What Is Uplighting
What is uplighting and do I need it? Both of these are great questions so I will go over the basic concepts and give some technical info, but not too much. First of all, what is uplighting? It’s exactly what it sounds like. Lights are placed on the ground and shoot directly up to wash a wall like in this photo:
Over the past few years, these lights have really evolved. All of them are LED now with most of them being battery in the higher price point and vary in pricing from $50 each to $300 each. Now, of course, you get what you pay for. Our uplights are in the $300 range. The very first set we bought as a production company was $700 each. We got twenty so we spent $14,000 for that set of uplights because we wanted the best lights with the most functionality.
Still though… do you need uplighting? Out of everything we do as a production company, uplighting is the most basic. There are a few reasons. First of all, uplighting is the base of any great lighting plan. We at Karma Productions like to layer the lighting we do. Meaning that uplighting is the place we start, then we add in elements such as a monogram, pin spots, dance floor lighting, pattern washes, etc. We’ll talk about monogram, pin spots and dance floor lighting and pattern washes in other articles. For now, I just want to focus on uplighting and whether you need it. As I said, uplighting is the base of any great lighting plan.
What the experts say…
Whether you absolutely need uplighting will continue to be debated. When I did research to write this, I found many articles from Wedding Wire, Pinterest, and even Martha Stewart Weddings that argued for each side. I’ll just say this, if you like the look of uplighting, then go for it, If you don’t, then don’t – it’s that simple. Some ballrooms or event spaces are gorgeous already so you may not think you need uplighting. But look at it like this… proper lighting will accentuate any great architectural element. I will say that uplighting enhances every space no matter how beautiful, ornate, or plain (we prefer to call a plain venue a blank slate). We provide production for some of the most beautiful ballrooms, and some of the blank slate spaces in Arizona and it never disappoints!
Color Is Important
The next thing to think about when you’re trying to decide whether you want uplighting is the color. Most of the articles that I read that didn’t like uplighting actually didn’t like the bright color of uplighting. This is the easiest thing to discuss simply because uplights are programmable. Meaning that we can color mix to get the color you want.
All LED uplights have at least 3 diodes – red, green & blue. Those are the very basic uplights and are referred to as RGB. More expensive uplights have 5 to 6 diodes that include red, green & blue; now added amber, white, and even UV – so these are referred to as RGBAW+UV. All of the uplights we have at Karma Productions now are RGBAW+UV. This option gives the best color mixing, so no streaking or bleeding. And we can even do a cool blacklight (think Halloween or a neon birthday party), so for us, this uplight option is extremely versatile.
If you are afraid, or don’t like bright colors, or are thinking about how your photos will look 10 years from now, then consider a neutral color such as amber or warm white. Not all whites are created equally though, so definitely talk to your lighting company to make sure they can do a warm white by color mixing. If they use the LED white as is, the color will be very harsh and may even have a blue hue to it. Think about how car headlights are these days. The white LED is the same cold color temperature.
Quality is important
Any good lighting or production company will have more advanced uplights. I’m not knocking the DJ that offers uplights in his or her package. We started as DJs before we were a production company many many years ago and are guilty of buying the cheapest lights we could find in the beginning. A production company or dedicated lighting company specializes in lighting, therefore we at Karma Event Productions invest in the best possible technology. When I talked about color mixing, I was referring to mixing colors to get a new color. For example, red and blue make purple. If more red is added, then the purple is more pinkish. If more blue is added, then the purple is more blueish. This can be done manually or with a computer. Our uplights are able to be DMXed so we can control them wirelessly as well. That first set of uplights I referred to above in this paragraph when we were DJs were not wireless DMX. So if a client wanted the room to change colors, then we had to run cables from light to light. And if the client asked mid-event to change colors, we couldn’t. Talk about spending hours on something that takes only minutes now.
Ok, so now that you know a little bit about color options, we still should address whether you need uplighting. I mean, do you really need anything??? Sure, water, air, your SO if you’re planning a wedding. But is uplighting a need or a want? I think it’s both. You want it because it’s pretty. Ranging from the brightest hot pink to the sexiest red to the warmest amber, you’ll never be disappointed. Look at one of my favorite photos from Leslie Ann Photography (formerly Lasting Images)
You can see that this wedding was a blast by the look on everybody’s faces but really look at this photo. See the darkness in the background? Do you see the color on the walls? If there was no uplighting, there would be no dimension to this photo; everything in the background would be darkness. And I’ll tell you something else, I’m not even embarrassed or uncomfortable that this photo is from 2012 because it’s freaking timeless. We show this photo over and over just to drive home the point I’m making here. Uplighting adds dimension to every photo. Let’s face it, you don’t have just one photographer at your wedding or event, you can potentially have hundreds. Everybody has a camera on their phone; and they’ll be looking at the photos as long as they keep them on their phone. Uplighting will add so much dimension, but more importantly, it adds to the memories and that’s priceless!