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The definition of color which has been adopted by the A.S.T.M. since 1915 includes a statement that: “Color involves a definite effect produced by the action of light upon the retina of the eye dependent upon the optical composition of the light.” After recognizing that the term is also used in the very different sense meaning material substances (pigments, dyes, etc.), it states that “in specifications it should be recognized that color is primarily a physiological sensation.” This definition is a clear recognition of the fact that the color of an opaque object (sample) depends on three sets of factors: (1) the inherent optical properties of the material of the sample, specifically, the distribution of the light reflected by the sample, wave length for wave length; (2) the nature of the light which falls on the sample, more exactly, the spectral distribution and intensity of the incident radiant energy; and (3) the nature (normalcy, anomaly, etc.) and state of adaptation of the observer's eye at the moment of viewing the sample.
Godlove, I. H.
Physicist and Chemist, Technical Laboratory, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington, De.