Friday, September 30, 2005


It is a FACT that Hell is illuminated by Sodium Discharge lighting, which, as we all surely know by now, gives VERY POOR colour rendering capability and an unfortunate dusky peach ambience. The muses are repelled and this may well provide an explanation as to why no English word can be found to rhymme with "orange".

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oxford - St.Giles

Looking west across Oxford's St. Giles and into Pusey Lane. What I like in this picture is that it achieves a clear illustration of the effects of three types of street-lighting. The foreground is lit by the colour-corrected HPS as seen in the following images. Pusey Lane has full-spectrum Compact Fluorescent giving a more natural, neutral feeling but one which complements the architecture to sublime effect. Note also, how clear is the view down this lane and how this is achieved with less light being reflected off the road-surface. The parking lanes which border the main carriageway are lit with conventional H.P.S., notably more abrasive than the main lighting scheme. One is seen here to the right of the frame. This picture was taken in fine Septemberous conditions, soon after sunset.

Looking south from the War Memorial and towards the Martyr's Memorial at the junction of Beaumont Street, with the colour-corrected H.P.S. seen as a ribbon of "heritage" twin-fixtures running down the centre-island of this wide thoroughfare. The crappy old HPS Ordinaire may be seen casting it's dusky-peach sameness unto the periphery parking bays behind the trees.

Another view south, with the Eagle and Child pub just visible behind the rightmost HPS light. The trees look agreeably verdant under the main illumination of improved HPS, the white and yellow road-markings are distinct and the red car looks red. Although a touch bright for my tastes, this installation does feel appropriate for the setting of this busy and architecturally rich central street.

At the north end of St.Giles and forking onto the Woodstock Road, this sunset view is shown in order to provide a comparison between St. Giles' improved yellow-white HPS and Woodstock Road's regular dusky-peach HPS.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Compact Fluorescent on Osney Island

Phwoar! Look at the foliage on that! This verdant view demonstrates the superb colour rendering of Compact Fluorescent street-lighting. Oxford City Council have replaced most of the old monochromatic orange L.P.S. with this type of lighting on West Oxford's residential streets.

We begin a short tour of Osney Island alongside the Thames [none of that "Isis" nonsense here] on East Street, looking south towards Osney Lock.

This view down East Street shows the contrast between white C.F. lighting and the more familiar Dusky Peach of H.P.S. across the river. What looks at first glance to be a mercury-vapour light on a very high column is, in fact, the moon.

Window boxes on West Street. Proper wood-frame sash windows as well! This is great! In fact, I'll bet you want to live here, don't you? Two considerations: 1/ Osney Island floods. 2/ Despite this inconvenience, a two-bed terraced house here will cost £230-275k. [2005] I humbly suggest part of the reason for this desirability is the superior night-time environment. I know I'd pay a tidy premium for a city-centre location free from ugly sodium lighting.

A final view of West Street, looking towards the Botley Road, which is just visible as a peach-coloured stain in the near-distance. Note: in all these pictures I have tried to represent the actual lighting level, as perceived subjectively at the time of shooting. Flash is never used, as it would defeat my purpose here, which is primarily to show the qualitative differences in the effects of different light-sources on their environments. Therefore, slow shutter-speeds must be used: 0.25-0.8s. Consequently, when, as here, the light-source is included in the photo, it can appear more glaring than it really is. The appearance of a bowl of light in this photo is as a result of light being reflected around in the deep diffuser fitted to these particular "heritage" styled lumieres. The lamp itself is fitted horizontally, high inside the fitment and is not a cause of glare. These compact-fluorescents, whilst providing a slightly higher lighting level than the 35W L.P.S. they have replaced, are nothing like as hard on the eye as the more common H.P.S. The feeling, when walking these streets after dark, is not only one of calm, but also of a re-kindled sense of anticipation for what aesthetic pleasures may be around the next corner.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sodium Gallery


There's no excuse for this. A High Pressure Sodium streetlight has been plonked here solely to light-pollute a few yards of footpath leading from the village of East Hagbourne to the neighbouring town of Didcot. As well as destroying any sense of rural tranquility in this "Conservation Area" through a combination of the putrid peach colour and searing intensity of the glaring light, the badly-positioned lumiere bangs the light directly in your eyes on approach from Hagbourne, as can be seen in the second picture. This means that one's eye is blinded to whatever evils are sure to lurk beyond the light, thus negating the supposed fear-reducing benefit of illuminating the path in the first place.


Further along the same path, but out of the Conservation Area and into Didcot, our way is lit by the ubiquitous monochrome of Low Pressure Sodium. The appearance of verdant hedgerows, tree foliage and lush green grass seen by day are replaced at night with the omniscient orange fug, which gives a more threatening atmosphere. The light is, however, rather less glaring than the HPS shown above. White light replacements would out-perform both types of sodium shown here and, at a lower level of illumination, would be considerably less intrusive.

Colour-corrected H.P.S. [White Sodium]

Of interest for two reasons. Firstly, to demonstrate the vastly improved colour-rendering properties given by this latest generation of High Pressure Sodium. A wider spectrum of light is produced, albeit with a yellow bias. The lights are, however, extremely bright. Almost daylight levels of illumination; the need for which I must question in relation to this particular stretch of road. Formerly the A34, it is now the B34879 or something, linking the villages of Drayton and Steventon. The only turning or entrance on this stretch is shown on the left of this view taken from the last bus-stop before leaving Drayton. It leads to a domestic waste tip, open daylight hours only, and a small Golf Club. If the aim here is to illuminate the footpath to the right of the road, then why light both sides? This high-mast rig must have cost a fortune. Why not just light the path with pedestrian-level lumieres?

I will be updating this section with more galleries soon. Highlights to come include a calming white-light arrangement illuminating Swindon's famous Magic Roundabout , colour-corrected HPS on St.Giles in Oxford and, if I can stump up the fuel costs and if they are indeed still there, the Millington Road gaslights in Cambridge. When I saw these lights a few years ago, I understood them to be the last example of a gas lighting installation still operating in this country. A very fine light they give, too. Brighter than you might expect and pure white in colour. If anyone knows the current status of these historic lights, I'd be grateful if you'd let me know.