Designing With Light and Surfaces

Subject: Culture
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1086
Topics: Fashion, Architecture, Design

Designing With Light and Surfaces

Figure 1

The perception of people and their view of space is directly related to the manner in which light integrates with the objects in the space (Fontenelle, 2008). The interaction between light and the various elements within the environment determines what the viewers see and the interpretations that they accord to the view (Business Design Centre, 2016). With regard to architecture, in whichever dimension that it is assessed and analyzed, either in the view of space, surface, materials or color, it is primarily dependent upon the lighting situation involving both the observers as well as the elements in the space of view (Musson, 2016). In the discussion that follows, we assess the effects and the impacts of different lighting conditions on the surface through the analysis of the photograph shown below.

The dynamic day lighting conditions as can be observed from our image above as well as the controlled artificial lighting are able to have a major impact not only to the distinct measurable conditions within the space environment under consideration but also instigates and emanates a variety of visual experiences and moods. As explained by Braddock, Clarke & O’Mahony (2005), “Responding to certain spaces, the artist works creatively within the confines of a given area, often being sensitive to a building’s history and atmosphere.  Where possible the viewer can be encouraged to move through the setting to fully experience a work.” The materials within the environment makes a significant impact on the manner in which light interacts with the environment (Ritter, 2007). 

At an initial view of the picture in figure 1 is the perception of an area in which much of light has been blocked from passing to the ground but a controlled amount of light has found its way to the surface. As can be observed, the leaves on the upper part of the photograph absorb a considerable amount of light from the sun as well as block the rays from hitting the ground. This results in the creation of patches of shadows on the ground as can be observed from the road. The absorption of light by the green leaves as can be observed in the upper parts of the photographs makes the leaves brighter thus the high demonstration of the green color. The absorption of light by the leaves also creates a partial darkness below the leaves. This is also observed from the wall on the side of the road. As compared to figure 2, the photograph is taken from an open ground where no object blocks the light. Moreover, there exists no absorption of light and thus the dark view. 

However, the partial darkness appears primarily due to the fact that since the leaves of the tree do not form a complete cover above the tree, some rays of light find their way through the spaces to the ground. The results are that the darkness that results from the blockage of light is partial as some light passes through to the ground. The other visible attribute of light that is visible from the photograph shown is the reflection of light from the sun. The white light from the sun hits the glass window pane of the house and is reflected back to the environment. However, since the glass is also thick, it disperses the light into a fine thin film of light rays each of individual wavelength. In comparison, figure 2 shows a photograph in which the glass panes allow light to pass through them with no reflection back to the photographers side. As such, only the outside of the building is observed to be bright. 

Another important aspect of light as can be observed from the image is the dispersion of light. As explained in the research article by Weidlich & Wilkie (2009), dispersion is perhaps the simplest, but also one of the most visually prominent attribute and characteristic of all the different transparent materials. This primarily refers to the splitting of white light into its spectral components. In the image below, dispersion of light is demonstrated by the various colors of light as observed on the stem of the tree second top-most window pane for the window of the yellow colored house. The dispersion of light also creates a bright view of the leaves of the tree as observed on the upper side of the photograph. Dispersion of light is not visible in figure 2. Instead, the main viewable aspect of light in figure 2 is refraction as observed from the image of the person standing on the right side of the photograph. The mix in the colors as well as the brightness of light in the various sections of the photograph above establishes an early morning mood in a cool and noise-free environment. The reflections of light and the emergence of the different colors within the photograph dissipates the early morning emotions as the sun rises from the east. This is clearly indicated by the shadows appearing on the west side of the photograph.

In conclusion, light remains to be a paramount consideration to photographers and to the establishment of meaning in a photograph. Lighting determines not only the brightness and darkness in a picture, but also plays a significant role in the tone, the mood and the atmosphere of the photograph. As explained in the article by Peterson (2016), the significance of images establishes when they evoke some emotional orientation among the viewers. The mix in the level of light brightness and color variation within the photograph plays an important role in evoking these emotional orientations thus the significance of the photograph. As such, control and manipulation of lighting in a photograph is essential to establish the best texture, vibrancy of color and luminosity of the subjects in the photograph. 

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  1. Braddock C. & O’Mahony, M. (2005) Techno Textiles 2; revolutionary fabrics for fashion and design (1st Ed., p. 168). London: Thames and Hudson.
  2. Business Design Centre (2016). Trend Report: Surface Design 2016
  3. Fontenelle, C. (2008). The importance of lighting to the experience of architecture – the lighting approach in architectural competitions
  4. Musson, N. (2016). Surface Design; what is it, how is it changing and what are the ingredients of a successful curriculum?
  5. Peterson, D. (2016). How Lighting Affects The Mood Of Your Photos.
  6. Ritter, A. (2007). Smart Materials; in architecture, interior architecture and design, Birkhauser, Basel Bidgood. J et al. (2001). This is What We Do. London: Ellipsis. 
  7. Weidlich, A. (2009). Anomalous Dispersion in Predictive Rendering. Eurographics Symposium on Rendering, 28 (4), 1-5. 
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