Jan 31, 14
Whether you’re flipping through your favorite culinary magazine or pinning to your food board on Pinterest, it’s difficult to ignore how even the simplest dishes look so appealing. So why does the food in these pictures look so appetizing? Besides the fact that you might be hungry, the next best answer is that the photographer knew how to use light. Reproducing these mouth-watering pictures can be a difficult task if lighting isn’t used correctly. Below are a few lighting tips that will make your food look just as delicious as it tastes.
Using Natural Light
Photo using warm artificial light
One of the best and most inexpensive methods for enhancing the appearance of your food is to use plenty of natural light. Whether it’s LED, incandescent, or CFL, residential lighting tends to be on the warmer end of the color spectrum and can cause pictures to have a bright orange or yellow tint without the use of a flash (like the picture to the right). In most cases, residential lights aren’t bright enough just by themselves. Photographing your food next to a sun-drenched window in your kitchen (or any other room) will give your photo a more natural appearance without distorting the colors of the dish.
Using Artificial Light
For those of you who don’t have a ton of natural light to work with, or if you happen to be shooting at night, there are ways to use artificial light to achieve the same effect. First, the trick is to use a bulb that mimics natural daylight. Full spectrum compact fluorescents are great for this, because they typically have a high color temperature of 5000K or above – about the same as natural daylight – and won’t get hot like halogen lamps. Also, be sure that they have a high lumen output, preferably well above 1000 lumens. Color Rendering Index (CRI) of the bulb is an important factor to consider as well. Keeping the CRI above 80 will help the color of your food appear as natural as possible.
Once you pick a light source, stick to it. Using two light sources with different color temperatures will cause different coloration in each part of the picture’s frame, something that’s extremely hard to fix in Photoshop. So, if you only use natural light, make sure all other lights in the room are turned off.
Manipulate the Light
In order to control and use light to your advantage, you’ll need some tools of manipulation. This is where light reflectors come in. If you’re not a professional photographer or you don’t have a ton of money to spend on lighting equipment, there are a few inexpensive solutions that will work just fine. Using a piece of strategically placed white foam board will reflect light to eliminate shadows and brighten certain areas of the dish. Tin foil and white printer paper are just a few other cheap yet incredibly effective reflecting tools you could use to bounce light back over your food.
Experiment with Angles
Once you have the details of your lighting figured out, finding the perfect angle to shoot your food is the next step. The angle at which the light is hitting the subject can be extremely important in highlighting textures and colors or masking any flaws.
One of the most common techniques in food photography is back lighting. Place your light source behind your food and the reflector to the front but still leaving enough room for you to photograph. The picture to the right is a perfect example of back lighting being used to enhance the complex textures of the food. Most importantly, it’s all about experimentation and finding the technique that’s right for you and makes your pictures look best.
Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you smartphone users. As someone who likes to post a food pic to their Instagram every now and then, I know that some lighting conditions are not always conducive to like-worthy pictures. While the lighting tips above can also be applied to smartphone users, here are a few more that might help you out.
- Don’t use the flash. As I mentioned before, natural light is the way to go. The flash on your smartphone is often way too harsh to produce a good picture. Plus, you don’t want to be that person who ruins the atmosphere of a dimly lit restaurant with their flash.
- Find good photography apps. Even if you are in moody restaurant with soft lighting, those lighting conditions can sometimes be fixed with a few adjustments using one of the many photography apps out there for smartphones. Adding filters and adjusting brightness, contrast, shadows, and saturation can make a big difference.
Have you used any of these techniques for food photography? Leave us a comment or show us your pictures on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Jan 22, 14
So, you’ve just finished painting your bathroom the perfect shade of light blue that took you weeks to decide on. Washed in natural light, your bathroom looks like a calming seaside oasis. But when you turn the lights on at night, it completely loses its soothing affect. Why? Chances are the lighting you currently have installed is all wrong for your new paint colors.
The lighting we choose to use in our homes can have a huge effect on the way we perceive color because it is created by the way objects react to certain wavelengths of light. This is called metamerism. It’s the same reason why you might buy something you thought was black in the store, but in the light of day, you realize it’s actually navy blue. No color is definite or stands alone because any type of light, whether it’s natural or artificial, affects our perception. When considering what kind of artificial light source to use in your home, whether halogen, incandescent, LED, or fluorescent, it’s important to think about how it will enhance or diminish a room’s existing color scheme.
