Color-corrected Lighting


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Founding Member
Jul 30, 1997
Leawood, Kansas USA
We probably all use fluorescent lights. Hate 'em, but necessary because I don't like the light they throw. I've tried "warm", cool, and a combo. I still get reds, blues, and weird colors on the artwork. Also, anyone use filters to prevent fading? Help.
There was an article years ago about florescent lights and there is supposed to be a bulb that is safer for art work and easier on the eyes. Check with a special lighting store.
I was glad to get away from them but the customers don't seem to think they can see as well without them. Halogin is supposed to be very damaging to art work.
I don't have a certain answer now, but I will in the next couple of weeks. There is a product called Luma-Light that is supposed to substitute for daylight. You have a choice, either you put up with UV distroying your artwork, or your customers have to guess what that jaundiced thing lying on your design table is going to look like in real light. Those lights are only available from them. I'll get the address. The other good substitute is GE Optima 25 if I remember. It's not as good, but it's cheaper, and it should be available anywhere. There was a good article in Decor years ago and PFM had 2 months of articles on the subject. I will find them as soon as I can get caught up.
Can tell you a couple of things from personal experience. Besides the standard "cool white", we looked at "color-correcting" and "daylight" or 5000 kelvin (sp?) lights. We settled on the 5000 kelvin because after consulting with several people including an electrician friend, we were told that the color-correcting was misleading because it throws off a reddish tone. Two things have happened with the 5000k. One is they seem to give a pretty accurate light for color and the other is that I seem to be more cheerful nowadays. I think my brain gets fooled by the daylight spectrum and says "Larry, cheer up. Look at the sunlight around you." Of course my brain often is fooled by many things. Possibly a result of excesses in the '60's, but then, I don't really remember the '60's. Anyway, the best price we have found is at Home Depot.
I have a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT view on this subject (surprised?)!

I refuse to light my design area with light that is DIFFERENT than WHAT FOLKS HAVE IN THEIR HOMES. I think it is WRONG to help them design a wonderful framejob that will look DIFFERENT as soon as they hang it on their wall at home.

Therefore, my design area has incandescent light only (and not a lot). When the customer gets the work home ... it looks just like it did here!

Personally, I feel this whole color-corrected stuff was thought up by the lamp manufacturers who wanted to sell a new (and not cheap) product. I don't mind if the meat market uses special light to make the meat look fresher, or if the clothier uses special light to make me want to buy clothes, but framing is different.

Well, oj, I guess we all just do the best we can with the space that we have. I believe your arrogance is showing through. We happen to be in an older commercial building with 14 foot high ceilings and 4000 square feet. We lease the building and are not willing to invest in all new lighting fixtures in someone else's building. We do however have good windows and sunlight in the design area. Since we do many in-home installations, we have had the opportunity to see first hand how our work looks in the home environment. Neither we, nor our customers have ever been disappointed. Sometimes the way you state things, oj, one could get the idea that you are a close-minded, tunnel-visioned, uncompromising individual. I understand from others, this is not necessarily true. Perhaps, as you say, the ideal would be to have the area lighted differently, but since that is not always possible, those of us who have to live with fluorescents try to reach the best possible compromise.
Is this being cheerfull? The name of the lights I was trying to think of was Vita-Lite from Duro-Test. I'll bet Optima 25 is a camera. Don't depend on anything I say until I check it out. OJay, does that mean you bind up one hand when you are framing for an amputee?
I didn't mean to start a fight, but keep them letters comin'. I'll find good stuff somewhere by checking y'all's suggestions out. (This message was brought to you by an EM looking to ingratiate Le.)
Colour-corrected flourescents are very expensive and have a relatively short life. ALL flouresents and most halogens produce a lot of UV in the harmful range - should be filtered. I use a mixture of tungsten, filtered flourescent, and natural lighting via filtered windows. In my latitude and south-facing exposure, this combination works satisfactorily.
Hi guys & gals,

This is my first post, I'm in Sydney Oz'

I have installed NEC Flourescent Lamps called "Skylights" and give as close as possible to daylight.

They are TRI-PHOSPHOR 6700(HG)

I always explain to my customers that in their home the light will be subdued compared to the light in my gallery. They are quite happy with the explanation and the light gives good colour correctness for my customers selection purposes.

