Twilight Photography Guide for Beginners

Photographers practicing twilight photography know that this time is usually called the blue hour even though it never lasts so long. Usually, the effect of the blue sky lasts for about 20 minutes, which makes it important to take photos as quickly as possible. To help you cope with this task, I have created a list of the most useful tips that will come in handy for taking attention-grabbing twilight pictures.

1. Arrive at the Location an Hour Early

twilight photography average time

Since you won’t have much time to take photos, it’s better to arrive at the location 2 hours before shooting. This way, you can take test photos and select the best angles. Explore the area where you want to take photos and decide what shots you want to capture.

While it might be impossible to adjust the camera settings properly beforehand since the lighting situation will be different, you can still select the composition and check whether you want to fit everything you want into the frame. When taking photos of the city, pay attention to the nearby streetlights as well.

Tip

When practicing blue or golden hour photography, try using handy apps that allow finding out the exact sunrise and sunset times in a location.

2. Turn on the Property Lights

twilight photography for real estate

If you are interested in real estate photography and want to take photos during blue hour, you need to turn on interior and exterior lights to ensure that the property is well lit. When taking interior shots, you can light up doors and windows to create a cozy atmosphere.

Exterior photographers interested in twilight real estate photography know that it’s important to give a property a welcoming look. It can be achieved by turning on the exterior lights to light up the walls, the garden, and the pool.

Tip

Professionals often use strobe lights for photography when they want to emphasize some elements of the exterior. For instance, you can light up the front porch, backyard, and other areas.

3. Outsource the Editing for Professional Results

fixthephoto real estate twilight photography retouching fixthephoto real estate twilight photography retouching

When taking twilight photos, it might be difficult to select the right exposure settings and get close-to-life colors. If you want to build a successful real estate photography business or just dream of taking stunning twilight shots but don’t have enough experience, make sure to contact our professional service. We will help you give your photos a polished look.

Since we have a quick turnaround, you will receive your twilight photos within the shortest time possible. Our experts specialize not only in real estate photo editing, but they can also remove distracting elements, fix exposure issues, adjust contrast, tweak colors, or replace the sky for a budget price. Make sure to send your detailed requirements and indicate what areas you want us to edit. You can also send sample photos and ask our professionals to edit your images in a similar style.

4. Select a Fast Lens for Better Low Light Performance

night photography light

When shooting photos during the blue hour when there isn’t enough light, you need to use a lens with a large aperture, such as f/1.2 f/1.4, or f/1.8. Thanks to it, you will have more time to take pictures.

You might need to increase ISO or set a lower shutter speed at twilight, however, you might notice some noise and motion blur in your photos. To avoid it, open the aperture wider. For this, you might need to get pro-level lenses for night photography with large apertures.

5. Stabilize Your Camera on a Tripod

twilight photography gear

A reliable, sturdy tripod is one of the most important pieces of your photography equipment. Don’t forget to take it with you when you decide to take photos during the blue hour. Since you will capture pictures in a poor light situation, you will need to use long exposures. A good tripod will help you to get sharp images without noticeable noise and grain.

Thanks to a tripod, you can experiment with several exposures as well as practice HDR photography and long exposure photography. If you are a landscape photographer, use a carbon fiber tripod, such as the Neewer 66-inch tripod since it will stabilize your camera even in strong wind. You can also select a reliable tripod for real estate photography that you can take with you anywhere. For instance, the Manfrotto BeFree tripod is made of durable materials.

6. Add Extra Light with Flash

night photography light

When working in poor light conditions, try using camera flash to give a dramatic feel to your photos and make your subject more visible. It is important for anyone interested in commercial real estate photography and portrait twilight photos.

To achieve a more striking effect, try taking the flash off the camera and keeping it away from the camera lens. It will help you add a sense of depth to your photos. You might need to use an extension cable to connect the flash to your camera.

