Sunday, January 3, 2010

Winter White (s)

Sometimes I hear people say they want their rooms painted white - however, to me, that means an infinite number of possibilites. For example, Benjamin Moore has over 140 whites available in their Off-White collection alone.

Benjamin Moore whites selection

Winter white is an interesting name for a color - usually it means a cool white in paint(with blue in it), however, very often different paint companies interpret the color differently - sometimes adding yellow to make it a creamier white (cream, ivory, ecru) (usually for clothing).

Sherwin-Williams' whites (only a few of them!)

If you think of snow as white - listen up...snow is actually colorless. It appears white because light is so scattered when it hits the snow reflecting back all the colors in light. Depending on where you find the snow, snow can actually appear red, blue, black, green, and more.

["No one really ever sees one snowflake at a time. Most of the time, we see huge collections of millions of snowflakes on the ground. As light hits the snow on the ground, there are so many locations for light to be reflected, that no single wavelength of light gets absorbed or reflected with any consistency. Most all of the white light from the sun hitting the snow will reflect back and still be white light. Therefore, snow on the ground appears white.
One other important point to remember is that snow is indeed tiny ice crystals. Ice itself is not transparent like the glass in a window, but translucent. Light does not pass through ice easily. Instead, it bounces around back and forth within the ice crystals. As the light inside an ice crystal bounces around off the interior surfaces, some light is reflected and other light is absorbed. With the millions of ice crystals in a layer of snow, all this bouncing, reflecting, and absorbing leads to a neutral ground. That means there is no preference to one side of the visible spectrum (red) or the other side (violet) to be absorbed or reflected. The sum total of all that bouncing leads to white.

The Color of Glaciers

Glacial ice will often take on a blue color. Remember, an accumulation of snow has a lot of air separating the snowflakes. Glaciers are different. Glacial ice is not the same as snow. Snowflakes accumulate and get packed together to form a solid and mobile layer of ice. Much of the air that was separating snowflakes is now squeezed out of the ice layer.
As light enters a deep layer of ice, the light gets bent causing more and more of the red end of the spectrum to be absorbed. As more red wavelengths are absorbed, more blue wavelengths are available to reflect back to your eyes. The color of glacier ice will then appear blue.

The Varied Colors of Snow

With blue and white snow or ice, many people wonder if snow can take on other colors. In some instances, impurities in snow are what cause it to appear a different color. For instance, algae can grow on snow making it appear more red, orange, or green. Dirt and debris near a road can make snow appear gray or black."]

(From: )

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