I know you’re probably thinking here is the novel “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Or the movie. Online! Free!
Sorry to disappoint you. I did not even read the book. Nor seen the film. (Not that you believe me.)
I am talking about another Grey. It’s even more famous. I challenge you to discover the 50 shades presented here. It might be surprisingly exciting!
On this page:
- 1 The Cinderella of Colors
- 2 The Definition of Grey
- 3 An Inconspicuous Color
- 4 500 Shades of Grey
- 5 Mixed Colors
- 6 The Substitute for Colors
- 7 Dreamlike Grey
- 8 Eigengrau
- 9 Natural Grey
- 10 Perfect Grey
- 11 The Gray Card
- 12 Matching with the Grey
- 13 Its Own World
- 14 Shades of Shadows
- 15 Grey on Flags
- 16 The Color of Neutrality
- 17 The Color of Discretion
- 18 The Color of Intelligence
- 19 The Color of Responsibility
- 20 The Color of Mediocrity
- 21 The Color of Compromise
- 22 The Color of Melancholy
- 23 The Color of Suffering
- 24 The Color of Repentance
- 25 The Color of Poverty
- 26 The Color of Refinement
- 27 Grey cars
- 28 Fifty Shades of Grey
- 29 The Portrait of Dorian Gray
- 30 The Gray Lady
- 31 The Grey Literature
- 32 The Grey Market
- 33 The Grey Noise
- 34 The Grey Ecology
- 35 The Antonym of Green
- 36 The Grey Vote
- 37 The Grey Hair
- 38 Dusty Miller
- 39 Lamb's Ear
- 40 Snow-in-Summer
- 41 The Grey Wolf
- 42 The Grey Squirrel
- 43 The Black Rhino
- 44 African Grey Parrot
- 45 The Gray Whale
- 46 The Beluga Caviar
- 47 The Shades of Clouds
- 48 The Moon is Grey
- 49 Mars is Grey
- 50 Black Holes are Grey
The Cinderella of Colors
Grey – the color, because we are talking about it – was always special. Maybe even in war with all the other colors. Many do not think it should be a color. There are no historical evidences that was called in any way than by the eighth century. And then with retention: it was believed that it represents variations between black and white. Which is not necessarily a mistake; when it comes to colors and shades, there are numerous approaches.
The Definition of Grey
The colors are nothing but light waves converted into electrical signals, which are understandable by the brain. For that, the retina has three types of photoreceptors. Each deals with one of the three basic colors: red, green, and blue. Combining these 3 colors in different proportions, all others are obtained. Grey is simply equal proportion of the basic colors. The shade is determined by light intensity – preserving the spectral balance 1)”Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems” by Lauralee Sherwood, edition published by Brooks Cole in 2015.
An Inconspicuous Color
Can you quickly tell me something that is grey? Nothing coming to your mind quickly?! If it was about red, green, blue – you would have had an instant response. The brain doesn’t observe grey easily. And the explanation is this: it is not clearly associated with anything. For the human brain, a selection criterion for “important” is if it can be quickly labeled with various associations 2)”The Color Gray” – article by Eugene Arenhaus. In addition, grey is perceived more as an effect of shadows and brightness. Even when the eyes see something grey, the brain will try to interpret it as white, black, or anything else. Only when the brain have no other choice, it will become obvious: “Okay, fine, it’s grey.”
500 Shades of Grey
The human eye can distinguish more than 500 shades of grey. But how and to what extent can you distinguish grey? The brightest extreme we call white and the darkest – black. These extremes are actually valid for any color. But grey has a little extra to adjudicate them: it is equally balanced between them. And when you combine black and white, you can only get grey.
When you mix two colors, you get a different color: the average of the two. But what do you get if you mix all the colors of the visible spectrum in equal proportions? Just remember a grade school experiment. Do you remember the disc with all the colors of the rainbow? It’s called Newton’s disc, because the great physicist invented it. When rotated, the eyes do not have time to perceive colors separately, so they combine the colors. If the speed is high, the colors mix and the eyes see white. Which, actually, is a shade of grey, depending on the brightness 3)”Heat and Light” by R.T. Glazebrook, book published by Cambridge University Press in 1914.
The Substitute for Colors
There were times when photos were made in black & white (actually grey scale). And television, at its beginning, lacked all the colors. You had to imagine what color the various things were. But vague. The really interesting part was in the digital area. Once (in another life), I worked several years on a monochrome monitor. It could only show white, black, and 14 shades of grey. In fact, 12 of these shades represented colors – vivid, clear. And I had to use them. Customers with expensive monitors saw them, I did not. After a while, I learned what color represents each shade of grey. I named them instantly. And then something magical happened: I began to see the colors on the same wretched monitor. To be honest, they were very unsaturated, but I saw them. The brain was tired of repeating “There is blue”, “There is red”… It made the substitutions!
