Viewing Light - Need Suggestions

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Renato Tonelli, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. Renato Tonelli

    Renato Tonelli Subscriber

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    What type of light source do you use for viewing prints in the darkroom - both B&W and Color? Tungsten, Daylight?
     
  2. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I have an 80's era flourescent light boabout 12x12" balanced to 5000k mounted on the wall that lights up my dry desk. When I am viewing negs or transparencies I lift it off it's hanging bracket and set it horizontally on the desk. I have no idea where I will find replacement tubes when these burn out. There are LED type units, by the one I have I got for $25 at a phot swap meet, and so far the LED equals are $$.
     
  3. jp80874

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    I think the question is larger than what light in the darkroom. Where will the final pictures be shown? Is it a gallery, a class room critique, your own walls, a client, a show? A print may look well in some light and poorly in another. Decide if you can where the print will go, analyze that light and try to replicate it in or near your darkroom to use for your printing decisions.

    John Powers
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  5. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Darkroom viewing of wet photographs is always with a low intensity tungsten lamp. A bright viewing light biasses me to make the pictures too dark which, combined with the inevitable dry-down, means the job has to be done again - delay, expense, frustration.
     
  6. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Amen to that! Obviously a voice of experience!

    A dedicated location for dry or wet print evaluation is an important feature of a well-designed darkroom. The area should be evenly illuminated and closely simulate final viewing conditions. Prints produced and evaluated in brightly lit darkrooms end up looking too dark in dimmer environments. A 60-100W opal tungsten bulb, a distance of 1-2 meters from the evaluation board, provides an illumination of around EV 6 at ISO 100/21°. This setup simulates rather dim display-lighting conditions and is ideal for dry print evaluation.

    Why use a daylight bulb for print evaluation when the prints are exhibited indoors?
     
  7. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    If you are concerned with evaluating test strips, then a hair dryer or the equivalent (to invoke the dry-down effect) and something like normal room light is fine; if you are talking about "finished" prints, then a full-size print needs to be seen against whatever background it will be displayed with, usually a mounting board or mat. In the latter case, you are basically talking about making a finished print with the understanding that it is for evaluation, not necessarily preservation. This is particularly true of very high- or low-key images, where the contrast between the print and surround is quite important, and the qualities of the light may affect the mount and image differently.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Ralph:

    The OP asked about both black and white and colour printing.
     
  9. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    You can find other posts on this topic in this forum. To Maris' and Ralph's point, but with different quantification - I use a 40W bulb (incandescent, the same bulb for 20+ years, don't know what it will be when I switch to CF) about a meter from the print viewing surface, which is a piece of plexiglass angled so that when I stand 1 -2 meters away, I am viewing at about 90 degrees angle to the surface. This works well for me, compensates for drydown, etc. I frequently don't know the exhibition conditions, so I don't worry about that.
     
  10. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Matt

    My question applies to both. Why a different light temperature for print validation and exhibition? I don't understand the need for a daylight bulb since daylight is not a typical exhibition lighting.
     
  11. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    I switched my viewing light to daylight balanced light for the last set of prints I did. It was a bit of a special situation, however. I was printing 10 prints commissioned for a bank building that was under construction. I asked and was informed that they were installing daylight balanced florescent lights and daylight balanced spots.

    In my office, I changed all the bulbs to daylight balanced bulbs a few years ago. At home, my wife and I are changing to daylight bulbs as they need replacement.

    In the US, at least, daylight bulbs are becoming much more common. Where will the prints be exhibited and what is the lighting? I'm not sure that one can just assume they will be shown under tungsten light.
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Ralph:

    I understand and agree - to a point. I think it is necessary to use a light source with a decent amount of colour spectrum if one is going to use it to evaluate colour prints for colour.

    If an exhibition space has really bad light (for the purposes of colour fidelity) - like a really red light source such as an old style incandescent bulb - it is unlikely that any colour print is going to be properly presented. So it seems to me that it is a waste of effort and materials to customize a print specifically for that environment, unless there is certainty that the print will be permanently displayed in that location, and only be viewed under that light.
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Allen, Matt

    I don't know of any gallery using anything but incandescent halogen lighting (typical color temperature around 3200 K). Also, I don't know of any household or business office using daylight bulbs throughout (except for Allen). Surely, it's not the norm.

    I think we agree that evaluation lighting and exhibition lighting should match as closely as possible in color temperature and illumination. We can also agree that the exhibition lighting is not often known and, to make matters worse, can change from exhibition to exhibition. But why standardize on daylight bulbs if they are not the norm in homes, offices and galleries? I don't see the logic.

    Fortunately, for B&W this is a lot easier. Color temperature is not that big of an issue. It will make a bit of difference for toned prints, but it's not a show stopper. Illumination however is a big deal, and the advise there is: Keep evaluation lighting as dim as possible. If prints look good in dim lighting, they can only look better in bright lighting. Get it the other way around and you will be disappointed!
     
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  15. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    The gallery lighting seen here is what I am typically running into now.
     
  16. RalphLambrecht

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    Yes.

    I found the following:

    http://www.pegasuslighting.com/art-gallery-lighting.html

    http://www.museumlighting.com/products.html

    but the most informative is this link:

    http://www.phantomlighting.com/fine_art_lighting.htm

    The conclusion from reading this verifies my experience. The best and most common type of illumination for fine art lighting is a halogen-based fixture.

    The need for daylight bulbs is a myth!
     
