The interplay between light and shadow found in almost every picture must be enhanced, not diminished, by exhibition picture lighting. While it is the case that photography and painting have perspective and shade in common, beyond this, they diverge into vastly different arenas that carry their own unique sets of requirements for truly effective and supportive illumination.
Photography as art has gained enormous popularity, and it continues to rise in prestige and demand.
It represents a very unique form of art because of the way it challenges our perceptions of reality as a fixed absolute.
Photography allows for any scene in real-time to be captured as is, but subtly altered by the perceptions and emotions of the photographer.
Photography is often exhibited in black and white, where perception within the mind and the facts of the world surrounding the observer intersect at the points where light and shadow converge.
Black and white forces us to question our sense of absolutes by moving us beyond duality into multitudinous shades of gray.
Picture lights used to illuminate photographic exhibitions must support this artistic intention to be truly effective. Picture lighting in a black and white photography exhibit must be precisely adjusted to avoid diminishing the subtle variations in gray scale.
Many galleries showcase photography using halogen lights that come in “expo” mounting kits. These fixtures usually consist of a mounting bracket that attaches to the wall, an adjustable arm, and a halogen bulb that directs light onto the picture from an optimal angle of incident.
Halogen is a very bright source of exhibition picture light, and it is ideal for rendering both colors and any black and white scene where stark contrasts define artistic tone.
Without special lenses and filters, though, halogen bulbs are rather limited in their ability to properly support special affects photography.
Halogen-sourced low voltage lighting is often too bright for special effects exhibits, many of which showcase pictures taken at night using infrared cameras that add surreal shades of red to the backdrop of a dark, ominous landscape.
Expo picture lights can also be used for painting exhibitions, provided they are either UV-filtered to protect the paint and canvas, or if they are used for only a short period of time in a very temporary setting.
Many civic centers, public schools, community colleges, and libraries will exhibit pictures painted in watercolor by local children, and these organizations can find a number of affordable expo lighting kits to accommodate a temporary, “gallery” type setup.
A less expensive alternative for exhibition picture lighting at general community events is the use of battery-powered, LED over-the-picture-lights. LED technology by lighting manufacturers is extremely sophisticated in two respects. Its power-saving design requires only 20% the electricity as halogen light and therefore provides much longer lamp and battery life. It also produces no ultraviolet radiation and is safe to use over oils and acrylics.
Over-the-picture LED lights are also ideal for exhibitions where local artists move from location to location to sell their work. They can be removed, transported, and reinstalled quickly; and they come in a variety of finishes that make local talent stand out exquisitely.
Formal Exhibitions Generally require projectors for picture lighting
Recessed lighting projectors reside in the ceiling above normal horizontal viewing angles. They also provide the most advanced filtration and adjustment mechanism to precisely “fine-tune” the light to the exact dimensions, color rendering, depth and shadow, and overall tone of the piece.
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