Reuben Carlsen
RMC Framing Gallery
Sydney Oz'
Part of the information I was looking for was in the Dec.96' issue of Decor. The second part of the article is in Jan.97'. The article covers spots and floods as well as flourescents. In flourescents they suggest two kinds of uses, color-intensive and general lighting. For color intensive they suggest three 5000K bulbs, GE Chroma 50, OSRAM SYLVANIA's Design 50, and Philips' Colortone 50. CRI of 92. For general lighting they suggest GE's Specification Series(SPX), OSRAM SYLVANIA's Designer "800" Series, and Philips' Ultralume. I haven't found the PFM article yet.
Like LTownsend, I too have a combination of cool white and sunlight flourescent lights, and a lot of them. And he's right--if you need to be happy, just go to your studio. My brain gets happy just flipping the light switch on. (Yeh, I'm the right age to remember the excesses of the 60's, too.) So, if I need to get happy, I go to my studio, but if I want to get a real belly laugh, I go to this BB and find a post from Le.
I tried to post a reply here last night. Decor ran a two part article on lighting in Dec.96' and Jan.97'. They suggested two types of flourescent lights for diferent situations. For color intensive applications they use GE's Chroma 50, OSRAM SYLVANIA's Design 50,and Philips' Colortone 50. The 50 stands for 5000K and they have a CRI of 92. I'll keep looking for the PFM article.
I guess I suceeded in posting the first time. Please ignore this message.

[This message has been edited by Le (edited 12-06-98).]
Additionally, you can purchase relatively inexpensive UV-filtering sleeves that slip over your flourescent tube bulbs. These can be re-used for the life of several bulbs.

IMHO, well worth the expense if you're stuck with flourescents.
For many years we used GE Chroma 50 - expensive! Recently we started using Sylvania Daylight Deluxe with good success and they cost just a bit more than standard cool white. With a bit of warmer halogen light from the track lighting mixed in our design table is just about right.

Bonus - I can put framed pieces on the floor in the front of our shop under the Daylight Deluxe tubes and get a fairly good photograph with reasonable color.
Funny this should come up now, because I was gonna start a thread on this subject today.

Tennessee has a loan program for energy efficiency

They come in and do an energy audit. If they find you can save money by changing your lighting/ductwork, etc they'll loan up to $100,000 at 3% over seven years.

We've begun looking at this since in my 1,000 sq. ft. retail space we have about 110 halogen bulbs. Our air conditioning runs year round.

the guy that came in is talking about color corrected, high efficiency flourescents that go into my halogen "cans" the Knoxville Museum of Art is using these in their gallery spaces.

I am now researching these bad boys.

Go online, bring up, and check out their flourescents.

I've yet to call them, since I'm a few months away from doing this. BUT, USA lighting has a toll-free number, they sell halogens, flourescents, etc. cheaper than anybody on the planet and they have a truly knowledgeable staff.

I forget numbers, but I think my energy guy said one 13 watt flourescent replaces a 75 watt halogen.

sounds good to me.

I'll post on this again when I find out more.

Michael LeCompte CPF
Forgot to add in the last post: these energy efficient flourescents cost about $12-15 from USA Lighting compared to about $5 - 6 for halogens, BUT they're rated to last 10,000 hours. vs. about 2,000 for halogens.

Something to ponder along with the reduced cooling costs to the shop

Michael LeCompte CPF
More than you never wanted to know about lighting.

We liked the idea of the upright design board that we saw (I think at the Bainbridge booth in LV, if I remember correctly), and put one of our 5000k fixtures above its area as well as a row of incandescent track lights. Each fixture can be independently operated, so the light can be one, the other or both. The idea was to be able to duplicate almost any customer's lighting.
Has anyone come across a website with good information on gallery or display lighting technology? I'm just about to redo all my front end lighting and looking for ideas. I've recently seen some flourescent fixtures for track lighting that "wash" walls with even lighting which could be useful and am looking for more ideas. I'm also interested in programable controllers for gallery lighting that would allow the lighting to contiuously change causing people to move their focus of attention around the gallery and hopefully be attracted to more items to buy.
messed up the website for USA LIghting


And yes, they can give advice on lighting, wallwashers, timed lighting, etc etc.

