Well, I have been somewhat disconnected from email for the last few days, and I almost broke out in a rash from it, but it was worth it. Yesterday, I conducted a six hour workshop on lighting software at the 2003 Lightfair International, the annual Big Event in my chosen vocation’s calendar. I was told my proposal for the workshop was accepted back in October of last year, and ever since, May 5th has hung ominously from my shoulders, as I fretted over what the content should be, and whether it would be interesting enough to hold attention for six hours.

Today is May sixth; May fifth is history, and my shoulders have descended from their customary position of being pinned to my earlobes, to a much more relaxed and comfortable position. The weight has been lifted; mission accomplished.

From what I can tell, it was worthwhile for the attendees. It was certainly worthwhile for me, as it had been a long time since I’ve stood in front of a bunch of strangers to deliver a speech. Also, I was elightened during my research for the workshop; lighting calculation software has come a long way in the past few years, and many of the major players have really advanced their products to the point where the average ligting designer has easy access to a powerful suite of calculation and rendering tools.

As a recent convert to Radiance, I had hoped to win a few more during my presentation. Radiance has such a well-deserved reputation for being difficult to learn, but I wanted to show people that if I can do it (with my F in Algebra II from junior year of High School), then anyone could do it. While I think people were intrigued by its possibilities, I doubt many of the fifty assembled guests will take the plunge. I always felt that if I could convince just one or two people to at least investigate Radiance’s marvelous power, I’d be happy, but the reality is that I was there to show a vast cross section of people (Lighting Designers, Architects, Manufacturers, Surveyors) ALL the products out there, and the fact of the matter is that the current crop of lighting software is a long way from the capability of where it was just a few years ago.

Things are good for the Architectural Lighting Design community. I’m happy to see healthy competition amongst the leaders in the industry, and also to see a flurry of activity at the high end of things, as Radiance recently went open source and continues to be enhanced, over a decade after its inception.

The pickins are good, no matter your level of expertise, no matter your desire for complexity, no matter your desire for realism.