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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 23, Iss. 11 — Nov. 1, 1933
  • pp: 394–402

Neutral Value Scales. I. Munsell Neutral Value Scale

A. E. O. MUNSELL, L. L. SLOAN, and I. H. GODLOVE  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 23, Issue 11, pp. 394-402 (1933)

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A. E. O. MUNSELL, L. L. SLOAN, and I. H. GODLOVE, "Neutral Value Scales. I. Munsell Neutral Value Scale," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 23, 394-402 (1933)

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  1. The relation between Value and Brilliance is as follows: “Brilliance is that attribute of any color in respect of which it may be classed as equivalent to some member of a series of grays ranging between black and white.” (Report of the Committee on Colorimetry of the Optical Society of America, J. O. S. A. and R. S. I. 6, 534 (1922).) Value bears a relation to the color attribute brilliance similar to that which the Fahrenheit and Centigrade scales, as measured with the various (gas, mercury, etc.) types of thermometers, bear to temperature. Value is the practical approach to brilliance afforded by reflection standards, the special case of brilliance so represented having the important difference of corresponding to a constant level of adaptation of the eye. More precisely, value is the brilliance of the colors of a series of standards, varying in reflectance from zero to unity, in such a way that all visual intervals are uniform when viewed on a middle gray background by a light-adapted eye. The standard Munsell value unit is defined as one-tenth the difference in value between a surface of 0 percent reflectance and one of 100 percent reflectance when both are viewed on a background whose reflectance is about 18 percent and illuminated by 22.8 f.c. of daylight (52000°K).
  2. In the prosecution of the researches described in this paper we wish to acknowledge the help we have received from various sources, particularly from Mr. Prentice Reeves, who planned a large part of the “J.N.D.” work, and from Miss G. K. Walker, who was of great assistance in compiling the experimental data. Acknowledgment should also be made to Mr. I. G. Priest (now deceased) of the Bureau of Standards, whose keen interest in visual psycho-physics and whose help and advice were an invaluable aid, and to Dr. D. B. Judd, of the same Bureau, who read the manuscript and gave very valuable criticisms.
  3. A. E. O. Munsell et al., Munsell Book of Color, on p. 46, Baltimore, 1929.
  4. F. G. Cooper, Munsell Manual of Color, on p. 33, Baltimore, 1929.
  5. A. H. Munsell, Atlas of the Munsell Color System, Boston, 1915.
  6. The Ostwald scale is of the logarithmic type corresponding to the Weber-Fechner law, considered below; the “Atlas” value scale of A. H. Munsell is of the exponential type presaged by the work of Plateau and others (see below). A third type of law, that of Adams and Cobb considered below, has not been applied to practical value scales.
  7. P. Bouguer, Traité d'optique sur la gradation de la lumiere, p. 51, Paris, (Lacaille) 1760. He used the following method. He set up a post between two candles and a white cardboard so that each candle cast a shadow on the latter. Shadow 1 was illuminated by candle 2, and shadow 2 by only candle 1, whereas the remaining area was illuminated by both candles. He varied the distances of the candles until one of the shadows disappeared. This occurred when the relative distances of the two candles was about 8.16 to 1, or such that the intensities of illuminations (as given by the “inverse square law”) was about 1 to 66.67 (or 1.5 to 100). That is, the ratio of the brightness of the screen to that of the remaining shadow was 1.015.
  8. J. H. Lambert, Photometria, Augustae Videlic, 1760. C. A. Steinheil, Elemente der Helligkeitsmessungen am Sternhimmel; Abhandl. k. bayr. Akad. Wissensch., Math.-Phys. Cl. 2, 1 (1837). Arago, Oeuvres completes, Paris, X; 1858. G. T. Fechner, Über ein wichtiges psychophysisches Grundgesetz u. d. Beziehung z. Schatzung d. Sterngrossen, Abhandl. k. sachs. ges. Wissensch., Math.-phys. K1. 4, 455 (1859). G. T. Fechner, Elemente der Psychophysik, Leipzig; 1860. The last-named obtained the Fechner fraction 0.010.
  9. M. A. Masson, Études de photometrie electrique; Ann. chim. et phys. [3] 14, 129 (1845). E. Kraepelin, Zur Frage der Gültigkeit des Weberschen Gesetzes bei Lichtempfindungen; Phil. Stud. 2, 306–26 (1885). E. Kraepelin, Nachtrag zu der Arbeit u. d. Gültigkeit des Weberschen Gesetzes bei Lichtempfindungen; Phil. Stud. 2, 651–57 (1885). Masson introduced the method of using a series of white disks each with a small black sector. When the disk was rotated a faint gray ring was seen on the white background. The size of the black sector giving a just perceptible gray ring furnished a determination of the Fechner fraction. Later experimenters modified this technique in various ways, in part for the purpose of eliminating certain contrast effects which might modify the results.
