Real estate photography images are both promotional and informational. They are tools for selling a one of a kind product with a high price point. Therefore the over all composition, down to the fine details has a purpose. Everything within the shot is there for a reason. For example the reason could be to explain the space, display a key feature, show the lighting or highlight the rooms purpose and connectedness. All while emphasizing the properties aesthetic appeal. Accordingly, compositional considerations determine the application of Real Estate Photography Techniques.
To achieve this there are two processes fundamental to professional real estate photography, capturing the images and processing, or editing, the images. Therefore real estate photography techniques can be broken down into two parts, capturing the images and editing them.
Capturing the Image
As virtually all real estate photographs are of motionless subject matter we can take advantage of complete exposure control. A camera on a sturdy tripod with a remote trigger release can take tack sharp images with low shutter speeds. Long exposure times. Therefore we can capture as much tonal range as required.
We have the ability to create images with comparable colour and tonal range to that of the human eye. To understand this you need to understand how brightness and colour range is measured and perceived.
The brightness of an image is measured in stops. One stop of brightness in an image increases its brightness by 100%. Therefore if you double the amount of light the cameras sensor receives you increase the brightness by one stop. The sensors in today’s digital cameras are capable of capturing 15 stops of light. Human eyes capture images at 10 stops. However eyes are constantly scanning and updating our brain resulting in a visual perception of 30 stops. Thus to create images that are reflective of reality this must be simulated in the real estate photography process.
Our brain perceives colour differently to a camera sensor. Our innate intuition colour corrects what we see on the fly. For example if a white wall has a lamp next to it emitting yellow light we will still perceive the wall as white even though the closer the wall is to the lamp the more yellow it becomes. You may have noticed this when you take a picture under artificial light. The colour of the resulting photo is much more reflective of the colour of the artificial lighting than we perceive through our minds eye. Real estate photography techniques need to accurately capture the image, as a human sees it, as opposed to how a camera sensor records it.
The process of capturing real estate photographs involves compositing a group of shots with different exposures together, through the editing process, to produce a final image that is in line with how a person would see the scene. Image brightness and colour must be accounted for. There are two dominant photography techniques that can achieve this. HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Flambient photography. In addition they can be combined to extract the best images from both approaches.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) Real Estate Photography Technique
High dynamic range photography (HDR) produces images with the tonal range in line with human visual perception. It achieves this through combining multiple images of the same scene with varying exposure values to create a single image that reflects the full range of tonal values in the scene. In the context of real estate photography this process is called Exposure Bracketing. Changing the shutter speed between shots produces images with different exposures. Thereby gathering data in the dark and bright areas that would be lost in any individual shot. In doing this you can extract the detail through an otherwise bright “blown out” windows and dark shadowy area. Thereby producing an image in line with our visual perception.
Flamient Real Estate Photography Technique
Flambient refers to the Real Estate Photography Technique that involves compositing photos taken using a flash and an ambient photo. When a flash is employed you can reveal a rooms true color. As opposed to an image dominated by the colour cast of artificial lighting, In particular tungsten light which has a yellow hue. The Flambient Technique allows you to overpower the artificial lighting with neutral light from the flash. Therefore during the editing process you have the ability to dial back the colour cast in the ambient shot and blend them with the rooms true colours as captured using a flash. Through this process you can align the colours in the image to that of human visual perception.
Why not use both?
While many photographers employ one technique or the other, the advantage of using both in combination is the control you have over both the tonal range and the colour depth. While there is more set up involved in taking the initial photos, the time spent colour correcting is greatly reduced. Combining the High Dynamic Range process with the Flambient gives you more resources to work with and more options at your disposal when editing.
These are the real estate photography techniques we employ at Nathan James Photography and Videography. To find out how you can enhance your listing with this technique, get in touch with us today.
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