Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Archive for June, 2006

More Details: A Reason To Use Virtual Tours

Posted by larrylohrman on June 29, 2006

We are in process of purchasing a home in Salem, Oregon so this last week we’ve been doing the home buyer thing. During our home search I noticed a nice touch to photographing interiors that Brian Purnell a Realtor in the Clackamas, Oregon area uses. Brian is with Windermere (a real estate company) and Windermere provides their own Virtual Tour or extended photo gallery for each of their own in house listings. This Virtual tour format allows for pretty much unlimited number of photos. So Brian makes very good use of this by not only showing wide shots of room but also many detailed close-up photos of interesting finishing details. Here is an example. Click on the “photo gallery” and then on one of the room links along the left-hand side like “Front Hall”. Notice that after a wide-shot of the front hall Brian adds a number of close up shots of things like the stair rails, the wrought iron twist box balusters and the wrought iron light fixtures. In the dining room series he shows close-up shots of the mill work and the floor detail.

We looked a this particular home and I can say that this is a very effective way to present this home. We found the exterior unimpressive yet when we went inside we were stunnedĀ  by the finish details. In fact, the pinkish exterior was so offensive we would have not gone inside if it weren’t for the massive number of detailed interior photos that Brian provided on the photo gallery.

So my point in all this is, since all real estate web sites I know of are limited to from 4 to 15 photos you can’t waste those limited shots on close-up shots of wrought iron twist box balusters. It’s essential that you include a wide shot of all the main rooms and the front an back… this will easily use up 15 shots. So to be able to present finish detail like Brian does on the home above you need to depend on a virtual tour format that will allow a huge number of photos or a way to show allĀ  the details in a room. As Brian’s presentation of this home shows using a huge number of detailed photos is a good alternative.

Good job Brian and Angela!

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Posted in Virtual Tours | Leave a Comment »

How to Photograph Interiors – NYIP

Posted by larrylohrman on June 24, 2006

I just ran across a great little article on How to Photograph Interiors on the NYIP site. At NYIP they teach a three step method for setting up photographs:

  1. Know your subject
  2. Focus attention of your subject
  3. Simplify

The article demonstrates how to apply these three steps to shooting interior photographs. I like this approach. The article has several good examples of distractions that can take attention away from the real subject of the photograph. I’ve done past posts on many of these sources of distraction. Things like walls not being straight, burnt-out windows and odd room geometry.

This three step approach is a powerful way to sum up the overall process an interior photographer needs to be going through to create great images. I think it is also a useful framework in which to talk about the process of making good images. Many Real estate images are full of distractions that prevent viewers from focusing attention on the subject.

When I think about distractions I can’t help but thinking about the photo above I shoot of the master bath in a listing we had a couple of years ago. At the time I thought it was a pretty good shot. But when my wife Levi looked at the photo the open drawer in the lower right foreground was very distracting to her. I was so busy when doing the shot I’d not taken time to even notice. I ended up being able to “shut” the drawer in Photoshop but it took allot more time than it would have to just close it before making the shot.

Posted in Photo Composition, Photo Technique | 1 Comment »

Kris Dick – Sydney Australia

Posted by larrylohrman on June 22, 2006

Kris Dick, a real estate photographer working in the Sydney, Australia area sent us another example of a before and after staging a room. Kris uses a stager or stylist that specializes in residential interiors when ever the budget allows. The above photo is a recent example before and after the stager did their thing. This is a great example of how with out the furniture it's difficult to even get a feel for the size of the room.

Kris says:

"With regards to my setup, the majority of the photographs on my website were
shot with a Canon 10D and a Sigma 15-30 lens. The 15-30 is a great lens on a
cropped frame camera, but its limitations really show on the Canon 5D that I
recently upgraded to. I still use it for bathrooms or incredibly tight rooms
where the 15mm becomes invaluable. I'll hopefully be replacing it with a
Canon 16-35 or 17-40 soon.

On the 5D I've been using Canons fantastic 24mm TS-E Tilt-Shift lens, which
gives the same field of view as the 15-30 did on my 10D, but with the added
advantages of being able to shift to correct converging verticals. After
using the TS-E for a while now I'm beginning to wonder how I lived without
it!

With regards to lighting, I nearly always use available light only. I do
carry two Canon flashes which can be wirelessly controlled if there are any
areas of an interior which really need bit of extra light, but for the most
part I find that shooting on a tripod and bracketing the exposures works
very well if you have time to put towards some masking and blending in
Photoshop after the shoot.

I've found that carrying some daylight balanced light-bulbs of different
strengths can be helpful if the lights in the property are too yellow or
orange, or even if they're just too dim or blown!"

