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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Architecture, Real-Estate & Buildings 
Thread started 06 Mar 2016 (Sunday) 07:41
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Real Estate Questions

 
Alveric
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Mar 07, 2016 15:20 |  #16
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mltn wrote in post #17927031 (external link)
Wow you've got some really fantastic information! I agree 100% with your first post and couldn't have said it better myself, but I don't think a lightmeter is a necessity in this line of work, and especially not at the entry level.

I don't use one at all anymore and neither do any of the commercial or architecture photographers I personally know, but I won't deny they have value to folks that understand how to effectively use them.

When I read Hensel, Kinoflo, Dedolights, I see $$$$, $$$$, $$$$. I go inexpensive for basic real estate, such as Yongnuo speedlights. They get the job done just fine, but won't last forever. There was a time when you had to spend a large sum for every component in your kit to get good results, but that's not necessarily the case anymore.

Thanks.

The meter takes out all the guess work. It's a bit paradoxical really, kinda like modeling lights: when you've become experienced enough so as to see all the nuances of light at a glance, you need it less; but when you're starting and have little clue or are not accustomed to reading tonal values, you need a tool that will give you accuracy. Same thing with lights: when you're starting, modeling lights are invaluable to position your strobes and modifiers precisely and work faster: by the time you're an expert at seeing light you can work efficiently even with flashguns, which have no modeling light, because you already know what you're gonna get.

Chimping, firing endless shots and flashes, chimping again, reading 'the histogram', flashing again, ad nauseam is not an effective or time-efficient way to work. Plus, when using strobes it's not just easier but more accurate and efficient to aim for a particular aperture and then dial in the power values on the lights that will give you that aperture. The LCD camera or 'the histogram' are unreliable for this, especially when you're working with ratios and more than one flash, and/or balancing ambient with strobe light.

Regarding the equipment, yes, I recommend only what I myself would buy. I am very inimical to cheap Chinese stuff because: it breaks easily; it's very low quality; it does not give you a consistent light output in terms of WB (actually, any flashguns will be inconsistent in quality of light as their light changes colour noticeably when you vary their power), which is crucial for product and commercial applications; and warranty, customer service and support are parsecs away from what you get from a reputable manufacturer (especially if you're already in Europe, Hensel is just pretty much right down your alley). A Shen Hao camera would be about the only Chinese photographic gear I'd buy.

As I said above, there's no need to rush out and buy everything in one fell swoop. There's just the need to plan and buy smartly and purchase the BEST quality you can afford, even if you have to do it piecemeal, which is how I've done it myself.

Yes, for a hobbyist and small time, $100 run n' gun shoots, I would think the purchase of professional grade equipment a bit questionable. But for a full-fledged (if nascent at this time) photographic practice focused on luxury properties and commercial applications, you buy what the pros buy, and since it's for business you write it up as business expense and recover it with the income from your shoots.


'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
Why 'The Histogram' Sux (external link)

  
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rgs
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Mar 07, 2016 15:21 |  #17

mltn wrote in post #17927031 (external link)
Wow you've got some really fantastic information! I agree 100% with your first post and couldn't have said it better myself, but I don't think a lightmeter is a necessity in this line of work, and especially not at the entry level.

I don't use one at all anymore and neither do any of the commercial or architecture photographers I personally know, but I won't deny they have value to folks that understand how to effectively use them.

When I read Hensel, Kinoflo, Dedolights, I see $$$$, $$$$, $$$$. I go inexpensive for basic real estate, such as Yongnuo speedlights. They get the job done just fine, but won't last forever. There was a time when you had to spend a large sum for every component in your kit to get good results, but that's not necessarily the case anymore.

Agreed. Yongnuo 560s (external link) are cheap, powerful, flexible and small enough to put in tight spaces.


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Mar 07, 2016 15:53 |  #18

Alveric wrote in post #17927100 (external link)
Thanks.


Regarding the equipment, yes, I recommend only what I myself would buy.

As I said above, there's no need to rush out and buy everything in one fell swoop. There's just the need to plan and buy smartly and purchase the BEST quality you can afford, even if you have to do it piecemeal, which is how I've done it myself.

