A recent question - Why are there no dark yellows, or bright violets? - asks about perception and color naming. At first glance, I certainly see how this is related to photography, but I can't quite see how this is really on-topic here, since the answers will all, necessarily, be based on linguistics.

Should we go ahead and leave questions that are related to photography, or is it better for the community to keep to the specific topic of the site, and leave this type of question in it's own field, perhaps migrating it to http://english.stackexchange.com.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I do appreciate you bringing it up here rather than just migrating the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 31, 2011 at 22:42

2 Answers 2


As we all know, colour perception is not just about photography. It is a science that underlies all the visual arts and technologies. So if there was a site such as art.stackexchange the question could just as well have been asked there. So I understand chills42's point.

That said, colour perception is an essential part of the language and experience of photography and, in my opinion, deserves thoughtful treatment by photographers.

And semantics underlies all discussions so we need not dismiss it on those grounds alone. Of course some questions could be entirely semantic in nature and naturally we would dismiss those questions. Mattdm's question does not seem to be entirely semantic.

I am sympathetic to mattdm's argument that we have focussed a lot on the technical aspects of photography and need, as a consequence, to give some attention to the artistic aspects of photography.

We are still in the process of defining the boundaries of this site so it is right that chills42 should ask this question. I hope that others will contribute to the discussion.


I may be biased on this one. :)

This particular question isn't actually about linguistics. It really is a color theory question, and it's prompted by a book about color in photography. And it's not like it's some wacky obscure book — see this list.

I'll update the question to make that a little more clear when I get home tonight, because I actually have an earlier out-of-print book by the same author which goes into more detail. It's in Google books but not available on line, but you can get tantalizing glimpses by searching within it for "dark yellow". I think you can see from that that the concept is, at least to the author, much deeper than a matter of which label is attached to some part of the spectrum.

The concept shows up several times throughout the book, but frankly I didn't quite under it when I read that book, and when I ran across it again — with considerably less explanation — in The Photographer's Eye, I thought I'd ask about it here.

If I were interested in the linguistic aspect, I'd definitely ask it on http://english.stackexchange.com, since that's where those experts are.

In general, though, I think we're really good on the gear, gear usage, and technical side of photography. For "how do I get this kind of shot", it's awesome. I've definitely learned a lot about lighting. And we've got people who are really good on the technical side of color, and a lot of programming/computer expertise which helps on the digital side. But I hope we can attract more people who are interested in the artistic side as well. That's another area where I've got a lot to learn.

I'm afraid we're quite soft in that area, and tend to give answers that may actually drive those experts away when they see the existing QA.

EDIT: I need to add that I don't mean to imply that people in this community aren't artists or aren't creating good art. (Many clearly are!) Or even that we don't have people who are strong on art history and theory. It's just my general sense of the site and of typical questions and responses. This is an area where we can grow.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It is quite possible that you could edit it a bit and have a very good question, my concern is simply that the question, as asked, seemed to lean towards the linguistic side of the issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – chills42
    Apr 1, 2011 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, the answers certainly do.... \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Apr 1, 2011 at 10:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @chills42: Edited. But, now, it's really long, which is not a sign of a great question. Open to suggestion for making it better — thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Apr 1, 2011 at 13:53

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