Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

We’ve Moved to PhotographyForRealEstate.net

Posted by larrylohrman on January 26, 2010

GoToPFRE
As of December 2007 this blog has moved to PhotographyForRealEstate.net please come see us there.

Posted in News, Photo Technique | Leave a Comment »

Turning Real Estate Still Photos Into Ken Burns Style “Video”

Posted by larrylohrman on December 4, 2007


I find it interesting that tourfactory.com is promoting a new service of creating “video” from still shots you send them. An example of one of their new video tours is at the bottom of this page. Yes, I guess this could technically be called video because you could post it on youtube. But more accurately this is panning over still photos, a technique popularized by Ken Burns in the movie The Civil War.

The Ken Burns approach is actually very effective. Sharon Nyman, a Realtor in Key Largo, FL that shoots her own photos told me that when she purchased a TV spot on spotrunner.com, spotrunner sent a well known professional videographer down to Key Largo to shoot her video. But after the video was edited the Spotrunner decided to do the Ken Burns thing on photos that Sharon had taken. She said in the end everyone in the process agreed that panning over her still photos made a better TV spot than the video that the professional had shot. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Virtual Tours | 1 Comment »

PhotographyForRealEstate.net Will Be Moving Soon

Posted by larrylohrman on December 3, 2007

I’ve decided to move from wordpress.com to a different hosting service. This will remove some of the limitations I’ve run into here on wordpress.com. I’ll still be using WordPress as the underlying blogging platform, which I really like. The blog will just “live” at a different physical location. The new blog will have a different design. I’m using a new wordpress theme called Zigzag3 designed by Sadish Bala. So one of these days soon the domain name  photographyforrealestate.net will just take you to the new site.

As with all hosting changes there will be a period of 24 to 48 hours that it takes all the name servers around the world to update and get the new address through the miracle of Domain Name Server updating. During this period some people will get the old blog and some will get the new blog. For that period I’ll be posting on both the new and the old blog.

I’m using this move as an opportunity to improve the organization of the blog and all the articles etc that I’ve done over the last several years.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

360VR Flash Player Implementations Compared to QuickTime

Posted by larrylohrman on December 2, 2007


Several people have asked about which of the 3 major Flash player implementations are the “best”. Since it’s been my experience that the image displayed and the size of the equirectangular image used plays a big part in how the image looks I thought it would be instructive to do a comparison of the different Flash players all using the very same image as input.

For the comparison is used a 360VR image above of my grandson Morgan standing beside the Spruce Goose, SR71 and Atlas missile at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. Since I originally prepared the image for QuickTime I decided to include the QuickTime image. This image that was used as input to all of the players below is a 3600×1800 JPG file that is 1.15 MB. Here’s how it looks in each of the players:

QuickTime from: Apple
Pano2VR from: Garden Gnome Software
Immervision from: Immervision
FPP (Denis Chumakov) from: Flashpanoramas.com

By looking at the same image in all 4 players you can get a feeling for any differences in the load time, rendering or smoothness of these players. I have a hard time seeing any differences between the 4 different players. I’ll let you be the judge of the quality of the different players.

Another factor, which I haven’t compared is the ease of use of each of these players. My general assessment is that Immervision is probably the most involved and Pano2VR is probably the easiest. But there are other strong and weak points of each of the Flash players. I’ll have to leave that for another post.

Posted in Virtual Tours | 4 Comments »

AerialPan Imaging – 360VR And Video From RC Helicopter

Posted by larrylohrman on December 1, 2007


Back in the spring of 2006 I did a post on the Aerial photography work that Tabb Firchau does. I also did a post on one of his first 360VR shots that Tabb had done from his RC Helicopter. Well Tabb has taken his aerial 360VR to the next level. His business is now called AerialPan Imaging and his site has some very cool aerial 360VR, video and still shots. He has some awesome 360VR shots over the Seattle waterfront, Puerto Vallarta, New York, Waikiki and Maroon Lake near Aspen. I love these unique images!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Aerial Photos | 3 Comments »

Photography For Real Estate on Facebook

Posted by larrylohrman on November 30, 2007


Shaun McLane (AKA Ekday Realty on flickr) initiated a thread in the PFRE discussion group earlier this week on the subject of making use of the fact that you can add a business to you facebook profile.

