What do you think the correct color of plants?

Hello , I’m photoglapher in Japan.
I often think what is the correct color and method of record the correct color.
I recentry tried to record the correct color with using color chart.
But , I know coloring is caused by spectral light.
The colors are different when viewed in the rain and when viewed in the sun.
And , under tree ( color was shift green by leaf ) , in the cloudy , under the water.
So , I’ll use flash light.
But ! Flash light have different spectral too.
Furthermor , Human eye have individual difference…
Even more , Most plants color was made by for bug eyes.
I think correct color can only be recorded with photos ( Herbarium declines )

So,What do you think the correct color of plants ?
And, Do you know how to record the correct color ?
Or, Under what conditions do I should need to record to correct color?

I will try to record correctly with various approaches.(Human eye - VIS , Bug eye - UV , NIR and more)


Hi @light-box, welcome to the Forum!


If you want to guarantee that you’ve recorded the same colors you saw, you can use a color calibration target plus matching calibration software, and a color calibration tool for your monitor. You won’t be able to assure that people whose monitors aren’t calibrated see the same colors, and on top of that, the natural world includes colors which can’t readily be captured by the typical off-the-shelf camera or displayed on most monitors.

Most of us settle for getting a reasonably appropriate white balance.


Light reflects differently as you stated, and true colour of plants in fact is not green, so you need to ask yourself what’s the reason to have the exact colours if they’ll be different irl after 15 minutes passes. I think you shouldn’t overthink it too much other than simple solutions, using color chart is a good idea.


There are a lot of physical differences that go into the way humans and other creatures observe and perceive color as you’ve already noted. It’s worth noting that there is a psychological element, too. Pardon the slightly gruesome example, but even if you were to implant an eye from one person or creature into another so that light is processed in the exact same way by two different organisms, they may still perceive a difference in the color due to the different ways their brains process the signals. There is not really any such thing, then, as a “correct” color, when color is really just our perception of the properties of light.

However, there is the concept of a so-called “perfect hologram” that may be close to what you’re trying to describe as representing “correct” colors. A perfect hologram is an image in which all the spectral information of a 3D object is preserved. Rather than creating a recorded image the way a camera (or an eye) does (detecting only red green and blue light and using lenses that can cause chromatic aberrations), to create a perfect hologram, you would first need a detector that can see all wavelengths of light (and remember visible light is only a small part of this spectrum) in order to collect all the spectral information needed to make the hologram. Then you would need a way to reproduce the image without losing any of that information. Unfortunately, this is only a theoretical concept as it would be impossible to make such a detector or reproduce the image without losing some information (Even the best lasers have a finite bandwidth, and as I mentioned, lenses cause chromatic aberrations and even the best mirrors scatter and absorb some light).

However, there are detectors used in “hyperspectral” imaging that use many more wavebands than the three used by our eyes with much narrower spectral widths and so do a much better job of collecting information. And we can create visual holograms using mirrors or with lasers that are convincing enough to people even if they aren’t perfect.


Human color vision is highly variable.

Many people have what we refer to as color blindness, but often they just see colors differently than a majority of people.

Older people may see colors much less vividly than young people.

Staring at colors for a long time will fatigue the color receptors in the eyes making them look different to you than they looked a minute earlier before staring.

I have always seen color ~slightly~ differently between my right and left eye. Of course, with binary vision, I am not usually aware of it.

So, I think @melodi_96 is right about it not being so significant to record reflected photons just so for most nature photography (unless some esoteric scientific study is being done).

Here is some interesting info about the human eye color phenomena and the Color Blind Pal app. This app allows normal people to see what things look like to someone color blind, and it shows color blind folks what others see.


As an aside, I found this app, to be really interesting (eye-opening, yuk-yuk) a few years ago when I was reading about artists with “color blindness”.


Remember this in 2015?


Digitized herbarium sheets include a color palette that can be used to calibrate colors across different environments.


@dianastuder” Remember this in 2015?

Yes!!! How amazing to realize how starkly colors are perceived differently, considering context! So incredible that scientists are learning so much from this chance posting of a woman’s dress (always looked gold/white to me).


Thanks reply every one :)
I already use color chart and caliblated monitor.
Yes , But , Calibrated monitor can display narrow range color space only.

I have always seen color ~slightly~ differently between my right and left eye. Of course, with binary vision, I am not usually aware of it.
I want to throw my eye.

If want to really capture color , it looks like best method is hyperspectral camera ( thank you screedius )
Maybe , In the future , I’ll read correct color off the spectral graph XD

I posted photo that correct color , OR , sphere images at inaturalist (But, there is not best )
I’ll try to hard take a correct color of plants.

Thank you :)

1 Like

[quote=“light-box, post:10, topic:18552”] ,

I have always seen color ~slightly~ differently between my right and left eye. Of course, with binary vision, I am not usually aware of it.
I want to throw my eye.

:crazy_face: This is my actual quote (no eye throwing please :relaxed:)


My Swiss husband says - throw an eye at the clock - a literal translation from German - but but - you can’t SAY that in English.

1 Like

I would love to see how a photographer uses a hyperspectral camera. I’m only familiar with them in the context of laboratory research. There was at least one research group at Rice University where I went to grad school that used hyperspectral imaging for spectroscopy studies, and I heard at least one presentation from them on it, but it was not my area of expertise. I have to imagine the equipment is quite expensive, but it would be very interesting to see what use a photographer could find for that kind of data.

1 Like

In soil science we record the colour of a soil sample in a hue-value-chroma colour space using the so-called Munsell colour book (strictly, a subset of the Munsell colour space for soil colours).

Interestingly the Japanese have their own version of the Munsell colour book, and colour codes apparently don’t represent identical colours between the Japanese book and the one that the rest of the world uses. It’s a real problem. But I digress.

A Munsell-type system might be what you were referring to by “colour chart” above. I’m not sure what botanists use. A handheld colorimeter?


I don’t know soil science , but , so , It’s interesting !
Why different color , Why check coolor.
Yes , It’s important have same scale.
Maybe , I have to record sooil color too.
Thank you interesting topic :)

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.