I have these conspiracy theories in my head. Not the normal kind where people suspect the Government of plotting something against society, but these weird little oddball ideas that make you go: Huh…
I have a friend thats color blind, and to him he has issues differentiating between greens and reds. He finds it humorous when people point to a color and ask him what color it is, as just because he is color blind does not mean he is disabled to the point of living in a black and white world. So I have developed this theory that everyone does not see colors the same way. What a pleasant shade of blue to me could be a harsh shade to someone else. I think thats why we pick favorite colors. However even with a shifted perspective, it all circles back to that point – how do our eyes see color?
Now what does this have to do with a fancy Yellow light?
Research into the specifics of the human body and its organs has been an ongoing practice for as far back as history dates, but it really came into its own in the World Wars when there began human experimentation of various weapons and scientific advancements. In the post-war modern society, many of these efforts were shifted into commercial applications – one of these more notable advancements was the color Yellow.
Yellow (specifically Amber) has the unique ability to increase visibility and definition with the human eye. Our eyes process light through our retinas, which then travels back to the eye where the photons impact things called Rods and Cones. Rods are sensitive to the intensity of light, basically the speed at which the photon is traveling. Cones on the other hand, are sensitive to the frequency wavelengths that determine color. Inside our eyes there are three different types of cones, Red, Green and Blue. Each cone is sensitive to its own specific color spectrum. This is where we start to draw the line.
If you think back to your Elementary School days, try and find that word that you were taught to remember the colors of the rainbow. Think of it? ROYGBIV. Incase you’re a bit rusty it translates to Red, Orange, yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Those in a basic sense are the color ranges. Each color that touches one another shares that wavelength. Now were breaking it down to Primary and Secondary colors. Your Primary colors are Red Green and Blue: confidence that those are your eye Cones? I think not. Your Secondary colors are colors that are made up of blending your primary colors together. Now that we are blending Primary colors together that means were also blending the Cones in our eyes. When you see the color Yellow, because to create Yellow you need both Red and Green light – both sets of those cones are activated.
So now you have two benefits that your eye is experiencing. Because the wavelength of Red light is very low energy, your eye is able to collect huge quantities of light and process it without affecting the aperture of your retina. Next, you’re using Green light, which is a more powerful light. Our eyes are more easily able to distinguish green from other colors because of the number of Green sensitive cones in our eyes accepting the higher speed wavelength. So because you have a color spectrum that allows mass collection of light, color sensitivity and the activation of two thirds of the cones in your eye – you are then capable of processing a huge amount of visual data into your brain. Now we come to the final conclusion in our jaw dropping nerd experience: Instinct.
the colors Red and Yellow (intense forms) do not appear commonly in nature. There are very few examples on a mass level of these colors, almost entirely limited to fauna. Because of this we’re instinctively drawn to that color as a focus. Red instinctively represents danger to us, because of that we can focus on it intensely.
So now we can form this into the explanation to the original question: Why a yellow fog light? Our eyes can easily can determine definition differences when our field of view is flooded with yellow light. Our eyes will focus on color differences on a broader spectrum and look past finer details. This is where the Amber fog light comes into its own. Because of the mass accumulation of light, and the fact that Yellow drowns out color differentiation: our eyes will automatically lose focus on smaller particles that are being flooded with Yellow because they no longer lack the appropriate definition to be seen while your retinas are being bombarded with Yellow photons.
Now your eyes will look past inclement weather and dust and allow your more clearly see the road, or trail ahead of you. This is a huge benefit as conditions worsen and an overall advantage over flooding your view with white light. Being able to see in adverse weather makes you safer as a pilot, as well as being able to traverse conditions that would normally hinder you. Color spectrums are measured in Kelvin. Normal vehicle headlights are at around 3700 Kelvin. HID bulbs burn in at between 4400 and 5200 Kelvin. LED’s sit between 5000 and 5500 Kelvin, which also just so happens to be the color range of noon Sunlight. The higher the Kelvin, the more blue, and closer to Violet you become. The closer to violet you get, the more difficult it is for your eyes to see. At a certain point our eyes can no longer see the light, that point is called Ultra Violet. So its easy to see now why operating with the efficiency of your eyes in mind makes a huge difference.
The lights I have mounted to my wrangler are from the Dually series of LED lighting that Rigid Industries produces. I use Amber covers which allow me to project 2600 Kelvin colored light with limited output loss. This setup has worked exceptionally well for me and I use regularly in inclement weather. Get yourself a pair, or at least a pair of Yellow bulbs for your fog lights and see the difference.