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Francine, of New Orleans, LA, writes:
Twilight real estate photography can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if this is your first time. Doing exterior twilight shots is important in real estate because it can add drama to any listing. For this reason, we're giving you camera setting tips and editing techniques to capture beautiful twilight photos.
Twilight photography for real estate enables you to showcase a home and its exterior features like landscape and property lighting. However, you can only take a well-exposed twilight shot at a particular time of day using the right setup and correct camera settings.
Photographers who want to work in the real estate industry must also know how to take twilight images that can further help sell a home. With these tips, you can successfully do a property shoot and let buyers see the beauty of their new home.
Make sure that the homeowners turn on the interior, landscaping, and exterior lights, if there are any. It's easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to get all the lights on, especially if the homeowner is not there to show you where all the switches are.
I've found that the exterior spots can frequently be too much brighter even than the brightest interiors. You can selectively turn each bulb off by unscrewing the bulb slightly. A small step ladder is handy for this.
Use a tripod and cable release to eliminate vibration because exposure times will be 5 to 30 seconds, depending on the aperture you use for an image. If you don't have a cable release, use the interval timer to release the shutter.
Even if your DSLR can't support high ISO values, you can use a tripod for long exposures. I’d also suggest extending your tripod as high as it can go.
Use a graduated neutral density filter as the darker top-half of the filter can darken the sky, while the clear bottom-half will keep the natural exposure on the house.
Similar to a typical real estate photo, you still need the right settings to create an exposure that can capture the details of a home.
One way to take a twilight photo is to do the `straight-out-of-camera' (SOOC) method, in which you wait for that magical window, where the intensity of the natural light from the setting sun matches that of the house's interior light.
The other method is the “light-painting” approach, in which pops of flash augment the directionality of the light emanating from the house. It enhances various features of the surrounding landscaping. However, light-painting is more complicated than SOCC.
The best time of the day for twilight photography is 20 minutes after sunset since the orange hue in the sky may only last for 10 minutes. Lock your composition early, so you won't be fiddling around at the last minute, just as the sun is going down!
You can use Naval Observatory, LightTrac, and SunSurveyor to search for sites with beautiful sunset times. By entering the city and state, these websites can show you what time sunset will happen on a day, as well as which direction the sun will be.
Be ready to capture the perfect light that will match the intensity of the interior lights. Some photographers like to hose down the driveway or cement areas, so they are wet for a twilight photo. You can also make an image look wet in Photoshop.
Similar to interior photography, you can also consider using flash or continuous lighting to add extra light and drama to entirely dark areas.
One way is to use large continuous lights inside to boost the amount of light coming through the windows. I've also seen twilight shots where continuous lights work well in situations requiring focused light on the outside of the home.
This is a whole dimension beyond the basic twilight image. For details, see Mike Kelly's in-depth video series on how to do this.
Strobes can also work, although as opposed to continuous lights, you need to diffuse them to achieve good color.
Spend some time to scout out the best angle for a twilight image. Like photographing interiors, the goal is to use composition to highlight property features.
While the composition typically focuses on the house's front side, look at the back as this is also a good angle to highlight.
For the front side of a home, try to get an angle that allows you to show the front entry door closer to the camera than the garage doors. If the garage doors are closest to the camera, they will look disproportionately large relative to the rest of the house.
The main problem with twilight shoots is that you would typically need to edit exposure. These are the different ways of editing a twilight image.
Unlike photographing in broad daylight, twilight shoots make a property look even more majestic by using the sky and its colors as the background. Taking photos of a property at dusk helps people do their home search, letting them see the night environment of a home.
Yes, since real estate photography is a combination of editing and photographic skills. Many processors do virtual twilight images. About a year ago, I did a post on virtual twilight shots like this.
Twilight real estate photography can make a very ordinary home look dazzling and hide ugly defects. A twilight shot is worth its weight in gold for what they do to get attention for the listing agent and the listing online.
Everyone feel free to add to this list if you think I've missed anything!