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Color or colour (see spelling differences) is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, blue, yellow, green and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light (distribution of light power versus wavelength) interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors. Color categories and physical specifications of color are also associated with objects, materials, light sources, etc., based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra. By defining a color space, colors can be identified numerically by their coordinates.
Because perception of color stems from the varying spectral sensitivity of different types of cone cells in the retina to different parts of the spectrum, colors may be defined and quantified by the degree to which they stimulate these cells. These physical or physiological quantifications of color, however, do not fully explain the psychophysical perception of color appearance.
The science of color is sometimes called chromatics, chromatography, colorimetry, or simply color science. It includes the perception of color by the human eye and brain, the origin of color in materials, color theory in art, and the physics of electromagnetic radiation in the visible range.The ability of the human eye to distinguish colors is based upon the varying sensitivity of different cells in the retina to light of different wavelengths. Humans being trichromatic, the retina contains three types of color receptor cells, or cones. One type, relatively distinct from the other two, is most responsive to light that we perceive as violet, with wavelengths around 420 nm; cones of this type are sometimes called short-wavelength cones, S cones, or blue cones. The other two types are closely related genetically and chemically. One of them, sometimes called long-wavelength cones, L cones, or red cones, is most sensitive to light we perceive as greenish yellow, with wavelengths around 564 nm; the other type, known as middle-wavelength cones, M cones, or green cones is most sensitive to light perceived as green, with wavelengths around 534 nm.
Light, no matter how complex its composition of wavelengths, is reduced to three color components by the eye. For each location in the visual field, the three types of cones yield three signals based on the extent to which each is stimulated. These amounts of stimulation are sometimes called tristimulus values.
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January 16th, 2013
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