Yes, for a hobbyist and small time, $100 run n' gun shoots, I would think the purchase of professional grade equipment a bit questionable. But for a full-fledged (if nascent at this time) photographic practice focused on luxury properties and commercial applications, you buy what the pros buy, and since it's for business you write it up as business expense and recover it with the income from your shoots.

But not everyone works the same way as you or has the same needs as you. There is always a bit of wisdom in buying the best quality you can. It often saves money over the long run. But it's much easier to by expensive gear when money is coming in than when you are trying to get started. And, in the case of lighting real estate, small speedlights may actually meet the need better than big studio lights because they offer the flexibility of fitting in smaller places and leave less to be removed (cords, bits of lightstands, ect) to be removed in post. They may also lessen the need for an assistant.

As to "hobbyist and small time, $100 run 'n gun", I find that description to be elitist in tone. I don't fit that category but many here might and to disparage them on the basis of their equipment is certainly unfair. I should point out that high end equipment is often purchased by the hobbyist with more money than he knows what to do with who just wants the best - or the best name. A photographer's value is in the quality of their work - not the investment they have in gear.


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Mar 07, 2016 16:09 |  #19
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rgs wrote in post #17927155 (external link)
But not everyone works the same way as you or has the same needs as you. There is always a bit of wisdom in buying the best quality you can. It often saves money over the long run. But it's much easier to by expensive gear when money is coming in than when you are trying to get started. And, in the case of lighting real estate, small speedlights may actually meet the need better than big studio lights because they offer the flexibility of fitting in smaller places and leave less to be removed (cords, bits of lightstands, ect) to be removed in post. They may also lessen the need for an assistant.

As to "hobbyist and small time, $100 run 'n gun", I find that description to be elitist in tone. I don't fit that category but many here might and to disparage them on the basis of their equipment is certainly unfair. I should point out that high end equipment is often purchased by the hobbyist with more money than he knows what to do with who just wants the best - or the best name. A photographer's value is in the quality of their work - not the investment they have in gear.

Mate, it has taken me over 3 years to build up my gear. Yes, I was being a bit facetious about the Kinoflos and Dedolights: those are hellishly expensive. Hensel lights are not expensive at all.

I started out with a 5DII and a 430EX-II, then bought a second flashgun, a Metz 58 AF-2. Worked with that setup and a 17-40mm. When the 17-40mm was stolen, all I had for architecture was my old XSi and the kit lens. Yes, I did professional work with a kit lens for about three months, till I could purchase the TS-E. Did so and continued working with my two speedlights and brollies (one a POS Chinese unit that started to unravel within days of purchase, and no, I'm not rough on my gear, point in fact I'm more guilty of gear fondling than of gear abuse). After another 8 months I purchased my Hensel 2-light (similar to this one (external link) sans one light). More months till I could buy the third light and modifiers and power pack. I could go on. I won't.

As for quality of the work, the gear is a big variable in it. An accomplished violinist will always produce better music with an Stradivarius. But if someone prefers to spend hours in colour management hell and post-processing fixing, well, it's his time.

It comes to this, really: if somebody finds a $755 top quality, colour consistent throughout its stop range, &c monolight 'expensive', I really have nothing to argue with him. We'll never agree. Like clients who want the $50 headshot vs those who want the $500 headshot, we orbit different stars. A man is perfectly free to get himself two sheets to the wind with Chivas Regal or wood alcohol; me, I'd take the Chivas Regal: more tolerable hangover and I won't go blind.


'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
Why 'The Histogram' Sux (external link)

  
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Mar 07, 2016 16:19 |  #20

Alveric wrote in post #17927182 (external link)
An accomplished violinist will always produce better music with an Stradivarius. But if someone prefers to spend hours in colour management hell and post-processing fixing, well, it's his time.

It comes to this, really: if somebody finds a $755 top quality, colour consistent throughout its stop range, &c monolight 'expensive', I really have nothing to argue with him. We'll never agree. Like clients who want the $50 headshot vs those who want the $500 headshot, we orbit different stars. A man is perfectly free to get himself two sheets to the wind with Chivas Regal or wood alcohol; me, I'd take the Chivas Regal: more tolerable hangover and I won't go blind.

