Retail Lighting Basics: How to Enhance your Store

Mar 31, 14 Retail Lighting Basics: How to Enhance your Store

Have you ever wondered how much lighting affects a customer’s shopping experience? Well, studies have shown that it has a pretty big impact – more than you might even realize. Because it would be unthinkable to have a store full of products with no light to showcase them, lighting is one of the most important elements to consider when designing the layout of a store.

No two stores are the same and each have different lighting needs, but there are still basic principles and guidelines that should be kept in mind when creating a lighting scheme that will attract customers and keep them coming back for more. Below are a few tips for making the most of your retail space using light.

Color Correctness

Have you ever been inside a store and felt the need to bring a shirt, scarf, or whatever it may be, closer to a window in order to better see its true color? This is because natural daylight has a perfect color rendering index, or what we like to call 100 CRI. We’ve given an explanation of CRI in a previous post, but long story short: the higher the CRI, the more vibrant and true colors will appear to the human eye. When choosing lighting for a retail space, it’s a good idea to install lighting that has a very high CRI around 85 or more. Incandescent and halogen bulbs have a perfect CRI of 100, while LED and fluorescent lights are available in 80+ CRI.

Contrast and Focal Points

retailighting3According to the same aforementioned study, creating contrasts using light and dark areas should be a bigger area of focus the actual brightness of the store. By creating contrasts with lighting, depth is created and customers are better able to perceive the products. Focusing on contrast also gives you the opportunity to create different levels of attention between different products. Using track lighting or spot lights is an effective way to create contrasts and designate focal points. As display windows are usually the customer’s first impression of store, contrasts and focal points are especially important in this area. According to the Museum Store Association, a good rule of thumb is to make these pin-pointed, spot-lit areas three times brighter than the surrounding ambient light.

Create Ambiance

Knowing what kind of atmosphere you want to create in your store is crucial and lighting can help you achieve it. According to a two-part study conducted by Zumtobel, along with the Royal Institute of Technology and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, the color temperature of light is able to influence the way customers feel about a space. It was found that cool white color temperatures (3500K to 5000K) create a sense of spaciousness, while warm white color temperatures (2700K to 3000K) convey a sense of familiarity and smallness. The color temperature of light you choose is all dependent on the type of atmosphere you want to create.

retaillighting3Well-Lit Shelving

If you’re going to display items inside shelves and cabinets, the interior of your displays should be well-lit. Speaking from personal experience, there are few things more frustrating than digging through a pile of folded shirts on a shelf to find the right size only to realize you can barely see the tag anyways. Using LED tape light hidden within extrusions is a great way to light smaller shelves discretely. The Zumtobel study found that a combination of wide-area backlighting and accent lighting makes the presented items appear to be more attractive and merchandise identification much easier.  

UV Rays and Heat

Something else to take into consideration when you are choosing the type of lighting to use and where to use it is what effect it could potentially have on your products. Using lamps that emit high heat could potentially damage and discolor fabrics and other materials if they are exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) rays  and heat for an extended period of time. LED lighting does not emit UV rays or a noticeable amount of heat, making it a smart option in areas where lights are shone on products constantly.

 

Are there any questions about retail lighting that you would like us to answer? Feel free to leave us a comment below, or give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!

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Where Should You Use LED Tape Light?

Feb 24, 14 Where Should You Use LED Tape Light?

Do you ever find yourself looking for ways to give your space a modern lighting makeover? We’ve got the perfect solution: LED tape light. Due to its thin profile, LED tape light is a discrete lighting option for unexpected and hard-to-reach areas that could never be lit otherwise. Adding to its versatility, tape light comes in a variety of colors, is dimmable, and can be trimmed to fit any space. So, where are some good places to install it? Below are some areas where LED tape light will add a modern element to your overall lighting scheme.

Stairway Lighting

tapelighting6

If you have stairs in your home, you know how jarring it can be to turn on a bright stairway light in the middle of the night just so you don’t trip and fall. Instead of flipping the switch to turn on that downstairs foyer or hallway light, use LED tape light for more subtle illumination that won’t completely take you out of your drowsy, just-woke-up state. Place warm white tape light underneath the upper edges of each stair (pictured to the right) or on the underside of the railing for hidden down lighting. To give the tape light a clean look, you can use LED tape light extrusions to conceal the tape light itself.

Hard-To-Reach Spaces

tapelight7There are certain places in your home that are dark and hard to reach, such as above and under kitchen cabinets and in ceiling coves. LED tape light can turn these seemingly useless spaces into the perfect place for sleek accent lighting. Installed above your cabinets, tape light will provide stylish up lighting and give new life to boring wall space. High-output LED tape light installed in a ceiling cove can pull double-duty as both overhead and accent lighting in your living room.

