Incandescent or LED?

I get asked this question all the time: What’s the difference between incandescent bulbs and LEDs?  There is obviously quite a bit of a difference between the two, but for most, they just want a brief explanation of the basic facts so they know which they should purchase.  In most cases, the information you’ll find in the video below is the answers to the most common questions about the differences between incandescents, compact florescent, and LED bulbs.

I know it’s early

Christmas lights are the best

I know we’re not even through Halloween, yet, but I still get excited for what follows.  As you may be aware, I’m talking about the holidays.  This whole time of year is awesome.  I suppose it starts with Halloween, though.  The last day of October.  Kids and Candy everywhere.  It’s the perfect entry point into the best times of the year.

Then we get Thanksgiving.  Sitting with friends and family and eating yourself into a coma is awesome in its own right.  And best of all, it’s just the mid point of the season.

Right after Thanksgiving, the holiday season really starts.  Aside from Black Friday (ugh), most people really start to get into the holiday spirit.  And that’s when you start to see one of my favorite parts of the holidays – Christmas lighting.

The lighting displays range from almost non-existent to unbelievably clever.  But at the end of the day (when you can see the lights best), the colors light up the night in a time when the sun sets way too early.

Back when I lived in Massachusetts, I used to love driving around every town just to see the displays.  The bright lights set against the white powdery snow is a brilliant contrast.  Words just don’t do the sights justice.  It may just be one of those things you’d have to see to understand.

Since I’ve moved to Houston, I’ve noticed that there is no longer any chance of seeing snow for the holidays.  That, however, has not stopped me from seeing the sights of the displays that great lighting can provide.  On the few real cold nights,  I almost get a sense of nostalgia.

After driving around for a bit, I decided to find out who is actually creating these stunning displays.  Often, I came across the same name: Outdoor Comforts.  Come to find out, they do all sorts of outdoor home lighting.  But they also provide mosquito control, which, if you’ve ever lived in Texas, you know it’s not just a summer problem.  But that’s another story for another day.

Either way, if you’re looking for Christmas light installation Houston-style, check out Outdoor Comforts.

Pool Lighting

Water makes lights so much cooler

Is it just me, or do lights in pools and hot tubs just look really cool?  Maybe it’s how the light looks through the water, but I can never get enough of a cool lighting installation in a pool.

I suppose a good deal of that alone is the design of the pool.  If it’s just a rectangular pool, there really isn’t much you can do with it.

pool lightingThese days, however, pool builders are getting creative and pools are looking more and more like personal ponds.  I love the architecture that goes into the designing of the pools, but the lighting can get so intricate.  It’s truly amazing.

Whether the lights run around the rim of the pool or are actually shining throughout the walls of the pool, it’s always a spectacle.

Just take a look at the picture to the right.  How does that not make you want to either get a pool with an intricate lighting design or add a lighting design if you already have a pool.  The thought process that goes into this lighting is flat out amazing.  This pool probably looks pretty dull during the day without those cool lights.

A Little Light Goes A Long Way

Lights = Amazing

It really blows my mind sometimes when something so simple can make a huge difference.  This happens all the time in the world of lighting, too.  It’s amazing to see the looks on the faces of the people you are demonstrating lighting effects to for the first time.  Amidst all of the “oohs” and “ahs,” you can sometimes sneak in a little effect that takes no effort on your part and you get a “Holy $#!%!  You can do that?!”  It’s a great feeling to wow so many with so little.

stage light riggingDon’t get me wrong.  Lighting is very involved.  When you’re lighting for a banquet or awards ceremony or whatnot, you don’t have the luxury of the lights already positioned and aimed at the stage.  More often than not, these events are held in hotels and their ever changing rooms.  Because of this, they can’t have lights hanging at all times.

A lighting rigger needs to come in, set up the truss, attach the lights, fly the truss (which means hang the truss from the ceiling) and then adjust the lighting as needed prior to the start of the event.  And then the rigger needs to bring it all back down after the event passes.  It’s not an easy job, but it’s still very rewarding.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…

Not too long ago, I was running lighting for an awards ceremony/banquet/game show… this company hired a producer to do this ceremony as a game show (and the final result was atrocious).  During the “game show” aspect, there were people in chairs on stage who were supposed to feign turning around when their name was called to display some sort of suspense.  I don’t really know what they were going for there.

As a lighting guy, I offered some guidance on what we could do.  They, at first, said no because they knew what they were doing.  I know better, though.

They wanted the lights focused on the chairs to be turned up once the people in the chairs started moving so everyone could see them.  Anyone who has seen a game shew knows that this does not build any suspense.

While they were arguing over who knows what (probably how terrible this idea was), I programmed the lighting board to do some neat tricks.  I asked them how long their drum roll was (yes, they had a drum roll), and I programmed the lights accordingly.  First, all of the lights on the stage dropped with the exception of the spot lights on the chairs.  When the drum roll began, the spotlights would begin to flash “randomly” on all of the chairs until the end of the drum roll.  At the conclusion of the drum roll, the chair that was to turn around would flash a few times and then remain on allowing the audience to know that this was the chair that was turning around.  After the chair turned around, the spot light dimmed and the stage lights turned up back to their normal setting.

Think of how simple that looks.  Now think of the cleanup that was needed as the minds of the “producers” were literally blown.

It amazes me how something so simple always gets such a shocked reaction.

The lesson here?

Lighting rocks!