Determine Your End of the Color Spectrum
Kelvin scale and color spectrum
The first thing you’ll need to do before choosing your light source is evaluate whether or not the paint color in your room falls into the warm or cool part of the color spectrum. If your walls are painted in rich reds, yellows, and other earth tones, you would most likely need a warmer light source. If they’re painted in blues, greens, or other vibrant colors with cool undertones, a brighter, cooler light source is your best bet.
The table below describes the kind of light that is generated by each artificial light source.
||Generates a yellow light that enhances warm tones, but dulls cool tones.
||Produces a whiter light that is comparable to sunlight.
||Generally used for cool lighting applications, but is available in warm color temperatures.
||Can be used against all colors and is flexible across the color spectrum.
Warm Paint Colors
To bring out the richness and warmth of your paint color, choose fixtures and lighting that have a “warm white” color temperature between the range of 2400K and 3000K. The lower the number on the Kelvin scale, the warmer the color temperature of the light will be. Typically, the best lights to use within these color temperatures are incandescent or halogen bulbs that produce a whiter light that won’t distort color as much either way. LEDs and CFLs within the low color temperature range will work as well, but make sure they have a high enough lumen output to meet the level of brightness you’re wanting.
Cool Paint Colors
To enhance the vibrancy of cooler paint colors, you’ll want to choose lighting with a color temperature that falls between 4000K and 6000K. LEDs and CFLs within this color temperature range are called either “cool white” or “stark white.” If you were to use a light source with a low color temperature against blue or green paint, the color might appear dull and distorted.
Brightness and Color Rendering
The color temperature of a light source isn’t the only thing that affects the way we see color; brightness of the light, or lumen output, does as well. Rooms with darker colors painted on the walls tend to absorb more light than a room with light colored walls and tend to look dull if the lighting is not bright enough. The brighter the lighting, the more the true color of your walls will stand out. However, the dimness or brightness of your room and how it reacts to color is all a matter of personal preference.
Another factor to keep in mind is the color rendering index (CRI) of the light source that you’re using. Ranging from 0-100, this index determines how a light source will make a color appear to the human eye. The higher the lamp’s CRI, the better it’s color rendering capabilities. While standard incandescent lamps usually have a CRI of 100, LEDs have about 80+ CRI, and fluorescents range anywhere from 50 to 90. As this video shows below, two of the same light sources with differing CRI ratings will cause colors to appear differently in tone.
Do you have any other home lighting questions? Leave us a comment or give us a shout on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, or Pinterest!
Jan 17, 14
It’s been said that “a room is like a stage. If you see it without lighting, it can be the coldest place in the world.” We would have to agree. Having stylish décor and a great floor plan is one thing, but not having the right lighting to show it off can render it null and void. This is why, when you’re in the market to sell your home, it’s important to make any necessary lighting renovations that may help seal the deal. Not only will having a well-lit home make your space look more appealing, but potential buyers will be glad about not having to make these lighting updates themselves. Even if you’re not looking to sell your home any time soon, making these updates now could help increase your home’s value in the future. Below are a few lighting upgrades that may help you sell your home.
Artificial light can do amazing things, but sometimes there’s no substitute for the real thing. Because home buyers typically look at houses during the day, they’ll be paying close attention to the way natural light filter in throughout the space. Assess whether or not your home has a lot of natural light, and find ways to improve it. Is an overgrown tree blocking your bedroom window? Trim it! Is your couch preventing light from shining through the windows in your living room? Rearrange some furniture! Do whatever you have to do to make sure there is an abundance of natural light accentuating the beauty of your space. This will make your home feel light and airy instead of gloomy and stuffy.
If a potential home buyer knows that they’re already set up for savings thanks to energy-efficient lighting, it will earn you some serious bonus points. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs and install low-energy fixtures that won’t rack up the electricity bill each month. Check out our previous blog post for more info on how much money you can save using energy-efficient lighting.
Lutron Skylark CFL/LED Dimmer Switch
Dimming Switches and Sensors
Speaking of energy-efficiency, dimmer switches and occupancy/vacancy sensors are another good feature for your home to have. Not only do they help reduce the amount of light being used at any given time, but dimmer switches are great for giving rooms a comfortable ambiance. Occupancy and vacancy sensors are great for rooms where lights could accidentally be left on for long periods of time such as closets, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
If you haven’t done it already, installing task lighting into areas as frequently used as the kitchen is very important. Because kitchen counter tops usually have cabinets above them, they are usually not very well lit if all you have are a few overhead lights. Installing under cabinet lighting is a functional and stylish option that will give your kitchen a clean, sophisticated look. Lighting in smaller spaces such as pantries and closets will also add appeal.