  17. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    Ralph,

    I don't disagree with you. I mentioned in my post that my situation was a special situation. My point is that if you know the light where your photos will be displayed is not standard, then it is worth using that light for evaluating prints when printing.

    I switched to day light bulbs in my office and house for a couple of reasons. In the winter, they improve my mood. I also think they are easier on the eyes.

    Certainly, if you are printing for a gallery and the gallery uses standard lighting, use that lighting. For the bank, however, I was glad I asked the owner about the lighting before printing.
     
  18. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    The windows in my home let in daylight. And then the other lighting options are not predictable. If you use daylight lamps when printing color you are going to get a print that will look the most natural in mixed or unknown lighting situations. This is why pro labs use daylight viewing conditions.

    This is also the standard viewing condition recommended by manufacturers. Color material is optimized for daylight conditions. It is really hard to print color for a non-standard illuminant.
     
  19. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    From Kodak tech. pub. E-4021 in reference to evaluating color prints:
    "Evaluation of prints for color and density requires higher illumination levels than those used in normal display conditions. A good average condition for evaluation is a light source with a color temperature of 5000 K ± 1000, a Color Rendering Index of 85 to 100, and an illuminance of at least 50 footcandles (538 lux). Fluorescent lamps such as cool white deluxe (made by several manufacturers) meet these conditions.

    You can also use a mixture of incandescent and fluorescent lamps. For each pair of 40-watt cool white deluxe fluorescent lamps, use a 75-watt frosted, tungsten bulb.

    Viewing conditions should meet ANSI Standard PH2.30-1989."

    In my own experience, these lighting conditions for viewing during printing has given me good exposure and color balance for showing prints at home and in galleries. It is not the same for black and white prints.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 2, 2011
  20. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    There is no need. I offered sufficient evidence to suggest that daylight bulbs are typically not the correct lighting to evaluate prints, and that they are also not used as a standard source of illumination for exhibits.
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    My windows don't do that. My windows filter all UV and a lot of the near-UV radiation out before it gets into the room. And it gets worse from there. Whatever gets through the glass is bounced off non-white walls, carpet, furniture all changing the color temperature. Using a colormeter, I just did a test, and measured around 5000K right at the window but only 4000K a few feet into the room.

    So, why use a daylight bulb that never represents what's actually happening?
     
  22. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Greg

    This standard is a bit old and was replaced by ISO 3664:2009. The new illumination values are 500 lux for practical appraisal and 2,000 lux for critical appraisal. That's not a big difference, but I need to stress that this standard is for people who evaluate other peoples images not their own printing progress. The difference is that a print will look better in bright light. Print and evaluate in dim conditions, and you will be on the safe side. Do it the other way around, and you will be disappointed.

    The range of color temperature is fairly wide (4-6k K). Also, they seem to allow for incandescent and fluorescent lighting, including tungsten, which I think is realistic and typical for gallery lighting. Unfortunately, I know little about color printing, so, take my statements as relating to B&W images only.

    Nevertheless, I see no evidence to suggest daylight bulbs as a standard unless there is a personal preference for some reason, which, of course, everyone is entitled to.
     
  23. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Ralph, the suggestion given by Kodak is for judging color balance for mostly commercial labs that must work from client's negatives. It doesn't work well at all for B&W. I can only give my own experience in saying that their recommendation works very well for printing color as opposed to the standard B&W viewing light or even fluorescent bulbs of a warmer temperature. So if someone were to print both in their home darkroom, I cannot recommend using the same evaluation light for both processes. They have different requirements.

    Also, in my experience, galleries do not turn off the house lights and turn on track lighting when showing work. Instead they have both turned on, therefore the level of illumination is higher than it used to be. So the inclusion of tungsten bulbs with the fluorescent imitates what I see in galleries, especially here in Miami. Unfortunately, there isn't any international regulations as to gallery lighting, so every place is going to do it differently.
     
  24. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    I can see you don't have much experience with color. If you take that color meter reading throughout the day over may days you will see that value change greatly. I don't see your point about UV as relevant as it is outside human visual response, any paper brightener becomes a wild card as that is just as variable as natural light, most photograph are not hung outdoors, frame glass can block UV, and that radiation is not part of daylight standards.

    When working in a color darkroom, consistency is very important and so you need a standard illuminant to get consistent results. I think you can agree with that. Since you are making something for the human visual system, you need a illuminant that will reflect that. Daylight (and there are different daylight standards) is the most practical as it will look good under a wide variety of lighting--pick up any photo/picture book, you will see images optimized for daylight.

    Manufacturers know this and they optimize their material for daylight. (With your reasoning, slide film should have been tungsten balanced because slide projector bulbs are not daylight.) Printing under different lighting can be done (but not always well), but the result will only be good for that--it will look really bad under everything else. That is not the case for printing for daylight.

    And if you are serious about color management on a computer, you will calibrate your monitor to a daylight standard, commonly D65 (6,500K). Even when you are running printers.

    While there is a subjective reasoning behind color (and everything in photography is ultimately subjective), there is a century of experience and research into these practices and standards that is hard to brush off as merely "opinion."

    BTW, daylight bulbs are not need for B&W and have never been a requirement. The only requirement is intensity.
     
  25. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I actually use gallery-style tungsten/halogen track lighting in my darkroom. Walls are gray.
     
  26. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    So, by your reasoning, slide film should be evaluated with a tungsten halogen view box and color prints evaluated with a 'daylight' source? Is that what you are implying?