Tricks of the Eye
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Tricks of the Eye
Color page 4 of 9

Tricks of the Eye

Our perception of color is also easily swayed by the color's surroundings. One color may look “cool” in one setting, yet “warm” in another.

Pink Square comparison

When we consider hue alone, the average human eye can isolate around 175 colors. However, add brightness and saturation (we call hue, brightness, and saturation a color’s chroma) to the mix, and normal vision can differentiate about 17,000 different chromaticities.
Chroma spectrum

Long exposures to the same wavelengths of light can cause “color fatigue” – a desensitivity towards that color. As the eye begins to feel oversaturated with one color, it will begin trying to find other colors – and will seem to “make its own” by filling in some of the missing colors when sending signals to the brain. Color fatigue also accounts for the effect that occurs after the eye watches a scene lit (for example) in warm colors. If the next scene is lit with clear / no color, it will appear to take on a cool tint. This effect wears off after a short time, and regular vision / color sensitivity is restored.
Scene in Blue
Scene in Red

Placeholder imageIf an acting scene is lit primarily in ambers and the background is lit with blue, because all three of the primary colors are being used, color fatigue will affect all of the colors equally; therefore, the actors will continue to appear “warmer” than their surroundings for quite some time.

On the other hand, if an amber-lit scene follows a long cue / exposure of saturated magenta lights, the actors may take on an uneasy green tint…. The eye's sensitivity towards red and blue would have decreased from the magenta “overload”, so the eye would register the green more powerfully than the red (which are the two colors that comprise amber).
For best result, hold your eyes close to the display and only focus on the photo.

Fade away.

Get in close and stare at the blue dot without moving your eyes or head.

Color Fatigue Example

What Happened?
Did you see the blue dot disappear while the green circle held fast? Color-sensitive cones in the eye only respond to stimulus for a short time. Also, our eyes primarily respond to changes in value…the edge of the green to black is strong, but the edge on the blue is soft; so our brain begins to forget about that edge.

Run and change!

To begin: stare at the X in the middle. Try to not move your head or eyes.

What Happened?
Did you see the magenta dots move in a circle? Then they were replaced by a green dot? Perhaps even all the dots disappeared? All of that appearance change was in your mind! The gray circle makes the dots blink sequentially which you interpret as motion. The green dot is an afterimage – which is the complementary color of magenta because your cones became desensitized to magenta.