Color is a mind Fuck but a very nice one.

For my house in Lubrin, I had picked a beautiful shade of yellow for the walls. Mustard yellow, called Cairo.

The paint didn't cover right away. And that's an understatement. I had to put 5 coats on the white wall before it was somewhat even. As a result, I was short to paint the other walls.

So extra paint had to be bought.


Optimistic by nature or is it hubris, I thought I could do that without bringing the color card and of course I had forgotten the name of the color, let alone knowing the code. And there I was in the Praxis with countless other mustard yellow variants.

And don't think we can remember colors.

Yes, the big differences between red and green or blue and orange. We can do that.

But when it comes to nuances, it is completely impossible.

Partly because the lighting conditions have a great influence on the color experience. What becomes a warm mustard yellow in sunny Spain is a dingy greenish yellow under fluorescent lighting at the Praxis.


A good friend of mine is in the "paint" business for automotive paints. His job is to ensure that a car that is bright red in daylight also has that same red color in the dark and does not turn mud brown under the influence of street lights. This is quite a science.

Entire departments at car manufacturers are set up for that. In find that fascinating but this aside.


So, I dropped off to get the color card so as not to suddenly come home with canary yellow wall paint.


This is 1 of the problems with color. We cannot remember them partly because of the changing light conditions in which we see colors.

Another problem is that we see colors that are not there at all, objectively speaking.


Our brain has a built-in auto-correction that cannot be turned off.


In the image I think I see red strawberries but there is not 1 red pixel in the image.


Here pixels of the strawberries have been copied to the white on the outside.


Another wonderful example of how surrounding surfaces affect each other.It is almost unbelievable but all the gray rectangles have the same brightness, although those in the darker stripes appear brighter than those in the bright stripes. (by M. White)


Not only do we experience brightness differently even the color can be judged differently by surrounding surfaces.

When you first look at this, how many colors do you see?



Some people think they see 3 or even 4 colors, but there are 2 - red and green!

There is also only 1 shade of red.


Look closely! White squares surround the red squares, and on the other side, green squares surround the red cubes!

The placement of these cubes gives you the illusion of different colors.

Since white is not considered a color, we can safely say that there are 2 colors present here!


There are many more great examples to be found of how we can experience colors completely differently from what they really are, objectively measured, due to light and proximity to other colors.

And that presents a challenge to anyone who works with color. Whether you are a clothing stylist, car paint designer, painter or photographer. Color is a subject we need to take seriously.


Now that I know through these very simple examples, that color and brightness have such a big impact on the outcome of my images, I'd like to have all my equipment adjusted right?


I travel from Lubrin, Spain to Amsterdam. There are computers and printers in both locations. On the way, I have my laptop with me. 

Conditions differ greatly in terms of light and brightness. The Netherlands, dingy light. Spain, bright sunny. On the way

I have a lot of artificial light at the airports.


And yet I want reliable results. What looks good in the Netherlands should give the same results in Spain and on the road my laptop should not 'cheat' me under 'false' artificial light from the airports.

The option 'adjust colors of my screen to environment' is therefore immediately turned off.

That I cannot rely on my subjective color experience is obvious. 

So if I want objective color results that I can rely on, I have to apply color management and have all devices communicate with each other.

The calibration of my camera
The setup of my workspace
The adjustment of the computer
Getting the print profiles right

Easier said than done. It's quite a hassle on figuring it out.

You can do it yourself if you like but you can also ask Gerlo what to look out for.

And that's what I did. ;)


Two days ZO 21/05 & 04/06


Gerlo Beernink Color Managment


Dutch version