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Mike M
05-04-2008, 08:54 AM
I was sitting on a bench near a Wendy's waiting for darkness to aim lights, and staring at a typical incredible live oak tree.

I had it figured out in my head, anyone with experience with these things please let me know. There are layers or tiers of canopies, with open and long horizontal meandering branches, and I figure if I had climbing gear, rather than uplighting from the ground, I could downlight lower branches using positions directly above them, on the upper branches. Typical old oaks have at least three main tiers. The other choice is to up light from the lower branches, and then the final choice is to combine. The best thing is that for downlighting, there are tons of opportunities for positioning of zero degree angles.

Anyone doing this please let me know, plus info on fixture and wattage of bulbs would be great, too.

I hate the effect the EC's use, up lighting from lower branches, near the main trunk, using unshielded mega floods. Another thing I see is people downlighting, but aiming the fixtures toward things other than the tree (which is fine, if that's the objective, but they are not illuminating the tree itself).

I found technical tree climbing starter kits by googling the subject. Prices range from 350 to 650, complete with training manuals. Now, in addition to the oak info, if anyone climbs trees this way, please chime in. There are options for double rope or single rope techniques using ascenders, etc. I could use the feedback.

Pro-Scapes
05-04-2008, 10:35 AM
Mike you need to go back and look at the tree paul lit in his backyard. Very nice.

Your techniques on light placement will have to be dependant on the goal. If the tree is directly in front of the view of the home and the home is to be uplit you may want to do minimal lighting in the tree and allow it to be backlit esentially by the home.

I wish I had more of these to work with. They are incrdible trees. I did propose one last week but they guy almost choked at the number of fixtures needed to light it.

I dont think there is a rule of thumb for you on the lighting of the trees due to how unique they are.

Eden Lights
05-04-2008, 11:41 AM
Some where in my files I have some pics and plans for some live oaks done by a well known designer. The thing that stood out in my mind was 20+ fixtures on the ground, level 1, level 2, and downlighting. Aiming and shielding done with tree climbers, man lifts, multiple spotters from various positions, and designer calling the shots from radio to various workers. I have quoted plans for several large trees over the years to be the focal point in the landscape, but have only done temp installs for weddings and etc. I am talking about large trees, 6-8 fixtures don't count. Maybe one day the right landscape with the right client will come along.

NightScenes
05-04-2008, 12:40 PM
We are very fortunate and cursed with a lot of great live oaks here in central Texas. The one in my yard is about 250 years old and the canopy is about 75' across. We are blessed in that we get to work with trees that are just spectacular but we are cursed in that we have to convince our clients that it takes at least 8 to 10 fixtures to do it any justice at all. Then you have to look at the surroundings, can you actually place the fixtures where they are needed to illuminate it properly? Down lighting and up lighting in the canopy is fine but you still need fixtures from below to give it the drama that such a great tree deserves.

The Lighting Geek
05-04-2008, 02:19 PM
To me, the perfectly lit large oak tree takes as paul says, at least 10 and probably 15-20 well lights to illuminate the head. Sometimes it requires additional lights in the head of the tree to complete the balance. Most importantly you have to softly downlight evenly under the canopy at least out to the edges of the drip line so the tree appears connected to the ground. I have seen some beautifully up lit trees but they are missing something because they are visually growing out of darkness. I believe any tree up lit in general should be connected to the ground with downlighting. I like the Quasar1 and the Lunar from Unique for downlighting and I love the Orbital Side Mount(OSM) Probe for in canopy uplighting. Up lighting from the ground, I think well lights work the best because you don't see them as much as other fixtures, and there is nothing like downlighting a fixture. LOL! You will want to consider a lens for your well lights to keep the leaves off the bulb. Apollo, Apollo Star, Nova and Nova Star are what I use for this. I actually don't try to light the trunk directly, it looks unnatural. I let the trunk be lit indirectly and it looks more like the moonlight is doing it rather than a fixture. I have used 35 fixtures on a massive tree before and it didn't look over lit. I'm Paul has as well with as many live oaks as he has done.

NightLightingFX
05-04-2008, 02:45 PM
Last summer I bought a tree climbing kit from Wespur. I also bought a DVD on climbing techniques - it wasn't cheap, but it was mandatory for me to learn. Before I got the DVD I got stuck in the tree trying to figure out thing with manuals. Once you figure out the how to rig lines and etc. it is pretty fun. I discovered through my research after my tree incident there are people out there that climb trees for recreation like rock climbing. see this web site www.treeclimbingnorthwest.com. The equipment I got from Wespur for the basic climbing kit is pretty good except for the harness. I would talk with a recreation outfit first before getting the harness Wespur provides. Since I am only about 6hrs away from a recreational climbing outfit one of these days I am going to take their course. Just for the fun of it. For me getting stuck in the tree turned out to be a good marketing campain. I got two newspaper articles out of it. You can see my newspaper articles on my website www.nightlightingfx.com
~Ned

NightLightingFX
05-04-2008, 02:55 PM
I didn't finish reading your post. Stay away from single rope ascenders - That is how I got stuck. The double rope system with false crotch is REALLY cool. If you want to talk more on this PM me or call me. Definatly go to my web site and see my articles on my tree climbing endeavor. You can get my phone number from my website. I think I can stear you in the right direction so you won't make the mistakes I made. I had ABSOLUTLY NO idea what I was doing when I started.
~Ned

Mike M
05-04-2008, 04:40 PM
I seem to have met my match. That article/photo in the paper was awesome!! I'm jealous.