When light hits objects, it causes different visual effects which we call ‘colors’. We owe even the blue color of the sky to color formation. The world without colors would most definitely be boring and gloomy. So, let’s take a closer look at formation of colors which influence our lives deeply. Actually, the source of all colors is light. Sunlight consists of rays of various wavelengths. When rays of the sun are made to pass through a prism, the ray splits, separating into colors of various wavelengths. All objects reflect light with various wavelengths measured in nanometers.
A nano meter is equal to one billionth of a meter. So, the formation of primary and secondary colors are the result of such small differences. But why do objects have different colors, while the sunlight falling upon them is the same? For example, let’s look at a leaf. When it’s young, its color is green, whereas it becomes yellow or red as it grows older. From this point on, we need to go into more detail and take a look at the properties of objects. All things in nature, living or nonliving, have pigments unique to them. The color each object reflects depends on the pigments it has. And since each pigment molecule has a different atom, atomic number and configuration, every pigment reflects a different color when the light falls upon it.
The color we see is the result of the rays that are not absorbed but reflected by the pigment. If an object reflects all the colors back, it seems white in color. If it absorbs all the colors, it seems black in color. And if it reflects a particular color, it will seem that color. The chlorophyll pigment which gives leaves their green color absorbs all colors, but green. In autumn, before leaves fall down, chlorophyll begins to break down and this time, carotenoid pigments stand out. These pigments reflect the colors of yellow and orange only. Two best known examples of carotenoids are lycopene that gives tomatoes their red color, and beta carotene that gives carrots their orange color.
In some dying leaves, when temperatures are low, some anthocyanin pigments are formed, causing leaves to look red. Also, the reason why eggplant, blackberry, and grape look various shades of red is because they contain anthocyanin pigments. The red-violet pigments (betacyanin) and yellow to orange pigments (betaxanthin) are available in some vegetables like beetroot and radish. Pigments are also used for coloring paint. Most pigments are refined from naturally occurring materials grinder into a fine powder. White pigments are basically lead hydrocarbonate and extracted from limestone, titanium and zinc.
Since these pigments reflect all colors in sunlight, they look white. Cinnabar is the most common red pigment. Along with mineral and animal origin paints, there are paints colored by pigments obtained from plants. Some of these plants are venetian sumac, terebinth, and daisy for yellow pigments hibiscus and plane tree for red pigments, senecio and juniper for green pigments. As a result, colors, the life with them is not boring nor monotonous.