How to add color to a fluorescent light

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Let’s face it—fluorescent lighting can be bright and harsh at times. In fact, fluorescent lighting has become nearly synonymous with cold, unpleasant, dreary offices and institutions. Unfortunately, some residential spaces are also lit with fluorescent fixtures, and that can pose a challenge. Whether you have fluorescent light at home or in your workspace, it’s time for a change. It’s time to tone down lighting to add appeal to your home or office.

How to add color to a fluorescent light

Why Diffuser Panels?

Fluorescent light is not the most pleasant to sit under. It can be bright and harsh, and the color of the light is often unpleasant. For this very reason, most homes and offices have light-diffusing panels installed on their fluorescent fixtures. They help to soften fluorescent light and make it more acceptable. Standard light-diffusing panels are typically white or off-white. But today, more than ever before, consumers have many choices when it comes to the custom modification of fluorescent light panels. Making use of colors and images can tone down lighting and transform ordinary lighting into a unique and more appealing experience.

Homes, Offices, Hospitals, and Dental Offices

Plain white fluorescent light diffusers can easily be replaced with more attractive, unique, and memorable image-based designs. The use of this type of unique light cover diffuser is perfect for homes or offices. Many of our customers install Octo Lights decorative light covers in kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms. They are excellent for any room where you have fluorescent light.

Commercial businesses and healthcare providers—such as hospitals and dental offices—can also gain substantially from installing decorative light panels. You can incorporate decorative fluorescent light diffuser panels into any existing interior design. For example, some healthcare facilities use sky-and-cloud panels to make a white medical office feel airy and open instead of cold and oppressive.

Even spas, chiropractors, and massage therapy businesses can enjoy the benefits of custom fluorescent light covers. Decorative fluorescent diffuser panels add another layer of relaxation to these calming spaces.

Personal Or Custom Look

Anywhere fluorescent light panels are installed, custom decorative light diffusers can be added in their place. Updating and enhancing almost any interior space in a home or office with unique lighting accents has never been easier. This is especially true when it comes to creating a personal or custom look. Thanks to modern technology, customization is easier today than ever before. Customers can upload any personal image, and we will transform it into a unique decorative fluorescent light diffuser panel. Every panel is custom printed, and there is never an additional fee for customization.

Impressive Environment

Colorful fluorescent light covers are soothing, relaxing, and inviting. High-resolution photographs and scenes from nature are backlit to create a beautiful, glowing, life-like image that can take a room to the next level. Decorative fluorescent light covers are an impressive upgrade that can change the entire look and feel of almost any interior. Installation is easy and convenient, and any homeowner or business owner can do it themselves. Unlike other lighting updates, there’s no need to hire a professional electrician. The results of this easy upgrade are impressive. Our light covers routinely exceed expectations and can turn an ordinary space into a stunning environment.

Long-Lasting and Durable

Octo Lights is a dependable and trusted source for the absolute best in Atlanta decorative fluorescent light diffuser panels. Offering products in a wide range of themes, Octo Lights has earned the respect of prior and existing customers over the years. With a proven track record and a long list of positive reviews, Octo Lights is a one-stop-shop for high-quality replacement fluorescent light panels that are affordable, long-lasting, and durable. They are a great way to tone down lighting and create stunning designs. With outstanding customer service and fair pricing, few other companies can compare.

Still not sure how you can make the best use of fluorescent light covers? Contact Octo Lights today to learn more about ceiling light covers that are impressive in every way.

If you’ve ever visited the paint and color aisle at a major home improvement store, you know exactly how overwhelming the number of available choices can be. When subtle differences in pigmentation make for thousands of options that all amount to “blue,” how do you decide which is the right paint color for your living room?

Even with take-home paint samples, color swatches, and online color visualizer tools, choosing the right interior paint color can be a challenge for any homeowner. Coordinating the paint with furniture, the purpose of the room, and personal color preferences can be hard enough, but there is another factor that should not be overlooked: light.

Natural light, artificial light, and the shadows they create can change the look and feel of a room. For example, if you wanted a room with soothing cool tones, you may want to trade out your incandescent or halogen bulbs (which shed warm-toned, yellowish light) for florescent or LEDs (which have a pale blue cast), or the perfect shade of serene grey-blue could end up looking slightly green with the lights on.

And after all that work picking it out and painting!

To avoid dilemmas like this, consider how light influences color as well as some tips for choosing the right paint color before you select a paint.

