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How to Test Your Color Perception for Photography

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Color is a funny thing. We see color due to the light being reflected from a subject. But, apart from being a physical entity, it also plays with us in a philosophical manner.

We all perceive colors slightly differently. Not to mention, the associations we attach to them. Read here on why a color perception test is important for photography, and how to do one.

a group of palm trees in front a colorful sky at sunset

What Is Color Perception?

As photographers, we spend a lot of time thinking about color. Are the ones in our scenes complementary or contrasting? We are so picky about the colors in our scene that we often calibrate our monitors. We even use different color modes if images are used for the web or printing.

It is so important, we use it as a compositional technique. We fret about the white balance of our scenes or flood studios with colored gels. This is without looking at hair, makeup and wardrobes we use in our scenes.

Colour works on so many levels, most of them hitting our subconscious. When we see red, we are angry. Or getting drunk. Or have been injured. Red for cars makes them seem faster.

Every color hits us on a cultural level, and also on a personal one. Green might be particularly important to you as your favorite toy was a shade of this. It might bring up connotations of your past feelings and moods.

The same color for some represents jealousy, whereas some cultures see green connected to wealth or even infidelity.

When we work for ourselves, we might be less picky than when we work for a client. Those who fund your photography and vision might be looking for a particular look or feel. Colors play a large part in this.

They fit into a mood or feeling, or a particular brand being used. Coca Cola uses red color for its branding, as you’ll notice that their video advertisements feature a lot of warm colors.

Oranges and yellows are abundant, as they complement the brand.

None of us see colors in the same light. We are either trained in what to look for and what they mean. But, at the same time, we can’t help but link them to our past experiences.

The problem with color perception is that it changes with time. Men and women experience color vision deficiency, where one or a range of colors become indistinguishable with old age.

a wall painted in abstract colors in geometric pattern

How to Test Your Color Perception

There are a few ways you can test your color perception online. Below are the three best tests for you to complete.

Colour

Colour is a color perception test by Lenstore.co.uk. This group is made up of a collection of vision care experts, so a test on color perception is a great way for them to research.

But it is a fun way to see how your color vision is holding up.

In this color perception test, you are given ten questions that take under five minutes to complete. It is short and sweet, and you are provided with the answers at the end.

The questions start off simply, yet become progressively more difficult towards the end. Personally, I got 7 out of ten, putting me higher than 71% of those who took the tests.

Furthermore, Lenstore provides a scoring chart, where most of the users get six correct answers (24.1%), yet only a handful get a perfect score (0.2%). Let us know what you get!

Colour is a color perception test by Lenstore.co.uk

X-rite Color Challenge

The X-rite color challenge is slightly different in its approach to testing color perception. Here you are given four lines of different hues that you need to move around to create a seamless gradient.

This test is based on the  Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test, which was used in government applications for over six decades. The entire test lasts up to as long as you want it to. It took me about five minutes, where I scored zero, a perfect score.

At first, I found this test looked complicated, but once I got into it, I found it very easy. However, I understand that it was easy for me being 36 years old. If I were to do this test in 10 or 20 years, the score will likely be very different.

The downside to this test is that it doesn’t give you a great way to compare to others in your age range. Once my age and gender are added, I am given this following data:

  • Best Score for your Gender -666666
  • Worst Score for your Gender 16061606

This gives me no indication of how many right or wrong answers I got. The test is also influenced by your screen, the lighting you use and even how tired you are. I’ll leave it up to you to determine how important this is.

a screenshot of X-rite Color Challenge

  • Best Score for your Gender  -666666
  • Worst Score for your Gender  16061606

Enchroma

The Enchroma color perception test is based around color blindness. This is something you should do if you are worried about minor or major color impairments. It will show you if you are missing minor gamuts of color.

This is important knowledge to know for a photographer, especially one photographing in color. Give it a go and see what it tells you.

For me, it gave me a result of Normal color Vision after the 20 or so questions.

a screenshot of The Enchroma color perception

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