Decreasing brightness with depth (underwater photo as example)
Decreasing brightness with depth (underwater photo as example)

Brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light.[1] In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target. The perception is not linear to luminance, and relies on the context of the viewing environment (for example, see White's illusion).

Brightness is a subjective sensation of an object being observed and one of the color appearance parameters of many color appearance models, typically denoted as . Brightness refers to how much light appears to shine from something. This is a different perception than lightness, which is how light something appears compared to a similarly lit white object.[2]

The adjective bright derives from an Old English beorht with the same meaning via metathesis giving Middle English briht. The word is from a Common Germanic *berhtaz, ultimately from a PIE root with a closely related meaning, *bhereg- "white, bright". "Brightness" was formerly used as a synonym for the photometric term luminance and (incorrectly) for the radiometric term radiance. As defined by the US Federal Glossary of Telecommunication Terms (FS-1037C), "brightness" should now be used only for non-quantitative references to physiological sensations and perceptions of light.[3]

With regard to stars, brightness is quantified as apparent magnitude and absolute magnitude.

Brightness is an antonym of dimness or dullness.

New meaning

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has assigned an unconventional meaning to brightness when applied to lamps. When appearing on light bulb packages, brightness means luminous flux, while in other contexts it means luminance.[4] Luminous flux is the total amount of light coming from a source, such as a lighting device. Luminance, the original meaning of brightness, is the amount of light per solid angle coming from an area, such as the sky. The table below shows the standard ways of indicating the amount of light.

Quantity Unit Dimension Notes
Name Symbol[nb 1] Name Symbol Symbol[nb 2]
Luminous energy Qv[nb 3] lumen second lm⋅s T J The lumen second is sometimes called the talbot.
Luminous flux, luminous power Φv[nb 3] lumen (= candela steradian) lm (= cd⋅sr) J Luminous energy per unit time
Luminous intensity Iv candela (= lumen per steradian) cd (= lm/sr) J Luminous flux per unit solid angle
Luminance Lv candela per square metre cd/m2 (= lm/(sr⋅m2)) L−2J Luminous flux per unit solid angle per unit projected source area. The candela per square metre is sometimes called the nit.
Illuminance Ev lux (= lumen per square metre) lx (= lm/m2) L−2J Luminous flux incident on a surface
Luminous exitance, luminous emittance Mv lumen per square metre lm/m2 L−2J Luminous flux emitted from a surface
Luminous exposure Hv lux second lx⋅s L−2T J Time-integrated illuminance
Luminous energy density ωv lumen second per cubic metre lm⋅s/m3 L−3T J
Luminous efficacy (of radiation) K lumen per watt lm/W M−1L−2T3J Ratio of luminous flux to radiant flux
Luminous efficacy (of a source) η[nb 3] lumen per watt lm/W M−1L−2T3J Ratio of luminous flux to power consumption
Luminous efficiency, luminous coefficient V 1 Luminous efficacy normalized by the maximum possible efficacy
See also: SI · Photometry · Radiometry
  1. ^ Standards organizations recommend that photometric quantities be denoted with a subscript "v" (for "visual") to avoid confusion with radiometric or photon quantities. For example: USA Standard Letter Symbols for Illuminating Engineering USAS Z7.1-1967, Y10.18-1967
  2. ^ The symbols in this column denote dimensions; "L", "T" and "J" are for length, time and luminous intensity respectively, not the symbols for the units litre, tesla and joule.
  3. ^ a b c Alternative symbols sometimes seen: W for luminous energy, P or F for luminous flux, and ρ for luminous efficacy of a source.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster.com Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of bright
  2. ^ Robert William Gainer Hunt: Some comments on using the CIECAM97s colour-appearance model
  3. ^ Brightness” in Federal Standard 1037C, the Federal Glossary of Telecommunication Terms (1996)
  4. ^ "Shopping for Light Bulbs". United States Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved March 13, 2017.

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