When it appears in dreams, grey symbolizes fear or confusion. When you are tormented by a decision, dreams tend to lose their color 4)”Analyze Your Dreams: What Are Recalling Dreams” by John Taylor, book published by Coffey Publishing. On the other hand, studies show that the generations whose childhood lived in the period of black and white television, dreamed likewise. Even after the switch to color television 5)”Do we only dream in colour? A comparison of reported dream colour in younger and older adults with different experiences of black and white media” – study by Eva Murzyn.
In the dark, your eyes see, in fact, a shade of dark grey instead of black (as would be expected). This is known as Eigengrau, which roughly translates “intrinsic grey”. It is also called in other ways: intrinsic light, dark light, brain grey, etc. 6)”A Dictionary of Hallucinations” by Jan Dirk Blom, book published by Springer Science & Business Media in 2009. There are several theories that attempt to explain why we see so, but still it is a “grey area”.
In nature, you do not see a perfect grey. Shades are changed even slightly to one color or another. Usually you do not even notice, but a thorough analysis reveals the exact chromatic. For this reason, artists have all sorts of difficulties using grey 7)”The Color Gray” – article by Eugene Arenhaus.
It wasn’t until the invention of the electronic screen that genuine shades of grey were seen. It can equally combine the 3 basic colors to achieve neutral color shades – more accurate than pigments 8)”The Color Gray” – article by Eugene Arenhaus.
The Gray Card
When you want to take very good quality pictures, one of the tricks is the gray card – a plate or cardboard with a neutral tone that reflects 18% of the light. It is used together with a light meter as a way to get a good balance of an image.
Matching with the Grey
On large surfaces, uniform grey is pretty picky when it has to engage with various colors. It goes with any blue, but also with dull shades of other colors, especially those from red. If it is not completely neutral, it goes well with shades of the same color. Otherwise, something does not seem right. But when it comes to a subtle touch, it can be of great effect in many situations. It does a good job when it does not jump into plain sight.
Its Own World
Even if the other colors do not easily join it in a harmonious way, does not mean grey has no artistic valences. On the contrary, it has formed a special world. Without color, but with surprisingly much emotion. Grey has all the skills of colors. More shades of grey can have a great effect. Can you name a color with more artistic personality?!
Shades of Shadows
When an object is interposed in the path of light, shadows appear. This makes shadows seem like the opposite of light. A bit like darkness. Only, the shade is not darkness. In fact, the shadow is the image formed on a “screen”, which is made from the differences between the light that does not pass an object and the one reaching the “screen” by other routes (reflections, other sources of light, etc.). That is why shadows have different shades of grey.
Grey on Flags
The only countries that have grey on their flag are Malta and Uganda 9)”List of flags by color combination” in Wikipedia. There is no flag who has in its composition a considerable proportion of grey.
The Color of Neutrality
Since it has no color, grey is perceived as neutral. And it really is at the center. So it fits very well with impartiality, justice, balance. Maybe this sounds good to you, but it is double-edged: some see this neutrality as indifference, seclusion, inaction.
The Color of Discretion
Since shadows are grey, this color is associated with everything that is happening in the shadows, which is sheltered from the eyes of the world. About secrets, it is said they are veiled in shadow. A grey eminence is a counselor from the shadow. But let’s not get into the twilight zone.
The Color of Intelligence
Guess from where? In the beginning, human anatomy was studied on corpses. While observing the brain, someone made the observation that the surface consists of grey matter. The observation is correct – for corpses. A living brain is actually pink. (Kind of like Reese Witherspoon in “Legally Blonde“.)
The Color of Responsibility
Since in the second half of life people start to grey, this color represents a mature attitude, responsibility. Even the wisdom given by experience.
The Color of Mediocrity
In sociology, grey is considered a symbol of mediocrity. And it is no wonder: even grey is mediocre – an average of all colors.
The Color of Compromise
In psychology, grey is the color of compromise, of indecision. When you do not want to choose either white or black. If it’s a very dark shade, it suggests drama. And if it’s very light – vitality.
The Color of Melancholy
Any rainy weather prints a sense of pressing, melancholy, sadness, depression. And in such weather, everything is seen greyer – especially with dark tones. The verbal expression “to feel blue”, with the meaning “to feel sad”, is used. But researchers have shown that depressed and anxious people prefer the shades of grey. Blue can be rather associated with a normal state 10)”The Manchester Color Wheel: development of a novel way of identifying color choice and its validation in healthy, anxious, and depressed individuals” – study by Helen R. Carruthers, Julie Morris, Nicholas Tarrier and Peter J. Whorwell, published in BMC Medical Research Methodology in February 2010.
