16 May 2018

Taking Dusk Photos With a Smartphone

By Katey Gibb

Dusk photos add that extra touch of glamour and emotion to a real estate photo. It is the time of day most people return home and share dinner with family, drawing on warm, safe and happy emotions. Making dusk photos an essential inclusion for attracting more attention to your listing online.

Even though dusk photos are great, they are extremely hard to capture successfully, you need the correct time of day, be in the right place and have good weather. Being in the right place at the right time is one of the hard parts of taking dusk photos, that is why knowing how to take a stunning dusk shot on your smartphone is a good skill to have.

Although smartphones can take great shots, we always recommend if you have a choice use a quality digital camera, as the results will always be better. Being able to take smartphone photos is handy for Property Managers, or as a quick alternative to a professional shot, at the end of the day if it isn’t perfect we can always edit it.

The following tips will help you create great dusk shots simply using your smartphone.

Basic Tools to Use

Obviously, you’ll need a relatively recent, good quality smartphone to take your photos. We also recommend buying a tripod as they are essential for blur-free images.

It isn’t essential, but you could also purchase the Moment Wide Lens which is a simple addition to your phone, adding width to your shots just like a professional camera. 

The Best Time for A Dusk Shot

As a rule, the best time to capture a dusk photo is when the exterior reflection on windows is reduced. If you’re wanting to capture a dusk sky internally through a window, you need to time it right with what you want to capture outside. The earlier you shoot the more balanced the light will be, the later you leave the shot the darker the window areas will be outside.

When planning the time of day to take a dusk photo, it is important to know the property’s orientation (which direction does it face, east, west etc). The direction a property faces will affect the best shooting times, in addition to if a property is on a hill or valley. It is best to photograph a home earlier (10 to 20 minutes before sunset), rather than later so the contrast between the house lights and the exterior isn’t too much.

Smartphone Dusk Photo

This photo was taken using a hand-held iPhone 7+ and timed for when the exterior window light/contrast was the same as the internal. To the eye outside will still appear relatively bright and only just becoming dusk, this is needed to be able to capture the outside scene. The view and ocean in the background are clearly visible, but the kitchen area, which is the focus, is still clear and sharp.

Smartphone Night Photo

This shot was taken on the same iPhone 7+ but minutes later with the sunset a little deeper. In person, the outside looked like a great sunset with the city lights clear, but unfortunately, on the iPhone, it doesn’t come out the same.

Keep Your Camera Still

When taking a photo in low light, no matter what equipment you’re using, it is essential to reduce any camera movement as much as possible. The blurred images commonly seen from smartphones are because it is nearly impossible to hold a phone completely still in your hands, the slow shutter speed required for low light shots means that any movement is picked up.

The simple solution for this is to invest in a cheap tripod or lean on something when holding the camera to take the shot.

The Right Angles

Generally, when you’re taking photos of a property and particularly a dusk shot, you want to capture stand out and unique features of the property. Most listings would use a dusk shot of the front of the property and possibly the backyard if it is attractive, including as much of the sky as possible.

The images that come out the best are ones across pools facing towards the house, from a balcony looking out at a view or from the street. When taking these photos turn on all the internal and external lights, to create a lived-in, welcoming scene.

Not Every Home is Suitable For a Dusk Shot

Everyone loves a home shot at dusk, but not every home is suitable for a dusk photo. You need to pick your subject carefully, otherwise, the home will look dark and gloomy. Properties that are the best for dusk photography should have lots of external and internal lighting. Similarly, homes that are low set, shaded by trees, close to neighboring homes or have a dark exterior are generally best to shoot during the day. Even with good editing, these homes won’t ever look great.

Capturing The Perfect Shot

Here are some basic tips for getting the best property dusk photo on your smartphone.

  • Turn on all lights (internal and external), open all blinds.
  • Get to the property about 1 hour before sunset (check the areas sunset time), this gives you a chance to find the best photo angles.
  • Use a tripod for all images
  • Take more photos then you need, this will give you a greater choice of images later
  • Didn’t get the perfect shot or weather? Use a BoxBrownie.com Day to Dusk edit

As a summary, we recommend using the standard camera settings on your phone and using the brightest light source in the image as the main focal point (eg. a bright window that is either reflecting a lot of light or has a bright light inside), it's important to try and balance the shot the best you can with dark shadowing and bright lighting. If you take your photos and click on the lightest part of the image, your camera will find the best contrast, it will also save the image from being overexposed in the editing process as our editors can lighten the darker areas easier. Basically, you're focusing on the brightest part of the image, and our editors can balance/darken the rest to make the photo look like it was taken on a professional camera.  

Edit Your Photos

All photos can be edited and nearly all professional photographers edit their images. Once you have taken your smartphone dusk shot send it to us and we can add the final tweaks to make it look amazing, alternatively if you don’t quite capture the perfect sunset take the photo anyway and we will edit a sunset for you.

With all smartphone photos, it is important to remember that image quality will not be as good as a digital camera. You will have noticed “dirty/pixelated” areas in the photos taken on your phone, this is due to the camera’s sensor size differences – The better-quality device you use, the better quality the final image. The same applies if you want your photo edited, the better quality of the final image the more realistic the edit will look.

Now you’re ready to take amazing images on your smartphone, why not try out some great edits to make them even better such as; Image Enhancement, Item Removal and Day to Dusk conversion.

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If you want to get your hands on some Moment gear head to the Moment Website and use the coupon code 'boxbrownie' to get 10% off any purchase!