patternsthatconnect

abstract art and systems thinking

Optical mixing? photography question

with 9 comments

Here is one of my recent paintings (just a rough snap, I will ask SLB to do a proper job when I get round to it!)

When you look at this painting in the flesh you can tell, I think, that most of the colour mixing is optical. There are no blues or greens in this painting, you supply them yourself. So my (no doubt dumb) question is: in the snap, has the camera optically mixed them (surely that’s not possible) or are we doing it, and can’t tell, perhaps because it is so much smaller than the original?

Maybe, I have just got used to seeing it. You are seeing the blues and greens aren’t you?

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Written by Andy Parkinson

June 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm

9 Responses

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  1. I am seeing the blues and greens. But if it is the camera – I want one.
    Amanda

    Amanda J Wells

    June 23, 2011 at 6:44 am

    • Well it’s not the camera so you must have one already (the camera is not as clever as you)!

      Andy Parkinson

      June 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

  2. What an interesting phenomenon! What are the actual colors in the places where we see blues and greens in the photo?

    in every atom

    June 23, 2011 at 7:41 am

    • If you were looking directly at the actual painting it would be quite easy to see that the ‘blue’ is physically white and the ‘green’ is physically yellow. In fact in some lights it is difficult to see them as blue and green, especially when the sun has gone down and we are using artificial light. What I find interesting is that I sought to make a painting without relying on complementary colours, so I used only warm colours, deliberately excluding green an blue. Only to find that my very act of excluding them created the opportunity for their re-assertion. I did not put them there, but you wanted to see them so much that you put them there!

      Andy Parkinson

      June 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

      • Wow! That makes it even more interesting. It is as if the painting is responding to your intent in a playful manner. Like in quantum physics, where it has been shown that electrons have a mind of their own, and that they respond to being observed.

        in every atom

        June 24, 2011 at 1:20 am

  3. I like the notion that the painting responds to being observed!

    Andy Parkinson

    June 24, 2011 at 7:48 pm

  4. A test would be to cut up the photographic image and see whether the white and yellow stripes, when seen without their proximity to their neighboring colors show true. I also would guess that there’s no way the camera is mixing, but this would answer that question.

    Antonio Dias

    June 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm

  5. Thanks for the test suggestion. It seems obvious now you have said it, and it had never occurred to me beforehand. It also led me to an easier test and one that doesn’t involve introducing another set of variables – printer and printing ink. Take a white piece of card or think paper and mask off the areas other than the colour you are wishing to isolate e.g. ‘green’ or ‘blue’.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but the ‘green’ becomes yellow and the ‘blue’ becomes white (nearer grey in the photo but that always happens in my bad snaps

    Andy Parkinson

    June 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

  6. I am seeing the green become yellow almost. The blue changes in color somewhat but still remains mostly blue, but like you say, mostly due to your photo quality. This was a great experiment, thanks to Antonio and yourself. I am glad that we have resolved this to be just a case of optical illusion. :)

    in every atom

    June 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm


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