I must admit that I’m not all that into the social networking scene although I already had a facebook profile because my cousin Nik was on facebook and I wanted to follow some of his activities. Shaun’s point is that he has already gotten some RE photography business from his facebook business page by simply letting his facebook friends know about his business.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Marketing | 3 Comments »

Vrmag: A 360VR Photography Online Magazine

Posted by larrylohrman on November 29, 2007

VRmag issue 28 is now online. For those that haven’t seen it before VRmag is a online 360AVR magazine with articles (45 articles in this issue) on panoramic photography show casing the work of some of the best panographers in the business. Here are just a couple of items I thought my be of interest based on recent posts and comments:

  1. PTgui Pro 7 Article by Pat St. Clair : There was a question about PTgui Pro 7 in the last post and this article is I think a particularly good look at PTgui Pro 7 and how it works.
  2. Flash Interior panorama by Patrick Cheatham : This is a link to a pano by Patrick Cheatham that illustrates a great high quality interior Flash pano. Also of interest is the tour template that Patrick has built for Flash panos.

Posted in News, Virtual Tours | 1 Comment »

How To Make 1 Flash Function Like Multiple Flashes

Posted by larrylohrman on November 28, 2007


Marcus Newey has a great tutorial in the flicker discussion group that explains how to shoot multiple shots with a single flash and then combine them in photoshop to create a well lit composite photo. Marcus’s animated GIF above shows the multiple shots and how they are combined into the final image.

This is good technique for real estate photography since it can cut down on your equipment investment if you have the Photoshop skills necessary to do the compositing image.

Thanks Marcus for this tutorial, I’d heard of this technique but have not seen it explained so well before.

Posted in Flash Technique | 3 Comments »

HDR Images For Real Estate Photography

Posted by larrylohrman on November 27, 2007


Some discussions I’ve had in the last week about HDR processing of real estate photos and some articles I’ve run across have got me thinking about how HDR fits into real estate photography.

Anyone that has shot 360 panoramas will immediately appreciate the importance of HDR as a technique to control brightness in a situation where you must lock your exposure for all shots yet in one of the shots you have to shoot into the sun and another you have to shoot away from the sun. HDR is an clearly and important technique for panographers. As shown by the recent addition of HDR processing into PTgui PRO, the grand old 360 stitching application.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Lighting | 13 Comments »

Lightroom 1.3 Update Feature/Problem Summary

Posted by larrylohrman on November 26, 2007


I was glad to get the Lightroom 1.3 update just for the fixes it had to Leopard on the Mac platform. However, the Lightroom 1.3 update had a good deal more than just fixes so it would behave well on Leopard. Martin Evening over at Light Room News has a couple of posts in the last week that explain some of the new features in 1.3:

  1. The new export dialog – There are fairly extensive improvements here as well as the release of an export developers SDK so developers can build custom export applications.
  2. More Airtight galleries added to the Web module – I’ve talked about the Airtight galleries for Lightroom in previous posts. Now Adobe has included the Simpleviewer, Postcardviewer and Autoviewer in the 1.3 distribution.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Lightroom, Virtual Tours, Workflow | 1 Comment »

Do We Have Any Aperture Users Here?

Posted by larrylohrman on November 25, 2007


Jerry Swanson of Eagan, MN says: “… use the Canon 1Ds with Aperture. After ten months I still have not learned all the features. The Apple Store has experts to teach the program but one hour a week is not great. …I have been using Aperture and have found this a long learning experience.”

