Saturday, October 16, 2021

Fiat Lux

Lighting upgrade was completed on the Clermont section last summer, but it only made it apparent how dark was the other room representing Villeneuve.

New lighting gives layout a museum quality...

Not so long ago, we added under cabinet LED pucks on the ceiling to provide a little bit more lighting. Unfortunately, it proved to be largely unsufficient, particularly when the room ambiant lights are turn off. Several LED products were tried, but most had horrible CRI or were underpowered compared to their official description. At last, we decided to mount a 3500K T8 fluorescent tube like everybody does. This time, illumination was adequate. Certainly, color rendition wasn't pitch perfect, but good enough to fit our needs. We made sure to use the same type of tubes used in the other room.

With a very low ceiling, we had to keep the valence height at a minimum, about 2½'' high. It was made using a white MDF trim moulding anchored on the ceiling with L-shaped metal brackets. With a total cost well under $200, it is the most efficient light rig we have experimented with so far.  We just need a way to figure out how to block light bleeding between the ceiling and the valence.

Many could argue we could do better and I certainly agree. However, given we have at best  about 4 hours of club activities per week, we have to choose carefully the hills on which we to die. Adequate lighting was certainly worth our time and money. Museum quality lighting would probably take months to put together with the risk of being unsastified with the final results. As you can see, photographic evidences show that the new system has drasticall improved the appearance of the layout. It is now framed better and with ambient lights off, it draws the eyes to the layout itself. It also helped to reduce a lot of glare, which was a chief concern. Better, illumination is much better and it shows in pictures.

A slight color shift was observed on CN orange equipment, but not enough to be a big concern given most of our rolling stock is black, grey or brown. Interestingly enough, the same tubes in the other room don't produce this color shift which makes me wonder if the absence of a plastic lense or age of tubes have something to do with it. It could also be pure perception due to how our brain function. When imported in Photoshop, it was quite clear photos under the original lighting were extremely yellow and required a lot of color balance tweaking to look half decent. On the other hand, pictures shot under the new lighting are much closer to reality and didn't even require that I tweak the color balance. And keep in mind it was done only with 3500K fluorescent.

One thing the new lighting makes obvious is the need to improve the backdrop in that room. With more light, all the defects show up in the worst way possible... consider it a good reason to move forward with scenery there in the future!

Original lighting mainly dependent on room light fixtures

New fluorescent lighting

Meanwhile, it's time to go back to Clermont to continue scenery work at Rivière Malbaie. I'm probably optimistic, but I'd like the river and village scene to be done by Christmas, leaving only the ground around Donohue to be done.

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