Red is almost black

Just an extremely random thought that I had to write about. Red is almost black. You’ll probably completely disagree, but I’ll explain a little bit why I state it as so. Here are some things I may have known at the back of my mind and pulled out from the dusty file drawers in my brain when the need arises.

The Red LED

On the streets of Bangkok back in November, I came upon some digital LED alarm clocks that I have been wanting to get for some time. I asked about the one with the green LED, and the salesman said it costs THB400. I heard another buyer ask about the one with red lights, it was only THB300. It was exactly the same design, only the color of the LED display differs. I verified the prices with the salesman, and he confirmed that the one with red LED is THB100 cheaper than the one with green LED.

I ended up buying the one with the red LED, but not just because it was cheaper. I intended to put it inside my bedroom, within view from my bed. I knew that if I bought the one with the green LED, it may be too bright at night when I turn off the lights. The one with the red LED would fit my requirement better. Indeed, it works well for me right now.

Thinking through it, I was brought back to the time in high school and college when I tinkered a lot with LED bulbs and electronic circuitries. We would by all the individual electronic components from our beloved store, Alexan. I had a box full of different resistors, capacitors, LEDs, logic gate chips, programmable microchips, breadboard, PCBs, and whatnots. I had my own soldering iron back then. When we bought LED bulbs, we knew that the red ones were the cheapest. If I still remember correctly, it was the white and blue ones that were thr most expensive, especially the superbright ones. I do remember being told that the differences in cost is because different diode materials generate different wavelengths, and therefore different colors of light.

Red in B&W Photographs

When my college friend was coaching me about black-and-white photography (the traditional one with the film, not digital ones) as I was preparing to take photographs for a competition I was entering. Specifically, he told me that reds always appear black or almost black in B&W photographs. Seems strange when you’re so familiar with how vivid red is in color photographs. When I took the photographs, indeed they were, all reds were black in the photographs. Red is black, or almost black.

Red Pigments

I can’t remember exactly what show I was watching and on what channel, but they were featuring how industrial pigments were produced. Apparently, the red pigments are produced by using the same material as the black pigments, but the black pigments are heated and oxidized to produce the red pigment.


Have you noticed, that while the sun is high up in the sky, the sky is color bright blue, but when sunset comes, just before it turns pitch black, it usually turns a certain hue of red or orange?

I’m not actually so certain what the exact explanation is why red is black or almost black. Maybe it has something to do with the wavelength of red light (remember, it’s at the end of the ROYGBIV visible spectrum of light), or the composition of red pigments. But it’s quite interesting to think about it.

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