Twilight or "dusk" photography is one of the many tools that a property marketer uses to create emotion for a property. There is really quite nothing like scrolling through images and then pausing on one that really catches the eye and draws you in. The magic of this imagery is that it has so many colors, so much depth, and it tells more of a story than a traditional HDR still photo.
The prospective buyer will imagine that time of day, or that location with much more emotion when viewing a twilight photo. But, not all twilight photos are created the same, and the ability to work quickly to capture an image at the right time of day requires some skill and agility on the part of your photographer. The standard twilight shoots that we do can begin as early as 4-5pm in the winter, but the longer summer days mean that sun sets closer to 9pm around the summer equinox, which puts a photographer out in the field way past 9pm. This is why traditional twilight photography in the summer can be expensive, and also why it's so powerful - it's exactly the capturing of that late summer evening that makes images completely stand out.
There are actually three different phases to twilight and dawn, and these phases make up the entire time through which a photographer is working. In the civil twilight, this is the time just after the sun dips below the horizon, we can still see quite a lot, but all of the hard and long shadows from just before sunset have disappeared. This phase has a lot of light and is a beloved time to shoot patios and exterior spaces that are not well-lit with landscaping lighting.
Just after that we have the nautical twilight, which is when the rays are still lighting up the sky, but it's not quite as bright, and then we have astronomical twilight, which is the last phase and the darkest. We shoot typically through the entire duration of twilight to capture different images and to get the mood exactly how we want it for a shoot. But, again, this takes patience to start shooting at just the right time and it also takes the ability to move quickly through your setups. Typically in a twilight shoot we will have a loop of images that we know we want and we will do that loop 2-3 times to make sure that we have captured the different locations on the shot list throughout all three phases. You can see this in the slide show below.
But, not everyone who wants a twilight photo can afford a full twilight photo shoot which can add another $150-$600 to a photo shoot. That is where the twilight treatment or dusk treatment comes in, and at a much lower price-point, a similar effect is achieved. Sky replacement has become standard in photography, so much so, that we hardly think anything of it. And, it saves time both for the photographers being on site and getting images back and processing later, as well as money since we are able to use the same photoshop and sky replacement techniques to achieve a beautiful photograph from a daytime photo. It also enables photographers to have amazing results even when we have just a foggy evening and the sky enhancement adds just that something extra to the shoot.
Twilight treatment is therefore now within reach of many, many more people, so why don't they use it? I think it's because some folks think that the twilight photo is much like a virtual tour and really the domain of a more high-end home. I think that while this used to be true, it no longer needs to be the case, and for a photograph treatment in the $25 range, it makes so much sense to add it to a marketing package. When there is budget for a traditional shoot, then it makes so much sense, and the authenticity of the image is amazing - showing off the landscape lighting and all of those other property accents that you would not otherwise be able to see until the evening. But, for many properties where the exterior lighting is not as extensive, then a well-done twilight treatment can still do wonders at an accessible price-point and help buyers make that emotional connection.
Below, a series of photographs taken throughout twilight show how the light at a property changes during the shoot, and what the final results are when you finish merging and editing the images.