No doubt! Value is the hardest color dimension to talk about. I have found that seeing the value of color is a learned skill. It is hard to differentiate and so it is very frustrating. Value is the lightness or darkness of the color, it is also is a measure of color purity and saturation. Here is the gray scale that is used to help determine the value of a hue. While it is relatively easy to see the differences in value between white, gray and black, it is not so easy to see the value of colors. The color itself skews our perception of the value. Some hues like yellow are more likely to be at the top end of the scale, while purple is more likely to be at the darker end of the scale.
The human eye can see about 5 steps of this scale. The “pure” white, “pure” black, neutral gray and a step between those 3 values. In the real world, there are many more nuances of value. When I was learning about value, one strategy that helped was to squint or partially closed your eyes and look at the yarn, fabric, or photo and the value would be easier to see. The squinting reduces the number of color sensitive cells (cones) that are activated, while the cells that perceive light (rods) are still activated. Try this with a favorite photograph and see if you can differentiate among the values in that photograph.
There are a couple of “tricks” that we can use today. One is the computer. You can take a photo and change it to a black and white photo. Also you can use red or green plastic ……to see the value differences.
If you are intrigued and would like to learn more, register for my color class on September 6th at 1pm. Go to the fiber class page to register. We will be doing lots of experiments to train our eyes to be better color detectors.