Speaking as an orchestral musician, I can tell you that the instrument makes much more difference to the performer than to the listener. A good performer can make almost anything sound good. A good number of those Stradivarii and other 16th century instruments are in the hands of really good performers, but many are also in the hands of wealthy collectors.

Ansel Adams spent hours in post and considered that the final performance of his negatives. And there are many other examples of photographers whose work is really in processing as much as in capture. Those who do so are no less than those who produce near finished work on site.


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Mar 07, 2016 16:47 |  #21
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rgs wrote in post #17927196 (external link)
Speaking as an orchestral musician, I can tell you that the instrument makes much more difference to the performer than to the listener. A good performer can make almost anything sound good. A good number of those Stradivarii and other 16th century instruments are in the hands of really good performers, but many are also in the hands of wealthy collectors.

Ansel Adams spent hours in post and considered that the final performance of his negatives. And there are many other examples of photographers whose work is really in processing as much as in capture. Those who do so are no less than those who produce near finished work on site.

This is a good point, and I was just thinking of it myself. **I** would probably NOT be able to tell the difference betwixt a Stradivarius and a well crafted violin made in the 20th century. (I would be able to tell the difference between a good tune and a ratty one, though).

The point is good because of this: it looks like a lot of them clients out there can't tell the difference between well-crafted images and crap. This is one of the major hurdles in our practice nowadays, and the main reason why I don't do real estate photography. And, methinks, sometimes they CAN tell the difference but still have the affrontery to tell you your images look no different from the other guy's (an amateur, to use a kind word) simply because they don't want to pay much if anything for photos.

Even on home builders' websites you're likely to see garbage like this:

IMAGE: http://diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/Bilder/House_photo_bad.jpg

Because they refuse to pay for something at least half decent like this**:
IMAGE: http://diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/Bilder/House_photo_good.jpg

If you ask me, they deserve the run n' gunner. One might argue that you give the client what he asks for and strive to cater to him. Well, I'd rather sit at home taking photos of the patterns in my balcony sill than to lower my standards and do sub-par work just because they're only paying $150 or because that's what the client wants. I've said it elsewhere and will always say it: the client isn't always right, sometimes he's clueless.

Yes, I'm aware I might sound a bit –or a lot– elitist, but the feeling is shared by many pros who've seen their work made harder or disappear because of total hacks who, having enough strength to lift a DSLR and a collection of software tricks and presets, they go about calling themselves 'photographers' (or worse, 'professional photographers') and undercut everyone and lower the quality standards. Just like the Chinese junk that's overflooded the market; and this is one of my beefs with it: that they've lowered the bar so much, that now even the local and some (formerly) reputable manufacturers have had to cut corners in order to stay in business. As I said, the feeling is there among full-time photographers, it's just that most are afraid to voice it lest they be labeled as 'not nice people'. I don't have much of such inhibition.

_______________
**Shot is still not quite there because they hadn't done the landscaping when the magazine wanted photos of that show home. Not my fault, that.

'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
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Mar 07, 2016 17:25 |  #22

Your view of some RE photography is accurate but you don't have to turn down RE work to do quality work. I refuse to charge less or spend less time to lower costs so I don't get sent out to photograph dumps. Some agents understand the need for good images and they call me. I have all the work I need and clients who value my work. Others hire someone who will work their way and there is room for both.

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Mar 07, 2016 17:52 as a reply to  @ rgs's post |  #23
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I concede that point. In my case I've just not met the right realtors. The quest continues.

On another note, and this might be a useful tip or no: very well staged and taken images of properties, especially those in the luxury range (which are Mr Gammershmidt's main interest) can be printed large and then sold to the new owners (or the former ones as a memento) for good money. Likewise with heritage properties and buildings that are going to be renovated or undergo major changes, a well crafted photograph, not unlike those that we used to see in books in the days of the technical camera, would be of value both as a record image and as wall art.


'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
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Mar 07, 2016 18:38 as a reply to  @ post 17926062 |  #24

Wow your tether set-up is extremely practical, I'll make sure to get that sorted out first, as being able to see the photo on an ipad would really give me a certain edge over making sure the focus is right, I just can't stand the tiny screen, not to mention that I wear glasses and sometimes don't work out the focus correctly.