Even lightyour stadium, if you have one

Michael LeCompte CPF
I have a dumb question, so please, all you "experts" don't jump down my throat, ok?
I've always wondered about this.
If the lighting changes the colors of the matboard (visually), doesn't it also change the colors in the prints (visually)? And if it does, and if everything is changed in the design area, why doesn't it "change" the same in the home environment?
Thoretically, it looks like it would work. Why doesn't it?

(Do you understand what I'm trying to ask?)

Hi Betty

Different light (natural light, lamps etc.) will reflect or absorb differently of the matboard and the art work depending on the texture of the finish on either (even black will reflect and absorb light), consequently you can have differences depending on the light source in the frame shop and where the finished frame job is displayed.

[This message has been edited by Dermot (edited November 06, 2001).]
If the light is missing some of the color spectrum, red for example, and you choose mat colors for the way the art looks without the red, you may find out later that the mats should have been warmer.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JPete:
There was an article years ago about florescent lights and there is supposed to be a bulb that is safer for art work and easier on the eyes...Halogin is supposed to be very damaging to art work.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

All light is damaging. Each light source has its problems, and its advantages.

Halogen's main problem is that it has high-temperature, point-source filament. Heat buildup can be a problem if the lamps are too close, so keep them a safe distance away from lighted surfaces. You can check by placing a thermometer close to the art's surface. Ceiling-mounted halogen lamps are generally not a problem. If the lamps are quartz (not all halogen are), they require handling with gloved hands to avoid hotspots caused by skin oil on the lamp -- it soaks into quartz and cannot be removed. When that happens the lamps burn out prematurely.

Halogen is an incandescent light source and has light-frequency characteristics like most other incandescent lamps. That is, it's high in IR (filtered by ordinary glass), but reasonably low in UV output. It's not very efficient, and lamp life is limited, but on both counts, halogen is better than ordinary light bulbs.

Because halogen's color is like that found in most homes (lighted by incandescent lamps), it is a light source of good color for art galleries. We use them in track fixtures, along with some warm-white fluorescents in the existing 2'x4' T-bar drop-in fixtures. In fourteen years, no customer has complained of a color discrepancy after taking home the colors selected for framing here.

If the bulb you descibed as "safer for artwork" is fluorescent, then it really is not safer for art -- it might look better, though. Fluorescent's main problem is that it is a high-UV light source. Fluorescent lamps come in several color variations, most of which amplify only certain colors. But regardless of color, all fluorescent lamps emit high UV, which can be filtered by lamp sleeves, or panels of UV-filtering film or glass. A major benefit of fluorescent light is that it is efficient and cheap to install & maintain; very practical for commercial applications.

"Color-corrected" fluorescents such as "Chroma" lamps are made to imitate the frequency proportions of sunlight. The problem with that is twofold: 1. They're bloody expensive, and 2. most interiors do not have that color lighting anyway.

By the way, nearly all fluorescent lamps are rated for 20,000 hours life. They start out bright; soon the light level drops slightly, then stays fairly consistent for 15,000 hours or so. Then the light level drops off dramatically. Most fluorescents will still glow after 50,000 of burning, but their light level is almost nil. So, don't wait for fluorescent lamps to "burn out"; their light output would be long gone by then. Instead, calculate burning time for your hours of operation, and relamp all fixtures after 20,000 hours.

Most major cities have sales offices for GE, Sylvania and other major lighting makers. I suggest you contact them and get their lamp data. It can be an illuminating experience...

There should be a new article on gallery/frame shop ighting coming up in a few months.
Hi MerpsMom

I couldn't remember replying to this thread - then I noticed that someone has posted an old reply of mine from three years ago.

. . . gadzooks, I thought I was losing it there for minute . . .

. . . my answer is still the same: I mix light sources somewhat (separately controlled, so that I can approximate my clients' lighting as per OJ.) I have, however, changed the UV filters on my flourescents since my original posting.

[This message has been edited by Orton (edited November 06, 2001).]
Another thing to think about.

The older fluorescent bulbs get the harder the ballasts work to keep it running and will eventually damage it. What would you prefer to replace, a $2 bulb or an $80 ballast?

