Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Archive for November, 2006

Marketing Your Real Estate Photography With a Website

Posted by larrylohrman on November 28, 2006

If you looked at the image by Thomas Bliss that I talked about in the last post you visited Thomas’s website (www.architecturephotographer.com ). I was impressed by the clean simplicity and effectiveness of this site. I think it’s a good example of an effective photographer’s website. As I’ve said before, real estate photographers need to have a website to showcase their work. The feature I like the most is the large size of the photos in the galleries.

As you can see from the small links at the bottom of each pages this website is a Flash site hosted at www.foliolink.com. This is a hosting service that provides websites for artists and photographers. They have a huge number of templates both Flash and non-Flash sites. They can host an e-mail server for your domain and they can do e-commerce (so you can sell things). For around $20/month this appears to be a hosting service worth checking out.

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Posted in Marketing Yourself | 1 Comment »

Stunning Interior Image By Thomas Bliss

Posted by larrylohrman on November 26, 2006


Thomas Bliss is an Architectural Photographer that works out of studios in Gig harbor, WA and Tucson, AZ. I’ve had a link to his site in the list of interior photographers along the right hand side of the blog. Thomas asked me to update the link I have to his site so I was looking through his galleries of images on his new site. I’ve been a fan of Thomas’s work for some time but I was particularly impressed with image #6 in his residential gallery. To see the full-size image on his site go to www.architecturephotographer.com and hover over “Portfolios” and scroll down to “Residential”, then scroll forward to image 6/26.

I love how the fabric patterns are so bright and beautifully lit and the same time exterior is clear and dramatic with the wonderful blue color that occurs around 15 to 20 minutes before sunset. Anyone who’s tried to do a shot like this can appreciate the lighting skill that goes into an image like this.

I ask Thomas for some of the technical information on how he created this image and here’s what he said:

This image was the last shot of a very long hot day in Scottsdale Arizona for Interior Designer Carolyn Morrison. The shot took roughly one hour to set and light. Exterior hot-lights were set to shoot the pool area and palms, roughly 2500 watts. Interior lighting was accomplished using mono-block strobes with a 10 stop range. Strobes are used as gentle fill, and are stopped down to within about two stops of the exterior, shot bounced into 3′ silk umbrellas. Image capture was made with a Canon 1DS Mark II (16mp full frame) and a Canon 16-35mm lens. Whenever I shoot interiors I always shoot RAW tethered to a 17″ PowerBook. Its like having a 17″, 16 million color Polaroid. However easy I just made this sound, its not. Color balance, custom white balance, gels, dimmers, photo correct bulbs in the lamps all had to be carefully adjusted right up to the point where everything was in balance (in my opinion) and then when the light outside was right, we popped off about ten frames, and that was just the beginning. Next stop, post processing. In post, further color correction, perspective adjustments, sizing for the clients usage needs, unsharp mask, saving as 8-bit in both 300-dpi tiffs for print and jpgs for web use. Upload galleries and burn DVD’s for the client, and 12 hours later the client has final images.

Great work Thomas and thanks for sharing the details.

Of coarse in the typical real estate photography situation you are not going to have the time to put in to creating a single image as Thomas did here but I think it is instructive to understand what goes into a high quality image like this and what is possible.

 

Posted in ReaderProfile, Real Estate Photo of the Week | Leave a Comment »

Architectural Photography – History and Resources

Posted by larrylohrman on November 24, 2006

I was surfing around this morning and ran across a delighful series of articles on architectural photography at about.com . These articles give interesting background and history to the subject of photographing buildings as well as and links to work by some of the greats in this field link Ezra Stoller and Julius Schulman.

Even though Architectural Photography is not the same business as Real Estate photography there is overlap. For example there is passage in the history section of this article that describes that at the turn of the century Architectual Photographers would use a plumb line to make sure their camera backs were parallel to the plane of the building being photographed so the verticals would not converge. Modern RE photographers fight the same problem but use faster, easier techniques.

There are links to a number of case studies by some of the big name architectural photographers I think you will find interesting.

Posted in Historical | Leave a Comment »

D40 – Nikon’s New Low-End DSLR Announced

Posted by larrylohrman on November 22, 2006

Nikon’s newly announced D40 significantly lowers the cost of a DSLR. The Nikon D40 is small, light and undeniably cheap at just $599/£449.99/€679.99 with the new 18-55mm kit lens (it won’t be sold as body-only). This pricing puts the D40 $300 below the D50. This new 18-55mm kit lens is a updated version of Nikon’s 18-55mm lens improved for the D40. As usual Phil Askey has and in depth review of the D40 over at www.dpreview.com.