Tip

When taking photos at twilight, it might be difficult to hide the fact that you used flash. To make your pictures look more natural, you can use flash gels. Thanks to warming or tungsten gel on your flash, you can create an effect of the streetlight.

7. Trigger the Camera with a Remote Shutter Release to Avoid Movement

camera with a remote shutter release

Even if you use a tripod to minimize vibrations, there still might be some blur caused by the shutter release button. To avoid it, try using a camera remote to control your device without pressing the button. It’s a perfect option for a twilight photoshoot since it enables you to take sharp and clear images.

8. Use Manual Focus

It might be difficult to use autofocus when there isn’t much light. This is why it’s better to focus manually. If you start taking photos before the sun goes down, you can still use autofocus to focus on your subject. However, when there isn’t enough light, switch to manual focus.

When taking twilight home photos at different angles and with different compositions, use the dial to focus with high precision. Some camera models have the Live View mode that allows you to zoom in and focus more accurately.

If you have a camera with an electronic viewfinder, it may be fitted with the focus peaking feature that allows you to highlight the object in focus. It makes it easier to focus manually.

9. Shoot in Manual Mode to be Able to Control All Settings

twilight photography recommended camera settings

If you are wondering which camera modes are most suitable for your needs, keep in mind that manual mode allows you to perform precise adjustments. You can change exposure, aperture and depth of field depending on the lighting situation. By adjusting settings manually, you can also control the amount of grain and blur. However, if you need to shoot photos with a fixed aperture, make sure to use Aperture Priority mode.

When taking landscape photos, use lower ISO values (100) to make colors more saturated and minimize noise. Portrait and real-estate photographers use ISO 1600-3200. When taking real-estate photos, set the aperture to f/4-8. For portraits, it’s better to use f/1.2 or lower aperture, while f/11 is suitable for taking landscape photos. You need to adjust the shutter speed depending on the lighting situation. When taking photos at twilight, set it to 1/5-1/40.

10. Try HDR Technique to Recover Details

hdr technique to recover details

To make light and dark areas more detailed, try using the HDR technique. It’s widely used by photographers who specialize in HDR real estate photography. To use this technique, you need to shoot photos in the Bracketed Mode. After selecting it, hold down the shutter and take a series of continuous photos.

hdr technique to recover details

You need to get a series of at least 3 photos: one with neutral exposure, one with underexposed and one with overexposed areas. To save time, use AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing). Then, you need to use free HDR software to merge these photos. For instance, you may use Luminance HDR or Lightroom.

11. Set Your White Balance to 4-5K

twilight photography white balance

When using a digital camera, pay attention to the WB settings. While you can use the auto white balance in some cases, you need to adjust it manually during the twilight or golden hour. If you use it in auto mode, the camera will make cold and warm tones look more neutral, which is why it’s better to adjust it depending on the situation.

Some users prefer using presets, such as Tungsten or Shade, however, you can achieve a more professional result if you adjust the value manually. Set the WB to 4,000-5,000 Kelvin if you want to take blue hour photos. By decreasing the value, you can add cold blue tones. To give your twilight photos a warm feel, increase the WB to add orange tones. If you don’t have much experience, make sure to read how to use white balance card.

12. Shoot in RAW

twilight photography raw

Those who enhance their photos and make various adjustments to give them a more polished look need to take them in RAW format or RAW + JPEG. Photos taken during the blue hour might be difficult to edit because of harsh highlights from the overexposed parts of the sky and dark shadows caused by a lack of natural light.

The best thing about RAW format is that it makes it easier for you to capture more image data using a camera’s sensor and get uncompressed shots. This format is perfect for capturing detailed highlights and shadows, which makes it easier to edit your photos afterward.

BONUS Tools

bonus tools for twilight photography

If you took great twilight photos, you might still need to edit them to give them a professional look. You can speed up editing by using this collection of effects. It was created for those who need to tweak colors to enhance their twilight pics.

You can install Lightroom presets on Mac & Windows in a few simple steps and quickly apply them to your photos.

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