Email John
Created 09/29/07
Last update 12/08/2010

Tri-Color Lighting Experiment

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Colors tried since 05/27/07

I recently bought some color compact fluorescent lamps.  These lamps use standard CF ballasts but use neon-type classic coated color glass.  If you're used to colored light bulbs or even classic neon, you'll be amazed at the amount of light and color saturation these things produce.

As I was sitting in my den one night my attention fell to the light fixture attached to the overhead fan.  The fixture contains 3 sockets filled with white CF lamps.  Hmmm, I have Red, Green and Blue CFLs.  Three Sockets, three lamps, three primary colors. Looks like there's a fit! Let's see what happens.

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Here they are in the fixtures.  This was a surprisingly difficult photo to take, owing to the very high light output.  I used a lot of flash and a neutral density filter over the lens.
A close up.  Another difficult photo to shoot.  In this one I used a 12:1 neutral density filter and all the light output my flash could produce.
This photo shows the effects.  This is the shadow cast by my leg.  One can graphically see how primary colors mix - blue and green make yellow in the foreground.  Red and blue make purple on the far side.  Out of the shadows the three colors mix to make white.

Even though the mixed light is white it has an ethereal feel.  It's almost as if my eyes won't quite focus properly.  It's an interesting effect.  I'm going to leave them up for awhile and see how I like the effect over the long term.

10/04/07 update - Well, that experiment didn't last long.  That had to be the most annoying lighting that I've ever experienced.  Both my eyes and my camera's color balance registered it as white light but my brain sure didn't like it. It made me feel like I wasn't quite completely in the room or something.  Hard to describe.  Almost like a very light fog was in the room, slightly fuzzing up everything.

These lamps use rare earth phosphors so the spectrum of each is quite narrow.  Not as monochromatic as an LED but still narrow.