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Kind of Blue

As a lighting designer, I’m sometimes asked to make things ‘blue’.  Here is what ‘blue’ means to me:

  • Daylight blue – the cheating blue that turns a yellow tungsten lens to the not-quite-white of daylight
  • Royal blue, rich with imperial ambitions
  • Congo blue, the darkest I know, which eats up all light that passes through it and inclines to purple, full of sexy heat and depth
  • Deep blue, almost impossible to see on floors, garish clown coloured on skin
  • Cornflower blue, that at low intensities is almost pink, and at high goes a Christmasy bright
  • Arctic blue, full of winter
  • Sea blue, straight from the tropics
  • Sky blue – a summer’s sky at noon, or a winter’s sky on a clear crisp day at dawn, depending on what colours are near it; for summer set it off with a hint of something hot and flecked with orange, for winter find a hint of something at the paler end of the blue or, perhaps, just perhaps, yellows, judiciously deployed
  • Tokyo blue, which pretends to come straight from a fluorescent tube and promises men in latex and jetpacks beneath its sharp edge
  • Jazz blue, to go with the music, smokey singers sprawling across pianos
  • TV blue, which with the naked eye seems a strange nothing-no-where of a colour, a not-quite-pastel, not quite-deep blue, but which to the more deceptive, not-quite white-field-corrected eye of the TV lens, takes on a vivid richness of colour in both the air and on the floor
  • Night blue, which is the silliest blue of the lot, since the night isn’t actually blue, but which audience members the world over expect in every pantomime when the sun goes down
  • Medical blue, the blue of scrubs and long, frightening corridors
  • Moonlight blue, which when it shines alone in the dark seems a snowy white, but which when seen against real white is revealed for what it is, sneaky, deceptive blue once again
  • Denim blue; the blue of my coffee cup.  Computer screen blue, the blue of the screen of death when your laptop crashes; raw LED blue which has just won a Nobel prize; navy blue, sailor blue, Atlantic Ocean blue which is closer to grey, sapphire blue, blood-blue in winter.

Ask a lighting designer for ‘blue’ and please be prepared to clarify…