The Ideal Home Office – Room Lighting – Part 2

I would like to share 5 more tips on what I have learned to avoid distracting, unflattering, and unhelpful lighting for virtual meetings (so you don’t look like me in this photo).

1. In the last post, I shared that I was going to replace my yellowish incandescent office light bulbs with a daylight balanced LED bulbs. I have since purchased, installed, and tested 2 Daylight 5000K Daylight LED bulbs. I like that they don’t generate heat and provide a soft white glow. My previous lights were 60w and the closest I could find at the hardware store were 40w LED bulbs (which actually only use 6w). The 100w replacement (15 w LED) available was too bright, even in a bright store. But it’s a bit too blue and too dim, so I’m going to try something brighter and a little warmer: 4000K 6w LED (60 replacement) bulbs. It sounds like that is the sweet neutral spot between going too blue or too yellow, but not easy to find online and even harder to find in person. Will share the result after I receive them. (UPDATE: I’ve since installed two 4000K 6w LED Bulbs (60w replacements) and am very happy with it.)

2. If you want to add some spice or visual interest to your plain white background, consider using coloured RGB LED lighting. This has become increasingly popular among YouTuber content creators as it’s cost-effective. Try to avoid having these coloured lights spill onto your face or shoulders as that can be distracting and unflattering. These lights are meant to separate you from the background. Then you can use a flattering neutral or warm light for your face. My favourite German Compositor, Sebastian Schütt , uses this type of lighting quite effectively in his videos. Example Video.

3. Most cameras perform at their worst in low light conditions. Does your webcam image look noisy and grainy? Add more light. If this starts making you squint or too bright on camera, consider using a diffuser. This is essentially a semi-transparent white fabric that you mount between the light source (sun from the window, desk lamp, etc.) and yourself. Or if it’s a directional light, try to aim it at the wall near you or a white board to provide soft, diffused bounce light.

4. Avoid having bright lights behind you that shine towards your webcam. This can result in your face disappearing into shadow as the camera adapts to the background light intensity. High contrast lighting in general doesn’t work very well for most webcams, so you also don’t want your background completely in shadow while you’re shining bright in the foreground. Aim for a balanced look where you are only slightly brighter than your background.

5. Here is a great piece of advice from Colour Scientist, Michael Parsons: “For colour critical work, setting sRGB and Rec709 (on your monitor) should be matched to the viewing conditions, sRGB is appropriate for brighter surroundings (think typical office), Rec709 dim surroundings (think studio: low light but not completely blacked out). That choice also needs to be matched to (your) software settings so images are correctly decoded/encoded for the target display. Attention should also be paid to the colour temperature of ambient or bias lighting: avoid tungsten or fluorescent lighting and look for daylight balanced sources, especially anything in the same field of view as your monitor like a desk lamp.”

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