Singapore, 10th September 2012
Interestingly on the heels of my last blog on best practice and architectural lighting designers, I spent a good part of the day today, assessing lighting calculations and how well they actually represented what we are after. I am not much of a numbers man, I am more a mood and ambience man with strong architectural (and visual) feelings. I don’t care too much about lighting levels (at least not as design criteria) for me it is much more about brightness patterns and the balance of light and dark. In order to appreciate the “darker” parts of a lighting design one needs to control and balance the intensity of the brighter parts.
The calculations (mostly Dialux or variations thereof) have various levels of visual appreciation, from simple isolux plots to rendered 3D models. But all these calculations and renders are as good as the design criteria and the skills/ experience of the program operator. While I am no longer capable of executing complex lighting calculation software programs myself, I know what to look for, what to expect and how to assess calculation results. I was at the birth of Philips Calculux program (yes, more than 25 years ago) and taught several lighting calculation seminars in my days then. Knowing the design factors that influence the outcome of lighting calculations and knowing how to interpret the results are key to making sense of lighting calculations.
While we do our own lighting calculations, we also make use of manufacturers input as they are of course very familiar with their own products and have much easier access to all the relevant IES photometric files. But the disadvantage is that manufacturers are of course somehow disconnected to your design, they act on your instructions and their focus is slightly different. While I am trying to find the design that works, they ultimately (generally in a good way) look at it from the point of a sale. However with good spirits generally we can both get what we want but it needs communication and thorough understanding of the design issues to be resolved and targets to be achieved. Here again the clarity of our briefing is key to avoid lots af abortive work. 🙂
Light Watch 3-137: Some typical lighting calculations, from isolux, to renders. You need to understand what you are looking at!