Large 8000 sq. ft. home with hanger photographed at dusk, Spruce Creek Fly-In, Florida
In photographing exteriors of nice houses at dusk, you’ll need to do more preparation than you will if you shoot the same house during the day. Some clouds can be an asset, reflecting the last rays of sunlight and introducing additional color into the sky.
A good tripod and ladder, lots of extension leads, a few spare light bulbs are a necessity. We use a 2000 watt generator by running extension cords from it around the perimeter of the property. Be careful not to trip pedestrians with your cables, and try to anticipate potential problems with traffic that might happen later when shooting.
We generally use three or four 500 watt flood lamps for fill setting up a floodlight at each side of the house and lights somewhere in the middle, leaving heaps of slack in the cable for quick changes once it’s dark and you can see how it all looks. Natural light from a dusk sunset or dawn sunrise creates a reflecting glow onto the house where you may not need fill light. Try to do this so you can’t tell artificial lighting has been used so it feels natural. Avoid too much light on the foreground, and watch for reflections from the camera’s viewpoint of the lights in the windows. Also, do a walk-through in the house turning on all the lights and adjusting curtains and furniture that might be visible from the outside.
Dusk is always a great time to capture good exteriors by doing a series of shots every ten minutes or so. Otherwise, you may miss the “magic moment” in achieving the perfect balance and everything looks fantastic. When the sky starts to look like night, time to pack up and go home!