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Lighting, Metamerism, and Color Design

Lighting, Metamerism, and Color Design

Igor Asselbergs

Color is an event that occurs among three participants, lightsource, object and observer. It should therefor come as no surprise that one and the same object will look different under differing lichtsources. Your clothes do not have the same color under a fluorescent tube, a regular light bulb or in sunlight. However, most of the differences are ‘corrected’ in our brain by a fascinating psychological process called ‘color constancy’. For today, however, I’ll focus on another interesting subject related to lighting: Metamerism.

A color is always composed of light of different wavelengths. Sunlight, for instance, can be deconstructed to the colours of the rainbow. But also a surface can be deconstructed in a spectral analysis.

There’s something peculiar about these two colors: they are metamere. Which means that perceived in a certain light, in this example sunlight, they will appear exactly the same to our eyes. But under another source of light, say an electric bulb, they will appear different.

This is the spectral analysis of a certain shade of red

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