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Delivering a Dramatic Twilight Exterior Shot Doesn't Necessarily Require a Special Trip to the Property

Published: 22/05/2017
By: larry

Rob in Boston sent me an interesting example. He says:

Don't underestimate the value of sky replacement. And for $4, an out of country processor I use from time to time created the "day to dusk" image(to the right). From dreary drab to money shot! I charge clients $50 for a day to dusk conversion like this.

Before I saw Rob's example to the right (click on the photo to get a closer look) I would have argued that to get a reasonable twilight exterior shot you need to make a special trip to the property at twilight and charge the client at least $100 for the service.

About a year ago I did a post on virtual twilight shots like this and readers argued against this kind of thing mostly because it depends too much on computer skills rather than photographic skills.

To me, this example illustrates that there are cases where virtual twilights are good enough for real estate photography. This may not always work but I think in this case it works very well. Real estate photography is a combination of computer skills and photographic skills. The particular processor that did this example is not taking new clients for the next few months because she is expanding her business. There are many other processors that do virtual twilights. Have you used any?

Update 5/21: I wanted to point out that our new advertiser (on the right sidebar just above does virtual twilight processing for $6 an image.

22 comments on “Delivering a Dramatic Twilight Exterior Shot Doesn't Necessarily Require a Special Trip to the Property”

  1. A great example. Certainly not just the sky has been tweaked. Looks like a fair bit of work has gone into the house and pool lighting also. Nice one 🙂

  2. I was prepared to not like this for $4. But that does look pretty damn good. I could do it my self, but it would take me an hour. I guess they work for cheap and they have an assembly line process that makes it kind of efficient. But at $4, their hourly is probably less than minimum wage for US workers. What country does this for this cheap?

  3. Excellent example of a virtual twilight - I've done it a few times and was surprised how good it looked. It took me too long at 45 minutes, but definitely worth it at $4. from a processor.

    On the subject of 'great fakes', has anyone used virtual furniture services - I just had a client ask about it.

  4. This example turned out very well. I have seen others that were far less convincing. If the editing time is no more than an hour or a good outsourced editor is charging peanuts, this cheat could be a good way to upsell customers or increase the number of "twilight" photos that one can do in the busy season. It also means not getting back to the office at 10pm in the summer months to start editing the twilights and finishing up other jobs from earlier in the day.

    Employing this type of technique doesn't mean that I don't like photography. It's another way to derive a different look to images I have already made in the same way that I push and pull photos from trips to Death Valley to get a new look rather than driving there everyday for a year trying to get that same image without any post processing. I'd love to be able to do that, but it would mean not being able to visit other locations that I like.

  5. I would much rather go out and create a proper twilight image.

    It's also worth noting that the light in the above image is very flat and is conducive to this sort of post processing. Once the sun is out and there are lots of hard shadows then these fake dusk shots just look plain weird, like some sort of alien invasion is happening.

  6. Interesting. I would think you'd have to be careful not to misrepresent the property, i.e. color of the pool lighting, placement and even existence of landscape lights.

  7. Although the off-shore person is too busy for additional business, I'd like to know if anyone has any recommendations of folks they have found to be good at sky replacement or other "tweeks" for similarly low pricing. I don't need it right now but I'd like to have good recommendations just in case. I presume that Fiverr is a good place to start??

    Thanks in advance.

  8. Wondering about the service Rob in Boston is using?
    I love to do twilight but on a gloomy, rainy day like this in East Texas I would be more than happy to pay $4 for an eye catching pick to make my client happy instead of laboring on my computer many many minutes to make my pic acceptable. Front shot of a house is to raise interest and make the potential buyer click on the rest and if it doesn't misinterpret the property I don't see anything wrong with that. The hose would have been easy to get rid of in a matter of seconds, wonder why they didn't do that?

  9. I agree with both Scott and Sharon. While the photo is ok I guess, in my book "good enough" isn't good enough. More and more high end work is coming my way by providing the very best photography I'm capable of. That means putting in the time to do it right. Besides twilight shots are kind of relaxing - you really only need to grab a few, the weather is going to be nice, it's generally peaceful and good clients are willing to pay for them. That's my two cents anyway.

  10. I would agree with Scott and Sharon on this. Twilight photography is a different world and can be beneficial for both the photographer and the client. Also, if you time it right you might be able to get them both done at the same time with a little lag if later in the afternoon/evening for the rest of images.

  11. I can see that certain business models could benefit from this approach and resource given that the lighting, as pointed out above, is in line with a successful result.

    But I am usually also shooting video in my market, so I doubt that I would use this service and agree with Gary, Tom, Scott and Sharon above.

  12. Aside from an overall artificial look to the simulated twilight photo above, the retoucher didn't finish the job. Among other things, the area around the outside fireplace should have a warm glow from the fire, the light from the windows should be reflected in the pool, and they didn't even edit out the pool sweep hose, which should have been easy relative to all the rest.

    Although I sometimes do things like fake light in twilight shots for windows that have none and which do not permit adding lighting from inside, I would never fake a whole twilight shot. The look is just too artificial for me.

  13. I have seen this done a couple of times and I hope this isn't a trend. If this was something a client of mine asked for it would be the last time I work with them. Last night I did a twilight at a property, I was there earlier in the day to get the exteriors during daylight and planning out my twilight shots. Went back a couple of hours later and I did light painting with flashes to make the property pop. I agree with Scott, this would be for someone who doesn't enjoy photography.

  14. Actually...I think this is a pretty good "day for night" retouch job. I don't utilise that aspect of retouching but I'm impressed. In Australia I charge AUD$300 for 2 twilight shots. And that is as an add-on to the daytime shoot.
    Regarding light painting. I played with this for sometime using my Camranger and strobes. However, the impression here in Australia is, that if you aren't simulating or enhancing actual garden lighting or existing outdoor lighting, then you are misrepresenting the property. Yes, you can pump a flash in to it but that looks ugly. The magic hour is a perfect balance, and I only do it if there is accent or ambient lighting, but supplementing with strobes and light painting, whilst it looks wonderful and can be perfect for an architectural rendition or a hotel for example, when it is for a house on the market, it may be misrepresenting the actually garden lighting...that may not exist.
    That was just an aside btw. Not referencing the retouch aforementioned job...which I still think is pretty good, not perfect.

  15. Well, while I agree that we do our best to capture real images, I am beyond impressed - stunned - with the example above. Truly gorgeous result. I do "real" twilight photography and enjoy it, but would pay for this approach IN A HEARTBEAT, without hesitation or reservation. I am really "good" with PS and Lightroom, but that would take at least 30 minutes, so that price is beyond belief... not just the image but the price itself is in the "Twilight Zone." Wow!

  16. For those above who have expressed interest in having some twilight conversions done then you cant go past the Aussie company I do a ton of twilight conversions and the only time I ever had to request a change was when the twilight sky was yellowy-orange and I asked for it to be switched to blue. They are definitely worth considering and do a free trial. They do all my retouching and twilight conversions and are very reliable plus its super easy to get your photos uploaded using their dashboard. Def worth giving them a go.

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