Is there anyone out there that has been using Aperture? I have a trial version of Aperture that came on my new  MacBook Pro but I’ve not run it because I’ve been so involved in using Lightroom. Can anyone give Jerry and others insight into using Aperture?

Posted in Photo Editing, Workflow | 2 Comments »

eSiteTours.com – A Newly Launched Virtual Tour Provider

Posted by larrylohrman on November 24, 2007


My friends Kevin and Matt in Bellevue, WA have just recently launched a new virtual tour service. Their website is eSiteTours.com. This new tour service has two types of tours:

  1. A full service to tour where eSiteTours will shoot, create, and host 360VR Flash tours for you. These 360 tours are shot with HDR, use Flash and expand to full screen. Also included in this package is up to 20 still shots presented both as stills and as a “Ken Burns” style slide-show.
  2. A basic tour where you just send your photos to eSiteTours and they will enhance them, if required, and create a Flash based “Ken Burns” movie style slide-show tour. This tour is designed for busy Realtors that want an elegant tour with out having to spend a bunch of time creating the tour. See their service page for a full description and comparison of their tours.

Both kinds of tours have Google map links for the property and they are in the process of adding information tabs for links to schools and other community links.
Kevin and I have been following the emerging use of full-screen Flash over the last 18 months and been excited by the fact that viewers of 360 tours now have the ability to see full screen tours with a technology that is on the majority of machines. Kevin and Matt have designed a tour interface around the latest Pano2VR Flash player by Garden Gnome Software. I really like their interface design that integrates 360, full screen 360, stills and Ken Burns style slide show. It gives you an integration of all of the latest tour styles in one clean interface.

Posted in Virtual Tours | 4 Comments »

Highlights From The Reader Discussion Group For Real Estate Photographers

Posted by larrylohrman on November 23, 2007

There are a couple of threads in the PFRE flickr discussion group I’d like to point out:

I know there are many readers that haven’t noticed the connection between this blog and the Photography For Real Estate flickr group. There is a very useful real estate photography collaboration going on in both the discussion area and the photo discussion/feedback areas.

Posted in Discussion group highlights | Leave a Comment »

A Template For Full Screen 360 Flash Tours

Posted by larrylohrman on November 19, 2007

This post has nothing to do with B17s except that I’ve used some images from my B17 360VR series as examples in this tutorial.

I get a bunch of questions on how I create full screen Flash panoramas and how to put a number of 360 views together into a tour so for a long while I’ve been working on a tutorial on making full screen panoramas and an HTML template with instructions on how to make a multi-view tour.

In the tutorial I explain how to download the the HTML for this template and turn it into your own tour. This HTML may look a little “scary” to someone who’s not used to hacking HTML but you don’t have to understand what it’s doing unless you want to make significant changes. All you need to make your own tour from this template is a text editor, a place on the web you can FTP to and a FTP application.

Have, fun and let us all know about improvements you make to this template. The basic design of this template is thanks to some collaboration I did with Ted Barrow of Fort Worth, TX. He suggested some rearrangements of the tour design that I started out with.

Posted in Panoramas, Virtual Tours | 6 Comments »

Free Replacement Skies For Real Estate Photographers

Posted by larrylohrman on November 18, 2007

It’s time to do another post on replacement skies. I put it up a page of free skies to use back in March of last year. However, the link is so buried in a long list of links on the right hand side-bar of the blog and I doubt if many people notice it. There’s been a discussion going on in the PFRE flickr discussion about how it would be nice to have a community collection of skies that anyone could use when the need a fresh sky so I volunteered to act as a sky librarian and add any sky donations that anyone has to my already existing collection at: lohrman.com/skies/skies.htm. I just got three new skies from Marcus in the UK and added them to the page. If anyone has any skies they’d like to contribute to the sky collection just e-mail the skies or a link to the files to larry@lohrman.com and I’ll add them to the page. Whatever size you have is fine my web server has plenty of space.Be sure do download the sky to check it’s aspect ratio because currently page distorts many of the skies because it all skies to a 200×100 table cell for display purposes. I’ll have to think of a better design to use to display the skies.

