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How to Master the Art of Flambient in Real Estate Photography

CEO Khai Intela
Real estate photography is all about capturing the essence of a property, showcasing its best features, and enticing potential buyers. One technique that has gained significant popularity in recent years is the "flambient" shot. In...

Real estate photography is all about capturing the essence of a property, showcasing its best features, and enticing potential buyers. One technique that has gained significant popularity in recent years is the "flambient" shot. In this article, we will explore the art of flambient photography and how you can master it to create stunning images that leave a lasting impression.

The Flambient Shot: A Fusion of Flash and Ambient Light

A flambient shot is a method used in real estate photography that combines flash and ambient shots to capture the perfect balance of light in a room. The flash shot is used to overpower other light sources and create a daylight-balanced setting, allowing the true colors of the room to shine. A second shot is taken without flash, utilizing only the natural ambient light available.

Flash Layer

Caption: The flash shot is the foundation of a flambient image, establishing the correct color temperature and syncing with natural light.

The Equipment You'll Need

To successfully capture a flambient shot with a window pull, you'll need the following equipment in addition to your camera:

  • A sturdy tripod
  • A remote trigger
  • A speedlight or flash
  • A flash remote trigger

Personally, I rely on the Manfrotto 055 tripod with a geared head, a Nikon IR remote, the Godox Xpro-N 2.4G X System TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Transmitter, and the Godox AD200Pro Pocket Flash 2.4G TTL Speedlite. While the Godox equipment comes at a higher price point, the results it delivers are unparalleled. However, there are affordable alternatives available, although once you experience the power of a larger flash like the Godox, you may never go back to smaller ones.

Set Up Your Shot for Success

Before diving into the technical aspects of capturing a flambient shot, it's important to set up your camera correctly for the best results.

Step 1: Use a Sturdy Tripod

Ensuring your camera remains perfectly still is crucial for seamless compositing in post-processing. Investing in a high-quality, sturdy tripod will save you both time and money. Avoid cheap, flimsy tripods that compromise the stability of your shot. For my recommended tripods for real estate photography, you can refer to this article.

Step 2: Employ a Remote Trigger

Minimize camera movement by using a remote trigger for your shots. This helps maintain the stability of your composition and produces sharper images. Remote triggers are particularly useful when shooting in low-light conditions that require longer exposure times. Check out my camera wireless remote buying guide for more information on remote triggers.

Mastering the Flambient Technique

Now that you have the necessary equipment and have set up your shot, it's time to capture the perfect flambient image.

Step 3: The Flambient Flash Shot

The flash shot forms the foundation of a flambient image, presenting colors in the room at the correct temperature and harmonizing with any natural light filtering through the windows. To capture this shot effectively:

  • Switch your camera to manual mode or aperture priority (AP) mode with an aperture between f/7.1 and f/9.
  • Set your ISO to 320 and ensure you are shooting in RAW mode.
  • ISO 320 is a sweet spot discovered by Nathan Cool, allowing a small Speedlight to illuminate more of the room with less power.
  • It's crucial to avoid using TTL (Through The Lens) mode for your flash. Instead, opt for manual mode to have full control over the power settings of your flash. Experiment with the settings based on your flash's make and model, as the power output may vary.
  • Keep your color balance set to auto, as you can always make adjustments in post-processing using software like Lightroom.

Step 4: The Ambient Shot

Ambient Layer

Caption: The ambient shot captures the natural lighting conditions of the room.

The ambient shot complements the flash shot by capturing the natural lighting conditions of the room. This shot adds depth and texture to your final image. Follow these tips to capture an impactful ambient shot:

  • Maintain the same camera settings as the flash shot.
  • Take multiple exposures to ensure you capture the subtle variations in lighting that contribute to the room's ambiance.

Step 5: The Window Pull

The window pull is an essential element in creating a flambient image that showcases the view outside the window without sacrificing the interior details. Here's how you can achieve a seamless window pull:

  • Blend the flash shot and ambient shot using software like Lightroom to create a well-exposed base image.
  • Use a layer mask in Photoshop to paint in the window view from the ambient shot, ensuring a smooth transition between the interior and exterior.

Perfecting the Flambient Image

With your flambient shot captured, it's time to enhance and refine your image using editing software.

Step 6: Export to Photoshop

Export your base image to Photoshop to fine-tune the details and bring out the full potential of your flambient shot. Follow these steps for optimal results:

  • Order your layers, placing the flash shot as the base layer and the ambient shot above it.
  • Use layer masks to carefully paint in the window pull from the ambient shot, seamlessly merging the outdoor view with the interior details.
  • If needed, utilize the repair layer to address any imperfections or distractions within the image.
  • Adjust the opacity of the ambient layer to achieve the desired balance between the flash and ambient light.
  • Flatten the image and save it in a high-quality format for optimal display.

Step 7: Apply Additional Corrections in Lightroom

Once you have completed the initial editing in Photoshop, import the image back into Lightroom for any final adjustments. Fine-tune the color balance, sharpness, and other parameters to achieve a captivating and true-to-life representation of the property.

Adapt and Evolve

As with any skill, mastering the art of flambient photography takes practice and experimentation. Each property and lighting situation is unique, so it's essential to adapt your technique to suit the specific requirements of each shoot. Continuously refine your skills and learn from your experiences to consistently produce exceptional flambient images.

In Conclusion

Flambient photography is a powerful technique that allows real estate photographers to capture the true essence and beauty of a property. By skillfully combining flash and ambient shots, you can achieve well-balanced images that showcase every detail in the best light possible. With the right equipment, proper camera setup, and a solid understanding of the editing process, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of flambient photography and standing out in the competitive world of real estate photography.