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No portrait or painting can ever stand on its own. Every masterpiece requires special fine art lighting in order to be displayed with museum quality. Fine art lights are engineered with this specific purpose in mind. Because of this, they differ greatly in size and luminance capacity from general lighting fixtures and purely utilitarian task lights. Fine art lights are manufactured in a wide range of fixture styles, lamping options, and material builds. These options range on the low end to simple battery powered picture lights to ultra-sophisticated fine art lighting projectors. Efficiency ranges just as widely from the low end to the high end of the spectrum, and some fine art lighting fixtures are really should not be used at all other than general print lighting or photography lighting in public events. We will see why in the moment. 

The Natural Sunlight Myth
Before we take a closer look at fine art lighting, we must first answer the question that we hear so frequently hear from those who are new to the world of art collecting. Almost invariably, a good many of these new collectors want to know why special fine art museum lighting equipment is even needed in the first place when natural sunlight could be use to bring out colors in art in the same way it brings out colors in nature. The answer lies not in what we see in natural light, but in what we do not see in the natural spectrum. The invisible parts of the spectrum—namely, ultraviolet and infrared rays—have a tendency to degrade materials over a period of time, and they cause tremendous damage to oils, pastels, prints, watercolors, and photographs. Textiles also tend to fade away under the sun's potent illumination. 

Incandescent 
Incandescent fine art picture lights are safe to use with fine works of art, but they offer mixed results when it comes to color rendering. Incandescent lighting is ideal for bringing out warm colors such as red, orange, yellow, and brown. It is not, however appropriate for highlighting cooler spectrum colors such as blue, green, and violet. The cooler colors appear flat with this type of illumination. If you are new to fine art collecting, and if you are looking to purchase fine art lights for the first time, we recommend you think twice about incandescent. Incandescent lights will be phased out in California by 2010, and the rest of the nation will no doubt follow. 

Fluorescent 
While fluorescents are quickly becoming a preferred replacement for incandescent lights in both residential and commercial circles because of their amazing energy saving capability, they do not make good lights for picture frame lights. Not only do they project only a limited portion of the visible spectrum and normally produce very poor color rendering, but they also produce ultraviolet rays just as harmful as those found in sunlight. 

Halogen 
Halogen bulbs produce a strong white light, which brings out many different colors across the color spectrum. The best type of illumination for fine art lighting is a halogen-based fixture. New technology has invented low wattage halogen bulbs that deflect damaging UV and infrared rays. Halogen bulbs typically come in line voltage (120V) and low voltage (12V). If you are lighting a collection of art featuring different sizes of paintings, different types of painting such as oils, acrylics, pastels, and higher quality watercolors, probably the best art lighting solution is to use a combination of halogen and incandescent fixtures. This can become very costly and also very complex once you realize you may need to fit the entire ceiling with recessed lighting projector fixtures and track lights that are difficult to install and adjust. For a better, and even more elegant source of fine art lighting that also works with three dimensional pieces such as statuary and abstracts, consider an art lighting projector. 

Phantom Contour Art Lighting Projectors 
Phantom Contour Projectors feature ideal optics and photometric capabilities ideally suited to fine art lighting. These projectors feature halogen light fixtures and produce a very unique quality of luminance called “the lighted from within effect.” Phantom recessed picture lights are easy to install and extremely versatile, because of their small, compact size and small ceiling aperture. The Phantom Projector incorporates a parabolic aluminized reflector MR-16 75-watt halogen based lamp in its design compared to other projectors. These lamps were originally used for the fiber optic industry, where detailed light focusing is required. The typical rated life of this lamp is around 4000 hours, giving the enthusiast of exquisite paintings plenty of time to enjoy their precious piece, before having to replace the bulb. The SM, or surface mount series, is the ideal choice for lighting any type of fine art. This adjustable projector has a sleek design, which is unobtrusive and perfect for accenting brush stroke details, along with other vital elements of your paintings. The design of Phantom art projector lights will ensure that your frames are pampered, so they are not damaged. 

Reinventing Your Picasso Provided you use the proper techniques and the best equipment, your fine art collection will always be enhanced to it greatest potential, Halogen is a top choice, when it comes to low voltage fine art illumination, and the unique Phantom Contour projectorincorporates this form of light to bring out all those gorgeous colors that have been hidden for so long. So bring your Picasso back to life, or tickle a Van Gogh painting with a little extra touch. Your fine art illumination adventure is just beginning with Phantom Lighting.

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