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Byline: Alan J. Heavens Knight Ridder Newspapers

The permutations of outdoor lighting are almost endless. But techniques and technology aside, the final result should be a reflection of your personality, tastes and lifestyle.

Above all, it should not compete with your home for attention, but complement it.

Here is a brief compendium of lighting techniques:

Uplighting describes the illumination of an object, area or surface from below. Walls, fences, bushes and shrubs, and overhanging tree branches are likely candidates. Uplighting, which uses spotlights or floodlights, enhances the textures, sizes or colors of trees or large plants. Some uplighting should be used seasonally to highlight a flowering dogwood, cherry tree or azalea.

Spotlighting uses a beam of light that is focused from above or below the object to draw attention to it, such as the spire of a church. There can be a problem with glare, so most spotlights come with some sort of shield to reduce or eliminate it.

Downlighting also is called moonlighting. Lights are mounted in a tree canopy to soften the effect of the light on the ground surrounding the tree.

Shadowing is when the light source in front of an object projects a shadow on the surface behind the object, such as a tree on the wall of a house.

Crosslighting is used to soften shadows, and entails using two or more fixtures from different angles.

Grazing is an effect achieved when a light source is placed within 12 inches of the surface and the light beam is aimed parallel to that surface. For example, a stone or rough-stucco house may look better when the textured surface is grazed by lighting.

Backlighting or silhouetting is achieved when a light is placed behind an object and aimed at a wall or other vertical surface behind the object.

When lighting stairs, keep in mind that there are fixtures designed specifically for the task. Make certain that whatever lighting you select helps people navigate the steps safely. Consider seasonal problems such as ice and rain, and whether the lighting masks or points to spots that are slippery.

Path lighting should highlight borders and illuminate the walkway. When you do this, make certain the paths are evenly lighted by overlapping the patterns of light. Sharp contrasts between dark and light often can confuse and disorient people.

Lights for wooden decks tend to be small, low-voltage fixtures that provide accent lighting.

Underwater lighting often is overdone, but if you have a swimming pool, small pond or a miniature waterfall and safety is a concern, it might be a wise investment.
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 23, 1999
Previous Article:GUIDING LIGHTS.

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