  10. A. W. Volkmann, Physiol. Untersuchungen im Gebiete d. Optik 1, 56 (1863). H. Helmholtz, Handb. d. physiologischen Optik, Hamburg and Leipzig, 1886.
  11. H. Aubert, Physiologie der Netzhaut; pp. 52–82 (1865).
  12. J. Plateau, Über die Messung physischer Empfindungen u. d. Gesetz welches die Starke d. erregenden Ursache verknupft Pogg. Ann. 150, 465–76 (1873).
  13. By way of comparison with the Plateau law, it can be shown that the Weber-Fechner law results from assuming that observers pick a mid-gray in such a way that it gives equal differences (rather than equal ratios) of sensations when compared with black and white; i.e., so that V2-Vm = Vm -V1. Delboeuf, Bull. de l'Acad. royale de Belgique 34, 250, 261 (1872), pointed out that according to the Weber-Fechner law, a small positive value of R corresponds to a negative value of V, and zero value of R to an infinitely negative value of V, which is an absurdity. Further, his results were not entirely independent of the illumination, as required by the Weber-Fechner law.
  14. A. Lehman, Über die Anwendung der Methode der mittleren Abstufung auf den lichtsinn; Wundt's Phil. Stud. 3, 497–533 (1886). H. Neiglick, Zur Psychophysik des Lichtsinns; Wundt's Phil. Stud. 4, 28–111 (1888).
  15. P. Breton, Comptes Rendus 105, 426–29 (1887).
  16. J. Merkel, Die Abhangigkeitzwischen Reiz und Empfindund, Wundt's Phil. Stud. 4, 541 (1888); 5, 499 (1889); 10, 239 (1894).
  17. Ebbinghaus; Grundzuge der Psychologie, I, 497, Leipzig, 1902. W. Ament, Über das Verhaltnis der ebenmerklichen zu den ubermerklichen Unterschieden bei Licht- und Schallintensitaten; Wundt's Phil Stud. 16, 135–96 (1900).
  18. J. Fröbes, Ein Beitrag über die sogenannten Vergleichungen ubermerklicher Empfindungsunterschiede; Zeits. f. Psychologie 36, 304–80 (1904). A. Stefanini, Sulla legge di oscillazione dei diapsson e sulla misura dell' intensita del suono; Atti della R. Acad. Lucchese 25, 305–400 (1889).
  19. A. König, and E. Brodhun, Experimentelle Untersuch-ungen über die Psychophysiche Fundamentalform in Bezug auf den Gesichtssinn; Gesammelte Abhandl. z. Physiologischen Optik, p. 135–39. J. Blanchard, The Brightness Sensibility of the Retina, Phys. Rev. 11, 81–99 (1918); obtained results agreeing in general with König and Brodhun's (and Aubert's).
  20. P. W. Cobb, and L. R. Geissler, The Effect on Foveal Vision of Bright Surroundings, I; Psychol. Rev. 20, 525–47 (1913). P. W. Cobb, The Effect on Foveal Vision of Bright Surroundings, II; Psychol. Rev. 21, 23–32 (1914). P. W. Cobb, The Effect on Foveal Vision of Bright Surroundings, III; J. Exper. Psychol. 1, 419–25 (1916); IV, J. Exper. Psychol. 1, 540–66 (1916).
  21. E. Q. Adams, and P. W. Cobb, The Effect on Foveal Vision of Light (and Dark) Surroundings, V; J. Exper. Psychol. 5, 39–45 (1922).
  22. This photometer operated on the "cat's-eye" principle, that is, the area of the variable aperture through which a reflecting standard was illuminated with decreasing intensity until the sample was matched (or the movement of the brightness indicator) was proportional to the square of the diagonal of the (square) aperture. Equal areas of aperture or equal movements of the indicator corresponded approximately to equal sensation (rather than equal reflection) differences. This relation corresponded further to the simple rule: The percentage reflectance of any one of the ten steps of value in the Munsell “Atlas Value Scale” is obtained by multiplying this value by itself. For example, value 7 gives 7 × 7 or 49 percent. This earlier Munsell value scale was, carefully examined by the U. S. Bureau of Standards, with the results reported by Priest, Gibson and McNicholas (Bur. Stand. Tech. Pap. No. 167, p. 27; 1920) as follows: Value level 1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9/ Value×value 1 4 9 16 25 36 49 64 81 % B. S. findings 2 4 9 16 23 34 46 60 72 % Considering the drawbacks of the photometer resulting from its portable construction, the results are very satisfactory.
  23. I. G. Priest, The Spectral Distribution of Energy Required to Evoke the Gray Sensation, Bur. Stand. Sci. Pap. No. 417; 1921. In the quotation, the word in brackets has been inserted by the authors.
  24. C. W. Keuffel, A Direct Reading Spectrophotometer, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 11, 407 (1925); see the figure on p. 406.
  25. The strengths of the correcting spheres or cylinders worn by four of the five observers were equal to or less than one diopter. The glasses worn by C. E. B. were O. D. -2.5 sph., -3 cyl. axis 165, O. S. -4.25 sph., -2 cyl. axis 10.

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