Best Lighting for Printed Images

WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,574Member
Hi guys, I am designing a new place and am curious what you guys think my lighting should be like. I will have about a hundred and twenty feet of track lighting to play with, so I want to pick the right lights to shine on my artwork, which will mostly be my images.

Any suggestions on lights, colour temperatures etc.?


  • vtc2002vtc2002 Posts: 364Member
    Jeff, it really depends on what type of printed mater you are displaying. If you have a mixture of canvas, framed prints, metal or aluminum, glass, etc. The type of light you will want to use will need to be different for each type. Track lights can produce unwanted glare on framed prints unless you have high quality non glare glass. The same is true for glass, metal and Aluminum prints. @framer should be able to provide some excellent advice. Let us know what you choose.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Gallery lighting is a speciality all to itself. "Lighting Designers" are the folks that can help here; they are a specialty within a specialty and charge anywhere from $250-$500/hr and are worth every penny. I have taken several courses in the subject and worked with some of the top-notch folks on large commercial projects so I'll try and help you out here.

    The first thing you want to consider is how many lumens per square foot, or how bright the space needs to be. Galleries are different than factory work floors, or hotel lobbies. Art Galleries are 4 lumens/sf, but Painting Galleries are 3, with only the walls at 5.

    The lighting should fall into two main categories in a gallery design. 1) Ambient light or indirect space lighting and 2) Direct or accent lighting for the artwork. Another way to go for 2 in a painting gallery is to use wall-washers and evenly light an entire wall, vs individual spots.

    Knowing how much light you need, and what kind of fixtures will be providing that light, you can calculate the number of fixtures you need and how much light each fixture will need to produce. In order to do this you need to look at a photometric polar chart for each fixture. This tells you how the lumens that are produced by the fixture distribute the light into space.

    Once you have all that calculated you can go ahead and plotting on a lighting plan. You also have to account for windows, daylight, power requirements, dimming, control, sensors, etc...
    We haven't even talked about light color or white balance. Typical indoor fixtures range from 2700K - 4000K.
    Best to at least consult with an expert. Or we can keep discussing here :smile:
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,574Member
    Thanks for both of you. First question is LED or Halogen. LED is more efficient, but perhaps not of good enough quality yet. Halogen gives off heat and I might worry about damaging the prints. I will have 9 foot ceilings to play with and with a rail (nicer than track) I can get the light bulb base about 4" off the ceiling. Say the actual source is 8" off the ceiling. At 30 degrees that is only about 3 feet away from the art (which will be prints of my images by the way). Thoughts?
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,574Member
    Hmmm..... my research indicated that GE Reveal LEDs have the best colour. They have an omnidirectional and flood and the bases are medium screw in. I ordered one of each to fool around with. If I like them I can design the lighting around them.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Do you have a model number on the bulb so we can make sure we're on the same page? is a good site. What rail system manufacturer? Is there other existing lighting in the space? Sounds fun!
  • vtc2002vtc2002 Posts: 364Member
    @Ironheart Wow, you have a lot of good advice. we hired a interior designer that called herself a lighting consultant when we built our house and the outcome was marginally acceptable. I have no doubt you know more than her.
    @WestEndFoto We looked at track lights but we wanted a cleaner look and went with canned lights that had adjustable light heads to direct the light where we wanted it. The lighting consultant and contractor were pushing the track lights for what we believe was lower costs and easier installation. They have worked well. We used the GE Reveal lights. Ironheart is right there are several types. The first ones we bought had a blueish tint to them, we exchanged them for a different model and they have been great. I am traveling but can send you the model number when I get home.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,574Member
    Ironheart, I have been looking at the GE Reveal Lights with a CRI of 90. There is only one model. A spot (LED12DR30RVL/TP) and a flood (LED11DA19RVL/TP).

