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Shelf Island

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The layout is in the corner of the room, the room is L-shaped with two windows and lighting in here has always been difficult. I want some dedicated light above the layout to hide my own shadow and to define the colour temperature of the layout. I would like the colour to represent daylight on a bright, lightly clouded day (soft shadows), so the colours of RTR stock look right. This will give me a basis to work from for the background (already hung, but needs some attention) and the rest of the layout.




My lighting rig is a length of pine stripwood with four self-adhesive strips of LEDs stuck on to it - three bright white and one warm white. This combination blends in well with natural daylight and with the pendant lamp in the middle of the room (this has a bright white, 6300 kelvin LED bulb). The strip of wood has two flat strips of aluminium glued on, one each side, to help it blend in with the front of the layout and hopefully keep the wood straight too.


The LEDs in the lighting rig are unbranded strips with 3M adhesive, probably made in China. I have used the whole of a 5-metre bright white strip (cut into thirds) and a third of a warm white strip, so about 400 LEDs in all.

It is important to put layout lighting in front of the layout as well as above it (not directly above it) so the shadows look reasonable for the latitude of the supposed location. As it happens, the ceiling joists here are parallel to the layout so it was easy to put two large cup hooks into the ceiling, screwed through the plasterboard and into the joists above, and hang two lengths of fine chain from these to hold the lighting rig.




This puts the lighting rig 27 inches vertically above the front of the baseboard (which is two inches below the nearest track) and 3 inches in front of it. Measuring diagonally, the LEDs are 26 inches from the nearest track (the summit of the high level section) and 34 inches from the back of the baseboard at the foot of the backscene. The spread of light is very even. I can alter the shadows by pulling the lighting rig backwards away from the layout, but I cannot see whether this is better or just different. I need to wait until I have got the shape of the landscape in place to see which is best - I could tie a length of fishing line or similar back to a hook in another joist to fine-tune the setting.




The room is painted entirely in Dulux Absolute White, walls coving and ceiling. The clock has foam numbers stuck on the wall, from the Ale-Hop shop in Tenerife. Sadly no shops in the UK as far as I know.


I am not sure about lighting for exhibitions. I have two portable lighting stands for Interfit flash heads. Perhaps I could set up both of these, with a pole between them, and the lighting rig hung from the pole. The trouble is there never seems to room to try this sort of thing out indoors in the house.


- Richard.

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