Layer Your Light
When it comes to creating a truly well-lit space, only using a few overhead lights won’t do the trick. In lighting design, a room should usually have three layers of light: overhead, task, and accent lighting. Overhead lighting is usually the main source of light in the room such as a chandelier or recessed can lights. Task lighting, such as a vanity lighting over a bathroom sink, will give areas of frequent use even more brightness and clarity. For accent lighting, use anything from strategically placed wall sconces to track lighting to highlight features of the room you would like to stand out. Having these three layers will make your space look clean and bright.
Greenscape Adjustable Escort Landscape LED Path Light
For some buyers, the quality of exterior lighting can be just as important as the interior. Even though prospective home buyers may be viewing your home during the day, don’t think they won’t notice outdated fixtures flanking your entrance or, even worse, no fixtures at all. Good outdoor lighting is important for a number of safety reasons. Installing LED pathway lights or motion-activated security lights are good safety features to have. Updating any old fixtures to modern ones might not be such a bad idea either. A little curb appeal never hurt anyone.
Are there any lighting upgrades that we missed? Let us know in the comments or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest!
Jan 08, 14
Now that the collective freak-out over 100-, 75-, 60-, and 40-watt general service incandescent light bulbs being banned by the EISA has started to dissipate, it seems that many have been left wondering if the ban includes all incandescent bulbs. Thanks to some of your feedback, we’ve realized that many people aren’t aware which types of incandescent bulbs are exceptions to the new rules.
First, according to Section 321 of the EISA, the only type of incandescent bulb that may no longer be manufactured is one that’s intended for general service applications, has a medium screw base (E26), emits between 310 and 2,600 lumens, and operates in the range of 110 and 130 volts. These general service bulbs can still be bought. However, as 1000Bulbs.com CEO Kim Pederson mentioned in an interview with NBC, they are selling fast. Below is a full list of incandescent bulbs with plenty of stock that will continue to be produced in 2014 and beyond.
Appliance bulbs – Any bulb that is designed for household appliances such as an oven, refrigerator, microwave, etc. is exempt. Appliance bulbs usually operate at 40 watts or less and are designated and labeled for a specific application. However, many brands have already begun replacing incandescent appliance lamps with LEDs in newer models.
Satco A3682 25W Candelabra Bulb
Candelabra bulbs – Have no fear! The skinny, flame-shaped bulbs you use in your chandeliers and wall sconces are exempt as long as they consume 60 watts or less. Candelabra bulbs have smaller screw-in bases, usually classified as E12 or E11, and are also available in LED options.
Rough service bulbs – If you just can’t let go of the standard A-shape of the incandescent bulb, you’re in luck. Rough service bulbs look and work exactly the same as the banned general service bulbs; the only difference is that they include a few extra filament supports and are intended for use in heavy-duty applications in industrial environments. These exempt bulbs are available in a variety of wattages and are an almost identical replacement for traditional incandescents.
Bulbrite 106975 75W Black Light
Bug lamps, black lights, and colored bulbs – Good news: You can still use incandescent black lights and colored bulbs to light those awesome Halloween parties you have every year. Yellow incandescent bug lamps use a special coating to block wavelengths that attract bugs so you won’t be swarmed by flying insects every time you have friends over for a nighttime backyard barbecue. Bug lamps typically have heavy-duty filaments that make them last longer in outdoor environments.
Reflector lamps – While there are exempt incandescent reflector lamps, they still have to abide by a few guidelines. The reflector lamps not affected by the light bulb ban are as follows:
- BR30, BR40 and ER40 lamps rated at 65 watts (including 65BR30 and 65BR40)
- ER30, BR30, BR40, and ER40 lamps rated at 50 watts or less
- R20 lamps rated at 45 watts or less
More exempt light bulbs:
- 3-way bulbs
- Antique Edison bulbs
- Silver bowl light bulbs
- Shatter-resistant lamps (includes shatter-proof and shatter-protected lamps)
- Showcase lamps
- Traffic signal lamps
- Plant grow lights
- Vibration service lamps that use a maximum of 60 watts
- Marine lamps
- Marine’s navigation lamps
- Mine service lamps
- G-shaped bulbs with a diameter of 5 inches or more
- T-shaped bulbs that use no more than 40 watts and are longer than 10 inches
- B, BA, CA, F, G16-1/2, G-25, G-30, M-14, or S lamps using 40 watts or less
Do you have any more questions about exempt incandescent lamps? Leave it in the comments, or contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Dec 27, 13
Lately, one of the hot topics of discussion in the news has been the last phase-out of the incandescent light bulb, set to take effect January 1, 2014. When Americans were told that the incandescent light bulbs they had become so familiar with would slowly cease production due to new government regulations, many panicked. Although the incandescent light bulb isn’t something that many Americans would typically put on the top of their list of things to worry about, the idea that something so familiar and everyday would no longer be available angered them. However, contrary to popular belief, the so-called “light bulb ban” does not mean the extinction of the incandescent light bulb. Lighting retailers like 1000Bulbs.com will continue to work with manufacturers to produce the bulbs that many people use in common residential applications such as table lamps, floor lamps, and track lighting.
