Mark Fairchild


Rochester Institute of Technology, College of Science, Integrated Sciences Academy

Distinguished Professor, Program of Color Science/Munsell Color Science Laboratory

B.S./M.S., Imaging Science (née Photographic Science & Instrumentation), RIT, 1986

M.A./Ph.D., Vision Science (Human Sensation & Perception, Brain & Cognitive Science), UR, 1990

"What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?" ~H.D. Thoreau
"The biggest problem in the world could have been solved when it was small." ~Lao Tzu
"No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness." ~Aristotle
"Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points." ~D.T. Suzuki
"And I'm goin' to keep this speech very short, for I'm sayin' my farewell to the game. I've suffered enough with it." ~Peter McNaughton
"After fifty years of devotion to hitting things with sticks, I would rather avoid any sense of "losing it" by simply setting it aside and moving on to other interests." ~N. Peart, Far and Away

Ever wonder why RIT Orange can only be reproduced on HDR-WCG displays? Check out the specs.
Listen to Mark discuss color perception on NPR.
For my students, click here (PDF) to see how your academic lineage traces back to Helmholtz and others.

As Distinguished Professor in the Program of Color Science and Munsell Color Science Laboratory, I participate in the teaching and research activities described below.

Color Perception: Our research on topics in color perception addresses several inter-related areas such as chromatic adaptation, observer metamerism, color-appearance scales, color-appearance modeling,and high-dynamic-range (HDR)imaging. One focus of this research has been the ongoing development and psychophysical testing of color and image appearance models for both a fundamental understanding of perception and for a variety of applications such as image/video quality and HDR rendering. Our work on fundamental aspects of color science is aimed at building a better understanding of individual differences in color perception. More recent interests also include the colorimetric measurement, and sensory, evaluation of wine, especially from our wonderful Finger Lakes AVA of New York state. I recently created a book on the colors of tree leaves through a growing season.

Pet projects include the Color Curiosity Shop, the 3rd edition of Color Appearance Models, and helping with the Handbook of Color Psychology; please check them out. I am currently working on a book about the colors of leaves through a season and their relation to the Munsell system and the works of Henry David Thoreau. Look for it from RIT Press in 2023. Also, there will be a 4th Edition of Color Appearance Models appearing in 2025 or so. You can also download a PDF of my CV if you find yourself that intrigued.

Classroom Teaching & Learning: I am currently teaching Modeling Visual Perception. Modeling Visual Perception, offered in the Spring semester, that covers the basic phenomena, theory, and modeling of color and visual appearance (i.e., things that basic colorimetry cannot predict) and is also an advanced required course in the Color Science graduate programs.

Retirement Transition: I have retired from administrative activities at the end of the 2021-22 academic year. I was on sabbatical for 2022-23 to work on my book and paper projects. I have now returned to RIT for 3 years on a part-time basis teaching and researching with my last few graduate students. As of May 2026, I will be fully retired from active work in Color Science. "What a long, strange, trip it's been."

Good-Bye by Ralph Waldo Emerson


On the instant of waking
Another world of dreams appears - N. Peart

Ye're makin' a great mistake if ye think the gemme is meant for the shots.
The gemme is meant for walkin'.
For if ye can enjoy the walkin' ye can probably enjoy the other times in yer life when ye're in between.
And that's most o' the time; wouldn't ye say? - S. Irons

There is No Ultraviolet, or Infrared, Light;

The Technical Definition of Light...
17-21-013 light
radiation within the spectral range of visible radiation
Note 1 to entry: Sometimes, the term "light" is also used in physics as a synonym of optical radiation, covering the spectral range from 100 nm to 1 mm and sometimes even covering the X-ray spectral range. This misuse of the term "light" should be avoided.

~1986 ... ~2003 ... ~2008 ...

Young MarkOlder MarkOlder Mark

Well you're in your little room
and you're working on something good
but if it's really good
you're gonna need a bigger room
and when you're in the bigger room
you might not know what to do
you might have to think of
how you got started
sitting in your little room
The White Stripes

Zen Tao Color: Mark's personal transition to retirement and beyond blog. Read if you're curious.