Update on 11/23/07:  Need help in using these replacement skies? Have a look at:   Photoshop Tutorials by www.skeller.ch.

Posted in Photo Editing | 3 Comments »

Using Stitched Images in Real Estate Photography

Posted by larrylohrman on November 16, 2007

I’d like to comment and elaborate on a discussion thread that is going on in the Photography For Real Estate flickr group. I’ve noticed quite a number of folks using stitched images for real estate photos.First I need to admit that when I first discovered stitching I used an image of a large master bedroom on a flyer layout. My wife (my Realtor client) and the seller both went ballistic about the curved lines. I recall not agreeing with my clients on this criticism at the time because I was fascinated by the technology of stitching. I thought this was a wonderful way to show this large room but I changed my flyer to use rectilinear images.The example image above is six images (shot with a Canon 10-22 mm lens on a Canon 20D) stitched together with the photomerge feature of Photoshop CS3 (fantastic stitching software by the way). I think the image above is a wonderful image except for the fact that the lines of the windows are curved. These curved lines create a very similar distraction that barrel distortion causes. That is, you know very well that it is unlikely that this wall is curved yet the wall is curved is curved in the photo. It’s a visual contradiction that grabs the viewers attention and distracts from the real purpose of the photo; not what you want in a marketing photo.The reason the lines are curved is that this image is a cylindrical projection of the 3D space of this room onto a 2D surface. Photomerge will try make a rectilinear projection if you use the “perspective” option. However, if you try to make a rectilinear projection of an image that has a field of view (FOV) wider than 120 degrees the perspective gets wildly distorted and the distortion is all on the left and right edges. For more interesting reading and examples on the subject of cylindrical vs rectilinear projections see this article. The conclusion of this article is:

“deformation is evenly distributed in a cylindrical panorama while it’s concentrated near image sides when rectilinear mode is used. 360° is possible when using cylindrical projection. 90° to 120° is acceptable (depending on the subject) when using rectilinear projection.”

Interestingly this straight line problem with using cylindrical panoramas for interiors almost never happens when you use them for landscapes. That’s because your eye usually can’t even spot straight lines being rendered as curves if there aren’t long straight lines.The bottom line on using stitched images for interiors or exteriors with long straight lines is that if you use them, use rectilinear stitching and keep the horizontal field of view less than 120 degrees and probably closer to 100 degrees so the perspective distortion on the left and right side of the image is not too objectionable.

Nov 18 Update: I want to point out the excellent comment below that Jon May made today. It points out a article by Georges Lagarde and a photo in Jon’s flickr photo stream where Jon has used the technique described by Lagarde. In short, what this means is there are in fact techniques to “fix” the perspective distortions I described above and the seventeenth century venetian masters understood and used these techniques. These non-classical perspective “tricks” that the venetian masters used can be used for photographic images.

This is what I love about this medium (collaborative Internet discussions). When you carry on a global discussion like we are here you end up with far than you would in any other form of interaction! Thanks Jon for this insight!

Posted in Panoramas | 8 Comments »

Lightroom 1.3 Now Available – Fixes Mac Leopard Problems

Posted by larrylohrman on November 16, 2007

Adobe has released Lightroom 1.3 which is supposed to fix the problems that Mac users that upgraded to Leopard were having with Lightroom. As of the time of this post there must be a crowd of people downloading this update because the Adobe Update server appear to be running VERY slow… I think I’ll come back a try the download later today.

I’ve been waiting for this update to install my copy of Leopard since I use Lightroom too much to want to deal with Lightroom problems.