The Energy and Independence Security Act
The Energy and Independence Security Act of 2007 (EISA) was signed by President George W. Bush in an effort to curb the country’s high energy consumption and push consumers towards more energy-efficient lighting solutions. In Section 321of the EISA, it states that, after certain dates, general service incandescent lamps that do not meet the efficiency requirements set forth by the government can no longer be produced in the United States. Because almost all standard incandescent lamps did not meet EISA standards, the slow phase-out of the incandescent bulb would happen within three years, from January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2014.
According to the EISA, screw-based light bulbs must consume less wattage, or energy, for a similar lumen output, or brightness. The first bulbs to be affected by the government regulations were 100-watt incandescents in January of 2012. Then, in January of 2013, 75-watt incandescent bulbs began their phase-out as well. Now, in January of 2014, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will begin the transition. By the year 2020, most light bulbs will be required to be 60 to 70 percent more energy-efficient than the standard incandescent bulb of today.
Below is an example of how much less wattage today’s light bulbs will be required to use in compliance with EISA standards:
Present Wattage Wattage Use after EISA Effective Date
100-watt ≤ 72 watts January 1, 2012
75-watt ≤ 53 watts January 1, 2013
60-watt ≤ 43 watts January 1, 2014
40-watt ≤ 29 watts January 1, 2014
Light Bulb Ban Myths
Since the signing of the EISA, many myths about the light bulb ban have circulated, resulting in some angry reactions from those who think incandescent light bulbs are being made illegal or completely disappearing from the face of the earth. Below are some explanations of these myths that will, hopefully, clear a few things up.
Myth #1: All incandescent light bulbs will completely disappear after the New Year
Simply put: This is 100 percent false. Although the EISA is preventing manufacturers from continuing to produce general service incandescent light bulbs as inefficiently as they had been, it does not forbid retailers, including 1000Bulbs.com, from selling their existing inventory. It also does not forbid the use of the remaining incandescent bulbs in any way. 1000Bulbs.com will still continue to sell traditional incandescent light bulbs for six months to a year, or until all stock runs out. This gives customers plenty of time to stock up on their favorite bulbs.
Myth #2: The bulb ban will increase the amount of money people have to spend on lighting their homes
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s no secret that energy-efficient lighting has made major strides in popularity over the past couple of years. LED lighting has become one of the go-to lighting sources for everything from office buildings to art installations because of how little energy they use. While it’s true that the initial cost of energy-efficient lighting like LED and compact fluorescent bulbs is notably higher than the traditional incandescent bulb, the amount of money saved over time will make up the difference. For example, a 23-watt CFL can produce the same amount of brightness as a 100-watt incandescent, using a fraction of the energy. Check out our blog post on how energy-efficient lighting can save you money for more detailed information.
Myth #3: The Mercury in CFL bulbs will be harmful to you and your home
As we have mentioned in a previous post, the mercury levels in a CFL are nothing to be overly concerned about. While the amount of mercury in a CFL can vary, the US EPA’s Energy Star program determined that there is about 4 milligrams in an average screw-based CFL with an Energy Star rating. To put it in perspective, that is about the size of a ballpoint pen tip. Even though the mercury levels in a CFL are relatively small, you should always exercise caution if one breaks and dispose of the bulb properly.
The Exception to the Rule
Although general service incandescent bulbs are being phased out, the new laws do not apply to many specialty application lamps, including those that fall under the category of “rough service.” Besides being sturdier for their use in heavy-duty applications, rough-service bulbs work in the same way as traditional incandescents and come with a similarly inexpensive price tag. Manufacturers only have to add extra supports around the filament of an incandescent light bulb in order for an incandescent to be considered rough-service. This is why the incandescent light bulb will continue to be produced and sold through lighting retailers like 1000Bulbs.com. Whereas many big-box stores will stop re-ordering incandescent lighting after the New Year, 1000Bulbs.com will continue to provide the incandescent bulbs that many have gotten so used to using in their household fixtures.
For a comprehensive list of incandescent bulbs exempt from the light bulb ban, click here.
What are your thoughts on the EISA light bulb ban? Let us know in the comments below or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus!