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What color is your computer... screen?

Color Temperture - Brightness - Time of Day.

I edit video for a living and I work hard, and by “work hard” I mean, I work long hours. This means that often times I spend a majority of my day staring at computer screens. If you are reading this blog you are probably like me and that means you do pretty much the same thing. Every once in a while we all need a little reminder about things and this post is just such a reminder.

During he middle of the day and evening hours the light from the sun are different colors. Its as simple as that. Bright mid day sunlight is about 5600 degrees kelvin and sunset is probably somewhere down around 2800 - 3000 degrees kelvin. If you were paying attention in your film or video production classes you’d also know that incandescent lights are about 3200 degrees and florescent tubes are about 4200 degrees. What this means is that a bright mid day sun is very very blue and incandescent lights are very very orange by comparison. 

Back in the olden days of cheap crappy video cameras you’d have to roll a filter in front of your lens to tell it you were going to shoot indoors or outdoors. If you ever tried to walk from indoor to out, you’d get outside and everything would be totally blue, or if you tried walking from outside to inside the opposite would happen, everything would be horribly orange. Of course, now a days most consumer cameras have some sort of auto correction and for the most part they do a pretty good job of compensating for this color change. 

The reason we don’t notice this with our bare eyes when we walk from outdoors to in or vice-a-versa is that our brain is totally amazing and can figure this all out on its own. 

Here is another fact you need to know. Computers put out daylight. Yea, the color temperature of your computer screen is essentially like looking into a little tiny sun and this confuses our bodies to be looking at daylight well into the night. 

If you are anything like me you are looking at your computer late at night and our bodies and our minds get confused by the color of the light it puts out.

So, all of this has been one giant windup to… you need to try a product called “f.lux”. I recently put it on my laptop and this is what it does… “it makes your life better”. F.lux looks at your system clock, it knows what time sunset is because its smart and it slowly changes the color temperature of your screen from daylight in the mid day to something more appropriate for you to be looking at in the late night.

You can set the evening color temperature anywhere from “Candle” to “Florescent” (and anywhere in between). When you first get f.lux it defaults to something like 4000 degrees for the evening hours and you’ll think, “oh wow, there is NO WAY I can look at that”. So for the first few days I left my “evening setting” at around 5200 degrees kelvin. But over the past week I’ve been able to shift my evening setting down to 4200 degrees and it feels right.

[NOTE TO SELF… I fell asleep writing this post at this point.]

By feels right I mean… it doesn’t appear to be too orange anymore and it is just more comfortable to look at. 

What I WOULDN’T do is put this on a work machine. You can’t color correct at 4200 degrees kelvin. You can’t do Photoshop work at 4200 degrees kelvin and you CERTAINLY can’t look at anything critically at this color temperature. However, you can read, you can browse and you can post on your FaceSpace thing and I really do believe it will allow you to sleep better at night and all around it won’t mess with your body clock. 

So give it a try, lemme know in the comments below what you think of it. Hey… you can always disable it or pitch it if you don’t like it.

I want to thank my friend Taija Dilfer for showing this to me. 

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Reader Comments (1)

Thank's for the heads up on this Chris, really eases the high strain. Only problem is what keeps me up at night is, photoshop, after effects and editing! but it's still very nice.
March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiall Farrell

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