We have an amazing array of rendering tools with which to simulate the real world. This weekend the task at hand (other than keeping an eye on the flora and fauna) is experimenting with night lighting, and it can get confusing at times.
One can place individual lights, aim them, change their color temperature and wattage, and then assign these to individual layers to be turned on and off, or adjusted during rendering.
There are separate controls for sun, its altitude and azimuth, the sky, clouds, and whether these external sources are used to light the interior through windows and if so by how much.
When the render is completed you can play with it in Lightroom or Photoshop.
Of course this takes some processing power. Our rendering computer has 32 cores, 32 gb of RAM, and it takes between four and eight hours for it to complete one of these images.
The interior shots are more complex in that to the preceding you have to add lens focal length, and precise camera and target positioning.
This is a wonderful tool for us and our clients. But caution is advised in its application. As with drag and VPP programs, one needs to tailor the final decisions to the real world. The computer can help t o illustrate alternatives, but the human still has to evaluate the data, and in the case of aesthetic decisions, make the jump from what something reads like in a small image to how it will look and feel full size.