White Light (and our logo) Explained

You may have come across the term white light and just thought of a light being white.  The term however, refers to a much more complex scenario.

White and black are normally referred to as being colours, however in reality, they are not colours at all. White consists of all the colours the human eye can see whilst black is the total absence of these same colours. Sunlight consists of various wavelengths of light each with different characteristics and properties. We can only see some of these wavelengths, namely white light, which refers to the band of frequencies which are visible to the human eye. We can see all of these wavelengths (or colours) when rainbows appear in the skies. To be able to see all of the colours which make up white light, we need a prism in order to separate it into different frequencies. One of the wavelengths which is invisible to the naked eye is ultra violet light. We cannot see it, but we can certainly feel it if exposed to it for a long time. Other similar invisible wavelengths are x-ray, gamma rays and radio waves.

This knowledge is mostly utilized and experimented upon in the art of photography. We go back to the beginning of photography, when everything in the industry used to be black and white. Since colour photography was not invented yet, photographic emulsions used could only record the intensity of light; not each wave as described above. Colour was instead represented as a shade of light in grey scale. It is from these grey shade recordings that colour of the old days can be deduced with modern technology.

A typical application where white light and its characteristics come into play is when a photographer is illuminating a scene, using various gels to produce the appropriate lighting. For this reason, photographers must have very good knowledge of the nature of light. A good way to understand the different way colour mixes is by comparing the mixture of lights and the mixture of paints. When mixing light using the three primary colours red, green and blue, the result is white whilst turning all three off, results in black. Mixing red and green light, for example, generates yellow. This is called the additive process.

The chemicals used in colour paints do not really have the colour we see.  When we shine the light on red paint, for example, all the visible colours from the white light are absorbed by the chemicals in the paint except the red one, which is reflected back to us and we perceive the paint to be red. The colours not reflected turn into heat energy in the paint’s chemical. In black paint, all the colours are absorbed by the chemical and thus all the light energy stays there heating it up. This is a good reason to choose white for your car!  This whole process is called the subtractive method.

This brings us to our logo, which shows white light on the left passing through a triangular prism which separates it into the colours of the rainbow on the right. You may also recognise the W of “white” and the L of “light” in the logo. The production of audio visual content is not the work of one man, but that of a team; each member contributing to the project’s vision, just as white light needs all the colours to be seen.