Lighting may be something you overlook and take for granted. However, as you’ll soon see, it can drastically affect productivity, safety and overall outcomes. Let’s look at how lighting affects five specific sectors. Then, we’ll address why adequate lighting is essential for all industries.
Did you know that lighting played such a big impact in these industries? Cover photo by Max D.
The importance of lighting is a fundamental thing photographers must understand to succeed. You’ve probably seen snapshots that amazed you and remained in your memory for years afterward. Light can affect a photo’s shadows and details, plus help frame your subject. The key light is a photograph’s main source. Then, there’s the fill light, which is secondary. It gets its name because its primary purpose is to fill the shadows in the frame.
Every light source — both natural and artificial — can contribute to various aspects of a photo, including its color, texture and the subject’s dimensions. It can also set the mood. For example, consider if you angle the lights at a person to create shadows. The outcome could create mystery or help you draw attention to certain aspects while hiding others. Light plays a crucial role in how photos look — whether the subject is a person, a product, a landscape or something else. If you are new to photography, it may take many years of diligent practice before understanding how to use light to get the desired results. However, staying dedicated to learning will help you feel more satisfied with how the photos turn out and make you a more confident photographer.
Many people in the medical sector regularly deal with urgent, life-or-death circumstances. Light sources ensure they can do their jobs well while keeping everyone safe. Consider instances where healthcare practitioners engage in detail-oriented tasks, such as stitching up a wound or finding a vein to start an IV. Those activities could become dangerous for everyone involved without proper lighting. Lighting needs also differ according to a room’s purpose. An exam room needs enough light to allow physicians to assess patient symptoms and complaints accurately.
Someone may present with a rash, for example. The right amount of environmental light allows checking the color, skin texture and spread. On the other hand, rooms with beds for overnight patients should ideally block surrounding illumination — such as in hallways — so people have the best opportunity to get uninterrupted sleep in their darkened rooms. Operating rooms and laboratories need adequate lighting to support the specialized work performed there and prevent errors. So do patient waiting areas — particularly as administrators and arriving individuals complete paperwork. Smart lighting design choices can also help people feel more at ease. Many feel nervous in healthcare settings, and dim lighting could come across as depressing.
Manufacturing companies typically have output targets to hit that allow them to stay competitive and keep their customers satisfied. Lighting is a major factor in helping a manufacturer succeed. For example, it can promote alertness and motivation in employees, making them more productive. Moreover, having adequate lighting reduces accidents because it makes hazards more visible. It prevents mishaps when people can’t see well enough to safely do their work while maintaining high standards. Lighting also plays a vital role in product inspections.
For example, if a company uses a machine vision system to check products, the right lights encourage swiftness and accuracy. Some products pose challenges to machine vision tools, such as if the surface has uneven reflectivity. However, diffuse lighting sources can achieve a more uniform contrast. Even if a company leader opts to use manual inspections, lighting makes flaws more noticeable.
Manufacturing plants should also have adequate exterior lighting. Many of those businesses operate 24/7, which means some employees have to travel from their vehicles to factory entrances while it’s still dark outside. Bright lights can promote safety and act as a theft deterrent. If a would-be burglar assesses the premises and finds them well-lit, they may change their plans. Using enough lighting can also ensure security cameras pick up enough information about trespassers.
You’ve probably been in some restaurants that have dimly lit environments to set a mood. That choice may make the setting look trendy, but it causes some practical issues, too. For example, a lack of light makes it difficult to read the menu, verify the amount of a bill or admire a dish’s presentation. Some recommendations suggest making a light source no more than three times as bright as the surrounding surfaces.
Beyond examining the effects of indoor light, consider how sunlit windows or reflective surfaces impact how the establishment looks. Another option is to install a two-circuit track system. It provides a second electrical load that people can control with separate switches. In that case, a restaurant manager might decide to use one set of lights for daytime restaurant service and another when serving nighttime diners. Adequate lighting also matters in food preparation areas. As people chop vegetables, drizzle sauce on a plate to achieve a decorative look or add seasoning to a pot of soup, it’ll help them pay attention to their work while staying safe and avoiding mistakes that could lead to displeased diners.
5. Performance Arts
The lighting is not the main focus for someone who attends a play or a concert, but it influences the experience more than people initially realize. Proper lighting ensures the audience can see what’s happening on stage, even if sitting in the back row. The use of spotlights also encourages people to pay attention to particular actors. The lights’ colors can support various storylines. For example, purple or green lights could look eerie and build suspense.
Lighting designers also use illumination to convey certain weather events, such as lightning, or help people determine the time of day associated with the events in a play’s timeline. Many rock concerts feature lights that flash with a drumbeat or bass line or show patterns like stars or dots across a stage’s surface. These decisions help build excitement. Some people have also added lighting effects to classical music, utilizing fade-outs and flickering to match notes. Lighting keeps concert attendees safe, too. Many rows of seating have integrated lights along the edges that stay lit, helping people who need to leave momentarily during a performance.
Photo: Tim Gouw
Lighting Matters in All Industries
Lighting is undoubtedly crucial in the five industries discussed at length here. However, it’s an essential factor for all others, too. Agricultural professionals who grow crops indoors use lighting to keep plants healthy and increase their yields. Retail brands know that the right lights can increase sales by making merchandise seem more appealing. An airport’s lights can help safely land a plane and assist guests in terminals with finding their way to the correct departure gates.
Hotel managers utilize lights to make their premises appear inviting to weary travelers. Hair and makeup specialists depend on lighting while assessing the seemingly minute aspects that can make the difference between a gorgeous look and a gruesome one. Office workers need enough lighting to prevent eyestrain. No matter your industry or discipline, the examples here should provide valuable food for thought as you investigate how lighting affects your work. If you find that a lack of lighting adversely affects your performance, consider that improvements should lead to measurable benefits that make your business stronger and more profitable.