The Color of Suffering
In the “Old Testament”, it is described that the Jewish custom is to dress with a sack and to pour ashes on his head in moments of great suffering of the soul 11)”A Dictionary of the Holy Bible” by John Brown (Ministre à Haddington), book published in 182412)”The Chronological Study Bible” de Thomas Nelson, a book published in 2008. The grieved thus became grey.
The Color of Repentance
In Christianity, grey is associated with repentance, humility, even with penitence. Ash Wednesday – the first day of the Great Lent – has a whole ritual to Roman Catholics (more extensive in the medieval period), inspired by the Bible. With ashes, as the name implies13)”The Medieval World” by Peter Linehan şi Janet L. Nelson, book published by Routledge in 2013. And this rite of penance was done in other situations too, when someone wanted to apologize to the other parishioners. How the ash is grey, behold the association.
The Color of Poverty
Grey is very present in people’s lives since ancient times, being the color of the undyed wool. You realize that dyeing the wool increased the price, so the poor wore grey. Franciscan monks chose to dress in the grey, as a symbol of humility and poverty. In the UK, they are even known as “the grey brothers”.
The Color of Refinement
For such a paradox, only the whims of fashion may be guilty! In the Renaissance, especially in the Italian peninsula, greys began to be considered refined on silks. Smart merchants replaced the names that had a bad reputation with some that were more attractive: gorgia de piccione (dove’s neck), fumo (smoke), feltro (felt)14)”Dressing Renaissance Florence: Families, Fortunes, and Fine Clothing” by Carole Collier Frick, book published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2005. In art, grisaille appeared: the monochrome painting, usually in shades of grey. The technique spread throughout Europe and was used by several masters.
There is no doubt that the car that you are driving is an extension of your personality. And the color is one that speaks for itself. Grey, in this case, expresses elegance and desire to be futuristic.
Fifty Shades of Grey
We cannot just pass over “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James. The most successful novel with grey in the title. Even if it’s the name, not the color, the choice is metaphorical. It has been translated into more than 50 languages and the sales have exceeded 100 million dollars. About as much as all 14 James Bond novels together. What could beat that? The film. Revenues are estimated at 248 million dollars just for the opening weekend. More than “Avatar”! A world record, considering the age restrictions for the public15)”Fifty Shades of Grey beats Avatar with $248m opening weekend box office” by Ben Child, article published in The Guardianon February 16, 2015.
The Portrait of Dorian Gray
Speaking of great literature (the one appreciated by critics too), let’s not forget “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (also the name, not the color, but chosen for its symbolism). The novel of the genius Irish writer, Oscar Wilde, published in 1891, has raised more scandal16)”Deceptive Picture: How Oscar Wilde painted over Dorian Gray” by Alex Ross, article published in The New Yorker on August 8, 2011 than “Fifty Shades of Grey”. While the publisher has removed some 500 words, to make it more “acceptable”. But it still was deemed too immoral. And he has not even a sex scene. Just some references – including ones homoerotic. Eh, other times. The most successful adaptation, the one from 1945, has just received $3 million, producers coming practically at a loss.
The Gray Lady
One of the nicknames for the famous news The New York Times is The Gray Lady 17)”The Gray Lady Reaches 100″ by Meyer Berger, article published in the journal Life from September 17, 1951. It is understandable if we consider that it is published since 1851. But this is not the main reason. The Gray Lady is recognized for its impartiality (“the gray area”), but the graphic design contributed to that name, too.
The Grey Literature
The grey literature is defined as a work in a domain (usually technical or academic), which was published in a printed or electronic format, but not by a commercial publisher18)”Grey Literature in Library and Information Studies” by Dominic J. Farace, book published by De Gruyter in 2010. Examples of grey literature are patents, technical reports, some scientific research, working papers, etc.
The Grey Market
Surely you’ve heard of the black market, but whatever is a grey market?! In any case, it is not that gloomy market where you buy onions and dill. Despite the association with the black market, it is not illegal. It is the marketing of official products (not fake) by unofficial distribution channels (not endorsed by the manufacturer)19)”International Marketing” by P.K. Vasudeva, book published by Excel Books in 2007. How can that be? Smart guys always find a way.
