Real Estate Photography: Before & After – 1

Photography is about showing what the mind sees. Sometimes the raw image from the camera doesn’t quite get it right, because the mind adjusts for varying expose, white balance, perspective, and other qualities.

In this example, I shot a model home from a little too close because there was a fence behind me, so the lines of the house appear ominously receding toward the top. Also exposing for the bright sunlight made the entrance dark.

My camera’s sensor has a lot of dynamic range, but I took two shots on a tripod, one exposed for the bright parts, the other for the shadowed entry. In Photoshop I combined the two to get an image with a smoother overall exposure that still looks realistic. In Lightroom I corrected for the perspective “keystoning” effect to straighten up the wall of the home.

For the next one, the kitchen and dining room look good in their ambient light, but the view outside is blown out, the sink is shady, and there’s an intense blue reflection from the sky on the chairs and wood floor.

Using flash bounced off the ceiling, I got more even lighting, and I made another exposure for the view. This is actually four composited shots, where I used masks in Photoshop to hide myself in different places with the flash, and then blended the shots for lighting. I also adjusted for a little keystoning and barrel distortion in Lightroom.

This living room shot looks pretty good by itself, but it’s a little blown out in the kitchen, and kind of orange from the lighting. The camera is level, so there’s no keystoning in this one.

Again I composited flash shots in Photoshop to even up the lighting and to get the colors. Using the ambient shot as a luminosity layer gets the character of the home lighting, while the flash gets the correct colors because its color temperature is 5,500K, same as the sun.

I wanted to show the two windows in this bedroom, and I liked the light coming in from the window on the right. But of course in ambient light the windows are blown out and don’t really give an idea of the view.

This is another multi-flash shot, using the ambient layer for luminosity and flash for color, and separate exposure for the views. The overall darkness of the bedroom is increased, to give it a comfortably sleepy look.

A sunny day makes for high contrast. I took two shots, one for the exposure on the back of the house, one for the exposure in the sunlight.

In Photoshop I made the mask for the back of the house using the polygon select to mask off the shadowed part. For the grass, in Lightroom I adjusted the hue, saturation, and luminosity to make it look like what I remembered, it didn’t seem that yellow to me at the time. I tried making it look like a green summer lawn, but that looked weird and unrealistic, like it was painted. So I backed it off and just nudged the values a little to give the slightly yellow, slightly faded look of a winter lawn.