Kris's website is www.krisdickphotography.com.au. Check out the interior shots on Kris's  two "real estate" pages.

Kris's use of daylight balanced light-bulbs is an interesting technique that was very prevalent when everyone shot film and it was relatively difficult to change the white balance after the shot was made. I read some place that Better Homes and Gardens photographers used to routinely change all the light bulbs in a home to daylight balanced bulbs before starting a shoot. This technique can still save allot of photo editing time or it can eliminate the situation where you have a mixture of daylight coming from the windows and incandescent light coming from interior lighting.

Thanks Kris for the examples and the information on your setup.

Posted in ReaderProfile, Staging & Styling | 5 Comments »

Strobist – Helping You Use of Your Flash

Posted by larrylohrman on June 15, 2006

I just discovered a the strobist blog that is of interest to Real Estate Photographers. It’s written by Baltimore Sun Photojournalist David Hobby. He has a Lighting 101 article , and a Boot Camp exercise that uses flicker.com to allow you to get practical experience and feedback on your work. Hobby also has an Assignment section that gives detail information on how he handled specific assignments. Take a look if you want to improve your flash technique.

Posted in Flash Technique | 2 Comments »

Reader Profile: Marc Lacoste

Posted by larrylohrman on June 15, 2006

If you've read any of the posts on Photography for Real Estate you will recognize Marc’s name and have seen the many contributions Marc has made. Marc is a real estate assistant in this father’s real estate company in Nantes, France (Southwest of Paris near the mouth of the Loire River). Marc says, “I work in a real estate office in Nantes, doing administrative work, and making good photos is in my attribution.” His father’s company website is http://lacosteim.fr. (Note: that “Immobilier” is French for real estate) One of the recent listings that Marc and his coworkers photographed can be seen at here.

Marc has compiled his list of cameras that he recommends for use in real estate photography at: marc.lacoste.googlepages.com/wideanglecameras . Marc uses a Nikon D50 with a Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle lens a SB-600 and slave flash units (what brand?). An example of a shoot where he uses his SB-600 and radio slave flash units is at: www.flickr.com/photos/croco/158738670/in/pool-strobist. Marc describes the slave flash units as follows: “No-name eBay radio slaves. I found the provider: Guandong Jiangmen Yinhe Technology Development Co., Ltd, www.yh21cn.com/product6.htm. More at the strobist group discussion www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/

One of Marc’s most popular contributions to this blog is his “cheap technique for getting a high point of view” technique of setting a 10 second timer and then holding your camera and tripod over your head to get a higher point of view. This post is very popular and I get allot positive of feedback on this post.

 

Thanks for all the great ideas Marc!

Posted in ReaderProfile | 6 Comments »

More on Vignetting

Posted by larrylohrman on June 11, 2006

In a previous post I've discussed the photo composition use of vignetting. Vignetting is considered a lens defect. There is an interesting post over at the "Online photographer" by Mike Johnson today on vignetting. Apparently, there are vignetting issues with many lenses used on the Canon 5D. You are likely to see vignetting in most lenses if you look close enough. Some lenses have more than others. Cameras with full frame sensors (Canon 5D, 1Ds, 1Ds II) are famous for exposing lens defects.

It's worth mentioning that for those that use Camera Raw that is built into Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CS2 can be used to remove vignetting or illumination falloff. The feature is on the "lens" tab. There are two sliders at the bottom that allow you to remove vignetting in the image. I am intimately aware of this feature because I have a 8 mm Sigma fisheye (see image example above) that has big-time vignetting and I routinely remove the vignetting before I stitch the fisheye images together into panoramas.

Posted in Photo Composition, Photo Editing, Photo Equipment | Leave a Comment »

Sony Announces a DSLR

Posted by larrylohrman on June 10, 2006

On monday Sony announced its DSLR-A100. This camera looks like it will be a contender for the lowend DSLR market now dominated by the Canon Rebel and Nikon D50 and D70. This announcement is of special significance to Konica Minolta owners because the A100 will have the same lens mount as Konica Minolta. So if you own Konica Minolta glass this announcement is good news.

18 lenses were announced with the A100 including at 11-18mm F4.5-5.6 wide-angle zoom (16-27mm equivalent) priced at $649 USD. This lens makes the A100 suitable for real estate photography.

dpreview.com claims that the sensor used in the A100 is the same CCD sensor used in the Nikon D200. If that is the case this is significant because the current pre-order price is $999 USD.

For all the details see the article on www.dpreview.com.