    One complaint that I have from people that use them is that 10 - 20% burn out in short order and if you dim them, this also causes that issue. I have also spoken to quite a few gallery owners. One in particular tried this light in one of their rooms for a few months and decided that he did not like their light and still uses halogens. He uses Solux MR 16 Halogen lamps.

    Also, that same gallery owner gave me this link:

    The premise of the article is that if the light is bright, a daylight temperature of 5,000 - 6,000 kelvin is "most pleasing" and if the light is dim, a warm temperature of "say" 3,000 kelvin is "most pleasing". If you consider the environment that us humans live in, that actually makes sense.

    I also researched the Solux tip he gave me. Apparently, it is the best halogen lighting you can buy, used by famous galleries such as the Louvre. See the following:

    They basically have every colour temperature and beam angle combination that you can imagine with two different powers.

    I am thinking about using recessed lighting with two "banks". The first bank will be the 35 watt lights in a warm colour temperature. The second bank will be the 50 watt lights in a cooler colour temperature. If I want a dimly lit room, I turn on the 35 watt warm bank and dim it a lot. If I want a brightly lit room, I turn on the second bank with the 50 watt bulbs with only a little dimming.

    And since the halogen bulbs don't last as long as LEDs, I can tweak the lighting as they burn out. Since the MR16 connectors are pretty standard, if better LED's come out with these MR16 connectors that past muster (which will probably happen eventually) then I can switch to them.

    However, if I go to the reveal with its medium screw connector (standard household style), I have to reinstall the lighting system if I want to move to something like an MR16 standard.

    Let's see if I think the same way next week. What are your guys' thoughts?
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,574Member
    VTC2002, I hear you regarding the type of lighting and glare etc. I don't really have anything printed now, so I will probably experiment to see what works with the lighting I end up with.
  • vtc2002vtc2002 Posts: 364Member
    This is a little off topic for this thread. There are a lot of new print options available now. I did a exhibit last month and used a company called FractureMe for all of the prints. They print directly on the glass. The finished product has a very slim profile and has a sleek appearance. It allows people to focus on the photo and not the frame and matting. I received a lot of positive feedback on using this style. We also have a number of them in our house as well. Depending on the look that you are going for you may want to check them out.
  • vtc2002, did the company have some custom profiles for printing on their glass? Did you notice any big deviations from the gamut and tone of your previous paper prints?
  • vtc2002vtc2002 Posts: 364Member
    @MegapixelSchnitzel Sorry for the late reply. I have been traveling a lot. The company currently does not have different color profiles. The ones that I have had printed on glass have matched the paper prints of the same image. One of the things that I really like is that it allows the person to view the your work without having the distraction of the matting or a frame. You can always try one of the small size mounts to see if you like it before you dive into one of the larger sizes. One thing that I did not like is that is that the glass is not non glare and the image can have a glare on it if you are not looking at the image straight on. It is not a big deal but I think it would be better with non glare glass. I did get a lot of positive comments from people.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,574Member
    Well, I bit the bullet and went with Solux. See:

    I ordered about a hundred and fifty of their MR-16 low voltage halogen. See:

    These come in five colour temperatures, though I ordered everything in 3,500k which is their warmest. They come in four different beam spreads - 10, 17, 24 and 36 and based on my initial plan I ordered a variety of each. I can order more as my plan evolves.

    For the living room and kitchen, I am using recessed fixtures for a clean look. See:

    Everywhere else, I am using track. I made the hallway wider to accommodate this as I have about 60 feet of linear space to work with and this will be the focal point whatever is my fashion of the day. The living room will have carefully selected larger images.

    For bathrooms, closets non-master bedrooms, patio etc. I am using standard fixtures for Edison bulbs or PAR20 pots. I also ordered Solux bulbs for these. They are not quite up to the standard of the low voltage halogens, but they are quite good. I will have a consistent warm glow throughout the apartment.

    Now I have to figure out what to hang. I will buy a good photoprinter and my next photography course will be a printing course.
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