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Blog/How do light and colour relate to each other?
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How do light and colour relate to each other?


Why does the same object sometimes look different when the light changes? Does light influence the colour so strongly? Yes, it does. There are several effects that decide which colour an object has. First of all, when light hits an object, the object can react in three different ways: It can transmit the light, absorb it or reflect it. Which way is chosen depends on the object itself. White objects look white to us, because they reflect all colours, black objects look black because they absorb all colours. An orange looks orange to us, because it absorbs all colours except for orange. But: This is only true for white light. If you direct coloured light towards an object, this is a different story. Imagine lighting a blue object with blue light. The object still reflects the blue and will look blue. But if the same blue light hits a red object, the blue will be absorbed and no light reflected. The red object will appear black now.

Raleigh scattering
In nature, we find more effects of colour and light. Light needs to overcome a large distance to travel from the sun to the earth. This distance causes a scattering of the light - the so-called Raleigh scattering. The Raleigh scattering is the reason why we see the blue hue of the daytime sky and the reddening of the sun at sunset. The distance between an object an its viewer also has an influence: The contrast of an object decreases the further away it is from the viewer and the colours of the object become less saturated. They adapt themselves to the background colour, which usually is blue. Objects in the distance thus look blurry and blueish to us.

Use some spare time to experience these effects in nature. For more information on the theoretical background, please read our Whitepaper.

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