04 Apr Why do we make such a big deal about COLOR?
At Spring Lighting Group, we’re serious about LIGHT: the stuff that our products produce. Why are we so serious? Because we humans are VISUAL ANIMALS. Vision is our most important sense. It dominates over all of our other senses, which is why we are fooled by “optical illusions” as one example.
But vision, the ability to see and enjoy our surroundings, is only possible if there is LIGHT. Sunlight, Firelight, Candle-light or LED Light. In addition, we humans were given COLOR VISION where most other living organisms on earth cannot see color, or the range of color that we can see.
This is why we offer data and choices pertaining to:
- Color Rendering (CRI)
- Color Temperature (CCT)
Briefly, Color Rendering , or the Color Rendering Index is a measure of How Accurate the color is to an object lit by Sunlight, or an Incandescent lamp. It’s on a scale of zero-to-100 (Sunlight and Incandescent are both 100). And anything better than 70 is usually acceptable for industrial use, but a CRI of 80 is usually good for offices and public spaces. A 90+ CRI gets into inspection-lighting and lighting for media.
Color Temperature is a bit harder to describe. I usually think of it as “how COOL or WARM” does the SOURCE look? That’s staring into the light source. Example: Driving at night on the Interstate, look at the headlights coming toward you (hopefully on the other side of the highway). Some headlights are yellowish, some are blue-ish, some might be “white-ish”. The yellow headlights are probably HALOGEN and have a “Warm” color temperature; the blue-ish headlights are probably HID, or Zenon gas-discharge and have a “Cool” color temperature. The White headlights are probably LED, and may look “not as cool as HID, but not as warm as halogen”.
This bring out another factor with our human vision system: it is a RELATIVE system. Our eyes are extremely good at seeing DIFFERENCES in lighting, but very bad at seeing ABSOLUTE qualities of light. Example: If we compare two light fixtures in the same scene, a “warm” color temperature might look “yellow” compared to a fixture with a “cool” color temperature. The fixture with the “Yellow Lens” may not be the popular choice. But if the “cooler, whiter fixture” is taken away, and the entire scene is illuminated with “yellow fixtures” our eyes have nothing to compare with, and it looks OK but if the Yellow fixtures have a better Color Rendering the scene might look much better to us.
This is enough to absorb in this “essay”. Take a look at the headlights on the highway for an example of “cool” and “warm”. Compare different sources in your home or office, and how they render color. And if you are matching paint to a fabric, think about taking it outside, or near a window.
More “deeper” stuff later: “the blue lumen” and why we might see better when there’s more “blue” in the light source.