Jazee

Is Golden Hour A Bunch of BS?

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You hear all this stuff about shooting at "The Golden Hour" right after sunrise and right before sunset.  Many homes have lots of tall trees around them or are in hilly areas.  This means they will cast the longest shadows because even though the sun is not in the air, it's location still produces long shadows and in general the scenes are not going to be bright.  Don't get me wrong, a home on the waterfront with a fairly open (not wooded) lot, might look gorgeous during the Golden Hour.  Wondering what others have discovered works best as far as time of day when shooting Real Estate?  I guess another consideration is what area of the country as in the North during the winter the sun doesn't get very high in the sky but I guess there's no getting around that.

 

Edited by Jazee

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In my opinion, the only bad real estate lighting is that which glares blindingly into a window or door.  I've shot beachfront condos facing the west at 4pm and it's a nightmare from inside the unit.  With that said, I still make whatever available lighting situation useful, and continue to improve my techniques in order to properly showcase a property.

With that said, golden hour & blue hour are great times of day for interior real estate photography, as the outside lighting isn't quite so contrasty, in comparison to interior lighting.  The more balanced interior/exterior lighting becomes, the less flash is needed, resulting in a more naturally lit space.  Of course, HDR is available, but these days I've eliminated it nearly entirely from my real estate workflow by using remote speedlites, which has drastically reduced edit time.

Regarding exterior aerial work, I prefer anything that's not midday.  High noon sun makes for super short shadows, which translates to a flatter feeling image.  Shadows help create depth in the scene.

Hopefully something within all of that babbling is useful to you :)

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Regarding the shadows, they are not your friend if you are doing a property with a significant amount of trees close to the buildings.  They can cost large areas of shadows along the sides of the structures making part of the structures well lit and others not.  People's opinions on the Golden hour subject are often heavily biased by their variety of their experiences with different property settings, or lack thereof.  Someone in the Northwest that shoots properties in somewhat wooded areas is going to have a different perspective than someone who shoots properties in say Arizona, or Florida - not to say no homes in Arizona and Florida have large groups of tall trees close to the structures, but it's a lot less common.

 

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4 hours ago, Jazee said:

Regarding the shadows, they are not your friend if you are doing a property with a significant amount of trees close to the buildings.  They can cost large areas of shadows along the sides of the structures making part of the structures well lit and others not.  People's opinions on the Golden hour subject are often heavily biased by their variety of their experiences with different property settings, or lack thereof.  Someone in the Northwest that shoots properties in somewhat wooded areas is going to have a different perspective than someone who shoots properties in say Arizona, or Florida - not to say no homes in Arizona and Florida have large groups of tall trees close to the structures, but it's a lot less common.

 

I can appreciate all of what you said here, but never write off the value of shadows on a property, even on the structure.  Here's a piece where the outside of the property was captured during sunset / golden hour.  Yes, there are huge shadows on the property...and that's exactly what I wanted.  Creates a feeling outside of the standard 'bright sky, blue water, everybody's at the beach' video theme that's around these islands.

 

And here's another, where the only option is to fly early.  Around 11am the clouds roll in, blocking off the volcano in the background, the Tradewinds whip up enough to make the water look dark & white capped, .  So, morning shadows it is...and I like the depth created by this.  Give more of a feeling / mood to the piece.  

 

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Shadows are your friend if you want to shoot interesting footage that has depth.  

Most people don’t like shadows because they don’t know how to correctly expose for high contrast scenes.  If it’s all bright or all dark then it’s easy.  Easy isn’t interesting.  

Shadows are what separate good photographers from bad ones and separates the quality of your camera.  Most drone cameras and GoPros look the best in bright sunlight because they are crap cameras that lack the dynamic range to handle difference in contrast.  But contrast is as important to DOF as selective focus.  

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2 hours ago, Av8Chuck said:

Shadows are your friend if you want to shoot interesting footage that has depth.  

Most people don’t like shadows because they don’t know how to correctly expose for high contrast scenes.  If it’s all bright or all dark then it’s easy.  Easy isn’t interesting.  

Shadows are what separate good photographers from bad ones and separates the quality of your camera.  Most drone cameras and GoPros look the best in bright sunlight because they are crap cameras that lack the dynamic range to handle difference in contrast.  But contrast is as important to DOF as selective focus.  

I agree, and I'll add that this is why shooting in a desaturated, contrast-pulled LOG profile for video is much better than standard.  The data captured tends to have a higher dynamic range, and can be recovered better in post.

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@Jazee I think one question to ask too is are we talking photo or video. Just to help focus our answers.  Either way, for me and my clients, Golden Hour only really makes sense for a property that really will wow with the lights on and an amazing sky behind it.  Your average house on an average piece of land really doesn't need it and won't make a difference for selling the house.  On the water, a large estate, etc then getting that magical shot really can make a difference for the more discerning buyer.

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