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Chapter 8. Color Correction > The Genesis of Color

The Genesis of Color

Let's start at the beginning. What is color, anyway? Isn't it just the appearance of the light entering your eye? Then let's take a look at how your eye perceives color. There are two types of light-sensitive areas at the back of your eye. One kind only works in low light situations and isn't sensitive to color. The other only works when there is a lot of light entering the eye. That's the kind that allows us to see color. These light-sensitive areas perceive color as a combination of red, green, and blue light. Everything you've ever seen with your eyes has been a combination of those colors of light. Then how can you see purple, yellow, orange, etc.? Well, think about shining light through a prism. All of those rainbow colors (Figure 8.1) are just a combination of red, green, and blue light. To see what I mean, launch Photoshop and click on your foreground color. Then, in the RGB area, type in 255 for Red, zero for Green, and zero for Blue. That should give you a nice vivid red. Now click on the type field that's labeled H (for Hue), and press Shift-up arrow multiple times until Photoshop makes it through all the colors in the rainbow. As you're doing that, watch the RGB numbers and you'll see how your eye can perceive the full spectrum of colors as a combination of red, green, and blue light. You might have also noticed that only one or two colors (in RGB) were needed to create the entire spectrum of the rainbow. What do you think would happen if we end up using all three colors? Well, try it out. Go back to the Color Picker and type in 255R, 255G, and 0B, use the up arrow to slowly increase the amount of blue light, and watch what happens. In fact, just try using equal amounts of each color and you'll find that you get gray. That means that you get less vivid colors by using all three colors (Figure 8.2). So how do you think you'd darken those colors? If you're using light (RGB), you'd just use less of it. Try it for yourself: just use the Color Picker, pick a bright color, and then lower the B (brightness) setting and watch what happens to the RGB numbers (Figure 8.3).

Figure 8.1. A prism will transform white light into a full spectrum of colors.



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