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Old 12-16-2008, 08:41 PM
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Studio Lighting Experiment

As part of the process of renovating my studio space, I've been researching lighting options. There is a LOT of information out there about how to 'properly' light a studio- Probably too much. I decided that the best way to find out what I needed was to do a little experimentation.

I kept reading about the 'temperature' of the lighting, And its effect on how colors are perceived. Everything I had read indicated that I wanted to use full spectrum lighting, in the 5000 K temp range, for accurate colors... But- Just what did that mean? What would it look like in the room? There was only one way to find out.

Some notes on this experiment. First, The lights. I used standard 48", 2 bulb, T-12 fluorescent fixtures. The plastic filters that they came with were left off, so they wouldn't affect the results at all (and also because changing all 12 bulbs for each shot was ENOUGH work as it was, without having to remove the covers!).

Next, the camera. I used my Digital Rebel XT, in manual mode, so the settings are the same from photo to photo. Of course, there was no flash. There is no processing of the photos other than resizing.

Next- Why did I include the big Self-Portrait?? Well- Mainly because I wanted you to see how gorgeous I am. And, To provide you with something to judge what colors will REALLY look like under the various lights in the room. I chose to use this painting because it is BIG, and the white is a true white, the black is a true black, and the other colors in it are pretty close to primaries.

Also- It was done at night, so there is no outside light from windows- just a touch of moonlight. I live on a mountain in the woods, so there is little or no 'stray' light coming in.

The construction on my studio isn't QUITE finished yet, so excuse the mess! The walls are only primed, and are a grayish color...

Ok, So here it is--

First- The 4200K Lighting. This is 'normal' Fluorescent lighting- Commonly found in the office, schools, etc-


Nice and bright. These are the BRIGHTEST by far. But, Whites are not true white- And other colors will be 'off', too.

Ok, Next, The 'Recommended' Full Spectrum lighting. These are 5000K.



Well, The Whites DO show as VERY true whites. The Colors will be more 'on' as well... Not quite as bright, though.

But, They also sell bulbs that closely match daylight- These are 6500K 'Daylight' bulbs-



So- What is MY solution? I wanted the full spectrum lighting in areas that I needed it, but I like the warmer 'feel' of the 4100K Lights (Remember that when you are talking light temps, The LOWER numbers are WARMER). They are also a lot brighter. My studio is a BIG space, so I am using different lights in different areas.

My 'Dirty' work areas, which are behind me in these photos, will have the 4100K lights. This is where I do larger projects, welding, etc. I need more light, and color matching isn't critical.

I have an area where I'll be keeping all my books and other reading material. This area is going to have warmer lighting as well, Since it is more pleasant to read under. But, I want full spectrum in the areas where the easel, drawing table, and paper storage/cutting areas are. So, this is how it looks-



I nice, pleasant mix- The colors seem to look right, and it's plenty bright where it needs to be.

Of course, I can't finalize things 'till all the furniture and things are in place. I'll have additional lighting where it's needed, and might have to move and change things around a bit. But, doing this gave me a MUCH better picture of exactly what 6500K actually looks like

-Andrew
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:07 AM
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Re: Studio Lighting Experiment

I think you chose a great mix. I think there are difficult choices in balancing lighting that is pleasant to work in/under and affordable to purchase and operate, but still enables you to get an accurate idea of what the work will look like in its probable final display lighting, which won't likely be fluorescent.
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Old 12-18-2008, 10:31 AM
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Re: Studio Lighting Experiment

Andrew- Very interesting experiment and very helpful to see the photos as I am also in the process of building a new studio. I'm looking at fluorescents too, as well as some of the Solux halogens to use with diffusers, hopefully to create a nice blend similar to what you have done. I will also have some natural lighting coming in, but not enough to work with, so I'll need the supplement. I do have a few questions for you, if you don't mind...
*How high is your ceiling?
*How many tubes did you require to light up your painting/work area? (I see four in the shot but wonder if maybe there are more out of the range of the shot.)
*How many stated lumens do your daylight tubes put out?
*Could you share the bulb brands in your experiment?

