To filter or not to filter?

filtersAccurate colour representation, strictly speaking re-presentation, on screen-based devices is, I have now decided, impossible. But before I get bogged down in the philosophical depths of reality and the perception of reality, let’s just say that we don’t all see the same colour in the same way.

Shades of pale blues and pale greens are well-known for instigating disagreements between two people both looking at the same blue or is that green? I selected Colour One and Colour Two below from the pictured scarf and have placed them on different backgrounds – personally I’d call Colour One duck egg blue! Any takers?

Blue-GreenAnd, as any other folk who regularly take photographs will know, the ambient light certainly makes colours appear different. It is also why there are a selection of lens filters (and photoshop equivalents) to adjust for the ambient light.

But one thing I didn’t particularly notice until I was reading about how we see colour is that (and this is blindingly obviously really) the same coloured object will look different against a different background!

This brings me back to presenting my work online using photographs. Silk has a lustre and this lustre varies with the weave. A crepe de chine has a subtle sheen and a flat crepe de chine almost no sheen. Satins and charmeuse silks are so lustrous that they could be called shiny whereas silk twills and taffetas are somewhere in the middle.

Silk-surfaceIn the blurb accompanying my online shop I try to explain that silk looks different in real life not least as the slightest movement makes a lustrous scarf reflect light in an ever changing subtle way. Add this information to the variety of screens people use to shop online and people’s individual perceptions of colour I conclude that accurate re-presentation of my work is not possible.

Hetty-pink-green-box-new copyApplying these observations to the wider world of online shopping in general (and I am sure most people have already realised this) if you are considering buying anything online and a precise shade or colour match is of paramount importance then either ask for a sample, a swatch or an off-cut, or read the returns policy so if it’s not right for you it can be sent back and you will be refunded. One small point unlike big retail brands, ASOS, Hermès and Liberty and so on, most small businesses, crafters and artisans are unable to offer free returns.


Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

3 thoughts on “To filter or not to filter?”

  1. I find the same thing in photographing my art. And in doing art I often exploit how’d colors work together or on top of each other. And last, when I had my cataracts removed (not especially bad but were rapidly worsening due to my retina surgery) I was struck by the whiter lighting everything seemed to have, vs the earlier yellow cast. Color!

    1. Now that is one aspect I hadn’t thought about the effect of cataracts or even simply wearing glasses. Have you noticed that the clearer the boundary between two colours actually is the more intense a shade appears? I really noticed this when I put my glasses on and everything was properly in focus. David Hockney has made some interesting points about the change in his hearing and deafness and its relationship to his sight which has lead to a more intense way of seeing. How we individually perceive the world – all quite fascinating.

      1. Yes, I notice that focus thing with colors; before my cataracts I was severely nearsighted (still am of course but the lenses now give me almost perfect distance vision, what a jarring change!) and without my glasses the world was soft and blurry and colors the same. I agree with the idea that hearing loss also makes you see more intensely – or pay more attention, as you need it to fill in understanding, I’ve experienced the same thing with my hearing loss, too.

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