Posted in Lightroom | 4 Comments »

Floor Plan Based Virtual Tour Using Highslide JS

Posted by larrylohrman on November 13, 2007


Yesterday Pablo Glorioso of Marbella, Spain showed me his floor plan based tour that he just built for a home near Valencia. Click on the image above to go directly to his tour. I like the simple, straight forward design. Pablo used the Highslide Java Script Thumbnail software by Torstein Honsi. Although there is a little delay the first time you click on each of the links I find the navigation of Pablo’s tour very intuitive. I like the way Pablo has included a regional map, close-up map and a high (birds-eye view). Note that you can find a birds-eye view of most properties at maps.live.com

You need to be able to do some basic HTML work to make use of this slick little Java script package. This is another example where being comfortable working in HTML can be very useful in creating a virtual tour product that you can include with real estate photography services.

Posted in Resources, Virtual Tours | Leave a Comment »

I Spent Yesterday at the Scott Kelby’s Photoshop CS3 Power Tour

Posted by larrylohrman on November 13, 2007


I spent the day yesterday (Monday 11/12) and I am excited about passing on several ideas that I picked up. The most exciting is that Dave Cross (the instructor from Kelby Training) talked about bracketing using camera raw which is something I’ve talked about briefly in a couple of previous posts. The idea is that you can use single RAW image to create two images from, one exposed for the highlights and one exposed for the shadows and then combine the 2 images and using the highlights from one image and the shadows from the second image. The difficult or time consuming part of this technique is developing the mask that controls which part of each image is use in the composite image. Dave demonstrated a technique that does NOT require a mask. Wow, this makes this technique a breeze. The only down side is this technique doesn’t work identically the same on every image. The images like the one above that have all the lacy tree branches in front of the bright sky are of coarse the most difficult.

After I got back home from the seminar I took one of my old images of a twilight shot where the sky was blown out and quickly and easily recovered the delicately lit sky. The basic idea of this technique is that you combine the highlight and shadow parts of the images using layer blending. On the image above I used the difference blending mode. I need to try some more examples and then I’ll do a tutorial that shows this technique step by step. I think this technique will work nicely for bright windows. I also need to check out if this works on Photoshop elements… I think it does. I believe it also works on most older versions of Photoshop since the layer blending features have been the same in Photoshop for a long time.

This seminar gave me a refreshed perspective on all the great advanced techniques that Photoshop has to offer in this new photo-editing world where Lightroom can do so much of what I used to do in Photoshop. There are still plenty great real estate photography post processing techniques that you need Photoshop for!

Posted in Photo Editing | 3 Comments »

Holiday Light Slide Show of Your Market Area – Great Holiday Promotion

Posted by larrylohrman on November 10, 2007


Ted Barrow, a Realtor and real estate photographer of Fort Worth, Texas was just telling me about his holiday lights promotion he’s planning to do this year. He’s going to do a Virtual tour of holiday lights in his market area. To me this sound like a interesting idea! People like holiday lights so this kind of tour will be guaranteed to get lots of attention.

He has a page on his website that allows people to suggest homes for inclusion in his tour. I think this kind of tour would be an effective promotion for either a Realtor or a real estate photographer.

Posted in Marketing | 1 Comment »

Demise of Newspapers Creates Opportunity for Real Estate Photographers

Posted by larrylohrman on November 7, 2007

According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, “THE circulation declines of American newspapers continued over the spring and summer, as sales across the industry fell almost 3 percent compared with the year before, according to figures released yesterday.”

I believe the falling importance of newspapers is another trend that is contributing to the increasing importance of real estate photography. As readers move to a more photo friendly medium with less limited space for photos in ads the opportunity and demand for great advertising photography increases.

One situation I experience regularly that demonstrates the comparative effectiveness of newspaper and web advertising is getting a tenant for our rental in Snoqualmie, WA. On craigslist.org we spend nothing to get a tenant within days; always within a week. In the Seattle Times it costs several hundred dollars, a weeks lead-time and we frequently don’t have a tenant after several weeks. The Craigslist phenomena is creating a financial disaster for newspapers. See Danny Meadows-Klue’s article in the Guardian from two years ago.

