What Is Twilight Photography?
Twilight photos are taken usually of the exterior of the property, at dusk after the sun goes down. Many Real Estate agents I work with like twilight photos because they “look cool” and they make the property look very different from the regular plain exterior shot. More likely these type of photos will grab the attention of the buyer when searching on the internet.
Below is a comparison. As you can see, the daytime photo is very average. After many days of rain we finally had some blue sky, so it was an average photo shoot to get the exterior and interior done before the next rainfall (West Coast problems). However, the twilight photo, with its strong colours and great lighting, is going to stand out much more when competing against other listings in the same area.
I personally choose to do a twilight shoot for most of the Real Estate listings in order to showcase the home during the evening. Most of the buyers are viewing the property during daytime therefore it gives them an idea how it looks when the sun goes down.
Twilight shoots can be appealing for marketing campaigns. Based on my experience, I feel that just about any home will look better at twilight than during the day. The evening lights add that extra level of glamour and curb appeal that can take almost any home from ordinary to extraordinary!
Get Your Timing Right
Make sure you know your exact sunset time and allow to be at the location at least 15 minutes before sunset to figure out your composition. I find that in the fall and winter the light drops very fast and it’s critical to plan accordingly. You can find this information online or by using an application like The Photographer’s Ephemeris.
Open All The Blinds And Turn On All The Lights
Ensure timers are working and lighting is operational prior to the shoot, which unfortunately is not always possible. If the owners are around, asked them if they can open the blinds and turn on all the lights on before you get there. If the home is not occupied, get there even earlier as it does take several minutes to find out all the hidden light switches…..trust me on this one! It certainly helps if you are already familiar with the home and know the location of the hidden switches. I recommend keeping off the exterior flood/spotlights, as these are usually very bright.
Ready to give this a shot?
What Gear Do You Need To Shoot Twilight Real Estate Photography
Firstly you need a camera, preferably DSLR. I use my Nikon D850 full frame digital SLR camera.
A sturdy tripod is an essential piece of gear for photographers shooting at twilight and dusk. I own several tripods but my favourite is Manfrotto 190 Go!, which is very lightweight and portable.
The other most important pieces of equipment for your photoshoot are the right lenses. I feel the lenses are much more important than the latest camera equipment. (I had some of the most amazing pictures taken with my old Nikon D90). So many brands and so many choices and that is where it gets just a little pricey when it comes to quality. Most of my twilight shoots are done with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70 mm f/2.8G ED. Truly a versatile lens that I use all the time for shooting architectural photos and landscapes.
Lastly, the most inexpensive equipment you’ll need is a shutter release trigger that is compatible with the make of your camera. With that you won’t need to touch the camera itself, which could add a shakiness to the photo while the lens is opening.
Large umbrella and lens cloth to keep your camera dry and to be able to clean your lens. It is a lot of work to Photoshop rain drops from your images…very time consuming. With Real Estate photography, I can’t always wait for the perfect weather to take photos, Realtors run on tight deadlines and so photoshoots go on in the rain. Remember, I do live on the West Coast where we get a lot of rain during the winter months.
In order to make your images perfect, you’ll need an editing software you can help you edit. I personally use Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC. Once again there are various options so picking between them can actually be kind of overwhelming. Check it out here . There are also several free options available to you as well, check them out here.
Best Camera Settings for Shooting Twilight Real Estate Photography
Shoot RAW, if your camera gives you that option, which will offer you the highest quality files and you will be able to adjust the white balance and exposure in your post-processing software. When shooting in a format like JPEG, image information is compressed and lost.
Use the lowest ISO setting to get better colour and less noise.
Set your camera on manual and use an aperture between f8 to f16. Lenses are typically sharpest around the mid-point of their aperture range. Adjust the shutter speed to produce a normal exposure. Test your shot! Too dark? Too bright? Adjust your speed shutter! The appropriate settings for twilight photography will vary, depending on your scene and your vision.
If your camera has Live View, switch to that mode and use the magnifier to zoom in, then you’ll have a higher chance of getting the focus.
Ready…set…shoot! Press that shutter button as many times as possible. I normally end up with about 10 to 15 images and once I put them on the screen I make the final decision as to which one will make the cut.
A twilight photoshoot also gives you an opportunity for bracketing several images. The actual process of exposure bracketing is easy. You change your exposure compensation from shot to shot. Almost every camera today lets you set up automatic bracketing as an option in the menu. It’s a tool you shouldn’t use for every photo, however bracketing has the potential to improve your number of good photos under the right conditions (windy and rainy weather is a bad condition). Sometimes, the result of hand blending the images is amazing and sometimes it just doesn’t work. For a beginner this could be a big learning curve. This link offers a great tutorial on bracketing.
What is most important to me? The images should look real and not artificial or surreal. I always try to promote the best features of each property in the most flattering light and twilight photography gives me the opportunity to do just that.
Still thinking about taking your first twilight Real Estate photos? As with most other things in life, practice makes perfect! The only way you will find out is to get out there and take your fist twilight photo. Let me know how how you did!