These are some of the things I'm trying to consider when trying to determine how much light is needed. I've also learned that not only should you look at the lumen output and the Kelvin temperature of the lighting in question, but also the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Even bulbs that are supposedly the Kelvin color of daylight can have a low CRI, which means that the colors won't render as accurately as needed. A CRI of 90 or above is optimal.

But here's the rub. The higher the CRI, the lower (typically) the lumens and the lower the light output, which is probably why you noticed that step down in intensity with the 5000K bulbs.

As for my situation, I'm working with a ceiling that is 15 feet high, so unless I suspend mount the fluorescents (not desired) the added distance from the fixtures causes even more concern with the light output of the bulbs. For a higher ceiling they do have industrial type "high bay" and high output fixtures on the market for both t8 lamps and the smaller, newer t5 lamps. My only fear with these kinds of fixtures is causing too much glare. Many of the stocked industrials that you surface mount are made to be open (un-lensed) so that is a concern for me as well. It can all be a little overwhelming to decipher, particualrly since the high bay fixtures are a good deal pricier than the typical worklights you find at the big box stores.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:56 PM
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Re: Studio Lighting Experiment

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
*How high is your ceiling?

They vary a bit- It is a walkout basement. In this area, they are a little over 8'. In the area you can't see (Behind the camera) they are a little over 9 feet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
*How many tubes did you require to light up your painting/work area? (I see four in the shot but wonder if maybe there are more out of the range of the shot.)

There are 3 fixtures in that area, so 6 total tubes. There are an additional 2 fixtures behind the camera, as well as 3 recessed fixtures. That makes for a total of 10 48" bulbs. I wouldn't try it with any less than that- this is just enough in the space. In fact, in the area behind me, I considered replacing the 2 bulb fixtures with 4 bulb- But that area gets a lot of natural sunlight...

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
*How many stated lumens do your daylight tubes put out?


The 5000K are 2200 Lumens, The 4100K are 2650.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
*Could you share the bulb brands in your experiment?

They are Slyvania. GE also makes some similar ones as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
I've also learned that not only should you look at the lumen output and the Kelvin temperature of the lighting in question, but also the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Even bulbs that are supposedly the Kelvin color of daylight can have a low CRI, which means that the colors won't render as accurately as needed. A CRI of 90 or above is optimal.

Yes- I tried not to get too 'technical' when I posted the above experiment because I didnt want to scare too many people away! CRI is probably just as important for an artist as the temp. Slyvania makes 2 5000K bulbs, One with a CRI of 85, one with a CRI of 90. 100 is considered 'perfect'- So the 90 is better, however I really doubt that you'd be able to tell the difference between the two.

For other color temps, there can be a MUCH broader range, some as low as 50CRI...

But- remember- You can't compare CRI's of bulbs with different temps. There is no coloration. There really isn't a way to tell just if a 4100K with a CRI of 90 is better or worse at accurate color depiction than a 5000K at the same CRI, without a side-by-side test (Which is why I did one!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
But here's the rub. The higher the CRI, the lower (typically) the lumens and the lower the light output, which is probably why you noticed that step down in intensity with the 5000K bulbs.

Yup. There is always some kind of tradeoff. Though, For the most part, looking at the Data charts that the companies provide, you don't have to sacrifice all that much. There have been a LOT of recent advances in Fluorescents!

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
As for my situation, I'm working with a ceiling that is 15 feet high, so unless I suspend mount the fluorescents (not desired) the added distance from the fixtures causes even more concern with the light output of the bulbs.

Perhaps you can try 4 bulb fixtures or perhaps Longer tubes (or both) That could increase the output without the significant investment in the commercial fixtures- I know that they are a LOT more expensive. I know another issue is the cost of the bulbs- I went with t-12's because they are readily available and inexpensive- A case of Slyvania SunSticks is less than $20.00- Some of the other bulbs are nearly that much EACH.