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Mar 07, 2016 19:10 |  #25

Well you're right about writing these expenses off, my income is from sales comissions, the reason I picked up photography is similar to why I plan on picking up golfing soon, it may seem like I picked myself a hobby, but it converges at a precise point in my plan: having something to hook up clients with, be it professional photography or going out golfing and perhaps one day yachting... I don't know how I will monetize my work, but I prefer to use photography as a boon during negotiation, in my opinion coming to a better agreement with an owner, especially in the luxe sector, will pay off a lot better than charging money for the photographs themselves, not to mention that with a good portfolio I will gain my clients trust much quicker.


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Mar 07, 2016 22:10 |  #26

Alveric wrote in post #17927100 (external link)
Thanks.

The meter takes out all the guess work. It's a bit paradoxical really, kinda like modeling lights: when you've become experienced enough so as to see all the nuances of light at a glance, you need it less; but when you're starting and have little clue or are not accustomed to reading tonal values, you need a tool that will give you accuracy. Same thing with lights: when you're starting, modeling lights are invaluable to position your strobes and modifiers precisely and work faster: by the time you're an expert at seeing light you can work efficiently even with flashguns, which have no modeling light, because you already know what you're gonna get.

Chimping, firing endless shots and flashes, chimping again, reading 'the histogram', flashing again, ad nauseam is not an effective or time-efficient way to work. Plus, when using strobes it's not just easier but more accurate and efficient to aim for a particular aperture and then dial in the power values on the lights that will give you that aperture. The LCD camera or 'the histogram' are unreliable for this, especially when you're working with ratios and more than one flash, and/or balancing ambient with strobe light.

Regarding the equipment, yes, I recommend only what I myself would buy. I am very inimical to cheap Chinese stuff because: it breaks easily; it's very low quality; it does not give you a consistent light output in terms of WB (actually, any flashguns will be inconsistent in quality of light as their light changes colour noticeably when you vary their power), which is crucial for product and commercial applications; and warranty, customer service and support are parsecs away from what you get from a reputable manufacturer (especially if you're already in Europe, Hensel is just pretty much right down your alley). A Shen Hao camera would be about the only Chinese photographic gear I'd buy.

As I said above, there's no need to rush out and buy everything in one fell swoop. There's just the need to plan and buy smartly and purchase the BEST quality you can afford, even if you have to do it piecemeal, which is how I've done it myself.

Yes, for a hobbyist and small time, $100 run n' gun shoots, I would think the purchase of professional grade equipment a bit questionable. But for a full-fledged (if nascent at this time) photographic practice focused on luxury properties and commercial applications, you buy what the pros buy, and since it's for business you write it up as business expense and recover it with the income from your shoots.


You bring up some good points regarding light meter use, I'll have to break mine out and try a different approach to see what I've been missing.

Even with a light meter, chimping is still very necessary with interiors, as the light meter is limited in indicating the quality of light or where you're getting conflicting reflections and glare.

I used to shoot regular real estate full time (as opposed to luxury/high-end), and most realtors are very cost sensitive (read: cheap), so I couldn't go dropping $1K+ on my lighting set up for this type of work. I can't blame them, if you can spend $100 - 200 for photos on an average or even high end place and still get interest and a sale, then why spend more? Of course you can't substitute the reliability or overall quality of expensive gear, but it's more appropriate for higher end shoots.

If you have great glass, a decent body, and a decent tripod, you can get pretty creative with what you can make work for lighting, especially for interiors.

You're certainly not wrong on any of your points, but my perspective is that one could take a more pragmatic approach.




  
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Mar 07, 2016 22:50 |  #27
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mltn wrote in post #17927564 (external link)
You bring up some good points regarding light meter use, I'll have to break mine out and try a different approach to see what I've been missing.

Even with a light meter, chimping is still very necessary with interiors, as the light meter is limited in indicating the quality of light or where you're getting conflicting reflections and glare.

I used to shoot regular real estate full time (as opposed to luxury/high-end), and most realtors are very cost sensitive (read: cheap), so I couldn't go dropping $1K+ on my lighting set up for this type of work. I can't blame them, if you can spend $100 - 200 for photos on an average or even high end place and still get interest and a sale, then why spend more? Of course you can't substitute the reliability or overall quality of expensive gear, but it's more appropriate for higher end shoots.

