July 17th, 2016
Last week a reader asked an interesting question:
I recently found a service some companies are providing Realtors called ‘Virtual Twilight’ Photography. Instead of going out and shooting at dusk they post process the daylight photos for the Twilight effect. I’ve looked all over the Internet and the PFRE blog but can’t seem to find any Virtual Twilight post-processing tutorials. Do you know where I might be able to find such information?
First of all, here’s an example of the kind of service she is referring to. Dave below uses this processor and says virtual twilights cost $25.
Her real question is how to I convert daylight to twilight myself? How do I take a daylight shot and turn it into a twilight shot? This is an interesting possibility and the examples at imotophoto.com illustrate that it’s clearly possible. The basic question is how hard is it and it is worth it?
Here is a YouTube tutorial by Glyn Dewis that shows you the Photoshop basics of how to turn daylight into a nightlight which is effectively the same approach to creating a twilight shot from a daylight shot.
In order to get a feel for the difficulty of this process I played around for several hours with Glyn’s approach on the daylight shot above that I shot a number of years ago of a home my wife and I listed a number of years ago in Bellevue, WA just above Lake Sammamish. The bottom shot above is the actual twilight shot I took at the time that we used to market this home. My conclusions from this tinkering are as follows:
- Yes, I can take the daylight shot (top photo above) and make it sort of look like a twilight shot but I can’t come close to the real twilight shot (bottom photo above). In the actual twilight shot, the light in the sky and on the lake in the distance is way better than anything I can create in photoshop.
- Selecting and brightening the windows so they look convincing is the most difficult part. This particular image isn’t bad because the windows are all rectangular and the light from the exterior lights is fairly easy. But I found many of my old exterior shots that would be way more difficult.
- Doing convincing twilight skies is difficult. Twilight skies are amazing and frequently unexpected. It is challenging to get the same effect with Photoshop.
- To do this well you have to be very accomplished at Photoshop.
- Even though you have to make a special trip to shoot a twilight shot and change $150 or more for just that one twilight shot it is well worth the cost to the listing agent. As a result of our marketing of this home, with the twilight shot above we had 3 home sellers come to us and explicitly ask that we list their home and do a twilight shot of their home like the one we did for this home. So this twilight shot got is 3 more $800,000+ listings. Well worth, a $150 investment for a listing agent!
Conclusion: So despite the fact that if you are really good at photoshop it’s possible to create a convincing virtual twilight shot but with the right marketing, you can easily sell $150+ real twilight shots.
Has anyone tried creating virtual twilight shots?