Photography (Level 1)

Mark In Spectrum
Funny things happen when differently colored objects are put under different colors of light. In this set of three pictures, look at how the color of my orange RIT t-shirt and my face change as I move from red, to green, to blue light in the spectrum. Why does my orange shirt look dark gray when lit with green light? Think about it and explore a bit more to learn the answers.

How Do Colors Mix to Make Other Colors?

Well really colors don't mix together at all! Light, or other stuff like paint, mix together to create a new thing for us to look at and that new thing might have a color that is different from any of the stuff mixed together. Remember, color is our perception of the stuff out there in the world.

When lights are mixed together, like on our television screens, all of the light from each part of the mixture is still there. However, our eyes are not able to see the different parts of the mixed light, so we just see a single color. The mixing happens in our eyes! You might want to play with this online demo from Boston University to see how red, green, and blue light mix together.

When you mix other stuff together, like paints, printer ink, or crayon wax, you get different colors than when you mix lights. This is because the stuff changes the light that falls on it in a certain way and when you mix different stuff together, the way the mixture changes light can be very complicated. You can play with a simple form of this mixing in another online demo from Boston University. It shows how different colors of ink or dye might mix together to form new colors.

The colors you see when you mix stuff of other colors is sometimes very surprising. The best way to learn is to play with lots of colors and observe what happens. Albert Einstein once said "play is the highest form of research"!

Icon 6-1

Explore the NEXT TOPIC at this level.

Explore the NEXT LEVEL on this topic.

Ever wonder ... What color is the moon?


Updated: Apr. 19, 2011