Four Ways Lighting Can Impact Your Paint Choices

How to add color to a fluorescent light

Time of day

Throughout the day, sunlight can have different effects on the look of the paint. Morning sunlight casts a yellow light on the walls; around noon, the light becomes more of a mellow, blue color; and in the evening, the light is redder and warmer.

Sun exposure

The location of the painted room can also impact how it looks. North-facing rooms get indirect sunlight, which can look blue or gray—this makes for a cooler space. All day long, south-facing rooms tend to receive warm, natural light with a pale orange hue. In the morning, east-facing rooms get warm sunlight as well, but it is more of a yellow color. West-facing rooms get warm sunlight in the afternoon that is almost red in color.

Artificial lighting

Each type of lightbulb is unique and can alter how the paint appears. Fluorescent and LED lights cast a bluish color on the walls while incandescent and halogen bulbs produce a warm, yellowish light.

Type of paint

Paints come in a variety of finishes that interact with lighting to create different looks within rooms, including:

  • Matte: little to no sheen
  • Eggshell: subtle sheen, light that of an eggshell
  • Satin: pearl-like, medium shine
  • Gloss: distinct shine; hard finish

Glossier finishes reflect light and attract the eye, whereas more matte (also known as “flat”) paint absorbs light for a smoother, consistent look. If your walls have a lot of imperfections, choose a flatter finish, as high-gloss paint will call attention to nicks and blemishes.

Tips for a Harmonious Space

How to add color to a fluorescent light

Test the lighting conditions

A small swatch of paint can only tell a person so much. Homeowners should paint a sizable sample patch of wall space with two coats to truly determine how the color will look in the actual room throughout the day. It is also beneficial to test the paint under natural light, general lighting, and accent lighting, as well as bulb variations.

Note: Ample light opens up a room. Painting a small room with plentiful natural lighting a shade of white will make the room feel bigger, but using white in a room with little to no natural light will make the space seem even smaller.

Test the whole space

Light casts shadows, so the same color can look lighter or darker on different walls within the same space. Test the color by painting sample patches on multiple walls of the room, including spaces across from windows and in dark corners—you may be surprised by how the paint color changes.

Choose a correlating paint color

We often choose a paint color for the feeling it promotes: blues are calming; red inspires passion and energy; and yellow can make you feel cheerful. On the whole, cool colors (green, blue, and violet) tend to promote peace, while warm colors (red, orange, yellow) promote energy.

Light can either enhance or diminish the feel of a particular color. Cool tones will look cooler in north-facing rooms with fluorescent lights. Yellow walls will really pop in east-facing rooms with halogen lights, and warm-tone neutrals will feel even warmer with incandescent lights in south- or west-facing rooms.

By the same token, warm-tone paint and cool-tone lighting (or vice versa) will work against each other, so the mood you were trying to establish with a certain color may not feel exactly right under contrasting lights.

In Conclusion

Taking lighting into account when making paint choices can be illuminating. The way paint appears to a homeowner on a paint chip or in a store can be radically different from how it looks once it’s on the wall and under specific lighting conditions. To get the most pleasing color, don’t forget to consider the room’s lighting.

Did you find this article helpful? Check out these articles for more information on lighting and interior paint options:

Does fluorescent lighting make you feel a little…uncomfortable? Here’s how to block fluorescent lights at work.

If the fluorescent lights in your office cause you discomfort, you may have photophobia, or light sensitivity. You might find yourself blinking excessively or squinting to try to filter out some of that light. Maybe your eyes begin to tear up. You may even get a headache or feel sick to your stomach. Whatever your symptoms, they can be uncomfortable, annoying, and inconvenient, affecting your ability to do your job.

How to add color to a fluorescent light

But because fluorescent lighting is so prevalent, it’s pretty hard to avoid. “Those with hypersensitive photoreceptor cells may experience discomfort in locations with harsh fluorescent lighting such as big box stores, schools, and offices or from car headlights and sunlight reflecting off of water,” says Dr. Bradley Katz, neuro-ophthamologist.

Fluorescent Lights Survey

We wanted to better understand how fluorescent lights affect people with migraine and their everyday lives, so we took a survey and have 1688 responses to help paint a picture of what fluorescent lights are like for people with headache and migraine.

  • 33% reported having severe limitations functioning under fluorescent lights
  • 56% responded that bright lights provoke a headache “often” or “very often”
  • 73% responded that bright light is very unpleasant during a headache
  • 85% wears sunglasses to decrease headaches

If you work in an office, chances are you’re sitting underneath fluorescent lighting for 8 or more hours a day. Since turning off all the lights isn’t really an option, how can you block fluorescent lights at work?

