Which colour do you see when you close your eyes? No, it's not black
Close your eyes for a while. Which colour did you see?
Black? Or does it look like black?
Well, it's because blackness is often referred to as the absence of light.
However, the colour you see in pitch darkness is not black. It's lighter than black and is called eigengrau.
How is eigengrau different from black?
Let's do a little experiment.
Pick up a black object and stare at it for a second. Close your eyes again for a few seconds.
Now, open your eyes and look at the black object again. You will notice that the black object appears darker than the black of total darkness you saw when your eyes were closed.
Eigengrau is the shade of dark grey you see when there is no light. It is said to be the result of visual signals from optic nerves.
Why do we see eigengrau?
When our brains process visual information, contrast is more important than absolute brightness. Darkness as we see it is relative to the brightest thing that we are looking at. For example, the night sky looks darker than eigengrau because of the contrast provided by the stars.
Interestingly, on the Hex colour chart, where black is #000000, Eigengrau is #16161d.
What is the meaning of eigengrau?
Eigengrau is a German term that roughly translates to 'intrinsic grey' or 'own grey'. The German word 'eigen' means 'own' and the word 'grau' means 'grey'.
How to pronounce eigengrau?
So, when it comes to the human visual system, eigengrau is the colour perceived in the absence of light.