Minnaert Visits Florence......

Pictures and captions adapted from M.G.J. Minnaert's
Light and Color in the Outdoors
by Ashley Rich

"If you love nature, you respond to her phenomena as naturally as you breathe."

  chapter 2:  Shadows:   "When you look at your shadow on the ground, you will notice that the shadow of your feet is clearly defined, whereas that of your head is not."
Notice how the shadow at the base of this statue is clearer and more defined than that of the top.  "These findings are a consequence of the sun not being a point source." (p.4)  The further the shadow is projected, the more diffused are the points of light.


9  "Although the reflection is identical to the object, it looks different in perspective because the two are shifted with respect to each other.  We see the landscape as if we were looking at it from a point beneath the water's surface where the image of our eyes is." Notice how you can see the tower reflected in real life, but not in the reflection.

"The reflections of trees and shrubs in small ponds and puddles... sometimes have a more pronounced clarity, sharpness and warmth of color than the objects themselves".  Minnaert gives us 3 reasons (psychological rather than physical):
1. reflected view is sensed as a picture that lies in 1 plane.
2. "framing" makes us uncertain about the position of the object in space, which gives us strong impression of relief.
3. The eye is protected form the brightness (sky) around-- like looking in a tube.
12 "Freak reflections": spots of light randomly in the middle of a shadow, reflected from a window on the opposite building.


18  Window glass vs. plate glass

Plate glass reflections are clear (see the pane on the right),

                                                             whereas normal window glass reflections are irregular and uneven

19  Traffic Mirror
From far away, the mirror distorts and shows irregularities in the image.  Close up, the same mirror's image is not so bad.  Although these pictures are of 2 different traffic mirrors, the second appears less distorted because the building being reflected is closer to the mirror (it is across a one-way street, as opposed to a two-way street in the first picture)

21  Light columns and closed coils
"Each wave bears a spot of light, spread  out in a horizontal direction, which is reduced more and more to a small line... and all these lines together form a vertical column."

"or sometimes the light forms coils of light "seen when the water surges gently, the waves have short crests, and the light source is high."

31.  "Each eddy causes the surface to hollow out slightly and we can see how corresponding dark patches at the bottom move in unison.  On closer inspection, it appears that each of these dark patches is surrounded by a border of light."  As light passes the surface of the rippled water, it is refracted at different angles.  Where the rays group together at the bottom, there is a rim of light.

Poems are like colored church windows"
If you look inward from the market square,
Everything is dark and gloomy;
Enter the holy house, however,
And Everything looks bright and colorful.
--Goethe, Gedichte

83   "Even the most brightly colored stained-glass windows look dull when seen from the outside.. because they disperse the light much like a curtain" they are covered in dust and full of grains and air bubbles."

89  Shop windows can reflect a "splendid instance of mixed color" when the images from outside mix with the colors seen inside.

Here, the red outside and blue drapery inside combine into purple in the window.
  And the blue jewel case combines with the red-brown of the carpet outside.



Colors in the distance "merge into a single tint",  Our eyes tend to overlap the colors in the distance, which painters use in the effect of "pointillism" (p.139).  Here, the red roofs and stucco blend in the distance into a pink color

114  "In a variety of cases in which one definite color in the surroundings predominates, the complimentary color, in its turn, will appear to be more accentuated."  Store windows use complementary colors (blue and gold, for example) to make their product look more appealing.
201  "The color of the blue sky changes daily in proportion to the quantity of dust and waterdrops present in the air... The sky becomes gradually whiter toward the sun"


"The drops of water are so closely packed that the light hardly enters the cloud, but is reflected back from the greater part by the numerous drops; the cloud resembles an almost opaque white body.  If the sun is covered by cumulous, they are dark, but their edges are light: 'every cloud has a silver lining!'"


238  "Part of the light received by us from water is reflected by the surface; so long as it is smooth, it acts like a mirror and the color of the water is according to whether the sky is clear or heavily clouded".  A clear, sunny day makes the Arno River a nice mixture of blue with white from the clouds.  A cloudy day gives us a greenish-brown.

239  "Undulations on a surface of water are visible only near the boundary of dark and light reflections".   In this canal, the place to see wave undulations is where the white meets the border from the shadows od buildings.

253  "Leaves show us a wealth of green in infinite variety.  the color is essentially determined by whether you are looking at the side that is directly illuminated or the other side.  When the leaf is illuminated from the front a bluish hue mingles with the green, and when from the back, a yellow hue."