How to Block Fluorescent Lights at Work

  • Wide Brimmed Hats

While this can help to shade the eyes, it’s probably tough to find an office environment where employees are allowed to wear hats all the time (not to mention hat hair).

  • Physical Barriers

To block fluorescent lights at work, many people try draping fabric over cubicle walls or even rigging up an umbrella. This might make your cubicle look like a million bucks (or not), but it won’t be an option for everyone. Aside from office rules, you and your office mates still need to be able to see.

  • Screen Guards

If the glare on your computer screen exacerbates your problem, using a glare screen or shading device over your monitor could help ease your discomfort at the computer, but it won’t protect your eyes from overhead fluorescents.

  • Dimmers

If you have control over your particular area and sit near a window, this could work well for you. But as adjusting the lighting may also affect those who sit near you, it might not be the most plausible solution.

  • Natural Lighting

Using natural light to reduce your reliance on fluorescent lights can help you get some relief. If you can, try to relocate your desk near a window or skylight. But before you choose a spot, check the conditions at different times of day and from varying angles. At certain hours, you might get some glare off nearby buildings, which can be a problem for some people.

  • Light Sensitivity Glasses

Much different from sunglasses or even computer glasses, fluorescent light glasses are made specifically for people with photophobia, and can help you block fluorescent lights at work and anywhere else they are found. But instead of blocking all types of light the way sunglasses do, these lenses block only the types of light most commonly associated with photophobia symptoms.

Clinical surveys have shown them to be effective, and over a thousand users have seen results. “I have many patients who have had great success when I’ve recommended light sensitivity glasses over computer glasses. The light sensitivity glasses are better all the way around,” says Dr. Katz. And if you get them from Axon Optics, they’re pretty darn stylish, too.

One customer, John, shares his story about finding relief from the fluorescent lights at his work: “I was getting dizzy and headaches at work on a daily basis. I work at a hospital with all fluorescent lighting and white walls. After realizing that it was the lighting that was causing me a headache, I did some research online after becoming pretty desperate for some relief. I ordered a pair and since then they have worked great. I haven’t had any dizzy spells or nearly as many headaches if any. Highly recommended.”

How to add color to a fluorescent light

Axon Optics Bello Light Sensitivity Eyewear

What NOT to Do

  • Sunglasses

While wearing dark glasses indoors can provide some relief, it can also cause your eyes to dark-adapt. This happens when your eyes grow accustomed to dim conditions, actually making them more sensitive to light. As you can imagine, this can cause even greater discomfort. According to Dr. Katz, “We see this dark adaption occurring all the time. For instance, when we come out of the movie cinema in the middle of the day and face the bright sunlight it causes discomfort [even for people without light sensitivity]. Wearing sunglasses inside has a similar effect.”

If you’re tempted to wear sunglasses indoors, opt for light sensitivity eyewear instead; it won’t cause your eyes to dark adapt.

No matter the cause of your photophobia, precision-tinted glasses or contacts from Axon Optics can ease the discomfort of fluorescent and other types of lighting. If you’ve been wondering how to block fluorescent lights at work, they might be your simplest, most convenient option. Since these glasses are non-invasive, there is no risk involved in wearing them all day, every day. Visit our online store to learn more about your options.

Fluorescent highlighter markers are so bright because they are literally fluorescent. When used to describe highlighters, the word “fluorescent” is not a vague term that means “extra bright”. Rather, this word is an exact, scientific term indicating that the highlighter ink exhibits fluorescence. Fluorescence is the phenomenon where a material absorbs light of a certain color and then emits light of a different color with a longer wavelength. The most striking type of fluorescence involves the absorption of ultraviolet rays (which humans can’t see) and the subsequent emission of light in the visible spectrum (which humans can see). Because humans can’t see the original ultraviolet light, a fluorescent object looks like it is glowing mysteriously on its own when it is illuminated only by ultraviolet rays in a dark room . For this reason, ultraviolet lights and fluorescent materials can add an intriguing look to darkened rooms at parties and events. Since highlighters contain fluorescent chemicals, the marks made by highlighters will seem to eerily glow on their own when placed in a dark room with an ultraviolet light (e.g. a “black light”).

When a fluorescent object is illuminated by both visible light and ultraviolet light (such as when illuminated by sunlight), the object will still convert the ultraviolet light to visible light. The visible light created by the object’s fluorescence gets added to the visible light reflected off the object. As a result, a human observes a fluorescent object that is under full illumination to be unusually bright instead of eerily glowing on its own. Note that this is a physical effect and not a psychological effect. A fluorescent object does not just seem to be brighter. A fluorescent object is physically brighter in the visible spectrum when under full illumination than other non-fluorescent, non-glowing objects.

