Good light makes your prints appear even more beautiful. Get good light. It’s one of the most essential elements in any photographic image, at the point of capture, during processing, and at the point of display.

SoLux (www.solux.net) makes good light. SoLux bulbs’ Color Rendering Indexes (rating used to describe the quality of light) are 99 on a scale of 100. All SoLux bulbs are full smooth spectrum and ultra low UV and IR. SoLux bulbs come in a variety of color temperatures – 3500K, 4100K, 4700K, and 5000K. SoLux bulbs come in a variety of beam angles – 10-36 degrees. Low voltage (12 volt), SoLux bulbs fit in standard MR-16 2 pin socket fixtures and adaptors are available for regular screw in fixtures.

While light has many important qualities, two are particularly significant; temperature and spectral power distribution.

Most prints are viewed under light temperatures warmer than 5000K, typically a mix of tungsten (2800K) and daylight (variable). Galleries and museums favor halogen (2900K). Studies suggest that more people prefer viewing artwork under higher color temperatures (3500K).

A majority of artificial light sources, including fluorescent, metal halide, and LEDs, have an uneven distribution of colors. Graphs of light sources with uneven spectral distributions display spikes in specific regions of the spectrum. Spikes limit the number of available colors in a spectrum to discern an object’s color. Due to missing colors in between spikes, objects may look dull or gray. When a spectrum is uneven, hues that are found in elevated levels appear brighter while hues that are found in low levels appear duller. Spikes create an imbalance in the relationships between hues. When possible, avoid lights that have them.

Incandescent light contains large amounts of yellow, orange, and red light. Though not as extreme, halogen suffers from the same tendencies. Cool white fluorescent light may produce a white that is cooler in appearance, but all fluorescent lights have uneven spectral distributions.

How important is viewing light? Very. To many, at first glance, the differences may seem subtle. To truly appreciate the differences you need a side-by-side comparison of the same or identical objects in spikey and smooth spectrum light sources.

The curators of the Van Gogh Museum (Netherlands) visited their traveling collection while it was on display at the National Gallery of Art (US). “What have you done with our paintings?” they exclaimed. They thought they had been cleaned. “Nothing.” was the reply. The real answer was in the light – SoLux. Under full spectrum light sources the paintings appeared significantly brighter, clearer, and more saturated. The Van Gogh Museum now uses SoLux bulbs. More and more museums are beginning to use SoLux bulbs as well.

I use SoLux 3500K bulbs for my studio and gallery. I evaluate and display prints under the same light, one that most closely approximates the display conditions prints are most likely to be viewed under. I use four SoLux Gooseneck fixtures for portable light sources; two with 3500K bulbs to evaluate display conditions and two with 5000K bulbs to evaluate color management issues (calibration, softproofing, and profiles).

I recommend to owners of my prints that they strongly consider using 3500K SoLux bulbs for display and viewing.

To see, you need light. So it stands to reason that the light you view your prints in is extremely important. All lights are not created equally. For the best results, choose a high quality light source.

SoLux bulb

Spectral curves comparing 3500K halogen (yellow) and SoLux (red)

Spectral curves for 5000K fluorescent gti lightbox (blue) and SoLux (red)

Visit www.solux.net to find out more about their products and light (there are excellent resources there on the science of light).

Contact Phil Bradfield – phil@solux.net or 800-254-4487.

Find out more about the tools I use here.

Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Chuck Close talks about his fascination with portraits.

Find more photographers on videos here.

Bill Jay talks about his long-standing project of photographing photographers.

Find more photographer videos here.


I often find the same compositional strategies, patterns, subjects and themes resurface in our work. Sometimes the ideas from two different images merge into a new one. I pay close attention to these visual bridges as they help me understand the both the similarities and differences between individual images and series.

In Inhalation 29 two series (Inhalation and Suffusion) cross-pollinate.
For more on this read my ebook Combination.

The exposures for this image were made in Iceland.
Learn about my Iceland digital photography workshops here.

This one filter performs the function of many.  Reduce the amount of light coming through your lens by 2 to 8 stops. Simply rotate the filter to increase or decrease the effect.

Frame and focus with the filter on at minimum density. Rotate the filter to intensify the effect. It can get so dark you can hardly see through it.

Because the Vari-ND is so easy to use, it encourages experimentation with a wide range of exposures and effects.

Make long exposures.

Make selective focus easier.

Enhance close-up flash control.

Exaggerate the effects of panning during exposure.

As you test your Vari-ND Filter, you’ll find the effects will vary with focal length, direction and speed of motion (your subject’s or your own or both), and of course duration of exposure.

Use the preview on your DSLR to confirm your results instantly. Monitor your histogram after exposure to confirm proper exposure.

The Vari-ND comes in 77 and 82 mm sizes. Adaptors for other sizes are available.

The Vari-ND can be used with most other Sing-Ray filters, except Polarizers. You can amplify the effect of the Vari-ND by stacking it with the Mor-Slo 5 Stop Solid ND Filter.

