Rainbow Cyan

A rainbow off the coast of HawaiiA rainbow in black and white
Patterns in the sand in Hawaii
A Bullethead Parrotfish in Hawaii

This is the fifth of my rainbow colors in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Bright.’ (See more responses here.) It’s also where I get into trouble. Cyan? What’s cyan doing in a rainbow? What happened to blue?

Well, blue is coming. What’s gone is indigo. The traditional rainbow colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These colors were assigned by Sir Isaac Newton way back in the 1600s. In fact, he started with just five colors – red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later, he added orange and indigo to the color spectrum. These days though, what Newton called blue is today called cyan, and what he called indigo is now called blue.

In reality, there are no bands of color in a rainbow. There’s a continuous gradation of color. The bands are seen because the human eye is limited in the colors it perceives. Converted to black and white, the bands dissolve.

So, for my rainbow colors, I looked at my photos and what I see are red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and violet. Of course, if you look at the colors on the inside of a rainbow, you’ll see they keep going, back through the same sequence. And where the red of this supplementary rainbow overlaps the violet of the primary, the result is more of a purple color.

Having labored through all that, today’s rainbow is a small, bright segment on the ocean, with a black and white version of the same image. Then we have a patch of sand underwater, showing different patterns and colors. Finally, a bullethead parrotfish, bashes its beak on some coral in its pursuit of food.

18 thoughts on “Rainbow Cyan

  1. BeckyB

    definitely wasn’t a labour to read – absolutely fascinating although it does of course mean I can no longer say ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ when remembering the colours of the rainbow!!

    and as for that sand – woah!

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  2. amoralegria

    Oh, I love that underwater sand! So they’ve changed the “official” rainbow colors – I didn’t know that. It doesn’t make any difference in how the rainbow looks, though! We assign bands of color to it and portray a rainbow with those bands of colors in drawings, paintings, etc. You are right, though – humans cannot imitate nature!

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    1. Graham Post author

      Glad you like the sand. I don’t see any cause for the two distinct patterns so that’s what got my attention. I don’t know that the ‘official’ rainbow colors have changed, but when I was looking up color values I found the information about the limitation of human perception and how the name have changed over time. It was all new to me so I found it quite interesting.

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  3. Nancy B. Fitch

    Totally cool. Love the way the colored and black-and-white photos of the rainbow can be moved back and forth. I usually pull out my favorites and re-post them on Facebook with credit to you. Not possible to pull this one.

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