For example, take a normal yellow marker and a yellow highlighter marker which contains a yellow fluorescent chemical mixed into the ink. Draw with both markers on normal white paper. When visible light and ultraviolet light shines on the paper, such as from the sun or from a normal light bulb, the fluorescent marker ink will always be brighter in the visible-light portion of the spectrum than the normal ink. Furthermore, the fluorescent ink is brighter in the visible spectrum than can be accounted for by the original visible light present. For this reason, fluorescent objects under full illumination appear unnaturally bright. The effect of highlighter ink appearing unnaturally bright under normal illumination and the effect of highlighter ink glowing eerily when illuminated by an ultraviolet light in a dark room are the exact same effect: fluorescence. Fluorescent chemicals are also sometimes added to paper, posterboard, paint, and clothing to make them appear unnaturally bright. Fluorescence in this context is often informally called “neon colors” even though fluorescence has nothing to do with the element neon. A shirt that is referred to as “neon green” should more accurately be described as “fluorescent green”.

Note that the extra brightness of a fluorescent object is due to its conversion of ultraviolet light to visible light. As such, a fluorescent object will only appear unnaturally bright if ultraviolet light is present. If normal yellow ink and fluorescent yellow highlighter ink are both illuminated only by a yellow laser in a dark room, they will both be equally bright. Also note that the extra brightness of highlighter ink is due to the fluorescent chemicals that are mixed in. This extra brightness will not be reproduced by systems that have no fluorescent chemicals. For example, a photocopy machine does not contain fluorescent chemicals. This means that when you make a color photocopy of a document containing highlighter marks, the marks in the duplicate document will not contain fluorescent chemicals. As such, the highlighter marks on the duplicate document will not look unnaturally bright. Making a color photocopy of a document containing highlighting marks is an easy and striking way for you to see the effect that the fluorescent chemical has on the ink’s appearance.

On the molecular scale, fluorescence is caused by an electron making several downward transitions after making a single upward transition. When an electron absorbs a bit of light, it transitions to a higher energy state inside the molecule. When an electron transitions down to a lower energy state, it must lose some energy and can do so by emitting a bit of light. The frequency, and therefore color, of the light that is absorbed or emitted by the electron is a function of how far the electron transitions along the energy scale. A large transition downward means that the electron must get rid of a lot energy. Thus if it emits light, the light must have high energy, which corresponds to high frequency (more towards the blue/violet/ultraviolet end of the spectrum). A small transition downward means that the electron only needs to get rid of a little bit of energy, so that the light it emits is low energy/low frequency (more towards the orange/red/infrared end of the spectrum).

For regular materials, an electron in a molecule absorbs a bit of the light shining on it, causing it to transition upwards. Then the electron transitions right back down to where it started, making just as big of a leap downwards on energy scale as its original upwards leap. As a result, the light it emits is the same color as the light that hits it. We refer to this effect as standard reflection. (Some of the incident colors can also be absorbed, so that the reflected colors equals the incident colors minus the absorbed colors.) For fluorescent materials, the electron absorbs a bit of high-energy light such as ultraviolet, and therefore it makes a large transition up the energy scale, but then it loses some of its energy to increasing the vibrations of the molecule before it has a chance to transition back down and emit light. As a result, when the electron finally does transition down and emit light, it has less energy to lose, it makes a smaller leap down, and it therefore emits lower-energy/lower-frequency light. In this way, electrons in fluorescent materials such as highlighter ink are able to transform high-energy bits of ultraviolet light into low-energy bits of visible light by converting some of the energy of the incident ultraviolet light into molecular vibrations, which ultimately becomes heat.

Fluorescent lighting is an efficient source of light commonly seen in both homes and businesses. In fact, an 18-watt fluorescent bulb produces the same amount of light as a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. But all of that efficiency can sometimes come at a cost: ugly fixtures. Instead of sacrificing beauty for efficiency, hide those ugly fluorescent fixtures to create a space that is visually pleasing.

Covering Fluorescent Lights With Soffits

The most common method for covering fluorescent lights is the soffit, which is a ledge that acts as a dropped portion of the ceiling to create a hidden slot for lighting. This usually blends in with the wall or ceiling and can be built around your existing lighting. Soffits are often built around the edges of a room to highlight the border of the ceiling, says Family Handyman, but they can also be floated in the center of the room or used to define a space within a room.

A soffit is usually built out of drywall and wood framing, but it can also be a temporary solution made out of plastic or lightweight wood and a metal frame that screws into the ceiling.

