Colour and How we see it.

If it is your storefront window mullions, file cabinets or elevator doors, we know you have a specific colour in mind and we want to give you that exact colour, however here is some helpful information about colours and how we see them.

Imagine you are looking out your window and see the beautiful yellow sunflower. You can see the flower because the light shines on it and is reflected back towards your eyes. The light from the sun, which we call “white light“, is actually a mixture of all the colours of the rainbow. When the sunlight shines on the flower, the flower petals absorb some of the colours of light (red, orange, green, blue and purple) and reflect back just the yellow light back to your eyes. Simple, right?

It's actually a bit trickier than that. You see, there isn’t just one yellow. (Check out the sample paint chips the next time your in a paint store.) The yellow flower only reflects a portion of the yellow light and may also reflect some of the red or green colour as well, although we will see the colour as yellow.

Now consider this. The flower can’t reflect the colour of light that doesn’t shine on it in the first place. If only blue light shines on the sunflower, then there is no yellow light to be reflected back to your eyes and therefore the flower may look grey.

This is one of the problems in achieving true colours. Different types of lighting give of different colours of light. Fluorescent lights are notorious for producing more green light than incandescent lights do, which makes orange and yellow tones look greyish while the incandescent bulbs produce so much orange light that colours tend to look brown.

So it is always best to match a colour in the same type of lighting that the paint will be used in. Just let us know what type of lighting the finished work will be under. We have several different types of lighting at our shop to match colours under. Fluorescent, Incandescent, Halogen, Metal Halide, Sodium Vapour as well as good old fashioned sunlight to help us help you get the colour you want.

Technical stuff…

Light travels in waves. The light waves with wavelengths between 570-600 Nanometres look yellow to humans.

A Nanometre is one billionth of a meter, a mind-bogglingly tiny distance. For perspective, 1600 yellow light waves are less than the thickness of your fingernail.

Coming next … Refinishing Galvanized Surfaces