Hair Colour

T writes:

My hair has no colour, and I admit that I am more than a little bit perturbed by this. When I was a child I had vivid blond curls that have since sullied to become a dull non-colour best described as “blah.” Check out these two pictures for a saddening record of my tragic hair degradation:

Thomas's hair, then and now

Alexis assures me that my hair is brown (an assessment that is officially validated by my driver’s license), but in reality I’m convinced that she lovingly goes with brown simply because it isn’t blond, black, or red. What else is there? I’ll tell you. There’s blah.

I don’t believe that there is any discernible hue of true brown in my hair. In order to verify this, I’ve undertaken a bit of a study. Fortunately for you (recalling my last epic study on Homeownership…), this study is best conveyed with pictures rather than words:

hair colour charts

Any colour may be characterized by a particular combination of Red, Green, and Blue (the 3 primary colours of light). Using a computer, each colour (well, at least a subset of over 16 million of them) is defined with a unique RGB code that describes the relative contribution (from 0 to 255) of each of the primary constituents. This is the most inexpensive measure of objective colour that I could come up with.

An RGB code is generally written in the form: Red = [0, 255], Green = [0, 255], Blue = [0, 255], so a red is described by 255, 0, 0 and a yellow (being a combination of red and green) is something like 255, 255, 0. Now, for this study I was hoping to find that there’s a particular range or set of ranges of RGB codes that correspond to the colour brown. After some superficial and fairly half-assed research, however, it seems that this isn’t really the case. What I have found is a representative set of exemplary brown RGB codes, which I have briefly probed to establish the following generalizations about “objective” brown:

  1. R > G > B
  2. R > 90, and most of the time R > 100
  3. 0.50 < G/R < 0.85
  4. 0.25 < B/G < 0.80
  5. 0.10 < B/R < 0.70

Okay, on to the point! For the three random samplings of my own hair illustrated above, the respective RGB codes are:

  1. 81, 80, 76
  2. 84, 75, 78
  3. 79, 64, 59

Of these three codes, not one of them satisfies all five of my generalizations about brown. In fact, NONE of these three codes satisfies anything more than generalization “a”, and one of them (84, 75, 78) doesn’t even do that! This means that the RGB codes corresponding to three random points in my hair do not exhibit the same qualities in R, G, and B that are generally common to shades of brown. To me, this confirms that my hair is indeed not brown.

Sadly, another thing I’ve discovered is that any instance for which the relative contributions of R, G, and B are all equal produces a grey (except 255, 255, 255 = white and 0, 0, 0 = black). Looking at my three random points, the relative contributions of R, G, and B are discouragingly close to being uniform (especially for points 1 and 2), implying that my hair may perhaps be more accurately classified as a shade of grey than a shade of brown. This leads me to a formal definition for the colour blah: “off-grey, characterized by max(|R-G|, |G-B|, |R-B|) ? 20.”

This is not a very extensive study and I admit that probing more than three random pixels from my great mane of data would definitely reveal more unique RGB codes. However, I do believe that the three random points I have examined provide a fairly accurate representation of the RGB spread in my hair and that this spread does not include hues that would normally be classified as brown. My hair isn’t blond anymore (I don’t need an elaborate RGB study to convince me of this), but it isn’t truly brown either. It’s blah, and I anticipate a good debate at the licensing bureau when my driver’s license next becomes due for renewal.

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  1. By albert on July 30, 2014 at 10:29 am

    lak@scour.heidenstam” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    ñïàñèáî çà èíôó….

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