Using Diffusers or Reflectors

Sometimes the best option for hiding a fluorescent fixture is to simply place a cover over it. Hanging diffusers, which are sheets of translucent material that hang below a fixture from a chain, allow light to filter through but hide the bulbs inside a fixture or the entire fixture itself, says Octo Lights. Suspended diffusers hang below the fixture and attach to the ceiling, acting as a large lampshade for ceiling light.

Another alternative to covering fluorescent lights is to use a reflector. Reflectors work like suspended diffusers in that they hang below the fixture and attach to the ceiling, but instead of filtering light through, they reflect light back up to the ceiling to create soft lighting. You can buy a diffuser or reflector or create your own by hanging a solid piece of metal, wood with a fire-retardant surface, glass, or even flame-retardant fabric in a frame from chains attached to the ceiling.

Box It In

Lightboxes are made of translucent material that allows light to filter out in multiple directions. The fluorescent lightbox is a familiar sight in kitchens built during the 1980s, but modern lightboxes don’t have to look dated or out of place with the current design. Modern lightboxes can be made of lightweight, sleek materials and come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. These boxes hide fluorescent fixtures to give you an updated look in any room.

Create a Rice Paper Cover

For a more temporary solution, rice paper can be fashioned into a cover for any fluorescent light, essentially acting as a lampshade. Affix rice paper to a frame made out of wood or wire to cover the fixture. This can be attached to the ceiling, wall or even to the fixture itself, depending on what best suits your needs, using either double-sided tape or mounting putty, says Family Handyman.

A rice paper shade gives you more flexibility than a diffuser because it can be used on wall lights and table lights and can be molded to hide the light from any direction, while diffusers only hide the light from below.

How to add color to a fluorescent light

How do you replace your fluorescent tubes with LED? Let us count the ways! In today’s blog, we break down the advantages and disadvantages of each of your options.

If you have fluorescent fixtures and are eying the cost- and energy-savings of switching to LED lighting, you’ll find there are two paths you can take: convert your existing fixtures to work with LED or replace those fixtures with new LED fixtures. But within those paths are a number of options, depending on the type and location of your fixtures, your lighting goals, and your budget. Whichever you go with in the end, you’re guaranteed reduce both your energy use and operating costs by a significant amount. And don’t forget the other benefit of LED lighting: you’re going to enjoy a much (much) longer lamp life than you’ve been used to!

If You Want to Convert Your Fluorescent Fixture to LED:

Option 1: Replace your fluorescent tubes with LED retrofit tubes

How to add color to a fluorescent lightWhat you need to know:

  • Less expensive than replacing the whole fixture
  • Requires a little bit of re-wiring of the fixture to bypass the fixture’s ballast (to wire the mains directly to the sockets)
  • But since the ballast accounts for about 10% of your fixture’s energy draw, your fixture will be even more energy efficient when you’re done
  • Plus you eliminate annoying ballast failures and the flickering and dimness that are symptoms of a ballast on its way to failing
  • Retrofit tubes are available in standard and high efficiency models
  • A 4-lamp 4-foot fixture can go from what you have now (about 7200 lumens in LED terms) to nearly twice as bright (about 13,200 lumens with four 3300-lumen LED tubes), depending on the lumen rating of your LED replacement tube.
  • LEDs use between 60W and 80W per 4-lamp, 4-foot fixture vs 128W to 172W, but they can do even better than that: our high-efficiency, Ultra High Lumen lights can act as 1-for-2 replacements, allowing you to light a 4-lamp fluorescent fixture with just 2 LED tubes, or a total of 40W vs 128W.
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life vs 30,000-hour fluorescent lamp life
  • Available with or without DLC listing—DLC listing qualifies lights for energy-saving lighting upgrade rebates from your utility provider

Option 2: Replace your fluorescent tubes with magnetic LED strips

How to add color to a fluorescent lightWhat you need to know:

  • As with tubes, this option is less expensive than replacing the fixture & it removes the ballast and its energy draw from the equation
  • The fact that strips use an external driver, as opposed to the small driver manufactured within an LED tube, allows for better airflow and heat dissipation, which translates longer life & increased reliability for strips
  • No need to wire power to tombstone sockets—simply connect your building’s power to the driver, then quick-connect the driver to the strips with the included cables
  • Magnetic strips and driver easily adhere to metal fixtures, freeing up both hands for an easier installation
  • If you’re looking for the brightest light available, our Ultra High Lumen LED strips put out even more light than our Ultra High Lumen LED tubes
  • Our strips are available up to 185 lumens/Watt
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life
  • Most are DLC listed for utility rebate eligibility
  • If you ask which we think is best between tubes and strips, in most cases we favor strips. If you have questions about your application, reach out to us!