Not only do we get a tenant quickly with craigslist but the tenant usually calls to reserve the rental over the phone without asking to see the home because after seeing my full screen 360vr tour they feel they can make their decision. I think this kind of thing is happening all over the real estate industry daily but it’s more difficult to show that photography is the key factor in attracting buyers because you can’t re-sell the same home without photography to see the effect. With our rental we have been “selling” the same product over and over for the last 8 years and have been able easily see the effectiveness of the two advertising mediums. Needless to say we abandoned newspapers many years ago.

Posted in Marketing, News | 3 Comments »

Free Property Sites at Realivent.com

Posted by larrylohrman on November 6, 2007


Ken Bui from Realivent.com and I were talking about a post I did recently over at geekestateblog.com on large image slide shows. As a result Ken showed me how he could turn my monoslideshow for into a more fully featured property site by using the free property site features that the Real Estate Marketing Platform has at realivent.com. Ken says, “..right now you can create 1 or 20 sites, they are still free. We are not sure yet if we will charge for them in the future…”

Property sites are a small part of the full service Realtor hosting features that realivant.com offers. I think anyone doing property sites should have a look at the services that realivant.com offers.

Posted in Propterty Sites | 3 Comments »

My Interview With Scott Sheppard at Inside Digital Photo

Posted by larrylohrman on November 2, 2007


My interview with Scott Sheppard at Inside Digital Photo is online on Scott’s site and it will be available via itunes in a few days by subscribing to the inside Digital Photo podcast.

Posted in Basics, Books, News | 1 Comment »

FCC’s Data Shows Broadband Connections in US Surged by 61%

Posted by larrylohrman on November 2, 2007

According to an article by Nate Anderson over at arstechnica.com “Despite worries that US broadband speed and availability lag behind that found in other developed countries, broadband growth here continues to surge. Could the options be better? Sure, but with the Federal Communications Commission trumpeting a 61 percent growth rate in 2006, broadband is quickly becoming as ubiquitous as traditional utilities.”

What does this have to do with real estate photography? Broadband accessibility is an underlying technology trend that is enabling the home buyers to carry out their home searches online and in turn increasing the demand for real estate photography. As more people have broadband access home buyers expect to be able to sit at home and search for a home online.

Posted in News | 3 Comments »

Sharpening in Real Estate Photography Workflow

Posted by larrylohrman on November 1, 2007


Recently a reader asked me if every image needed sharpening. The answer is yes when you are downsizing images for web use like real estate photographers do all the time, sharpening is necessary for every image.

About the same time I was reading an excellent article in Photoshop User Magazine called Pro Sharpening Workflow in Lightroom 1.1, by Chris Orwig. Chris went into all the great sharpening features that Lightroom 1.1 has. At the the end of the article it dawned on me that since I’d started using Lightroom heavily and and carefully keeping all my images in Lightroom that I’d quit using the Photoshop Smart Sharpen filter like I always use to do. Lightroom sharpening has always looked a little weak to me compared to PS smart sharpen.

At first, I thought that Lightroom was downsizing after the sharpening but after more consideration I don’t think that’s the case. As with all output from Lightroom fixing the image data as a pixel image is the last step. I think the sharpening algorithms in Lightroom are not quite as aggressive as Photoshop Smart Sharpen.

So what I’m going to start doing is doing my sharpening as a last step in Photoshop Smart Sharpen.

In summary,

  • When you downsize an image always sharpen AFTER the downsizing as a last step in the workflow.
  • Sharpening and then downsizing is NOT the same and downsizing and then sharpening.
  • If you have Photoshop CS3 you might check out the Smart Sharpen filter… it is the best sharpening filter I’ve seen.

Update note: on 11/2/07 I updated this post. When I first made the post I jumped to the conclusion that because Lightroom sharpening was a little weak that it was downsizing before applying sharpening. Matt Stec pointed out this is unlikely.

Posted in Lightroom, Photo Editing, Workflow | 4 Comments »

 
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