Display Cabinets and Shelving

tapelighting5LED tape light is also a great option for lighting enclosed areas such as display cabinets, shelving units, and closets. The picture to the left shows a perfect example of how tape light can transform a few shelves on your wall into an eye-catching feature among your home’s décor. Because LED tape light uses very little energy and has very low heat output, you won’t have to worry about it being hazardous inside a closed display cabinet or in a small closet shelf. Plus, your tape light can be hardwired to a wall switch using an LED driver, so that it works independently from your overhead lighting.

Backlighting

tapelighting3One of the more fun options for LED tape light is using it to outline an object with light or provide backlighting. We’ve mentioned in previous blog posts how tape light is great for backlighting televisions because your eyes are less likely to strain in the dark. Well, the same could be said about other electronic devices like your computer. Even though regular tape light would work, USB LED tape light is a much more convenient option. Just like standard tape light, this USB tape comes in many different lengths and colors, including RGB color-changing. All you have to do is plug in the cable into your computer’s USB port. Backlighting isn’t just for electronic devices either – it can be used behind mirrors as well to give them a unique halo effect.

Furniture Accents

tapelighting2For those of you who really want to make a contemporary statement with LED tape light, you can use it to create glowing silhouettes around or under unexpected pieces of furniture such as a bathroom vanity (pictured to the right), the underside of a bar or kitchen counter top, a pool table, or even underneath your bed frame. Installing tape light underneath furniture creates a warm glow that provides modern, low-profile accent lighting. Much like stairway lighting, LED tape light used as furniture accents gives you a way to achieve low lighting during the night with an added element of safety.

What are some creative ways that you’ve used LED tape light? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Pinterest.

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Romantic Lighting Tips to Set the Mood

Feb 14, 14 Romantic Lighting Tips to Set the Mood

Planning out the perfect date can be stressful, but creating the right atmosphere is half the battle. A date night at home complete with dinner and a movie is great, but going the extra mile by changing up your lighting will make it even better. So, if you’re planning a low-key, romantic evening in with your significant other this Valentine’s Day, these simple lighting pointers will help you set the mood.

Light Strings

lightstringsindoorsFor some of us, having a nice dinner out on the patio might seem a little implausible this time of year. But why not bring that same outdoor bistro feeling indoors? Commercial light stringers fitted with decorative globe lights will create a warm, romantic glow in your dining room or kitchen. The low-wattage globe bulbs will give off the type of dim light that you typically see in softly lit restaurants. You can also use these outdoors when the weather finally does warm up.

Do you have any leftover holiday decorations? It might be time to break them out. A similar and more inexpensive lighting option to patio lights is using Christmas light strings. The color you use is up to you, but using warm white light strings will create a more relaxing atmosphere that doesn’t feel like you’re just decorating for a holiday party. They may not be as sophisticated as outdoor patio lights, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

romanticlighting5Turn Down the Lights

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a romantic restaurant that uses bright interior lighting. Even if they do exist, would you prefer to spend a special evening with your significant other under harsh, bright light or soft, low light? If you prefer the latter, installing a dimmer switch to control your lighting fixtures is the best way to accomplish dim mood lighting. If installing a dimmer for your overhead lights seems like a bit of a hassle, or you want a quicker dimming solution, try a plug-in dimmer switch. Just plug your table lamp into the dimmer, and use a sliding switch to adjust the light levels any way you want.

Colored Lighting

romantic lighting2For a more unique approach to accent lighting, replace existing light bulbs around your house with colored bulbs. Studies have shown that color affects mood, with red being a color used to evoke excitement and passion. However, be careful about going overboard. If you want your colored lighting to be a bit more subtle, don’t replace any overhead lights with colored bulbs. Placing red or pink party light bulbs in a few table lamps here and there will produce a more subdued, but still unique effect.

romanticlighting4

Candlelight

You can never go wrong with the soft glow of candlelight. For the same effect without the possible fire hazard, try wax LED candles. Made from real wax, these flameless candles have a battery-operated LED light that produces a dim flickering flame effect that will provide relaxing illumination in any area of your home. At least if you forget to turn them off, the worst thing that can happen is a dead battery or two.

Do you have any lighting tricks that you use for your date nights? Let us know in the comments below, or share them with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!

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Mouth-Watering Food Photography Lighting Tips

Jan 31, 14 Mouth-Watering Food Photography Lighting Tips

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

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.

foodphotographysalad2Once 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.

foodphotography1One 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.

Smartphone Tips

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!

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How to Choose Lighting for Paint Colors

Jan 22, 14 How to Choose Lighting for Paint Colors

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

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.

Incandescent Generates a yellow light that enhances warm tones, but dulls cool tones.
Halogen Produces a whiter light that is comparable to sunlight.
Fluorescent Generally used for cool lighting applications, but is available in warm color temperatures.
LED Can be used against all colors and is flexible across the color spectrum.

 

Warm Paint Colors

Warm Lighting

Warm Lighting

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

Cool Lighting

Cool lighting

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!

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