If You Want to Replace Your Fluorescent Fixture with an LED Fixture:

Option 3: Replace your fluorescent fixture with an LED-ready T8 fixture + LED tubes

How to add color to a fluorescent lightWhat you need to know:

  • Works with any LED tube without rewiring—just pop the tubes in and go
  • Clean, new fixtures update the overall look of your workplace
  • Lumens, watts, and lamp life depend on the tubes you purchase for it
  • Get 5% off tubes when you purchase them with fixtures from
  • DLC listing & rebate eligibility are based on the tubes you purchase for the fixture

Option 4: Replace your fixtures with LED panel lights or troffers

alt=”LED panel lights can be used in drop ceilings or surface mounted” />What you need to know:

  • Retain the troffer footprint while upgrading to a sleek, contemporary look
  • Ideal for replacing fixtures in suspended grid ceilings—some models can also be surface-mounted to flat ceilings
  • Provides evenly dispersed lighting without the visible dim spots that sometimes show with both fluorescent and LED tubes
  • This is the brightest option we have for replacing a 2-tube 2×4 fixture (and bright enough to replace a 4-tube 2×4 fixture)
  • Provides up to 7800 lumens per 2×4 fixture
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life
  • Panels & troffers available with or without DLC listing for utility rebate eligibility

Option 5: Replace your fluorescent fixture with a LED fixture

How to add color to a fluorescent lightWhat you need to know:

  • All-in-one design allows for sleeker, slimmer profile
  • Some all-in-one fixtures, like our Integrated Tube Lights, aren’t much larger than a fluorescent tube
  • Can be surface mounted or suspended from wires
  • Often provides more light output than fixtures with tubes
  • Long lamp life reduces concerns over having to replace the fixture at the end of its life
  • The all-in-one design also allows for greater dust and water protection
  • All our linear LED fixtures are DLC listed for utility rebate eligibility

Not sure which way to go? Our expert team is available to help with your conversion from fluorescent to LED. Contact our West Coast facility at 858.581.0597, our East Coast facility at 215.355.7200, or email [email protected]

Keep in mind that, although the lumen output may seem lower for LED tubes than fluorescents, there are a number of reasons why you’ll experience LED lights as being as bright as, if not brighter than, fluorescents (something we’ve covered in more detail in this blog post). With today’s technology, you can rest assured that if you’re buying an LED tube from a reputable manufacturer, it will be at least as bright as the fluorescent you’re replacing. Which means that the lumen rating for various LED tubes is best used to compare one LED option against another. The higher the number, the greater the light output.

How to add color to a fluorescent light

Have you ever looked at your video after you returned from what seemed to be a perfect shoot, only to find your footage is blue and you can’t really see the city skyline as well as you thought? Or what about that beautiful wedding shot in the ski chalet that turned out really orange? One of the most frustrating aspects of doing on-location shooting is dealing with multiple light sources. You may be sure you white-balanced the camera, but the deadly mix of different lights, spoils the shot.

Anytime you find yourself mixing outdoor light with indoor light or fluorescent with incandescent you run into problems. In this column, we will look at light from a standpoint of color temperature. We will discuss the gels that you can use to change the color temperature of the light so that you can use multiple sources.

Color Temperature

Your eye is an amazing organ. When you look at a white T-shirt outdoors, it looks white. In an office lit with fluorescent tubes, it still looks white. Even in your living room at night, it looks white. While this might not seem so amazing, it would if your eyes worked like a video camera.

When a camcorder set for use indoors sees the T-shirt outdoors, it looks light blue. In an office the T-shirt will look light green. If you set your camcorder for outdoors and videotape the T-shirt under normal living room light, it will look orange. This occurs because different color temperatures exist in all three areas.

Your eye compensates for the changes in color temperature so quickly that you don’t notice the shift. The video camera doesn’t have that ability. You have to white balance your camcorder under the light source in which you are shooting in order for your video camera to see white as white. What you are really doing is adjusting the electronics in your camcorder so that it can see the proper combinations of red and blue in relationship with green. The video camera sees white, under a given lighting situation, with the proper combination of these three colors.