The Grey Noise
The sound can have color, too. By analogy with light. Both are waves, with a certain frequency spectrum. When you see the grey, the spectrum is covered evenly. The same is for the sound: when the frequencies can be perceived equally, that fizzle is said to be grey. I know, it sounds boring. But as the gray card, it has its uses.
The Grey Ecology
You know that green is the color of environmentalists. But there is a less known concept of… grey ecology. While the “Greens” are trying to stop the pollution of nature, grey ecology aims at stopping pollution of culture and human universe. The idea belongs to Paul Virilio 20)”Paul Virilio” in Wikipedia, who observed changes of perception brought by technological developments. Whether we travel by plane, we talk on the phone, whether we predict the weather in the next few days, physical and temporal distances are compressed. And this is considered a form of pollution of humanity 21)”Open Sky” by Paul Virilio, book published by Verso in 1997. Minimizing the distance, we increase our speed. And at higher speeds, the colors are lost, both literally and figuratively.
The Antonym of Green
Ecologists are politically active in many countries. Always proud of their color green – like a leaf. When someone opposes their actions, they are sometimes pejoratively called “grey“. Because concrete looks like that. The green and grey became antonyms.
The Grey Vote
In many countries, the elders participate in elections more than the young people. So they have a great influence. Politicians have every reason to pay attention to them in a special way. Thus, this electoral segment has gained names like “the grey vote” or “the grey power”.
The Grey Hair
Hair grows in a follicle, and it takes the color from melanin. This pigment also determines the color of your skin or eyes. As you get older, you no longer produce melanin. You are left with no natural paint. The hair turns grey – that means that it reveals its own color. And not just on the head, but on the whole body.
There are over 300 species of Artemisia. Some are silver – a biological adaptation that allows them to keep more water in the arid environments. For example, Artemisia stelleriana, a kind of wormwood.
In the documents its name is Stachys byzantina, but the world knows it as Lamb’s ear. The owner does not bleat – it’s a plant. One that is grey and “hairy” like the fur on a lamb’s ear. You almost fancy to pull its ear affectionately! No wonder it is one of the most popular silver plants in Europe.
You wake up in the middle of summer and you leave the house, what to see?! You say it snowed! You get out of the confusion and remember it’s Snow-in-summer. A plant with silvery leaves, scientifically called Cerastium tomentosum.
The Grey Wolf
The most known grey animal is the grey wolf. It has an impressive geographical spread. As it spreads in literature. Do you remember the legend of Romulus and Remus, future founders of Rome, in which they are rescued and raised by wolf Lupa? It is probably the most famous grey wolf.
The Grey Squirrel
What color is the squirrel? You are already thinking about reddish or striped colored squirrles. Chip & Dale are emblematic. The truth is that grey squirrels are just as common 22)”Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide” by Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie E. Ferrell, book published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2006, but children prefer more vivid colors. However, I bet that anyone would be just as pleased to see a squirrel in the flesh and blood, regardless of its color. You would do the same. (Maybe it comes to your mind a white squirrel or a black squirrel – although spectacular, they are very rare.)
The Black Rhino
Black rhinos are actually grey. They acquire the black color because they bathe in puddles and mud. A kind of tuxedo.
African Grey Parrot
When you hear of parrots, what do you think about? Vivid colors! Not if it’s an African grey parrot. As the name infers, its plumage is predominantly grey. Just under the tail it has a little red, but it does not seem to take pride in that. It weighs about 400-490 grams 23)”Parrots of Africa” by Stefan Luft, book published in 2007 and reaches a length of 32-36 cm 24)”African Grey Parrots: Everthing about History, Care, Nutrition, Handling, and Behavior” by Margaret T. Wrightson, book published by Barron’s Educational Series in 2002.
The Gray Whale
The largest gray animal is the gray whale. It typically reaches 13-14 meters long and 20-37 tonnes in weight 25)”Gray Whales” by Megan M. Gunderson, book published by Abdo Publishing Company in 2010. A giant with no color! And it loves very much to travel: some swim 20,000 km from their summer house in the waters of the Alaska coast to the Mexican coast 26)”Sightings: The Gray Whale’s Mysterious Journey” by Linda Hogan, book published by National Geographic Society in 2003. Their landscape is always changing in colors, seeing as they move from place to place.
The Beluga Caviar
Have you heard of beluga caviar? Wait – Beluga is a dolphin! Since when do dolphins reproduce by eggs?! In fact, it is a coincidence: thus Russians call the sturgeon “beluga”. Its caviar is the most expensive. Its price reaches 5000-10000 dollars/kg. Guinness World Records indicates a maximum of $34,500/kg. (Sorry, I just dropped it.) Shades range from dark grey, almost black, to light grey. Lighter shades are a sign that the eggs come from a bigger fish. These being the most popular. (Let anyone say that grey is not appreciated!)
