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How 3 Qualities of Light Effect Your Mood

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Hack Your Mood & Create Ambiance With Light

Unless you're a photographer or artist, you probably don't spend too much time thinking about the qualities of light. It's either on or off, dim or bright, right? Well, yes, but there's much more to light than meets the eye, literally! Light is made up of tiny invisible energy packets called photons that travel in waves. The direction and density of photon packets interacting with our eyes can have a direct effect on our mood and energy levels. Let's take a closer look at three of the properties of light and how you can use them to your advantage to influence your energy levels and set the scene for memorable social gatherings as well!

Color Temperature

You've probably heard light referred to as either warm or cold light, but what does that mean, really? The temperatures we assign to different colors of light even have corresponding numerical values on the Kelvin scale. However, light in itself does not have a physical temperature. Instead, the light/cold color temperature scale is all about how the light makes us feel.

Imagine a dinner party with your closest friends. You're all seated around a table heaped with your favorite dishes. You're talking and laughing and getting pleasantly stuffed in good company. For most people, that type of scenario would create lots of warm feelings.

On the other hand, imagine walking through a white-tiled hallway in a hospital, the sharp smell of disinfectant in your nostrils and each footstep echoing off the walls and high ceilings of the otherwise empty corridor. Most people would associate this with a feeling of coldness.

These two examples go to illustrate how we use the terms wam and cold to mean much more than physical temperature. The same goes for the temperature quality of light. While the terms "warm" and "cold" are relative and can vary based on personal perception and cultural factors, we use the Kelvin scale to give a more precise idea of the type of light we're talking about. For comparison's sake, a candle's glow (warm light) is assigned a Kelvin value of 1800-1900 degrees, whereas a fluorescent tube light is in the 4000-6500 Kelvin range.

Warm Light

Warm light, which actually has lower Kelvin values, is typically associated with colors that have a reddish or yellowish hue. It's often described as having a cozy, inviting, and relaxing feel. Think of the warm tones you might see during sunrise or sunset, with colors like red, orange, and yellow dominating. This kind of lighting tends to evoke feelings of comfort, relaxation, and intimacy. So if you're unwinding after a long day, hosting a romantic dinner, or relaxing with the family, you're probably best off with warm light.

Cold Light

Cold light is typically associated with colors that have a bluish or white hue. It's often described as being crisp, bright, and refreshing. Think of the cool tones you might see during a clear, sunny day or in some types of fluorescent lighting. Cold light is often used in environments where a clean and energetic atmosphere is desired, such as offices, schools, and retail spaces. With higher Kelvin values, this type of light is often associated with alertness and productivity. Just what the doctor ordered when it's time for a study session, exercise, or work.


Since photons are a form of energy, bright lights mean that more energy is bouncing into your retinas than when the lights are dim. It's no wonder that bright lights tend to make us feel more alert and invigorated! Bright lights are associated with happiness and excitement. Exposure to bright lights suppresses the creation of melatonin in our bodies, helping us to stay energized. Want a lively social gathering with lots of conversation? Go bright!

Dim lights signal to our bodies that it's time to start getting into sleep mode. This means increased production of melatonin, slowed heart rate and digestion, and feelings of relaxation. Additional benefits of dim lighting include enhanced creativity and reflection, and more ease with feelings of intimacy. For romantic or relaxing evenings, or to take a break from your hectic schedule, dim those lights!

Emphasis & Focus

The emphasis and focus of light play a profound role in shaping our emotional experiences. When light is directed with purpose, such as through highlighting specific objects or areas, it draws our attention and guides our perception. This can evoke feelings of curiosity, engagement, and even awe.

Conversely, a soft and diffused illumination can create a gentle ambiance that encourages relaxation and introspection. The interplay between light and shadow adds depth to our surroundings, influencing our emotional responses. By adjusting the emphasis and focus of light, we have the power to transform spaces from invigorating and productive to tranquil and contemplative. This dynamic interplay between light and mood underscores the importance of thoughtful lighting design in shaping our daily experiences and enhancing our overall well-being.

Enhance Your Outdoor Spaces With Professional Lighting

For top-quality, expertly designed and installed outdoor lighting for your Raleigh-area home or business, contact Outdoor Provisions. We offer free consultations and will happily come out to your location to give an on-site evening demonstration to illustrate what illumination can do for you. Call or text us at (919) 586-7111 to get started!

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