Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shades of Grey

I started out my meteorological career by trying to get the most data out of satellite imagery. Admittedly satellite images were crude data sources at first but they proved that weather did not come in boxes or Venn Diagram intersections. There was much more information to be understood even from those early black and white and somewhat fuzzy images.
I started with “Enhanced Visible Imagery” trying to get the most out of the sunrise and sunset horizons. The human can discern maybe 17 shades of grey. The satellite channel offers 256 shades or energy levels. I wrote some papers on the topic and illustrated how one could reuse the 17 levels of discernable grey shades several times so as to use all of the 256 different energy levels of reflected solar radiation. This approach allowed the differentiation between convective cells which were tall and reflective enough to produce precipitation from those that were not. I had images to illustrate the approach. I thought it was great science but it was greeted by the sounds of crickets and not much else.
Now as I am resuming my career as an artist I have returned to my first passion. Grey is still my favourite. The human eye can distinguish 2.4 million colours. I am not making that up! The CIE, or “Commission internationale de l'├ęclairage”, established the "CIE 1931 XYZ color space" in 1931. These colours can be plotted and the human eye can differentiate between 2.38 million different colours. A few hundred thousands of these colours would be considered grey - way more than fifty!

In discussing my art I have frequently used the term “shades of grey” to describe some of my pieces. Unfortunately that phrase is now out of my vocabulary due to silly circumstances beyond my control. I have lost other really good words in the past as well and they are gone.  But happily my favourite colour remains “grey” spelled in the Canadian fashion with an “e”.
This painting is #1028 "Last Light - Gray" with the American spelling of "grey".

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