Should you pay extra and get some of those cool twilight photos of your listing? The best answer is “maybe”. Not every home will lend itself to a good twilight image. Multi-story homes with lots of windows or large view windows can be good candidates. A home with nice grounds and separation from neighboring homes might also be a good candidate. Exterior landscape lighting helps to create a true representation.

Twilight photos, which might be best in the wee hours of the morning rather than sunset, are typically a composite of two or more pictures. It’s rare that a good twilight image can be made from one shot. Using two photos allows the photographer to take one frame to get the perfect sky and the other for the best exposure of the home. This type of compositing is used to overcome the limitations photography has in comparison with our eyes. In extreme compositions, a photographer may take over 50 images, each with a “pop” of a flash in a small area and combine them all in a photo editing program to create an exciting image. This sort of processing can lead to great results, but care should be taken since the image isn’t a true representation of the property and buyers may believe that the property is equipped with extensive outdoor lighting.

Regardless of the technique used to create a twilight photo, timing is tight and only one or two finished images come out of the photo session. If everything goes perfectly, it could be possible to get 3 good images, but that’s a bonus that shouldn’t be counted on. A twilight photo can take nearly as much time to photograph and process as an entire home shoot which is why the cost might seem high. For a composition of dozens of photos, it might take 3-4 hours on-site and 5-6 hours of post production to get that perfect look.

Smartphones and tablets really show their limitations when it comes to twilight photos. Since they have limited dynamic range (the gradation of dark to light), lots of dark noise, cheap optics and are difficult to mount to a tripod, the results are going to be less than stellar.

For a high profile listing, a twilight photo could be great for marketing and impressing your clients. Done right, they make a great impact. Poorly done, and they might cost more than they’re worth. Since twilights take a photographer with lots of skill and experience, hire a pro to get the best results.

©2015, Kenneth Brown. All rights reserved.