The Shades of Clouds
In appearance, the clouds vary between white and black, passing through many shades of grey. They have no other color because they reflect all wavelengths of sunlight equally. However, as the cloud is thicker and denser, the color is darker due to absorption of light within the cloud.
The Moon is Grey
The Moon’s grey color is given by the crust consisting of magnesium, silicon, iron, calcium, and aluminum 27)”Moons! A Kids’ Book About Moons” by John Philip Hunter, book published by Speedy Publishing LLC in 2014. It is romantic, even so!
Mars is Grey
Mars is called the Red Planet. Only it is not as red as you think. Under a layer of dust, the surface of the planet is grey. The color red is caused by the rusting process, due to the fact that iron resources were oxidized 28)”Red Planet Mars Not So Red Beneath the Surface” by Mike Wall, article published in Space.com on February 23, 2013.
Black Holes are Grey
According to the famous British physicist, Stephen Hawking, in the universe there are no black holes, but rather grey holes 29)”Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes” – study by Stephen Hawking. Metaphorically said, they were in the darkness of ignorance, but now the man made some light. Let’s hope any hole does not mind that its aura of mystery crumbles!
We’d better stop here. Until we learn that, in fact, the whole universe is grey. It would be a shame. There should remain at least one spot of color!
|↑1||”Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems” by Lauralee Sherwood, edition published by Brooks Cole in 2015|
|↑2, ↑7, ↑8||”The Color Gray” – article by Eugene Arenhaus|
|↑3||”Heat and Light” by R.T. Glazebrook, book published by Cambridge University Press in 1914|
|↑4||”Analyze Your Dreams: What Are Recalling Dreams” by John Taylor, book published by Coffey Publishing|
|↑5||”Do we only dream in colour? A comparison of reported dream colour in younger and older adults with different experiences of black and white media” – study by Eva Murzyn|
|↑6||”A Dictionary of Hallucinations” by Jan Dirk Blom, book published by Springer Science & Business Media in 2009|
|↑9||”List of flags by color combination” in Wikipedia|
|↑10||”The Manchester Color Wheel: development of a novel way of identifying color choice and its validation in healthy, anxious, and depressed individuals” – study by Helen R. Carruthers, Julie Morris, Nicholas Tarrier and Peter J. Whorwell, published in BMC Medical Research Methodology in February 2010|
|↑11||”A Dictionary of the Holy Bible” by John Brown (Ministre à Haddington), book published in 1824|
|↑12||”The Chronological Study Bible” de Thomas Nelson, a book published in 2008|
|↑13||”The Medieval World” by Peter Linehan şi Janet L. Nelson, book published by Routledge in 2013|
|↑14||”Dressing Renaissance Florence: Families, Fortunes, and Fine Clothing” by Carole Collier Frick, book published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2005|
|↑15||”Fifty Shades of Grey beats Avatar with $248m opening weekend box office” by Ben Child, article published in The Guardianon February 16, 2015|
|↑16||”Deceptive Picture: How Oscar Wilde painted over Dorian Gray” by Alex Ross, article published in The New Yorker on August 8, 2011|
|↑17||”The Gray Lady Reaches 100″ by Meyer Berger, article published in the journal Life from September 17, 1951|
|↑18||”Grey Literature in Library and Information Studies” by Dominic J. Farace, book published by De Gruyter in 2010|
|↑19||”International Marketing” by P.K. Vasudeva, book published by Excel Books in 2007|
|↑20||”Paul Virilio” in Wikipedia|
|↑21||”Open Sky” by Paul Virilio, book published by Verso in 1997|
|↑22||”Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide” by Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie E. Ferrell, book published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2006|
|↑23||”Parrots of Africa” by Stefan Luft, book published in 2007|
|↑24||”African Grey Parrots: Everthing about History, Care, Nutrition, Handling, and Behavior” by Margaret T. Wrightson, book published by Barron’s Educational Series in 2002|
|↑25||”Gray Whales” by Megan M. Gunderson, book published by Abdo Publishing Company in 2010|
|↑26||”Sightings: The Gray Whale’s Mysterious Journey” by Linda Hogan, book published by National Geographic Society in 2003|
|↑27||”Moons! A Kids’ Book About Moons” by John Philip Hunter, book published by Speedy Publishing LLC in 2014|
|↑28||”Red Planet Mars Not So Red Beneath the Surface” by Mike Wall, article published in Space.com on February 23, 2013|
|↑29||”Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes” – study by Stephen Hawking|
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