I think Real estate photographers using the D40 would get the best result if they  added a wide-angle lens. 18mm with a 1.5x field of view crop (effectively 27mm) is on the ragged edge of what you can get by with shooting interiors. Be careful though  when choosing a lens for the D40 it can only auto focus with lenses that have built-in focus motors.

As with any DSLR being used for interiors, I’d also recommend a external flash unit to give you the power to light a room nicely. Nikon has designed a new external flash (the SB-400) for the D40. The SB-400 unit has a guide number of 21 (m at ISO 100 at 18mm) and has a shooting distance of 60 cm to 20 m (2 to 66 ft).

Posted in Photo Equipment | 1 Comment »

Shooting Houses Sited Above Street Level

Posted by larrylohrman on November 19, 2006


I got an e-mail advertisement for the home above yesterday. This realtor’s image reminded me how difficult it is to get a good front shot of some homes that sit high above street level. For those readers that don’t see the problem with this shot and understand why this home looks so weird I should point out that shooting from street level when the home is much higher than the street forces you to tilt the camera up to include the whole structure. Not having the film plane parallel to the verticals of the house make the verticals “lean” and not be parallel with the edges of the image. The effect gives the viewer a uneasy feeling. You can straighten out these converging verticals but Photoshop won’t get rid of the fact that the camera is not elevated high enough.

Our last listing was a home like this. Over the years we have listed many homes on a particular street in Sammamish, WA where the homes are sited significantly above street level. So we’ve had lots of practice at coming up with a different solution to get the camera high enough so we don’t get an image with converging verticals like the one above.

This time we listed one of these homes I used a solution that I’ve come to depend on. I have a step ladder that is stable enough I can put it in the bed of my pickup truck and stand on the top step to get the camera 15 to 20 feet above street level.

This technique got me high enough so the camera was about the level of the mid-point of the front door. Another technique I’ve used for homes sited even higher is to use a 30′ extension ladder against a telephone or tree across the street. Before this last July when I got a new 2006 Tacoma truck I used to stand on the cab of my old truck but it had a permanent concave cab roof from doing this.

The bottom line here is that there are many ways of getting the camera high enough to prevent converging verticals. Some are less expensive than others:

  • Ask a neighbor across the street to let you shoot from their upstairs window.
  • Use an extension ladder to put against some object like a tree or telephone pole across the street.
  • Borrow someones truck and position the truck in the street so when you stand on the truck you get a good view. When my wife listed these homes for the builder she would get the construction guys to park their truck so she could get a good shot.
  • Put your camera on a tripod or mono-pod with the legs extended, set a 10 sec timer and hold the tripod over your head with both hands (thanks to Marc Lacoste). This is one of the most effective techniques I’ve run across!
  • Hire someone with a helium balloon or hydraulic mast or remote control helicopter to take the shot. This will cost several hundred dollars but in the scheme of things it is well worth the cost.

Why go to all this trouble? Because an attractive front shot of a property is critical to it’s effective marketing?

Posted in Photo Technique | Leave a Comment »

Image Editing Services For Real Estate Agents

Posted by larrylohrman on November 9, 2006

Last week I talked to John Durrant who recently launched www.doctor-photo.co.uk. I’ve been so busy with moving to Oregon that I’m just now getting around to writing a post about it. John is aiming at providing image editing services for UK Real Estate agents although I’m sure John would do image editing for real estate agents out side the UK. John’s image editing services is designed for real estate agents who are too busy selling real estate to learn Photoshop. I know many agents that know their images need some help but just don’t have the time to “climb the steep learning curve” of Photoshop.

For USD $3.33 (1.75 British Pound) per image John will correct image problems like removing cars or garbage cans from driveways, correcting lens distortion, fixing skys, grass and other image defects. John’s site also has a section on his site called “Help and Advice” that gives some pretty good advice for shooting real estate photos.

John has two other sites www.skymasterphotos.com where John sells his services of shooting elevated photos with a 56′ photomast and www.hello-photo.co.uk  (still in development as of 11/09/06) where John shows his interior and exterior photography.

Posted in Photo Composition | 1 Comment »