Cultural Heritage Imaging


Feeling Gray? How about some Shades of Gray? by marlinlum
January 17, 2014, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Commentary, Guest Blogger | Tags: , , ,

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Feeling gray? How about some shades of gray?

Have a new studio? Want to paint it photographic neutral gray? Read on for important information and advice.

The information quoted below was authored by Dan Kushel, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at SUNY Buffalo State, New York, USA.

Recent photographic lab renovations at Buffalo State College required the walls to be painted a fresh coat of gray. Rather than randomly select a “nice” neutral gray, Dan Kushel took a more methodical approach.

Dan allowed us to share a PDF with the data that was produced from his careful research.

Download the PDF : neutral_gray_paint_laminate_reflectance_spectra-1

Commenting on his project, Dan stated:

“We used all three paints in the new conservation imaging laboratories which were just completed. The choice (of gray) depended on function.  The 18% N5 was used in the main photographic and reprographic studios; the 40% N6.5 in the image processing studio; and the 60% N8 for the chemical dark rooms and X-ray room.”

Testing the “spectra” was not a difficult process, and the “i1 and Robin Myers SpectraShop” tools were utilized to gather the data.

As noted in the PDF file, “neutral_gray_paint_laminate_reflectance_spectra-1.pdf,” the reflectance spectra of three neutral gray Benjamin Moore paints are fairly comparable to Munsell N5, N6.5, and N8 (18%, 40%, and 60% average reflectance).

The three are respectively: “Steel Wool” 2121-20; “Sterling Silver” 1461; and “Pelican Gray” 1612. Note that the neutrality of “Sterling Silver” is compromised above 650nm where reflectance sharply increases into the near infrared.  All spectra were made by averaging five readings of the surface.

The PDF also includes spectra of the N5, N6.5, and N8 patches on a new X-Rite ColorChecker for reference.

Also in the PDF are reflectance spectra of three neutral gray Formica laminates. They are: “Mouse” 928-58 (20% reflectance); “Fog” 961-58 (30% reflectance); and “Folkstone” 927-58.  Neutrality is quite good on all of these.

Reflectance spectra of the paints as applied to the walls closely matched the spectra of the samples we originally measured.  These paints should all still be commercially available.

Thanks to Dan for allowing us to share this great work!

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Below are some links to the pigments:

Benjamin Moore

Formica laminates:

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