Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Get an External Flash

Posted by larrylohrman on March 24, 2006


I got a reader comment today on my May 15, 2005 post about the challenge of bright windows that I can't help commenting on. The reader said, “1) you could 'bracket' exposures in a couple of three shots for every scene… one exposure in the middle range, one exposure to capture the bright windows, and one to capture the darker interior. then… 2) use Photoshop to merge the three layers to achieve the overall exposure you desire… the technique is called "high Dynamic range"

Yes, taking multiple exposures is a workable way to deal with bright windows and I used to use this technique. But what I’ve found is that when I’m shooting from 15 to 30 shots of a home the time it takes to deal with the bright window problem by photo editing is excessive compared to using an external flash unit. It takes me from 15 to 30 minutes per image to blend multiple images in Photoshop with either of the two techniques I described in my Bright Windows and Bright Windows II post so you are talking several extra hours photo editing time if you assume in 30 shots from a shoot there are just 4 shots that have bright windows. On the other hand for around $200 one time cost you could purchase an external flash and never have to spend time photo editing bright windows again!

With an external flash you not only eliminate having to fool around photo editing bright windows but the colors in your shots look better. Whites look white instead of tan or grey and other colors look better. I know many photographers resist using flash because they think it is tricky or complicated. It’s not difficult! And it is well worth the investment. If you get an external flash that is designed to work with your camera it’s as easy as setting the flash on TTL mode and taking the shot. If you use a slave flash that is triggered by a built-in flash on a compact camera there is a little trial and error but it’s not difficult. Get an external flash unit. You'll be glad you did.

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3 Responses to “Get an External Flash”

  1. Thanks for making me buy a Speedlight SB-600, It’s changing our pictures. I wasn’t sure at first, it seemed to be sufficient to use natural light, but whith an ultra wide angle, many parts of the room were dark.

    I use it mainly to illumate those dark parts. My preferred way is to turn the head backwards, to bounce the flash against the wall behind the camera to get an even and natural lightning.

    My only regret is that my Nikon D50 doesn’t manage wireless triggering of the flash, unlike more expensive models. I will buy a wireless trigger to test if I can overcome this limitation.

    When searching on eBay, I noticed several very cheap external flashs, triggered opticaly by the main one, which could be really useful for compact cameras. Their reaction to the pre-flash must be verified, though.

  2. The cheap wireless triggers came today, and they are great. here is a test in my office.

  3. And here is a real world example.

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