Wal-mart...the Ferengi of our times.
I, too, have added to my original lighting set-up. I have a swing-arm lamp over my worktable with an incandescent bulb that I can easily turn on or off, so that between the cool and warm flourescent lights overhead, I can simulate real home lighting fairly closely.

Take another look at those old posts, MM & Orton. I joined TG about August of '98. That December post says I had 653 posts by then!!! MM, you're at 1215. It's a wonder we get any framing done.
And we probably all remember that 95% of those numbers related to only one subject: OB vs. SF.
I thought I would take the liberty of posting this helpful information from Nona Powers, CPF, GCf for those of you not on the PPFA Hitchhikers:

I sometimes read The Grumble, I don't participate because I can't keep up
with my world now, but I do occasionally see what's being discussed and there
was a long discussion of lighting when designing art work. No one quite got
the truth in the posts, as far as I could tell, so instead of signing on
there and because it's a pretty important topic, I'll address it here if
that's OK and hopefully because there are many of you who do both forums, it
will be helpful.

A designer needs colored balanced light to design under because the light
source will determine the colors you see. If there are no red wave lengths
in a light source, say there are only green, and that light source shines on
a red apple, the apple will look black to the observer, not red. If you look
at art and it's predominantly warm (reds, oranges, yellows) and your looking
at it under florescent lighting, which contains predominantly cool wave
lengths, (blue-green, blue, violet), the warm colors in the art will be
grayed. On the other hand, incandescent light is very orange. It would
intensify all the warm tones and gray the cool ones. These different lights
would affect not just the colored hues, but also the grays, whites and
blacks. If you don't see the art the way the artist conceived it, your not
going to respond to color choices correctly. Someone said in homes there is
incandescent light so I design under those. Yes, in some cases, but what
about offices where the art may hang which usually have florescent and in
Calif where we have been having an energy crisis and florescent takes less
energy to run, many lamps, kitchen light fixtures are using the new small
florescent bulbs. Also, the piece may hang in an area that receives lots of
natural light and the art would look off. The point is that if you see the
colors in the art correctly you will respond to them, in your design, more
correctly and the art will look right in all light situations. One framing
purist said once that he never uses color, only white in his work. I just
laughed because all of the mat boards we use has a color base, white, gray
and black. Most grays can be pushed to show a color base and beige's are
very sensitive to color influences. Seeing the right color helps in the
designing process.

Colored balanced lighting can be purchased, florescent tubes that have a very
long life but are expensive. They also are not perfect having a very slight
greenish predominance, but are the best at the moment for correct color
viewing especially if the design area can have a natural light source also.
There are several brand names so ask at you local light dealer for natural
color balanced lighting.

Nona Powers. CPF, GCF
I don't want to appear to be doing a plug, but I will be doing a class on
Color in Vegas. I also wrote a book with this information in it. Color &
Design for the Picture Framer. It's available from many sources or from me
directly. The book, unfortunately does not have completely correct color in
the illustrations, it is extremely expensive and very hard to duplicate
colors in a printed form, and I have a color correction sheet I will send to
any one who has bought a book from a source other than me. Send me your name
and address and I will send it to you. It will also soon be posted on my web
site. Buy a color wheel from an art supply store and with my correction
sheet and the book, the information is available.
just posted this on HHers so I thought I'd recap here.

Spoke at great length last nite to USA Light in CA about cooling down my retail area by substituting high efficient flourescents for my halogens.

These guys have done lighting in many West Coast galleries so I somewhat trust what they say.

Their opinion was: (1) I can't get rid of all my halogens since they are very true color sources for the art, mouldings, etc and (2) they suggested intermixing these high efficiency flourescents with the halogens--say every third can put in a halogen.

As Jim Miller said, they are expensive--about $14 from USA Light--but they're rated to last 10,000 hours instead of the 2,000 of a halogen.

They also made other suggestions, like using lower wattage than the ones I have now, further spacing between cans, etc etc.

Interestingly, they also have wallwashers on their website that will wash a 10' x 20' space.

Now THAT"S what I need for my store windows.

WIll let you know what progesses as I eliminate some of the halogens and try lower wattages.

Michael LeCompte CPF
I just found some old cans at Value Village and I was wondering what has changed other than my attitude. Are filters available in sheet form to adapt the compact flourescents?