Compact flouresecent light buld against a rendered concrete wallHave you ever travelled somewhere you've been before but a long time ago? Somewhere perhaps where things are different to the life you left to go there? Although I'm an Australian and have spent most of my life here, I was born in Georgetown, Penang and have spent significant periods of my life growing up in Asia. I feel an affinity – there's a large part of me in Southeast Asia. I recently returned to the mountains of the Indonesian island of Bali after an absence of 10 years. Bali's a beautiful (& warm) place with rich a Hindu culture and warm, friendly people … did I mention warm? The morning we left Canberra it was -6C! When we landed it felt the same … it smelled the same. We couldn't find the driver our hotel sent so we jumped in a cab for what's normally a 40 minute ride. The trip took 2 and a bit hours in at times quite ridiculous traffic … perhaps traffic is a bit generous – traffic implies movement of some kind. There was plenty of time to look out the window. As the sun set I noticed something had changed. At first I couldn't put a finger on it yet it altered my whole perception. By the road, shops and houses, scooter repair, makan (food) carts, temples and shrines – switched on their lights pools in the increasing darkness.

The shops felt colder, less inviting … why was that? Of course! The light! The light was now blue! I remembered it as orange … incandescent … warm. The incandescent globes had all been replaced by compact flourescents (CF) with their cold bluey glow. Here in Australia, we've been changing the globes over for years and I remember noticing that houses looked less inviting and colder then. It was one of those 'Derr!' moments when I realise the obvious … of course everyone everywhere is changing to the new bulbs … of course it will look different. Then why did I have such a reaction to this?

I'll declare I dislike CF lighting … it feels stark and cold to me … somehow less intimate. Halogens still retain their warmth (literally most times!) … I guess people who've grown up with nothing else do not yearn as I do for those warm oranges and yellows. I sincerely hope that lighting engineers are working on warmer, energy-efficient solutions – I'm sure they are!

How about you, do you miss the incandescents? Have you always known CF lighting? Does it feel cold to you? Less intimate?

Do let me know ๐Ÿ™‚


Geoffrey Dunn is a Canberra based photographer specialising in portraiture and event photography.




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