I will clif note it
Mind you some of it does not apply here but is good info for those choosing lights.
I will make this plain but not dumb it down, it is very generic:
First lets do some A&P
eye photoreceptor are made of rods and cones. rods are multicolor sensitive (contrary to old belief they only saw black and white) and are more sensitive to blue end of spectrum. cones are very selective and they are tuned to red/green/blue. The rods also control pupil restriction, this comes into play with color perception and also a high lumen light.
Low lumen causes a bigger pupil, high closes it up, we know this. What most don’t know is a big open pupil causes all sorts of stray non focused light in the eye to fall on the retina causing things to be not sharp, closed pupil (just like a smaller camera aperture) get rid of these aberrant rays and things are sharper (depth of field increased as well)
So you crank up the light and things get sharper? right? well maybe ..if you crank up the red end of the spectrum and the rods don't close the pupil as much (they are more blue sensitive) so now you get a LOT of out of focus light. So you crank up the blue end...well now you shift the color out of the happy area of the cones and colors all look like crap.
there is this "happy area" that is very subjective where YOU the viewer (because you are the one using the light) see things clear, in what you feel as a correct color in THAT light and also not so "blue" that it causes eye strain (more on this later).
In regards to color temp of lights and one temp being "better" or "worse" our eyes are HIGHLY adaptive and are not limited to detail or comfort in a range as narrow as +/- 1000k. Where as one person may have a better detail at 5000k another may see it as too "warm" (even though that temp is not) and feel comfortable at 6000+k. Myself being one of them.
You will see perfectly clear in the same lumen between 4-6000k easily. You will even perceive each light source as white until you toss another light source in there. (like a CF bulb in a room full of regular light bulbs) Because that is what your mind/eyes do, you will “auto-correct” to what should be perceived as “white” until another source is added in the mix. For example my headlights by themselves look “white” until I turn on my LEDs, the same with my LED’s being “white” till I turn on my headlights. What happens is the overlap becomes “white” while the headlight alone warmer and the LED edge bluer.
This is also VERY subjective, because you the observer may see my headlights as “white” and my LED as blue depending on what light source your eyes are using as a reference.
With an increase or decrease in lumen (even from the same source in it spill) will make a perceived shift in "color" as the eye accommodates. So with a high power LED a color of even 5000k can still appear "blue" to the bystander while being "white" to the user, then shifting to “white” to the bystander if being directly hit with the beam (contracting pupil = less blue) and not seeing it by the lower lumen spill (open pupil = more blue).
Kinda fucking neat huh?
Want another nifty example? Go look at the color green of a stop light during the day, note it and then observe it at night. You will see a color shift there that is a combination of rod/cone usage and also your headlights or streetlights being your reference white.
There are a lot of studies done on lighting but a problem with most of the studies out there is they are based on "room lighting", a medium lumen and uniform light. Good thing that also gives insight as to why a 5000k light works better than a 4000k light. You know you can actually lower the lumen of a room while running a slightly "bluer" light and it would give the occupants the same visual acuity and apparent "feel" of the same brightness, mind you while not being as bright/requiring as much output. But there is a point of diminishing returns as you approach what will cause eye strain and pupil constriction.
Another common thing: People also ask why amber lights seem to cut through dust more than whiter lights.
and a little maybe science...
Blue/violet are difficult for us to process correctly. They are the shortest visible wavelengths and tend to focus off in our eyes. Blue also is a very difficult color of light to look directly at, it causes the reaction we call glare. Go look at a blue neon sign and you can tell.
"blue" headlights produce more perceived glare than "yellow". So by killing the blue out of the spectrum makes it easier to see and reduces glare. It has little to nothing to do with scattering of light due to fog as the spacing is all wrong.
So most likely personal preference. But here is some light reading: http://www.lightingresearch.org/prog...01-01-0320.pdf
I happen to like amber/yellow as a fog because it produces a more contrasty image and harder shadows. This allows me to better define the road edge and large hazards. And it is less glare.....to me anyway...because all this shit is subjective
This is also why we as photographers use a solid reference of what is “white” when doing image processing….and even that is an endless battle of what is the customer using for settings, my settings, my screen settings, screen age, is thuis being printed, if so by who, do I want a dramatic effect……….you get the idea