What is flambient photography?

The term ‘Flambient Photography’ is rarely used by estate agents in the UK as most are unaware of it. Flambient photography is a mixture of two or more images that are taken using flash and ambient lighting methods.

Why would I want to use a flambient photography style?

There are a few ways a room can be lit when shooting a home. The most common being flash or just using ambient lighting. Each methods have positive and negative attributes and as a result can portray a completely different feel or atmosphere.

Ambient Lighting

Lighting a room solely by an ambient method will generate a warm feel. As the mixture of natural and electric light tends to be a yellow / orange. Natural shadows and brighter areas of room, such as the ceiling by a window will become visible. This tends to be more warm and pleasing to the eye. It is also a great way to demonstrate how bright a room can look and feel during the day.

The negative point to using ambient light is that colour accuracy is lost due to the yellow / orange tint created. Depending on the time of the shoot you may also lose detail through the window. As in most cases the settings of the camera will be adjust to maximise the room light levels.

Ambient lighting requires a high level of photography competence!

Although this method can deliver a warm and pleasing end result. This technique requires a rather hands on approach. It is unlikely that the average estate agent will have the skill set to produce a decent looking image. With that in mind most agents would prefer to use the automatic camera setting and a flash when lighting rooms.

The image below has been taken using ambient light only. Notice how the light and shadows fall on the wall and ceiling by the window and around the sofa.


Flash Lighting

Using a flash to light a room is relatively simple to use and control. At the back of most flash units is a plus and minus controller which will allow the operator to dial in how much flash is needed. When used correctly, a flash unit will allow a relatively dark room to appear bright. Unlike the ambient method there is no yellow / orange haze to the pictures, therefore all the colours are relatively accurate. However if too much flash is used colours can become diluted and a red wall could look pink.

Flash lighting can create flash attributes!

The negative point to using a flash is that all the natural light spots and shadows are lost. Rooms could feel a little cold and not very welcoming. A level of expertise is also required when using a flash as unwelcome hot spots or flash attributes can appear. We have all seen flash attributes in many property pictures posted on Rightmove or Zoopla. Particularly where the flash reflection can be seen in a mirror or wardrobe door. This is usually caused by the agent / photographer pointing the flash forward. A better method is to use the flash off the camera and point it straight up at the ceiling. This way you can control and hide the use of the flash.

The image below has been lit by a flash, take a look at the window bay. Notice how all the natural shadows have gone. Look at the intensity of the light on the ceiling and how harsh it looks. Also note the sofa shadows and how much they been reduced. As only the lounge has been lit by a flash, the hall is much darker.


Flash Lighting and balancing room light levels

To make sure that adjoining room light levels remain constant it can sometimes require another shot to be taken using a flash. Lighting a neighbouring room on it’s own will give you greater flexibility when editing to achieve a closer match.

The image below shows the hall being lit on its own.

Flash in an adjoining room

Flambient Lighting

To use the flambient lighting method not only requires a good knowledge of the camera and its functions but also high level of Photoshop competence. To achieve a flambient image you have to take a shot using ambient light only and then at least one other using a flash. The camera settings must be different for each and most importantly they must be taken using a tripod so the images have a good chance of lining up when merging them.

Once the images have all been stacked on top of each other and using the flash image as a base, the luminosity layer of the ambient image can be separated. Then using a low flow level brush in Photoshop you can paint in the the shadow areas and natural lighting. This is a skill which takes time to learn and perfect as too much or too little can have a disastrous effect.

Flambient Photography is key to successful marketing of a home!

The end result as you can see from the image below is very pleasing and virtually impossible to achieve through using conventional methods. All the colours are accurate and due to the shadows being painted back in the room has a subtle and welcoming warmth, which turns heads.

Also note how the hall and window view feels completely natural and flows effortlessly.

Flambient image

Why don’t all agents use flambient photography?

Not all agents know about flambient photography

Very few agents have even heard about flambient photography! The agents that have normally do not process the skill set to achieve it. Or are unwilling to pay to have it done.

Customers looking to sell their home can make their photos more appealing by using flambient photography.

Estate agents looking to attract new business and help make their properties being marketed more appealing to buyers. Could you see how much better your property stock could look?

Which ever side of the fence you sit on, estate agent or vendor, surely you can see the benefit of using flambient photography.

Find out more about the cost of flambient photography, view our prices page.