When you adjust the white balance setting on your camcorder for indoors or outdoors, you are adjusting the color temperature controls of the video camera. The various color temperatures are expressed in degrees Kelvin(K), the scientific temperature scale. Outdoor light, usually referred to as daylight, ranges from 4500K to 6200K with the average being 5600K. However, on clear blue days, the color temperature could be as high as 12,000K. Indoor lighting, such as incandescent light, usually lies in the 2800K to 3400K range with the average being 3200K. Office fluorescent lights range between 4000K and 7000K with the average being 4300K. By knowing the color temperatures of the light you are using, you can take the next step in controlling the color temperature of your lighting configuration.

Color Correction Gels

One of the most useful tools available to the videographer is the color correction gel. This is translucent pliable material that you can place in front of lighting instruments, or on windows, to change the color temperature of the light source so that it matches the primary light source. You can use specific colors to change indoor or incandescent to daylight, daylight to indoor, incandescent to fluorescent and vice versa.

If you find yourself shooting in a large office with big windows, your best bet might be to change your indoor lights to daylight. You can do this by placing blue gels, often called CTBs, short for color temperature blue, on the front of your lights. The CTBs will change the color temperature of your lights from 3200K to 5600K, simulating daylight.

For those situations when light from a smaller window mixes with indoor lights which are your primary light source, place a large orange gel over the window. This filter is often called a CTO, short for color temperature orange. The CTO will change the color temperature of the light coming through the window from 5600K to 3200K, simulating lamp light.

For those situations when you have to combine indoor light with fluorescent, you have a couple of options. If your primary light source is incandescent, you can wrap the fluorescent tubes with a reddish brown gel, which removes the excess green from the light. This changes the color temperature from around 4300K to 3200K. If the fluorescent lights are your primary light source, you might place a bluegreen filter in front of your tungsten lights to give them the same color temperature as the fluorescent lighting.

If working with daylight and fluorescent lights, a magenta gel converts fluorescent to daylight. Conversely, a light green gel matches daylight to fluorescent.

All of the gels mentioned above come in various shades. If, for instance, you wish to give a shot a cooler feel, you can use a 1/2 CTB to only partially alter the color temperature of the outdoor light.

Sometime, you may find yourself in a situation where you have a large window with a beautiful view. You really want to use the window in your shot but the light coming from the outside is too bright. Don’t despair. Color correction gels can be combined with a gel called a neutral density gel or ND for short. This optically clear gel reduces the amount of light coming through the window without changing the color temperature. You can buy ND gels that reduce the amount of light by 1/2 (ND .15), 1 (ND.3), 2(ND.6) and 3(ND.9) complete stops.

You can also buy gels that combine color correction with neutral density properties. These combination gels are great to work with if you find yourself shooting interviews in offices with large windows. By taping sheets of the gel on the windows, you can not only change the color temperature of the light coming through, but also the intensity. Keep in mind, to your eye it may look very strange, but to the camera it will look great.

Soft and Color Corrected

In past columns we have talked about diffusing light so that it creates a soft look for lighting faces. What do you do if you have to correct the color temperature of the light and soften it, too? Reduce the amount of light shining on your subject by combining a diffusion gel with a color correction gel. Thankfully, there are diffusion gels with color correction added. There are also diffusion gels with ND filter properties so that you can turn your window light into a large soft light.

Final Thoughts

Anytime you have to mix indoor and outdoor light or incandescent with fluorescent, dig into your bag of tricks and pull out your color correction gels. Decide which light source is the easiest to control and gel that source.

A number of companies make fairly inexpensive gels that you can use to correct the color temperature of your light source. Check with your local video supply company.

Robert G. Nulph is an independent video/film producer/director and teaches video production courses at the college level.

Poor lighting is often cited as one of the most common interior design mistakes. While poor lighting is sure to be stressful and annoying no matter what room you may be in, it can be especially problematic in a home office or in any business setting; in fact, bad lighting is one of the most popular complaints from office employees around the globe.

It’s easy to understand why employees are less than thrilled to be in a working environment that’s either too bright or too dim. Improper lighting in the office can negatively affect worker productivity and the quality of the work produced. It can also be a safety and health hazard. Too little light can make it difficult to see, making it much more likely for accidents and injuries to occur. Headaches, fatigue and eye strain, like watery or burning eyes, may also be caused from too much or too little light. So what is the right amount of lighting and what type of light source should you seek for your office building? Take these guidelines into consideration while you decide.

Types of Lighting

First thing’s first—what type of lighting should you choose for your office? There are a few different options to choose from, and each type has its own specific purpose and its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. You can combine these various types of lighting to create a properly lit working atmosphere.

Natural Light

Windows are prized possessions in any office building. They tend to be rare, typically reserved for executives with corner offices. Windows go beyond adding a view—they also provide valuable natural light. Natural lighting is a superior option to any form of electric lighting, as several research studies conducted, including a study conducted in Britain and published in “The Responsible Workplace”, have shown that exposure to natural light not only increases workers’ satisfaction with their workplace, but also increases productivity. Natural light also affects our mood and behavior in a positive way that artificial light cannot. Unfortunately, depending on your workspace, natural light is not always going to be a viable option. Take advantage of it when you can and set up your office furniture accordingly.

Overhead Lighting

This type of lighting isn’t the brightest and can cause shadows or just be too dim. It’s usually best to add other types of lighting and not rely solely on an overhead light. For those working in an office with fluorescent overhead lights, adding either corrective or ambient lighting may help to reduce any discomfort you experience working with fluorescent lighting. As far as overhead lights go, you will want to opt for lensed indirect lighting as opposed to direct parabolic lighting.

Task Lighting

If your office lacks sufficient natural and overhead light, you may want to consider adding task lighting to all of the employee desks. Tasks lights are small lamps that can be plugged into any outlet to provide extra lighting right where the employee needs it. There are even LED task lights and lamps made to emulate the look of natural light.

Ambient Lighting

Stressed out while you work? It might have less to do with your workload and more to do with your surroundings. Ambient lighting has a low intensity that can help you create a more peaceful atmosphere.

Corrective Lighting

Working with a computer day in and day out for hours at a time can cause eye strain and even migraines. Placing corrective lighting behind your computer monitor can help immensely. The corrective lighting helps to diminish the glare coming from the screen.

How to Properly Light Your Office

Look out for glare, as it can be extremely hard on the eyes. There are two types of glare– reflected glare and direct glare. Some common sources of reflected glare include extra glossy furniture and computer monitors. On the other hand, direct glare is caused by light fixtures being in the wrong place or from direct sunlight. In order to correct direct glare, try moving the light fixtures so that the light reflected by them is reflected away from you and not toward you. Adding other lighting can help with either type of glare by increasing the brightness of the area around whatever is causing it. Corrective lighting, for example, is great for correcting the glare caused by computer monitors.

Make sure to note where light is poorly distributed. You will want to have an office or workspace that is uniformly lit. This is where the various types of lighting come into play, as each can help to fill a room in a totally balanced way, making for much happier employees.

Consider wall paint choices: You should definitely consider how the wall color of your office or workspace affects the lighting. Super bright or glossy wall paint can cause glare, so you may want to avoid choices that fall under those categories.

How to Find Out if Your Office Needs Better Lighting

One of the best ways to find out if your office is indeed suffering from poor lighting is to ask your employees if they suffer from some of the very common and negative effects associated with it. Do they suffer from eye strain? Do they find themselves squinting throughout the day in order to see things more clearly? Do they often have headaches while at their desk or looking at their computer screens?

Another, more systematic way to determine where your office is lacking proper lighting is to perform various ergonomic tests. It is possible to measure the average illumination throughout your workplace. Do this and compare your findings with what is recommended for optimal productivity and safety. You can also use this as a guide.

Need more help finding lighting that works in your office? Call our furniture experts today at (800) 558-1010 or shop our full selection of office lighting.

How to add color to a fluorescent light

By ernestv Follow

Fluorescent dye glows a bright neon yellow when exposed to an ultra violet light source. This is ideal for dying T-Shirts and coloring paper, however, some fabrics may not “stain” very well.

Supplies for this project:

  • 1 Highlighter
  • 15 Milliliters Water
  • 1 Plastic Cup or other collection container
  • 1 Pair of Scissors (Optional)
  • 1 Tweezers (Optional)
  • 1 Pair of Gloves (Optional)

Disclaimer: I used gloves to prevent the ink from staining my hands. If the label on the highlighter says “Non-Toxic” then you should be fine with out them, however don’t drink the ink or put it in your eyes. Repeat under your own risk!

Step 1: Open the Highlighter and Slide the Plastic Tube Out.

Pry the end cap off the highlighter body and carefully slide the ink tube out. Be ready to catch any spills – some ink may have escaped the tube during the removal process.

Step 2: Hold Firmly and Squeeze Over a Container.

Hold the end of the tube over the collection container and squeeze for several seconds – maybe even minutes. The tube should look be complete white (as seen in the next step) after squeezing.

Step 3: Analyze Your Dye

After vigorously squeezing, and adding water, the felt tube should have lost all it’s color and yielded about 50 ml of concentrated florescent dye.

Step 4: Turn on the UV Light!

Finally the exciting step! Turn off the regular lights and power on the ultraviolet lamp. The ink will emit an eerie green glow that will last pretty much forever.