James Newton


Nocturnal Change 06.13

We talk about diurnal change as a key factor of light impacting on people, but does this need to stop after nightfall?

Take a look out of the window, any window with a view to the outside world; give it a minute and take another look, it’s changed, not much but is has.  Look again in 10 minutes and then again in an hour and as for later on this evening…….well you don’t need me to tell you.

My job as a photographer is to show what it is that you do.  One of the roles of a lighting designer is to build flexibility into the lighting of a space, because the space will change over time too.  Not just through the influence of daylight, but also through the influence of people – what are they doing, how are they using the space, how many there are – so one of my roles as photographer is to build flexibility into the photographs.

The lighting level will change over time to suit the needs of the people who are there, less people means less light is needed – simple.  (although judging by the way most cities look at night not so simple to implement, but that is for another blog post altogether.)

Colour temperature is another big influence on the way a space is perceived and experienced.  A gradual warming over time can help the space ‘feel’ right at all times of day and night.

Or, in the case of this gallery space below, it is something that can be altered to provide the right ambience for the artwork on the walls.  You wouldn’t want to wash the Caravaggio’s with cool white light any more than you would want to spotlight the details in a Bridget Riley (headache).

That is why it is important that the photographs accurately portray the quality of light at all times.  1000 degrees kelvin either way may be a minor adjustment in camera, a shift one way might make the photograph look a whole lot ‘better’ or appealing, but is it not better if it is not accurate.

Sometimes one photograph just won’t do.  If so long has been spent consulting, designing, programming and focusing a whole variety of lighting scenes within a project then why would you show it with one image?  Which one do you use?

That is why you need a sequence.  Something to show how the space changes so completely and dramatically (or subtly) through the lighting over the course of time.  Something to show that you appreciate the importance of creating a mood through quality of light and something to show how your skills as a designer were used to achieve it. Simple.