Warm Incandescence Without IntermittenceThursday, January 13, 2011
Everybody knows that both death and taxes are inevitable. I always add a third one and that is bureaucracy. Put two men on a desert island and soon you will have one of them imposing permits in triplicate on the other. But there is other stuff that is certain. Nobody will argue against the fact that cigarette smoke is harmful. It is a fact like that other one that seems to be ignored these days and that is that fluorescent lighting is bad for you.
Since my early 20s until about 10 years ago I suffered massive migraines. When I knew I was going to get one (a pressing behind either both eyes or only one of them) I knew I had to avoid fluorescents. They would unleash the coming migraine and I always felt the pain became worse.
Yet most government institutions are lit by fluorescents to save money.
Fluorescent light has been the bane of photographers who had to shoot colour film for magazines. It was almost impossible to get a white shirt to be white and for skin colour to look pleasant at the same time. Portraits of doctors in hospitals were one difficult example.
I went as far as using a special fluorescent filter (it was magenta in colour and it was called a Singh-Ray). The magenta filter made a business room look normal and the man or woman whose portrait I was taking would have a magenta face, too. Over my flash I would tape a green (I experimented with different greens until I found the right one) plastic cellophane (called a gel in photography). The green light of the flash would then correct the businessman’s face.
In our present house we have fluorescents in one half of the kitchen and one of the upstairs bathrooms has a fluorescent tube. The house is much too old and funds have never been available to correct this lighting anomaly. The rest of the house is lit with tri-lights and bright incandescent bulbs.
These bulbs are being banned in Vancouver and in British Columbia. We must now use the more sophisticated, energy efficient fluorescents that remind me of twisted human intestines. The lighting they give out, no matter how “full spectrum” they may be, is still much too cool for me and I can feel the intermittent nature of these lights. It is the intermittence that triggers migraines and (I would believe) epileptic attacks.
The reason for all the above is that my wife persuaded me to go on an incandescent bulb run this evening. We went to Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Shopper’s Drug Mart and Zellers and we stocked up. I wonder how many of these bulbs I will predecease!
It was in the middle and early 80s that I took photographs of two gentlemen (for separate articles in Equity Magazine). One of them was Stephen Rogers who at the time was the Socred Energy Minister. I persuaded him to pose for me while holding a light bulb. I had previously soldered two electrical wires to the bottom and side of the bulb. I had then dipped the bulb into Varathane varnish many times until a thick, but the transparent coating prevented the current from jumping to the holder’s hand. I then ran the wires through Rogers’ sleeves to take the final picture.
In Argentina we call them by a cuter name, bombitas. This means literally, little bomb! In Spanish bomba has several meanings. Besides being an explosive device or a light bulb it can also be a pump, an air pump or a water pump.
For me focos pump out a pleasant warm and appealing light and by the time we run out of them I am sure that I will not be around to be affected by intermittence or that cold “full spectrum” light. And it is the coldness of that light that will have so many making reservations for Hawaii next January.