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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Studio lights (natural looking light)ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2016-11-20 17:09:09 ... Most recent comment 2016-11-20 17:39:00
    Studio Tools and Tips
    Question
    I'm now painting in a basement studio and the light is terrible. I bought white 5500Kelvin bulbs but to my dismay they look bluish... which are your favourite brands of white light bulbs? It can be any type of light bulb, as I can fit both halogen and fluorescent. Thanks.
Answers and Comments
  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerWith lighting things can get more complicated when you are trying to compare your output to natural daylight. You should also check the CRI of your current bulbs as well...I will include below a breakdown of what these individual terms mean for those that may be less aware:

    Color Temperature

    In lighting, the term color temperature, which is measured by the unit Kelvin, is used to describe the appearance of a light source. In general, lighting above 4000K is considered cool and is often bluer in appearance, while lighting below 3200K is warm and appears more yellow. Some artists choose to work at or around a color temperature range of 5000–6000K, a range that is often similar to natural light. It is important to note that the Color Rendering Index (CRI) and color temperature of a lighting source are closely related. For example, a bulb with a color temperature ranging between 5000–6000K cannot be compared to natural light unless the CRI of the lighting source is above 90.

    Color Rendering Index

    The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a method for describing the effect of a light on the color of an object. Knowing the CRI of lamps and other light sources can be useful when comparing different light sources for inpainting. The CRI can distinguish between light sources that emit the same “color” of light. The higher the CRI of lamps with color temperatures of 5000–6000K, the better objects appear compared to natural/window light and the outdoors. I will let our "resident" photographer on our moderating staff weigh in on specific brands....

    Kristin deGhetaldi (CAS)
    2016-11-21 00:00:43
  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerAs a studio photographer my requirements for lighting are specific to photographic reproduction. The principles Kristin touches on are quite valid. The Gallery environment you are presenting your work in may be warmer than daylight and may drive the color temperature you choose lower than the 5500 degree Kelvin range. Manufacturers are not necessarily putting out as consistent a product as you hope and there can be variations even within the same bulb model at the lower price points. LED lighting is also starting to get quite good but many are less expensive and have very poor light color. The fixture the bulb is going in also can shift the color. I am sure your eyes are the driving force of your dissatisfaction with the cool appearance. I'm hesitant to mention any particular product but would recommend going with a product that provides the CRI index and color temperature ratings for their bulbs. It's a good starting point and may require some trial an error on your part to find the right balance for your work. Photographic suppliers usually carry bulbs and can provide the manufacturers specifications to guide your purchase.
    House, Richard
    2016-11-21 10:47:24
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentI've heard Blue Max lighting is very good. Was reading about this the other day in another forum.
    2016-11-23 00:05:31
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentI am a painter also recently moved to a windowless studio, and was also dissatisfied with 5000K bulbs. The number of variables that you have to consider when shopping for bulbs can be confusing too. A gallerist friend told me the museum standard is 3700K which I could not find, but have been quite happy with the bulbs I ultimately chose: TCP brand CFL bulbs, 3500K, R40, 23 Watt (120 Watt incandescent equivalent). These are about $5 per bulb online. I do believe there is a difference between color temperature in lighting for photography and for painting.
    2016-11-28 23:47:38
  • EditDeleteModerator AnswerThere is not really a museum "standard" for lighting...this is the reason behind so many conferences and papers that address the topic. What it comes down to for any museum is budget and what they (curators, conservators, exhibition designers, etc.) feel is the most comfortable, appropriate, and safe condition for viewing a given artwork. Contemporary works might be viewed at a higher color temperature while more "traditional" works might be viewed at a lower one. If you have information relating to your painting's final lighting condition that is always optimal....but not always possible. You can always set up a combination of halogen, tungsten, LED, and/or fluorescent bulbs to play around with your desired color temperature but try to AVOID changing the light during painting....this can result in problems with color matching throughout the painting process. Again, be sure to try and check for the CRI rating on any bulb you buy because in the end this very well could cause an unexpected (and difficult to avoid) shift in color and appearance no matter what the resultant color temperature.
    Kristin deGhetaldi (CAS)
    2016-11-29 05:08:18
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser CommentUnfortunately, CRI isn't a very good indicator of a light's ability to render colour accurately. It indicates how closely it resembles a black body radiator. For example, candlelight has a CRI of 100 but it would not be very good for rendering blues. I believe the main problem for artists is colour matching while painting rather than trying to reproduce the type of light a painting will be finally illuminated under when displayed. (An impossible task anyway.) Fluorescent and LED lights both have spikes, bumps and gaps in their spectral curves which can lead to metameric failure. (Metameric failure is when you match colours so that they look identical under one light source, but look different to when viewed under another. The best lights on the market today, I believe, are made by Solux. They are halogen, have a CRI of 100, and come in a range of different temperatures. I would recommend something around 5000K as this is similar to direct sunlight and will give you a good representation of wavelengths across the spectrum. I believe Solux make globes that can be used in standard fittings, but they are 3500K or 3000K. The ones I use are MR-16 12 volt, 4700K, and are directional, so they require a transformer and some setting up. (They also have a new 5000K version.) They are available in 35w and 50w. Ideally, they would be mounted on tracks on the ceiling, but I have two, one on each side of my easel mounted on photographic light stands. I researched lighting for quite some time, and the stats on these lights were better than all others that I could find as far as accuracy goes. They are used in many of the worlds top museums, but as mentioned in an earlier post, modern LEDs are getting better and are being used in museums also. Ron Francis.
    2016-12-05 16:53:55
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