Here are a few links to great info on CRI and light temps-

http://www.sylvania.com/LearnLightin...aracteristicf/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index

-Andrew
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Old 12-19-2008, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Printmakerguy
As part of the process of renovating my studio space, I've been researching lighting options. There is a LOT of information out there about how to 'properly' light a studio- Probably too much. I decided that the best way to find out what I needed was to do a little experimentation.


Great to see something like this posted here, thanks Andrew.

Did the CRI of any of the bulbs make any difference to you or were you just going more by how it looked in situ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Printmakerguy
I have an area where I'll be keeping all my books and other reading material. This area is going to have warmer lighting as well, Since it is more pleasant to read under. But, I want full spectrum in the areas where the easel, drawing table, and paper storage/cutting areas are.


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Old 12-19-2008, 10:08 AM
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Re: Studio Lighting Experiment

Andrew, thanks for taking the time to reply with the additional details. Yes, I've been reading all of that literature for weeks until my eyes crossed! In fact yesterday after posting here I decided to invest in a couple of 6 lamp T8 fixtures. Home Depot has a number of new options now for T8 bulbs, and they are smaller (thus less mecury) and supposedly more efficient than the T12's (same amount of light can be achieved with fewer bulbs...thus, less energy used.) There are even newer, smaller T5's out there now but they are not stocked locally and would definitely require special order.

All of that can be put into perspective though. For any of these fluorescent tube lamps, once they're purchased they should last a good long while--years, in fact.
Cheers-
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:11 AM
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Re: Studio Lighting Experiment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Einion
Did the CRI of any of the bulbs make any difference to you or were you just going more by how it looked in situ?

It is, as I mentioned before, a little tough to compare the CRI of different 'colors' of light, since the CRI only is comparable if the light temp is the same. But, there is a noted difference between high CRI bulbs and low CRI bulbs of the same temp, though I doubt that you would 'detect' it if you didn't see it side by side.

There is a HUGE difference between areas lit ONLY with the 4100K and areas lit with the 5000K, I noticed it when I compared paint chips in different areas of the room. One thing that I noticed was when I had selected a color for the walls that I liked, I went to the local home improvement store to get a gallon of it, and when I got there I couldn't believe that it could POSSIBLY be the same color! It looked very different under the metal halide lamps in the store.

This brings up one more issue- remember that your work isn't likely to be viewed in a setting with full spectrum light! The odds are, especially if its in a home, it's going to be lit with warmer light, probably in the 3000-4000K range. So, if you do any sort of work that is color critical, you might want to see how it looks at those temps

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeycombstudio
All of that can be put into perspective though. For any of these fluorescent tube lamps, once they're purchased they should last a good long while--years, in fact

Yes- The t-12 bulbs I have are rated for 20,000 hours- That's 2 yrs 3 months if you leave them on 24/7. If you are using them 5 days a week, 8 hours a day (Yeah, right- Wishful thinking) that computes to about 10 years. Even if you only manage 1/2 of that, it's still not bad!

t-8's are becoming more and more common- And you can get them in almost all the different temps. As for the Mercury content, I wouldn't worry TOO much, there is a little in all Fluorescents- Hardly any, though....

-Andrew
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Old 07-26-2010, 07:47 AM
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Re: Studio Lighting Experiment

I know I'm pulling up a really old thread, but I hope Andrew is still following this one!

Andrew, I wonder how your lighting is working out now, a year and a half later. Are you happy with your choices?

Also, did you end up choosing the 85 or 90 CRI bulbs? That wasn't clear to me from reading what you wrote.

My studio renovation is 11x48'. I'm installing two rows of two bulb, 48" fluorescent fixtures --- a dozen fixtures in all (24 bulbs). I'm considering light temperature and CRI now. Initially I was thinking of going with 4100, but seeing that in your space has me changing my mind in a hurry! So, now I'm thinking of putting one 4100 and one 5000 in each fixture. What are your thoughts?

Lastly, if I go with the 85 CRI bulbs in order to get more light output, do you think I will notice a difference in the accuracy of the color rendering vs. the 90 CRI?

Thanks so much!

Jamie
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