Benjamin Moore & Co. recently released a free iPhone application entitled Ben Color Capture. From the application, you touch the Capture button to either take a photo or select one from your camera roll. Then, when you touch a point in your photo, Ben Color Capture will return a color strip with the matching Benjamin Moore color. I believe the Strip button returns a matching color strip and the Harmony button returns complementary colors. While this application is great in theory, color matching based on a photo is naturally an imprecise operation.
First, the color of an object can be affected by the lighting, as well as surrounding objects. For example, if you take a photo of your house, the color of your house will be different depending on the quality of the lighting. Obviously, in full mid-day sun, colors will appear lighter. Conversely, if you take a photo in the shade or on a cloudy day, the colors may appear more muted. So, while the Ben Color Capture application can give an approximate color range, it cannot return the exact color.
Additionally, nearby objects can affect the color of your house. For example, reflective tile can cast their colors onto a nearby wall. Of course, Ben Color Capture doesn’t account for all these factors. When I tested the application, Ben Color Capture said that the external walls were Wenge. In reality, I used Benjamin Moore paints and the actual color is Woodstock Tan, a significantly lighter shade of brown with a slight green cast.
Despite these shortcomings, I still like this application. If you are looking to paint (or repaint) your house and really like the color scheme that someone else has used, Ben Color Capture would be a great tool for finding a similar palette.