As a business owner, ignoring the present health crisis in the world would be self serving. My wife works in healthcare, so the reality of what is of greatest importance reveals itself daily in a viceral, emotional way around here. Any photography projects on the books having to do with people have been cancelled for me. Product photography in my home studio as well as real estate photography is still happening and given that blessing, I thought I would relay in simple terms, how I photograph home interiors for realtors.
Tools of My Trade
For me, photographing a home’s interior requires a professional camera, a tripod, two speedlights on a single bracket and a strict set of procedures to follow from start to finish.
Usually, deciding where to shoot first is dictated by where the realtor and seller are not. In other words, if their working area is the kitchen, I will begin somewhere else until eventually I inform them that they will be in the frame unless they move! Typically I start with the living room and circle around, spending most of my time in the kitchen and master bath.
First, I choose an angle. In this case, I am shooting into the windows of a four seasons room. My camera settings in MANUAL mode are ISO 400 , F 9 , shutter speed is 1/8th sec and I shoot in high dynamic range (HDR) set in the camera. My white balance is set to auto.
As you can see, the windows are blown out when photographed in HDR. That’s ok. I want to capture the details in the room only – highlights/shadows. The window views will be captured in the next frame when I “flash it”. Also, color accuracy is not intrinsic when shooting in HDR, but when combined with the flashed image (consistency provided by camera on tripod ) and adjusted in post production, the final image will reflect color accuracy and the beautiful outdoor views.
The above image is the room photographed with the existing light in the room, again, not being concerned with the blown out windows. I simply want to capture the natural light form the sunlight, lamps and any overhead lights as it falls on the furniture, floor and ceiling.
With both layers in line, I click on layer 1. From here, I click on the layer mask at the bottom of the page to add a layer mask to layer 1. With the layer mask selected, I choose a soft medium sized brush and begin to digitally “erase” or paint away sections of the ambient image where I think optimum visual unity between the natural world (ambient light) and the artificial world (flashed). The ambient world will retain the natural shadows and light falling on objects. The flashed world will give me the accurate color of furniture, walls, floor, etc). It will also give me the view out the window. This is a subjective process. I stop “erasing” when I think the final image looks balanced and realistic retaining the richness in detail. I like to keep the window view about a stop over exposed. I don’t want the window view to look like a huge poster of the the outside. I want to retain realistic believability. Finally, I add a roaring fire in the fireplace, select and darken the outside view a bit and remove any distracting shadows from the flashed image.
Be smart. Be safe. Thanks for reading.