Posted in Photo Equipment | Leave a Comment »

Using Wide Angle Lenses Effectively

Posted by larrylohrman on June 7, 2006

Today I ran across two articles on wide angle lenses. Wide angle lenses are essential equipment for real estate photographers and it’s important to understand all the strange behaviors of wide angle lenses. These articles go into some depth on some of these strange behaviors that you’ll need to control when using a wide angle lens.

The first article, by Roman Zolin called “Techniques – Wide Angle Lens” has a interesting description of Perspective Stretch and dynamics and distortion inherent in wide angle lenses.

The second article by Nelson Tan goes into even more depth and explains issues like exposure problems caused by wide angle lenses, dynamic diagonals, corner distortion, vignetting, lens flare. Nelson gives tips on how to manage these problems.

One caution I would raise about Nelson’s comments on dynamic diagonals is that Nelson is not coming from the perspective of an interior photographer. Nelson promotes the use of dynamic diagonals (where parallel lines converge when you tilt the camera upwards or downwards). dynamic diagonals may be acceptable when shooting landscape or more art oriented images but when shooting architecture and interiors nothing is more distracting than walls that aren’t parallel with the sides of the photograph. See how many interior shots you can find in Architectural Digest that have walls that aren’t parallel with the sides of the photos… none. Those shots don’t get past the editors.

This “falling wall” problem is probably the single biggest problem with real estate photos. The only problem that is more wide spread is not using a wide angle lens in the first place.

Posted in Wide-angle lens | 2 Comments »

Reader Profile: Sharon Nyman

Posted by larrylohrman on June 5, 2006

This post is the first in a series of articles that feature readers of PRE (Photography for Real Estate). The idea is to showcase the work of readers and describe something about their equipment and process.

Sharon Nyman is a Century 21 agent in Key Largo, Florida. Sharon’s website is www.sharonnyman.com. Sharon uses a Canon EOS Digital Rebel with a Canon EFS 18-55mm lens and a Canon Speedlight 420 EX. Sharon uses Photoshop Elements and does photo editing on nearly every photograph. Sharon says: “…I have always tried to get the best shots possible. Now with the online listings and the ability to display multiple photos, it becomes critical to have acceptable, if not spectacular photographs. I took some photography courses in college and I read or go online for tips on the latest software”.

As you will notice from Sharon’s Properties page she uses Real Tour Vision as a virtual tour provider. She purchased the tour creation software from Real Tour Vision and shoots, stitches and uploads her own tours. The tours are hosted on the Real Tour Vision website. She chose Real Tour Vision as a tour vendor about a year ago since there were no full service tour providers in her area. She evaluated all the tour vendors she could find decided on Real Tour Vision because it appeared to be the best available at the time.

Sharon comments about her success with her Real Tour Vision tours: “Last summer a buyer saw the first tour I did and came to the Keys to see the property. While he was standing in the house he called his wife at home and told her to look at the tour. She liked it. They ended up buying the home without his wife coming to seeing it. Sales price $3,700,000.”

As you can see from the exterior photos of her listed properties she uses a polarizing filter on almost all of her external photos. Her outside shots have that characteristic polarizing filter look where the sky is dark blue and the clouds are white and dramatic. A polarizer is particularly effective and noticeable since Sharon is shooting in the tropics with lots of sun.

Sharon uses her Canon 420 EX flash on some of her interior shots. She is still working on her flash technique.

I think you will agree that Sharon is doing a great job of presenting her listed properties photographically.

Posted in ReaderProfile | 1 Comment »

We’ve moved

Posted by larrylohrman on June 4, 2006

As you probably have noticed, we have moved our blog hosting from blogger.com to wordpress.com. For the last week we've been having technical problems. We've not been able to post and it turns out that it is easier to move to wordpress.com than to fix the problem. And I think the wordpress format is an improvement over the blogger.com format. Our new URL is: http://www.larrylohrman.wordpress.com

One of the benefits of the move for readers is that the wordpress format allows better visibility to the over 90 posts we now have in the PFR blog. The category list on the left-hand side of the page allows you to find all posts by category. Recent questions from readers have indicated that readers have been having trouble finding posts by subject. I believe the wordpress.com format will help this problem. I've been having trouble finding links to old post myself.

My objective is to preserve all the features of the Photography For Real Estate blog and add new features. Let me know what you think.

Update on 6/4/06:

I've noticed there are still a few probems with the posts and photo sizing. Some posts link back to the old blog. I'm in the process of fixing these problems. The feedblitz subscribing link is a little different here on wordpress.com since they don't allow forms in the sidebar. The feed here on wordpress is RSS not Atom like it was on blogger. If you've subscribed via feedbliz or feedburner you will now get a feed from this blog location. If this feed jargon doesn't make sense to you should be OK. The old blog address redirects to this blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »