Q: What’s the best way to illuminate artwork in my home?
A: If you’ve invested in a beautiful piece of art, you want to display it in the best possible light. One way of doing this is by directing ceiling-mounted spotlights or track fixtures at works exhibited on walls or shelves. This approach works well in a minimalist space and offers flexibility if you like to move things around. Picture or track lights installed on the wall or the frame of an individual work are another option that creates intimacy in a room by visually lowering the ceiling and drawing viewers in for a closer look. Here are examples from our store of Tech Lighting’s Georgi lamp mounted on track and “monopoint” canopies:
Until recently, halogen bulbs were the lamps of choice for accenting artwork, but today’s LED equivalents have evolved to provide a strong alternative. The European Union has been phasing out the use of halogen spotlights since 2016 and will issue a wider ban of halogen bulbs in 2018. Accordingly, museums have been shifting to LEDs, which offer significant energy savings, lower costs, and better light distribution. Equally important: unlike halogens and other incandescent bulbs, LEDs do not emit the infrared and ultraviolet rays, and accompanying heat, that can damage artwork.
Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is illuminated with LED lamps in the Louvre? Specifically, the masterpiece is lit with a custom Toshiba fixture comprised of 34 LED bulbs with precise spectrum controls. Works in the museum’s famed Red Rooms are also enlivened with Toshiba LEDs.
While we can’t provide our clients with highly specialized lamps like the Louvre uses, we have discovered an excellent system for customizing any LED fixture. The SORAA Snap System, used with the lamps above, consists of magnetic disks that snap onto the face of a bulb, allowing you to change the size, shape, and color of the beam to suit your artwork.
We love to support the local art community and regularly invite artists to exhibit and sell their work in our showroom. As you may have guessed, we are currently showing images by nature photographer John Orcutt. Stop by for a tour and demonstration on how lighting can transform your artwork. Here’s a sampling of some of the diverse products you’ll find:
“What is color? No object of itself alone has color.
We know that even the most brightly colored object, if taken into total darkness, loses its color. Therefore, if an object is dependent upon light for color, color must be a property of light.
And so it is.”
Paul Outerbridge, Photographer 1896 – 1958
Have you ever wondered why things look different when you change a light bulb, say swapping a compact fluorescent for a good old incandescent? It is because the compact fluorescent has different color properties than the incandescent. The primary difference is know as color temperature. (more…)
Here is an example of what is happening in the the world of lighting today and what will continue to happen in the foreseeable future. LED’s are all the rage and designers are finding all sorts of new ways to incorporate them into light fixtures. The reasons are clear: LED’s consume far less energy than incandescent light bulbs, LED’s are cool to the touch, LED’s have better color temperature than they did in the past, LED’s have a super long life, and LED’s are small so fixture design can be very creative. In addition to LED fixtures like this one, LED light bulb design is evolving very quickly also. Technicians are finding ways to make them more attractive and more like the good old fashioned incandescent light bulbs. Some of the new LED light bulbs even grow warmer in color temperature as they are dimmed, just like incandescent light bulbs do. Additionally, new, more efficient heat sink materials are being developed which allow LED light bulbs be more streamlined and closer in appearance to both A-lamps and candelabra bulbs. Pretty soon you will be able to use LED bulbs in chandeliers and not notice a difference between them and the candelabra bulbs they replace. Best of all, LED’s are becoming less expensive all the time as manufacturing becomes more efficient and more manufacturers enter the marketplace. As with anything though, I urge you to be careful when buying any LED product as there still are huge quality differences among the myriad of products and producers out there. Try to see the product before you buy it to make sure the color of the light is acceptable to you. I recommend buying dimmable LED light bulbs and fixtures – some LED’s are not dimmable. I also recommend caution in using dedicated LED recessed lighting fixtures. Once you install them they are in the ceiling a long time and the quality of the light might not be satisfactory for you. Instead, consider buying a regular recessed fixture and using an LED light bulb. That way you are not locked in. Please visit our website www.fogglighting.com and like us on Facebook. You also might be interested in the Underwriter’s Laboratory app, LightSmart, which can be downloaded from the App Store. It has all kinds of great information about lighting…and its free.
Re-Printed From Residential Lighting Magazine November 2013 Issue
A Lighting Research Center study on lighting systems for Alzheimer’s patients could help an aging population.
Residential Lighting: Tell us how light levels affect circadian rhythms. (more…)
Before my first posting about light bulbs (sources of light) there are some qualities of light with which you should become familiar. Different sources of light exhibit different characteristics that influence which light bulb to use in different situations.
Color Temperature is a term that refers to the color of light, commonly expressed as warm or cool. Technically it is expressed in degrees Kelvin (K) with lower numbers being warmer than higher numbers. For example 1,700K is the color of a flame, 2,700K is the color of an incandescent light bulb, 3,000K-4,500K is the color temperature of fluorescent and LED light sources and 6,500K is the color temperature of the sun on an overcast day. For residential lighting purposes most color temperatures are compared to incandescent light.
|Notice the smooth transition from
red to violet for the
incandescent light bulb.
Color Rendering Index, expressed as CRI, is a measure of how good colors look. All light bulbs are compared to an incandescent light bulb which is deemed to have the best CRI. CRI is expressed by a number from 1 to 100, 100 being the CRI of an incandescent light bulb. CRI’s between 82 to 100 are judged to be satisfactory while CRI’s below 80 are not. Most of the new fluorescent light bulbs, including CFL’s, are mid 80 or higher. LED’s currently range from about 65 to 88. In the photo to the left you can see the full spectrum in the light of the incandescent light bulb earning it it’s 100 CRI rating.
As humans our eyes see color as the reflection of the color in the light source. If part of the color spectrum is missing from a light source, red for example, you will not see red. Some of the early highway lighting had such bad CRI that at an accident scene the police could not differentiate between blood and oil.
There is a lot to learn about light, how we see light, how contrast affects how we see, how glare interferes with our vision and what kind of light is best for different situations. I strongly urge you to download the Underwriters Laboratory app “Light Smart” at the App Store. It has lots of great information about lighting.
Please visit my website, FoggLighting.com.