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As you scroll through multiple listings and check out the photographs showing the houses or commercial properties, you will probably see a wide variation in the quality of the images from liusting to listing.
In one, you might see a house with bright windows all blown out in exposure, while in another you notice an excellent balance between bright areas and darker ones such as under cabinets or in room corners.
One of the most important real estate photography techniques is knowing how to shoot a house with bright windows and not have the photos look amateurish.
Bracket and Merge
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So, how does one capture images of a house with bright windows and dark corners with the exposure balanced in a way that both extremes have clear detail in them? It’s by a technique that is one of the best real estate photography tips ever, bracket and merge HDR.
Bracket and merge HDR is a method that blends image files at different exposure levels and creates a natural looking picture with detail visible in the brightest highlights, the darkest shadows, and everything in between.
High Dynamic Range Photography
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High dynamic range photography, also known as HDR or bracket and merge, was a photographic technique made possible by the very nature of digital photography, namely electronic imagery.
While the electronic sensors react to light in a way that is analogous to celluloid film, the reaction medium is completely different. So is the way the information is stored. Without going deep into the science of the differences and similarities of film and digital photography, let’s just say that digital files can be used in a manner that wasn’t even imagined by the average film photographer of 30 years ago.
The scenes available to photograph are still the same, there can still be a huge difference from the lightest to the darkest parts of the scenes. Such as a house with bright windows and dark corners. But both film and digital can only handle so much.
The difference between light and dark is the dynamic range of a scene. The ability to accurately record light to dark is the dynamic range of the recording medium, in our case digital sensors.
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When the dynamic range of a scene exceeds the dynamic range a camera is able to capture, something has to suffer. Either the dark parts of the shadows are so deep that there is no detail in them or the bright parts of a scene are so blown out that there is no detail.
So that house with bright windows ends up photographing like all of the bad listings you’ve seen. But you know that some photographers have figured out the dynamic range issues because you see images with detail in the darkest parts of the rooms and detail in the external view in those bright windows.
What’s happened is that whoever photographed that listing used photography tips for real estate images that involve taming or narrowing that dynamic range, knowing how to shoot a house with bright windows and dark parts of the same room.
How It Works
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You will often have to take pictures of a house with bright windows and dark corners as you start taking real estate images yourself, either for your own listings as an agent or as a photographer for a real estate agent.
To use the bracket and merge method of real estate photography techniques, you will need to mount your camera on a tripod and take multiple exposures of each view you’re imaging.
Meter with a handheld exposure meter or with your camera to find a good middle ground to start with. A blank, neutral colored wall in good light will often work well. From that setting, set your camera to AEB or auto exposure bracketing for 3 to 5 shots, changing the exposure by 1 or 2 stops between each exposure.
You will want the camera set to manual focus and manual exposure. An f-stop or lens aperture of about f/8 or f/11 is a good idea for depth of field in the focusing. Set your focus ring of your wide angle lens at about 1 meter or 3 feet and everything from about 2 feet to infinity will be in focus. Set the AEB to only change shutter speeds.
An ISO of 320 to 800 should be fine and setting your camera to capture RAW files is preferred for the next steps.
The next steps are to load your image files into a computer program that processes HDR images and adjust the settings or the presets of that program to deliver the style you prefer. Here is a YouTube video that explains the method in an easy to understand way.
Deliver or Show Great Listing Photos
photo by CreativaStudio via iStock
And that’s pretty much the essentials of how to shoot a house with bright windows by using bracket and merge shooting and HDR processing real estate photography techniques. Whether for your own listings or for your realty clients, these photos will have better success in showing prospective home buyers the best views of the properties.
After getting used to the bracket and merge HDR photography technique, you’ll find other types of scenes to use the method on, opening up a whole lot of creative possibilities.