosophy/phi

Offline Dusty

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Re: Black and white

Reply #11 on: April 11, 2007, 11:47:12 am
Except it was never intended to be a scientific question? We all learn about colors in art. The question was, what were you taught in art about black and white? Were you taught they're colors or just the absence, or presence of color? I had no intention in getting physics answers when I posted as I already know about absorption of colors.

Offline Rox

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Re: Black and white

Reply #12 on: April 11, 2007, 03:18:18 pm
I also had no intention on getting answers on my obviously rhetorical question!


As for artsy stuff regarding black and white... Umm... I don't feel I've been taught anything. I can remember a buncha worthless mumbling from art classes back in school, but nothing I found useful. I also don't really know how I use the two. I guess I don't really think of black and white as black and white when I do art, I just make things lighter or darker if needed, and sometimes they appear to be black or white? I dunno. Just another tool in the arsenal.

Offline Helm

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Re: Black and white

Reply #13 on: April 11, 2007, 05:13:09 pm
Black is magic, the spell is cast! Discordant piping of heralds to the blind idiot god above, beyond! Menstrual blood and semen marks the circle that contains the eldritch horror, what is our demand? Absense of light, absense of life, within the darkness the goat births her thousand young. Devourer of dimensions, in killing blight we summon you!

Offline Xion

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Re: Black and white

Reply #14 on: April 11, 2007, 08:51:40 pm
What color are mirrors? I know that reflectivity deals with the texture of the surface and not the color, but...are mirrors technically white?

Offline Helm

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Re: Black and white

Reply #15 on: April 11, 2007, 08:54:29 pm
What color is the cosmos?

Offline Xion

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Re: Black and white

Reply #16 on: April 11, 2007, 09:05:13 pm
It is all colors.

Offline Darien

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Re: Black and white

Reply #17 on: April 11, 2007, 09:10:26 pm
What color are mirrors? I know that reflectivity deals with the texture of the surface and not the color, but...are mirrors technically white?

I suppose it would be white if it scattered the light that hits it, but because it's a smooth surface reflects lights at the angle that the light hits it and keeps the light it reflects in relatively the same beams at the same wavelengths.

And also I believe black holes are really the only pure black things out there.  Anything else that is black isn't really black because we can still see it, we can't see black holes.  Though, don't they even give off x-ray radiation?  So, technically, even black holes aren't pure black.

Offline AdamAtomic

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Re: Black and white

Reply #18 on: April 11, 2007, 09:11:13 pm
What color are mirrors? I know that reflectivity deals with the texture of the surface and not the color, but...are mirrors technically white?

Most of them are dark gray or dark brown I think, just with insanely high specularity and reflectivity.

Offline Skull

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Re: Black and white

Reply #19 on: April 11, 2007, 10:04:00 pm
What color are mirrors? I know that reflectivity deals with the texture of the surface and not the color, but...are mirrors technically white?

Most of them are dark gray or dark brown I think, just with insanely high specularity and reflectivity.

I would have gone with no colour at all.

Offline Sharm

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Re: Black and white

Reply #20 on: April 11, 2007, 11:00:17 pm
Mirrors are silver, because that's the color of the stuff they coat the back of the glass with.  It used to really be silver, but it's not anymore.

Offline Jad

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Re: Black and white

Reply #21 on: April 11, 2007, 11:10:43 pm
Mirrors are silver, because that's the color of the stuff they coat the back of the glass with.  It used to really be silver, but it's not anymore.

Yes.

What colour is silver?
' _ '

Offline Sharm

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Re: Black and white

Reply #22 on: April 11, 2007, 11:15:02 pm
Shiny gray!

Offline AdamAtomic

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Re: Black and white

Reply #23 on: April 11, 2007, 11:26:23 pm
Shiny gray!

nope, they're a very very smooth but very dark gray.  most metals are super dark!  thus, mirrors are either dark gray or dark brown :)

Offline ndchristie

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Re: Black and white

Reply #24 on: April 12, 2007, 12:19:37 am
i literally regurgitated a lesson from my physics class, so if what i said is wrong, it wouldnt suprise me.  it wouldnt be the first time we learned about something that didnt happen.

everyone here seems to agree though that pure white and pure black are at the very least constantly percieved, which is good enough for me.  Even with the most extereme possible aperature/iris diameters, theres such a breoad range of light that is either too much or too little to get our eye's attention,  isnt art all about how things are seen, anyway?  unless you are a hyperrealist and want to make things more detailed (and therefor, imo, much less interesting) than they acutally are.

Helm might be on the right track here i think.





art black and art white - these should be used in moderation to draw sharp attention.  oftentimes they will be percieved as ugly or garish because of the contrast, so in cases they should not be used.  as pigments, they drain chroma from a mixture, and therefore should only be mixed with paints that are already as dark as they will get by mixing "pure" colors, or as light, if the artist wishes to maintain any vibrance in their work.  If vibrance is not an issue, go ahead and use them.

on my palettes i almost never use black unless i am imitating a style.  the hercules picture i posted in the OT creativity thread uses black because it is vaguely immitating the style of 16th century dutch painters.  i also tend not to use white as a paint, relying instead on the white of the canvas, but sometimes, if i need to paint with light colors, particularly over dark ones, i will add white.

in monchromatic or achromatic works, value contrast is your closest friend.  make sure you use the darkest darks and the lightest brights available to you so that you can maximize your range of values.
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Offline ptoing

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Re: Black and white

Reply #25 on: April 12, 2007, 01:10:25 pm
Hm, I don´t think that silver or gold are colours technically. It´s the reflective nature of the material that makes stuff look silver or gold or metallic.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Rynen10K

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Re: Black and white

Reply #26 on: April 13, 2007, 04:20:59 pm
Maybe you should rephrase the question relating to 1-bit stuff (only colors are Black and White)?

Offline Rydin

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Re: Black and white

Reply #27 on: April 20, 2007, 02:31:56 am
Dare we bring qualia into this discussion??:lol:




 :hehe:
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