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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Architecture, Real-Estate & Buildings Talk 
Thread started 12 Jun 2018 (Tuesday) 14:03
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How much lighting and editing for RE photos of non-luxury homes?

Cream of the Crop
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Jun 12, 2018 14:03 |  #1

I may have an opportunity to start taking RE photos on the side. I'm an experienced amateur with lots of gear and am comfortable in Lightroom 6. I also have Photoshop Elements but I'm not as comfortable with it. I haven't shot houses so I've been watching Youtube videos on the subject. I know shooting RE photos doesn't pay a fortune so you can't spend all day perfecting each photo.

From watching mostly Rich Baum's and Nathan Cool's videos and trying different techniques in my own home, it seems like I could go one of two ways:

1) Flambient: One bounce-flash shot, one ambient shot, one direct flash shot per window, mask and blend in Photoshop. I was able to get pretty good results after a few tries. That flash shot can require considerable power to light properly. I have Einstein strobes and radio control, but that's not something I'd want to lug around and set up on site. I do have a Canon 580EXII and a YN-560 but sold my Cactus triggers when I stepped up to the Einsteins. The YN-560 does have an optical slave but it's not 100% reliable and obviously doesn't work through walls. So if I went this route, I'd want some more powerful battery-powered and radio-triggered lights.

2) Bracket shots with hotshoe flash bounced straight up, HDR in Lightroom: This one requires less gear, no round trip to PS, is fast and easy to shoot, but I don't like the result as well. It's not bad, way better than any phone or pop-up flash shots, but not as nice I can get with option 1 if I'm able to get the right shots. The windows still want to blow out and the foreground still looks a bit "flashy". Maybe that's something only photographers or art directors care about, not home shoppers or RE agents. I can use the local area adjustment tool in LR to pull the windows back, but the tool isn't as good as what's available in PS.

Which camp do you fall into? Could you offer #2 as a basic package and make #1 available for an extra charge?

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Jun 14, 2018 18:44 |  #2

My suggestion would be number 1. You can get pretty quick at processing them in lightroom with presets that you can apply on import, then do a quick blend of layers in photoshop. My thought process is if you give sub par version 2 images then the realtor would not use you for the nicer listings that you can charge more for. You would also be building a Portfolio of how good your quality of work is with both smaller and larger homes. We may see smaller homes as not that important to spend any extra time on but the homeowner and those looking to buy will appreciate quality pics. You can also break down your pricing to 25 pics for less impressive and smaller listings and 35 pics for nicer listings. My 2 cents. Good luck.

Senior Member
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Jun 16, 2018 00:21 |  #3

from my experience with non-luxury homes. The realtor does NOT KNOW the difference, OR CARE between flambient and HDR. They don't want to pay for (or expect you to take anymore than) 1 hour at the house. It's kind of a dead end battle in my experience, just go with HDR.

I had a lot of talk and actually gotten in some heated arguments with realtors that doesn't quite understand the photo business or how much effort it takes to make their photos, I now work with some that realize good photos with lighting take a lot of time and trial and error and gives me pretty much whatever and however long I need to do the job. Life is way better now.

CC welcome.

Cream of the Crop
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Post edited 7 months ago by nathancarter. (2 edits in all)
Jun 19, 2018 10:54 |  #4

For non-luxury homes:
Option 3: turn on all interior lights, partially close the blinds. bounce flash from a hotshoe-mounted speedlight. No HDR, but use the shutter speed and flash power to balance the exposure. Take two per shot in case you accidentally miss focus. Upon importing, use a Lightroom preset to get you most of the way there. If necessary, spend an additional 60 seconds per photo for other touchups. Finish off with the Upright tool in Lightroom to make sure your verticals are straight. Don't waste time pixel-peeping for sharpness or other pixel-peepers' definitions of image quality; MLS listings have pixel-dimension and filesize limits, and will be re-resized by the viewer's browser anyway.

For non-luxury homes, the realtor doesn't care about quality and will not pay more for your time and equipment spent on better quality. Get it done fast because you're being paid by the house, not by the hour.

Source: My wife is a full-time real-estate photographer/videograp​her, she shoots everything from empty lots to multimillion-dollar estates.

edit: quick example of her work with on-camera bounced flash, using a 5D3 and a Flashpoint Room R2 Li-On TTL speedlight:
https://www.facebook.c​om …040084224/?type​=3&theater (external link)

http://www.avidchick.c​om (external link) for business stuff​m/VictorVoyeur (external link) for fun stuff

Cream of the Crop
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Jun 19, 2018 11:59 |  #5

Good point about partially closing the blinds. That'll help even out the light and to be honest, most houses around here don't have anything more appealing than a block wall 6' from most of the windows anyway. I could spend a little more time on shots with nice back yards but that's probably 1-2 rooms per house max.

Cream of the Crop
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Jul 05, 2018 12:25 |  #6

Option 4: No interior lights on, keep window blinds open. Shoot a bracket of 5 frames with 2 EV between frames. Blend via Lightroom Enfuse plug-in (not the HDR blending module.) using batch mode. Import the resulting TIFF files into Lightroom with Auto Tone preset or apply Auto Tone to each in Lightroom. Make minor adjustments as required.

Please Note:
No Flash.

Lightroom Enfuse plug in here: https://www.photograph​​renfuse.php (external link)

Use latest update to Lightroom they have done extensive work on Auto Tone and its much better than earlier.

This is the shooting technique I came up with to satisfy the photo guidelines for a national luxury home brokerage. It works just as well for non-luxury homes. :-)

David | Sharing my Insights, Knowledge & Experience (external link) | dmwfotos website (external link)

01010100 01010011
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Location: Northern Indiana
Jul 05, 2018 12:59 |  #7

My wife will run 1 to 3 AD200 strobes off the SL2 and 10-18mm lens per room. She is getting a bit better at these. We put the dish diffusers on them, and she can set them on lightweight stands as a "lamp", or put in inconspicuous places in the room to light it up.

Past Equipment | My Personal Gallery (external link) My Business Gallery (external link)

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Aug 01, 2018 21:04 |  #8

My work is a variety of luxury and non luxury homes. I even have one client who has me shoot rentals. I do them all the same as far as light goes and I don't scrimp on technique because of the size or price of the house. One flash exposure (a Rovelight in larger rooms and a speedlight in smaller) plus a 7 shot, 1 stop bracket. I hand blend the flash exposure with on (sometimes more) of the ambient brackets. For the rare times when this doesn't produce what I want, I blend 4 or 5 of the brackets in LR Enfuse. I never use HDR.

Average jobs are about 1- 1.5 hours on site and 2-3 hours in post. My clients are discerning realtors who want good photographs, credit me with the speed with which they sell their listings, and are willing to pay my higher fees to get better work.

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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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How much lighting and editing for RE photos of non-luxury homes?
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