Singh-Ray filters are legendary for their optical quality.

The VariND filter is one of the few filters I use.

For more information visit www.singh-ray.com.

Find out more about the tools I use here.

Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Making the Visual Verbal

February 22, 2011 | 1 Comment |

Many take the view that pictures should be seen and not heard. I did. After being called to comment on my work time and time again, I realized that learning to comment on my work not only made my work more effective but it also helped me understand my work better and solve certain creative challenges. In fact, I realized that there are many types of writing and many uses for writing. Writing is now an integral part of my creative process from start to finish. Making the Visual Verbal is a useful skill that can benefit everyone, including you. You don’t think you can write? Anyone can finish a sentence. Finishing it well just takes practice. And some kinds of writing don’t need finished sentences. While it’s true there’s only one Shakespeare, we can all write. After all, think of all the great writing (fiction and nonfiction) that’s been written since Shakespeare. Personally, I don’t want to receive love letters written by Shakespeare. I want love letters written to me by my wife.

Here’s a piece I wrote several years ago on scottkelby.com.
Tune in tomorrow for a new piece on scottkelby.com – Developing Personal Projects.

Making the Visual Verbal

“Pictures should be seen and not heard.” “If we could communicate what we want to communicate with words, then we’d be writers not artists.” The words had rained down on me so many times that my mind had been saturated with the idea. While it reflects some truth, chiefly that a text (written or verbal) can never be a substitute for an image, it can also be misleading. Pictures have always been, continue to be, and will always be talked about-particularly by artists.

Growing up in an artistic family, the parade of visitors and people we visited included many types of artists from musicians to sculptors and most frequently photographers. The topics of conversation were far-reaching and colorful. Often there would be complaints about what had been written about their own work, sometimes about what had been written about each other’s work, or ……what had been written about other artist’s work. Then, if they existed, out would come quotes from an artist’s personal writings that were used to illuminate, reinforce or refute varied points of view (Artist’s letters, journals, interviews and statements have always held a special position in the history of art. They have forever shaped the commentary that surrounds work.) Inevitably, the very same artists, who claimed that artists should remain mute, would be lured into giving a lecture or an interview about their work. Artists approach the process of making the visual verbal with mixed feelings; part trepidation, part confirmation, part validation. To be sure, while there are many pitfalls to be avoided, there are many positive byproducts to making the visual verbal.

Writing can illuminate new avenues of inquiry for the viewer and in so doing enrich the entire viewing process, including the subsequent viewing process of future works by other artists. Writing is a process of revelation, It is a process of making thought visible. It is a matter of clarifying a process of thinking. By making what was intuitively sensed visible to the conscious mind, the familiar is clarified and the unfamiliar is brought to light.

Writing about images is inevitable. This kind of writing has always been there. It always will be. Someone, somewhere, sometime will write about your images. You have a great deal to contribute to the process. Along the way, you’re likely to find that writing about your work will be extremely revealing.

Many positive things happen when you engage writing. You will understand your work better. You will be able to communicate more clearly about your work. You will affirm the strengths of your work. You will be able to chart your own artistic development over time. You may even be able to uncover the seeds that will provide future growth in your work.

There are a variety of ways to make the visual verbal. There are artist’s journals, artist’s statements and writing exercises that can be used to get to the core of the inner life of work. There are ways to prepare for interviews; these days many interviews are conducted through writing over the Internet. There are lectures, and writing and rehearsing creates a solid structure for them. Writing can be a tremendous aid to any creative endeavor at any stage in the process …

Read the rest here on scottkelby.com.

Find more tips on writing here.
Read my artist’s statements here.
Read interviews I’ve given here.
Read my conversations with photographers here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

The folks who make the software I use pass on great discounts to my readers.
That’s you!

Here’s a list of links to the codes you’ll need to get them.

Discount Adobe
Discount Epson
Discount FotoQuote
Discount Imagenomic
Discount OnOne
Discount PhotoKit

Stay tuned! There are more discounts coming!
You’ll find a growing list of links on my blog sidebar.

Learn more about the tools I use here.

People in science, business, government, and military are all keeping their eye on the Arctic.

The rapid changes the Arctic is experiencing is one of the reasons photographing the region has been so high on my priority list.

Find out about my Greenland workshop / cruise here.

Find out about my Antarctica workshop / project here.

James Balog leads an historic photographic project the Extreme Ice Survey.
As a result surprising new data comes to light every year.
It’s a brilliant use of photography and contribution to our global community.

Find out about my Greenland workshop / cruise here.

Find out about my Antarctica workshop / project here.

The rapid changes Greenland is experiencing is one of the reasons photographing Greenland has been so high on my priority list.

Greenland has a huge impact on global climate and sea levels, like Antarctica.

Visit my blog this weekend for more updated information on Greenland.

Find out about my Greenland workshop / cruise here.

Find out about my Antarctica workshop / project here.


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