Real Estate Photography

by Amy Horn

Isn’t it great when your photography passion becomes useful? Well, let me explain. Last month, my husband and I came to the decision of selling our house, so we prepared it for listing and met with a realtor. Being a photographer, I offered to take the photos of the house with my Nikon D600 so that my realtor didn’t have to use her mobile device. Most realtors today use mobile devices for real estate photography, and, don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone, but the lens does not capture a very wide angle. I knew my Nikon with an 18-35mm lens would capture a wider scene and with adding fill light through flash I would make stronger images than a mobile phone.

While shooting the different rooms and angles I realized how many windows we have in our house. Even with flash inside, the bright, sunny outside light made every image of the windows look overexposed and the wonderful outside pine trees were not visible. So, I bracketed the images. If you aren’t familiar with bracketing, it is taking multiple exposures of the same composition in order to capture detail in the highlights and shadows. For every room with windows I captured two images.  One image was exposed for indoors (blowing out the details in the windows) and one shot was underexposed by 2 stops. The underexposed image captured great detail in the windows.

Once I downloaded to Lightroom (LR) and made minor adjustments (cropping mostly) I opened each pair into Photoshop (PS). To do this quickly, select both images from LR and right click to select “Edit in> Open as layers in Photoshop” then PS opens and each image is on its’ own layer. With the underexposed image as the bottom layer, I added a mask to the top layer. Grabbed a brush the size of the windows with a feathered edge and started masking. Masking is a technique of using detail from a layer below as a form of compositing. The brush paints black onto the mask revealing the below layer. After a few seconds of quickly brushing, I saved the image. Upon saving the corrected image is immediately visible in LR and ready for export. I spent about 15 minutes masking the different sets of images and then exported them all from Lightroom. My realtor was thrilled with the images and the house sold in five days. I would love to think it was because of my images!

To learn more from Amy Horn, sign up for her Photo 101, Photo 102, iPhoneography or iPad Workflow classes at ahpw.org. View her work at horndesigns.com.

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