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Why do my sunburns always look worse at 3200K as opposed to 5600K? (daylight)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 16, 2012 at 11:10 PM

I just got back from a day long ultimate tournament. I decided not to put sunscreen on my legs and paid the price. But here's the thing: my legs look pink in daylight (5600K) but much, much redder under tungsten light (3200K). I have noticed this phenomenon many times before, and it's not just that my burns might darken somewhat over time, because I'll notice the effect in the morning as well. The burn will look bad inside, and not nearly as bad when I step outside.

Obviously tungsten lighting is much warmer than daylight, and that may just be it, but it seems strange that my eyes seem to adjust for the color of every other object and I don't notice a difference, but for some reason my sunburns seem to really change color noticeably. Perhaps different lights are penetrating to slightly different layers of my skin?

Any photographers or DPs out there who might be able to shed some light?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 17, 2012
at 07:57 PM

Yup, green spectrum light will make red and magenta "pop" in an odd way, and warm light just generally warms the whole scene.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on June 17, 2012
at 04:39 AM

Green and red are "opposites" with light. CFL is cooler and tends to accentuate reds. At least that's what I see coming out of my DSLR...

747f9c27424619fe3ae717c7455c292e

(610)

on June 17, 2012
at 04:35 AM

Actually, I'm realizing most of the lights indoors that I'm seeing by are CFLs, maybe it could be their wonky greenish color profile that's making my burns seem redder?

747f9c27424619fe3ae717c7455c292e

(610)

on June 17, 2012
at 04:16 AM

My question is, why do I notice this change with my skin color, but not with other red objects? The answer could be perhaps that I'm paying more attention to my skin color, but the difference is quite striking. I don't normally remark on the difference in the color of objects between 3200K and 5600K unless both are in the same scene or something. I was under the impression that my eyes adjusted to the color-temperature difference. Perhaps not.

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2 Answers

4
B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on June 16, 2012
at 11:18 PM

Because cooler light is more red, so red colours look more red. Hot lights are more blue.

747f9c27424619fe3ae717c7455c292e

(610)

on June 17, 2012
at 04:16 AM

My question is, why do I notice this change with my skin color, but not with other red objects? The answer could be perhaps that I'm paying more attention to my skin color, but the difference is quite striking. I don't normally remark on the difference in the color of objects between 3200K and 5600K unless both are in the same scene or something. I was under the impression that my eyes adjusted to the color-temperature difference. Perhaps not.

3
A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

on June 17, 2012
at 04:42 AM

The brain is a weird thing... It tends to adjust stuff like color temperature to what we expect, reality be damned. When you're not expecting red legs, light that accentuates red will make it more noticeable until your brain "fixes" it as normal. If you feel a burning sensation, your brain associates the red with burn and resists correcting the color imbalance.

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