There is no question, that Amber has become a bit of the “norm” for wedding uplighting decor. There is some great logic behind this as well. Amber is a neutral color. One that not only emulates candlelight but mixes well with traditional lighting fixtures like Market Lighting, or wall sconces (built-in venue lighting) for example. This of creates an interesting area of discussion when it comes to properly setting the color of Amber at a wedding or event venue. True Amber, as if you had a wash or uplight fixture with an AMBER bulb set to full blast, is not always the most desirable look. In fact, it rarely is. Simply setting your Amber bulb to 100 or 255 for example (full blast, depending on the fixture) leaves you with a color that more closely resembles a turn signal. Sometimes, it can match the decor of a room with some more Amber tones on the walls, but more often than not, the color is a bit too orange and doesn’t blend well with the venue lighting or the candle light for example.
Use a par diffuser
There are several ways to achieve a great looking Amber color. To start, it is always going to look better to have a fixture that has an Amber bulb. While you won’t simply set it and forget it with just the Amber bulb set to full blast, it does allow for much more accurate representations of the color. When working with an RGB fixture, achieving Amber can be a bit more difficult and what’s more, in order to get the mixing to look great, you’ll want to add a par diffuser over the top of your uplight fixture to better blend the colors. This will ensure that you don’t have areas of the wall you are uplighting show shades of green for example, on its way up the wall, before mixing correctly with the other colors.
Not only do par diffusers allow for a slightly wider angle of the fixture, it will diffuse the colors so you don’t see the color mixing as shown in the photo. Working with an RGB fixture has some benefits, though. While the color mixing is a bit inferior to a fixture with RGBAW+UV for example, they do allow for the color wheel to be used in programs like ShowXpress. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon but as it stands, there is not a way to use DMX programming with a color wheel when you have anything greater than RGB (three colors, Red, Green and Blue). When fixtures can be programmed with a color wheel for lights that have RGBA, or RGBAW or RGBAW+UV, the world of setting colors will be all that much better.
Using some other colors to get the perfect Amber
Personally, I use a fixture that has a 5 in 1 bulb, so together the lights have Red, Green, Blue, Amber, and White. This allows me to get a beautiful Amber that not only matches the market lighting and decor of the room but offers itself as more of a “gold” or neutral and warm color, even when working with LED fixtures. First, let’s go through some examples of what these shades of Amber look like in practice at weddings and events.
First, I’ll start with a couple of examples, where using a pure Amber (think of a fixture having RGBAW with the Amber bulb set to MAX!) turned out to be a nice choice. In this ballroom, you can see that there are a lot of Amber and brown tones on the walls. This definitely calls for some Amber lighting throughout for dinner and cocktail hour. For extra credit for this event, I used wireless DMX and switched to a more saturated color later in the evening, but we will go more into that technique at another time.
Here is another example of using pure Amber but in this case, it was for the use of landscape uplighting. This was taken with a quality camera too! Pure Amber seemed to be distinctive in this venue because of the dark surroundings and Amber and wood tones of the structure outside. There is no rhyme or reason to when to use full Amber vs. an edited Amber like a gold, or what I call a “perfect” Amber other than your best judgment and the surroundings you are enhancing. In this case, I thought the full pure Amber looked great.
Amber + White = Gold
Now let’s take a look at one other variation, and that is more of a “gold” look. In this example, I used my RGBAW fixture with Amber at 255 (the numbers on a lot of DMX fixtures range from 0-255) and I gave it a lift with “white”. I set the white bulb to about 35-40. You can use your best judgment as these colors can vary a bit from fixture to fixture, and the level of “gold” you are trying to achieve might be different than this application. But, it’s a nice intermediate step to achieving perfect Amber.
In this photo, I took a wide shot panorama of the ballroom. As you can see from the uplight fixtures around the perimeter of the room that the fixtures have a “gold” look. This not only matched a lot of the gold decor at the event but the slightly Amber tones on the walls as well. Imagine this same setup with pure Amber and I am sure you will agree that it would be far too orange and turn signal like. This was a perfectly matched gold, although in some situations the camera taking the photo can be a little deceiving!
Amber + Green + White
Next, we’ll take a look at my favorite shade of Amber and what I call “perfect” Amber, and how to achieve this look. This is a panorama of a phone photo so you can see the wide angle. This shade of Amber nearly seamlessly matches the venues built in lighting and emulates candlelight tones near flawlessly.
And here is a photo of landscape lighting using nearly the exact color:
To achieve this color of Amber, or what I’ll refer to as “Perfect Amber” in this post, is like so: Red: 0, Green: 35, Blue: 0, Amber: 255, White: 20. The variable to play with in this series would be the color Green, believe it or not. Green can give it more of a neutral lift, and of course, it can be taken too far. Experiment on your own to find the sweet spot with your fixtures. There have been some occasions I took the Green as high as 50 in the settings.
Compare and Contrast
Lastly, here is a photo of the same ballroom and set up. First, the photo is taken with Amber 255 or “pure” Amber. After that, the colors are set to perfect Amber so you can see the difference. What looks best to you? Comment below and share your experiences with color setting Amber. If you’ve never thought to slightly alter the Amber color from its preset color on your fixture, definitely give it a shot. I have found this really impresses wedding planners. After speaking with many of my close industry friends (mainly event planners who have a great eye for design and color) they all share the same disdain with the color Amber. Why? Because believe it or not there are a LOT of DJ’s out there who just think to set it and forget it with a preset version of Amber, and it’s over-saturated and far too Orange for appropriate decor. A great tip when setting colors is to consider your planner. Remember, they are your friends! They have an incredible eye to detail and have invested so much of their time and expertise into the aesthetics of the event, that they will surely appreciate you including them in the conversation and gathering their feedback of the colors. I know it’s worked for me time and time again, to help gain the trust of a wedding planner, and eventually, their referral!
Before photo, using pure Amber:
The same room, and the same fixtures (photo taken from the other side of the ballroom) with the color set to perfect Amber:
And one more time in case you missed it above, here is the color code to achieving this shade of Amber:
Red: 0, Green: 35, Blue: 0, Amber: 255, White: 20