Using Color Filters to Enhance Lighting Design
Many of the advanced lighting techniques used by lighting professionals involve small changes that yield significant effects. Let’s take a look at the utilization of color to enhance designs. Subtle color shifts often go under-appreciated by today’s lighting designers, but their impact is immediately felt. By cleverly utilizing color filters specific elements can be emphasized and result in the creation of separation, depth and interest.
The two colors most-often used in lighting design are amber and light blue. In most residential lighting applications, there is often a combination of landscape and architectural elements. As a basic rule of thumb, the amber filter can best be used when illuminating architectural elements and the light blue filter can best be used when illuminating landscape elements.
Architectural elements often consist of natural materials such as wood, brick and stone. Usually, these materials have earthen tones such as yellows and browns. As such, incorporating an amber filter in the fixtures used to illuminate such elements helps bring out the warmth of these tones, more so than the white of halogen lamps and that of increasingly popular LED light sources. This warmth makes these elements feel more inviting and comfortable. Conversely, most plant material consists of green foliage. In these instances, utilizing a light blue filter helps bring out these greens to give the plants a more robust, healthy appearance. In short, the greens look greener.
In a lighting scene where both plants and architectural elements are being illuminated, this slight shift in color between the two adds a sense of depth by creating contrast and separation between the two, allowing the viewer to better understand what he or she is viewing.
Additionally, the amber filter is very effective when used to down-light outdoor living spaces and walkways. The amber tones help accentuate skin tones, while at the same time bringing out the warmth of paver or concrete surfaces. The light blue filter can be used when down-lighting plant beds and turf areas. The blue tone not only brings out the greens of the plant material and turf, but also does a great job of mimicking the light of the moon, thereby providing a much more natural effect.
Remember, the use of color filters can enhance any lighting design, and can very easily be used in an existing lighting design to give it depth and interest with a minimal investment in time and money.