What are the brightest and most reflective colours?

As light hits a surface, part of the energy is absorbed while some is reflected off the surface. The wavelength that is reflected is what a person perceives when they see a certain colour. When white is reflected it means that all the wavelengths of the spectrum are reflecting with no absorption taking place. White is therefore the one colour that is most reflective. It’s easy to see white, yellow, and orange from afar which explains its use on hazard signage and on emergency response vehicles, for example. To find out more about Chapter 8 Chevrons, visit a site such as www.vehiclechevrons.com

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Light is a wave and some colours that we see have long or short wavelengths. Light that we perceive to be white is actually a spectrum of colours that ranges from blue, orange, and yellow, green, and even red. Purple and blue have short wavelengths and more energy whilst red is found at the other end of the spectrum with long wavelengths, and less energy.

When a surface is not white, then some of the wavelengths of light are being absorbed. A red surface, for example, will reflect red light but absorb green, violet, and blue. A green object, on the other hand, will absorb all colours except green. As we have already said, white is a mixture of all colours. This becomes evident if you use a prism to shine light through. Light can be reflected by any object that appears to be white. As you might expect, black is the colour with the least reflectivity, as it absorbs all wavelengths of light.

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The more white a surface is, the brighter it will reflect. Off-whites, pastels, and lighter shades of a colour will reflect more than darker and deeper hues. Tinting is the process of adding white to a colour. This increases its reflectivity. The process of shading is adding black to the colour. This will, therefore, reduce the reflectivity.

White contains all colours, so if you shine red light on it, the surface will appear red. If you shine blue light onto a red surface, it will appear much darker. It happens because red does not contain blue and so all the blue light is absorbed as opposed to being reflected. The colour that we perceive then purely depends on what type of light is being shone onto a surface. To accurately determine the colour of an object, it is best to expose it to white light or sunlight.

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