Weekly observation assignment: lighting moment
Take a photo or video, or choose a pre-existing photo or painting of a scene. Post it online. Instagram is fine, or Google Photos, or your blog, or the class blog, or whatever you prefer. Describe the quality of the light, and the composition of the light. Description the sources, the directions, the colors, the focus, and any other property you can discern. Your caption should be 2-3 paragraphs, about 1-300 words. Include the location, time, and date. If it’s the work of another person, cite your sources.
Your goal here is not to take great photos, but to capture the moment in words and images. If your focus is off, or your camera can’t capture the subtle details of the light, then describe it in your caption. Avoid filters and heavy retouching, in order to capture the scene as you saw it. If the moment calls for video instead of a still image, or a time-lapse, use it.
Do at least one of these every week. Use the notes in the schedule below as a guide if you have nothing else in mind. If you do have another moment in mind, look for these ones as well. Attempt to capture the scene with its natural light, do not use flash.
Post a link to your observation log on the class links page.
Each of these assignments is one to three weeks long. You may work alone or in pairs for most of them. Only the environmental setting assignment is a group assignment, due to the amount of work required for it.
There are a few constraints for the production assignments:
- Make sure your fixture casts adequate light on the subject that it’s supposed to illuminate.
- Fixtures aren’t invisible. Make sure yours looks appropriate to the space even when it’s turned off.
- Don’t expose the light source
- No rainbow color scrolling. Choose a color palette and stick to it.
Your assignments will be evaluated partially on how well you implement these constraints.
All of your projects should be documented online.
Interruptible LED fade (Due week 2)
Create a fading LED attached to a microcontroller. Your LED should be interruptible by either a pushbutton, analog input, or serial input. Your fade speed and fade curve are yours to determine.
Work alone on this assignment.
Candle (due week 3)
Create an artificial candle using a NeoPixel jewel. Your candle should include a base and a shade or diffuser. Try to capture the colors and behavior of a real candle in programming your candle.
Work alone or in pairs on this assignment.
Fixture (due week 7)
Build a desk lamp, reading lamp, wall sconce or chandelier fixture. You may use any lighting technology as your source, but do not make the bare source visible. Add a shade or diffuser to your fixture. Consider the light that your fixture casts on its subject.
Your lamp must be dimmable using a physical control. Experiment with different physical controls that match the behavior that you want your lamp to have. Perhaps your controller is a squeeze bulb, or a swipe pad, or a crankshaft. Your fixture should also have an on-off control that turns the lamp on at the level to which the user last faded. You may also add color control if you wish.
You may build your fixture out of off-the-shelf materials or found materials as you see fit.
Document the construction of your fixture. Include a bill of materials (with links to parts sources if available), electrical schematic, and any construction drawings or links to code as needed. Make a short video of the fixture in action as well. Measure and note the light efficacy (lumens per watt) that your fixture produces as well. Measure the light intensity at the subject. Document not only the lamp, but the light it casts on its subject.
Work alone or in pairs on this assignment.
24-hour responsive light feature (due week 9)
Create a lighting feature that continually responds to the ambient light around it, in a 24-hour cycle. Your feature may be a task light, a path light, or an accent light. You may re-use the fixture you already built, if it’s appropriate. You can use existing sources, and light an existing architectural feature as well.
Your feature may respond in a variety of ways: it may respond in realtime to ambient light in the space, or it may play back or simulate time-delayed behaviors, as you see fit. For example, you may make a feature that that brightens when the ambient light dims, or your feature may simulate clouds passing over on a sunny day. Or it may simulate sunny conditions on a rainy day. Or it may mimic another natural or man-made source like Tom Gerhardt’s FireLight sconce. Use your imagination and the observations you’ve made in your observation assignments to come up with an appropriate behavior.
You may work with existing applications that require round-the-clock responsiveness, such as a plant growing system or public transit area.
Make a 24-hour time-lapse of your feature in action so that you can play back the 24 hours in a few minutes in class. You may speed up or slow down certain segments, but plan on approximately 4 minutes of playback. This video should be ready by the time the assignment is due in class. That means that the feature you are documenting should be ready more than 24 hours before the assignment is due, so that you have time to make the video.
Work alone or in pairs or threes on this assignment
Final Project (due in week 14)
The spaces we live, work, and play in are social, they are not solitary spaces. Even the quietest reading nook gets visitors. In those spaces, we engage in multiple activities, and we need enough light to do those things. Your job is to pick an existing space, examine its activities and its lighting, identify the key light source for an activity that takes place there, and either replace or complement it with a source of your own.
Among other things, you might make a reading lamp for an office, or a chandelier for a lobby, or design a source to make menus more readable without destroying the ambience of a restaurant. You do not have to provide all the light for the space, but your design should complement or improve what is there. And your design should provide the primary light for the activity you identify.
The most important criterion: provide enough light, and the right quality of light, for people to do the activity in a safe, convenient, and pleasant way.
Start by identifying the space and the activity. Take pictures of it, and take pictures (with consent) of the people engaged in the activity in the space. Describe it on your blog, and the activity and the key lighting sources for it. Measure the illuminance from the sources where it happens, and the luminance off the surfaces involved (for example, what’s the illuminance from the candle? And what’s the luminance of the reflected light from the menu?)
You should consider not only the aesthetics of the light and the fixture, but also the method of interaction. How do people turn it on or off? Can it dim? What color, if any, is appropriate? How often is it turned on or off, and under what circumstances Is the control conveniently located? Is it enjoyable to use?
You may build your own fixture, or use existing fixtures or systems to meet the assignment. Any of the ITP resources we’ve used are available to you. You may use any of the principles we’ve used in the semester, and you may use elements from previous projects.
It’s likely that your location will not be convenient to the final class period, so document with photos and video. In addition, bring the source, if portable, to class to demonstrate, even if out of context.
Document. Your. Work. Thoroughly. And continuously throughout the process.
You may work alone or in teams of 2-3.