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Old 10-20-2008, 08:36 PM   #1
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Lighting Color Temperature


I have three halogen pendants hanging between my kitchen and living room. When the bulb socket on one of them failed (probably due to the heat -- it turns the hanging cable brown), I decided to replace the G9 socket with a standard one and put in a compact fluorescent ( I would replace all 3 if I like it). The CFL bulb I used turned out to be a "daylight" color. The diference between the halogen and the CFL is incredible, particularly noticable since they are right next to each other. The CFL is basically blue and the halogens are pretty much pink. I am tempted to say the high color temp CFL looks better, but I am not sure. Do we have some knowledgable folks out there that can explain accepted theory on what color temperature is best for, say, reading, and what makes the house seem brightest ?

Thank you

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Old 10-21-2008, 09:25 AM   #2
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Lighting Color Temperature


Color temperature is measured in Kelvin.

Standard daylight on a normal day close to sea level is 5500K. At sunset/sunrise the temperature can drop to 2400k which is reddish.

Open shade which is a sunny day but in the shade of a building can be has high as 8000k which is bluish.

At higher altitudes the temperature can climb to 10,000k which is why pictures at that altitude have a bluish cast.

Most incandescent bulbs are in the range of 2900 to 3200k which is yellowish. This is what we are used to for so many years.

Kelvin temperature is more of a feeling that a color to us. We see blue and think cold. We see red and think hot. With incandescents we think warm and homey. With blue we think cold and unwelcoming.

With daylight CF's (5500K) the home appears colder but will balance with the outside during the daytime. At night it will seem more like day due to the color balance.

It just takes some getting used to. The only ones I don't like are the 3800k range which is greenish. These are the older black body light sources from the florescent tubes that gave the greenish tint to pictures. Most florescent tubes are full spectrum lighting now at about 5000k.

The higher temperatures will make the home seem brighter mainly because it has higher wave length and will bounce around compared to the lower temperatures. Also most homes tend to have earth tones which absorbs the red, yellow and orange wave lengths so a bluish light will not be absorbed. Because of this and the wavelength issue 5500k lights will be brighter both from our perspective and from a physics point to view (due to reflection and absorbsion issues).

Have you ever seen professional makeup mirrors? These have different filters so that the makeup is adjusted for the light in which people will be in. This is very useful for movie and stage productions. If the makeup is put on at 2800k and the person goes out in 5500k it can make them look like a clown or a cheap hooker. Putting on makeup needs to be done right and mostly should be done in a 5500k light.

I have a 5500k CF in my shop that is rather dark. At night I can see just how blue it is but during the day it just blends in with the light from the sun. Either way I am used to it and light the fact that it is just brighter and my old eyes are not a good at seeing in dim light anymore.

Bottom line is all what you want and what you are used to.

How do I know this stuff. I was a professional photographer for 35 years and owned 3 camera stores. I was also a photography instructor at the local college. I also owned a custom auto business and had to match interior colors and knew that colors look different under different lights. Understanding colors was one of the reasons I was so successful compared to my competition. I always matched colors in the light they were going to be seen in, not the color of my florescent lights in my shop.

Hope this helps.

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Old 10-21-2008, 05:28 PM   #3
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Lighting Color Temperature


Thank you for the fine explanation.
I found this site http://www.servicelighting.com/home_...m_name=Kitchen
that shows you the rooms with different lighting. I think I will put similar bulbs in the other two pendants.

Steve
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