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Chromatic Adaptation

 

Chromatic adaptation is the ability of our system of visual perception to adjust colors to what we expect them to be. Different light sources, (sunlight, incandescent light, fluorescent light, etc.) are dramatically different colors. Objects illuminated by them will look different but our visual perception adapts to see them correctly. For example, a white piece of paper under incandescent light has a yellow tint to it. But our mind knows it is supposed to be white and our visual system adapts to perceive it as white.

Chromatic adaptation allows us to adjust colors to perceive them correctly.

After spending some length of time in a particular light source, our visual system adjusts to perceive colors correctly. This is sometimes called "white balancing" or "color balancing."

You may want to try this as an experiment. Cover one eye with some translucent colored plastic, or perhaps, a colored light filter. You should notice that, after a while, you will no longer perceive the color of objects to be different from either eye. Then remove the filter. You should notice that the eye which was not covered will now perceive colors like the covered eye did. After a short time, this effect should go away. Interesting!

 

Click here to see an example of chromatic adaptation.

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