If you have great glass, a decent body, and a decent tripod, you can get pretty creative with what you can make work for lighting, especially for interiors.

You're certainly not wrong on any of your points, but my perspective is that one could take a more pragmatic approach.

Full disclosure: I do chimp. You can't avoid it, it's pretty much automatic. Argh. What I don't do, and strongly advise others not to do, is to determine exposure based on the JPEG returned by the camera, nor 'the histogram', because that won't get you consistent, reliable exposures due to many variables –eye strain, lighting conditions, glare, among others in the case of the screen; uneven light and/or tonal value distribution, to name two in the case of 'the histogram'. Do trust the highlight warning your camera gives you (to a point); and the image's histograms** (both normal and RGB) are indeed a very useful tool to check for clipping, but not for exposure determination.

Mind, I am trying to be pragmatic too, as well as efficient. That's why I emphasise, even to the point of soreness, the importance of consistent colour temperature and quality of light. My modus operandi is to get the image right in the camera, so that I do as little post-processing as possible. If you saw me work, you'd be inclined to swear I'm still shooting film, the way I go about everything for a single shot, from exposure calculations to rearranging furniture. Over the years I've found this approach to get me the best results with a minimum of effort and frustration.

Speaking of efficiency, I wholly agree with those of you who have here recommended tethered capture with architectural subjects. Looking at the scene on a laptop screen vs. a 3" LCD saves you lots of time; furthermore, looking at the neutral RAW file with its real histogram instead of a JPEG, allows you to espy problems, correct them, record your hero shot, and swiftly move on. Personally, I don't shoot tethered, and during my last shoot I did miss my rental car parked outside the clinic when taking a shot: removing it required heavy post-processing (I actually ended up outsourcing the file to a company offering retouching services, and even though the client was pleased with the results I wasn't very much) –frankly, I woulda preferred to use that time working on the other images.

Shoulda done this many posts before, but do check out our own POTN member Mike Kelley's work (external link). Delicatessen. :)
_______________
**When I type the histogram between quotation marks I'm being satyric –namely, trying to mimic in writing the overweening intonation in which a PhD would spell out a highly technical term to a 4-year old. ;)


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Why 'The Histogram' Sux (external link)

  
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Mar 07, 2016 22:55 |  #28

Chimping is not necessarily bad and may be faster and give you more information than metering alone. When I worked with a view camera, I often used a Polaroid back to check lights, composition, and other things before exposing expensive chrome sheet film. We didn't call it chimping back then but it was the same thing.


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Mar 07, 2016 22:57 |  #29
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rgs wrote in post #17927615 (external link)
Chimping is not necessarily bad and may be faster and give you more information than metering alone. When I worked with a view camera, I often used a Polaroid back to check lights, composition, and other things before exposing expensive chrome sheet film. We didn't call it chimping back then but it was the same thing.

Haha, funny you mention that. I intend to buy a large format camera and use it for architectural photography, then scanning the negatives since there are no digital backs for LF. Should be interesting. :-)


'The success of the second-rate is deplorable in itself; but it is more deplorable in that it very often obscures the genuine masterpiece. If the crowd runs after the false, it must neglect the true.' —Arthur Machen
Why 'The Histogram' Sux (external link)

  
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Mar 07, 2016 23:10 |  #30

Alveric wrote in post #17927617 (external link)
Haha, funny you mention that. I intend to buy a large format camera and use it for architectural photography, then scanning the negatives since there are no digital backs for LF. Should be interesting. :-)

Unless you have 8x10 (or larger) in mind, why not just get a MF digital or a Canon 5Drs? Your IQ will probably be better than 4x5, you will be able to skip the scanning step, and you image files will be smaller than the scanned ones. But then there is something to be said for just wanting to work with 4x5. It's a unique photographic experience from which you will learn a good deal including a very disciplined and thoughtful approach to photography.

Earlier in this thread I mentioned being tethered to my phone when photographing a RE site. Having that big display and all the extra information it includes is a real value in architectural work. And it's not upside down!


Canon 7d MkII, Canon 50D, Pentax 67, Canon 30D, Baker Custom 4x5, Canon EF 24-104mm f4, Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC

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