It being new year I decided not to go through another 12 months without at least trying to meet up with some of those with whom I spent several baffled years as a civil servant. We used to work i a typical 1960s concrete block off the centre of a county town. The lighting system had been changed only a year or so before our department took over the place. It was quite revolutionary for its time. Motion lighting. the idea was that the main ceiling lighting was by fluorescent strips within high gloss mirrored surrounds. There were sensors dotted around the walls and ceilings to capture movement and thus ensure thelighting came on appropriately. This was always fine in a busy office with lots of folk moving from one area to another. Not so good in single occupancy offices where the senor is away from where the party sits to work though!
This is the time of year when we need lighting the most. We live in all kinds of different types of houses, apartments, cottages etc. Every one will have different needs to suit their lifestyle. The working man and woman needs the absolute maximum lighting for completing tasks, especially close work. Downlighting can sometimes help, but on the other hand, it can cause shadows which completely wipe out the other benefits. In hospitals and anywhere that has sick people being repaired, the maximum daylight quality is essential so as not to make everyone in the department look as ill as the patients. Also, being able to see what you’re doing in examination is a bonus! These things need experts to look at each and every scenario and offer ideas for the type of task being lit. New style lighting can be provided to enhance a spot, go down when not needed etc. Motion control is on the go.
If ever there was a case of mood and motion lighting, it mst be the number of cultural, religious and heritage festivals we have at this time of year. The most obvious is christmas, when we have families taking part in all kinds of capers that go back hundreds of years.I was helping ot man a charity stall at the local town council sponsored Christmas Light switch on ceremony and the atomosphere was good, with lots of folk making a point of coming down into the town to see what was going on. The actual lighting ceremony, to be carried out by the very attractive and well turned out lady Mayor wasn’t to be until 4.30 that afternoon. We were setting up our gazebo covered stall at 9.30 am! It wss desperately cold and yet everyone was in good cheer. Lots of lights were being switched on over stalls and in shop fronts – plenty of motion going on!
I do rather enjoy watching the more high end cookery output on tv – a certain one named after love in a mist should give you a clue as to my absolute favourite. She is a goddess in my eyes, ears and senses. I simply love the way she makes every shot fun, whatever she is putting together. There is a wonderful sense of fun and she never fails to convince me that she’s talking to just me – not her several million other adoring fans. This season her fabulous London kitchen/studio appears to be lit with lots of fairy lights and small candles – the atmosphere is most inviting and there is this comfortable feeling that comes across – cooking of any meal, be it a snack, large dinner party, simple breakfast etc. need not be stressful or exhausting! This is mood lighting at it’s absolute best. Functional but relaxed and with sensational results all round.
I worked for a government department for several years, based in an 1960s office block in town. It was ugly to work there and even uglier to look at. Inside the actual offices the lighting was bulk standard flourescent bulbs within a mirrored reflector grid. It is unmistakable when you enter a government run building – the standard lighting system. These days they have enhanced these by making them all motion sensitive. I.e. they only light when someone enters a room and this is picked up by the sensing device. The lights go off after so long without any physical movement near them. This was only a problem once I did highly confidential work by audio typing, sitting for hours at a time, away from the door and window, so no one could view my screen. Of course, the lighting used to go off all the time as I didn’t move around very much!
We probably don’t think about the lighting outside our house very much – particularly in the spring and summer time. Pretty used to being able to potter about in the garden until the wee hours, it’s only once the lazy hazy days iof a bright summer have gone that we realise things could be better handled outside! A motion sensor lighting system will automatically light up dark areas whenever there is movement sensed. This is very calming and reassuring for folk who live on their own and don’t like going anywhere in the dark. Those side passages between you and your neighbour or out to the bin store. Most motion lights are based on infrared waves – heat waves that radiate from the moving object and when detected by the sensor, the heat from warmer objects like humans, animals, cars etc. will trigger the light to come on. They have a semicircular field of view of generally up to 240 deg. which is usually adjustable and can be extended out to several metres, allowing protection of the gardens.
There are some amazing lighting schemes for houses nowadays. I was surprised when visiting an older pal within my ‘ladies’ group. She seems so delightfully sensible, maybe even a little dowdy at times, but a safe pair of hands at the wheel. When I was invited to tour her house, a comfortably spacious family detached . . . she had the most remarkable chandelier sort of arrangement in the kitchen – not one of the baroque curled octopus style, but a starkly modern 6 bulbed affair that had been placed very slightly off centre to the workspace and peninsular unit. Apparently she’d struggled for years with static downlights that were always casting shadows – wherever she worked, her shadow got in front! So when her son in law suggested chatting to a known lighting technician, he looked at the working areas to be lit and taking account of natural light sources, suggested this design that takes the most economical of new led bulbs. She won’t have to change a bulb for 25 years apparently.
We have such a wonderfully safe system of powering our houses, and lighting in particular comes to mind. I have friends who live all over the world, some in remote places with very little in the way of normal services that we have grown very accustomed and attached to. It’s a long time since my house suffered a power cut for examiple. I do have an emergency lighting and escape plan but I have never had to resort to trying it out. We have very safe everything. Mind you we pay a lot for it of course. In remoter areas of the globe, just having an oil lamp is quite a thrill – almost as it was in biblical days. How the oil get to the family for the lamps, I’m not sure though! However, these days there are still the fantastic wind up torches and lamps designed by a wonderfully thoughtful British chap. Long may we still rejoice in his simple design!
The significance of lighting at certain times of the year is sometime lost on us these days. When I was a youngster at school we used to observe certain traditions – it being a church school we used to troop out of class, across the windy playground and into the even draughtier old church. The Easter, Advent, Christingle and babptism services stick out in my mind as having specific sections dedicated to the practice of using lights – in those days, oil wick lamps. The lights in that church were very high up, 6 bulbs on an metal crown shaped ring – they filled me with dread as a child, looking so foreboding! But we would have fallen over each other without them. I was so glad to get back into school where the lights were bright and felt so much safer and more reliable!
I was happily snoozing in front of the tv a week before Christmas – on came a programme with two of my most favourite presenters – they are well known in the field of nature and wild animals. It seemed a rather odd time of year for them to be prancing around extolling the virtues of non meat eating and all that. They were in fact there to follow the now almost proven route of the three magi, or three kings from the biblical tales. I was hooked – from the first glance across a desert landscape, with the best of the BBC cameras and operators bringing the most seductive of shots – the sky looked incredibly star strewn and no light shone from anywhere – it was magical. Then we jumped to the northern lights above the Norwegian skies – again, totally mystical, magical and miraculous. And also completely impractical for normal living of course!