Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Real Estate Photography Workflow

Posted by larrylohrman on May 31, 2007


Raye Bellinger of Sacramento asks:

“Would you mind exploring workflow as it applies to the busy professional. Lightroom is nice but other programs like ACDSee Pro are more functional and much faster with RAW files. I would particularly like to see what the well established real estate photographers are using to speed workflow”

Well I don’t claim to be the last word on workflow but I know there are plenty of well established real estate photographer readers that will help me explore workflow.

Let me start out by saying that Lightroom to me is the biggest (and best) thing that has happened to work photographic workflow since I started shooting digital in 1999. The ability to fine tune images with sliders (works both with RAW and JPG) is awesome! I’m still spending time learning how to best use Lightroom. The two resources I like best are the Lightroom videos at lynda.com and Scott Kelby’s, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book My only complaint about Lightroom is that I still need to leave Lightroom to make sure all my verticals are vertical. If I could just always keep my camera perfectly level I could eliminate this step.

A second important piece of fast efficient workflow is DXO. I know that many PFRE readers use DXO and like it. I don’t use it yet but I’m thinking seriously of taking advantage of the 20% discount available through June 10, 2007 (Ues promo code 3YRSDXO to get the 20% at the DXO online store). DXO allows lens/camera distortion correction in batch mode and thus allowing you to improve the quality of your images with very little work. You can do all these things in Lightroom but not automatically. You “tell” DXO what kind of camera and lens you have, then DXO does the rest.

Now lets hear from the rest of you that want to say something about workflow. Anyone else out there use ACDSee Pro?

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6 Responses to “Real Estate Photography Workflow”

  1. Matt Stec said

    From the day I saw Lightroom , I totally fell in love with it 🙂 The fact that it’s non-destructive is the main reason I like it, my RAWa are finally the only copy I have on the disc which compensates for having to keep originals, and processed files in different locations, after processing a shoot u simply export it, burn it, deliver it, delete it, forget it. You can always return to the original… After a while you have presets that you can apply to the whole folder, so processing is a breeze, u can adjust every single image individually, see an instant before/after comparison, I personally don’t use it’s gallery maker, but I think the flash version is very good, simple to use.
    Before I started using Lightroom I’ve had whole lot os PS actions and I was quite sceptical to the whole LIghtroom idea, now I can’t imagine working without it, simplicity of use is amazing, control over image is great, and once again, non-destructive. There’s a few annoying things i.e if u crop the image and then apply vignetting it still takes the cropped part into account, thus not showing vignetting efect at all, can’t rescue converging walls, distortions etc, but maybe in 2.0 version.


    cheers
    Matt Stec Photography – http://www.shotz4U.com

  2. Aaron said

    “Lightroom is nice but other programs like ACDSee Pro are more functional and much faster with RAW files.”

    This statement seems mighty speculative (unless you have a link to some data). Functionality is in the eye of the beholder and I don’t buy the “this program is faster than that program” marketing hype. A modern pro computer will run any program just as fast as any other. Spend your money on more RAM, not new applications.

    IMHO, the more important question when it comes to workflow is “what works best for YOU to meet YOUR needs?” This can only be answered by trying different applications. Lightroom is the first stop my images make once they are imported into the computer and backup drives. Honestly, I don’t even really know how to use all the features but I have found it to be a good way for me to compare images and do initial corrections. But ACDSee, Bridge, LightZone, Aperture etc. can do these things just as well. I bought Lightroom because it is made by Adobe and so I know it will always work seamlessly with Photoshop and that more “functionality” is sure to follow.

    Lightroom and Photoshop meet my current needs and I will continue to use them until they fail to do so. In the future, I see myself moving to Capture One and iView, mainly so that I can shoot tethered to my laptop when shooting for interior designers. I don’t think you can do this with Lightroom…can you?

  3. Thomas said

    Instead of DXO you can use also PTLens from http://www.epaperpress.com

  4. I don’t keep originals. I shoot medium Jpegs, so transfer times are reduced to a minimum. I delete shots from the same POV to keep only one even if there is a slight variations between them. I use XnView – ACDsee categoy) – for levels, inclination, crop. If I really have to go further for one image, I open it a a five year old version of photoshop elements for little clone jobs, or I correct perspective with Hugin. I save it in Jpeg over the original for a ~600k file, then make batch size conversions for the web. I frequently re-save another time the jpeg, and don’t worry too much about.

    How often do you resort an original? In a year, 200 shootings maybe, I never had the urge. Six month after the house is sold.

    Adobe products seems bloated to me for my workflow: too much chrome, too much undo memory (same for DxO). Getting a faster PC is not an answer, it’s a “fuite en avant”, a race without end. I love my laptop thin, light with a great battery life and not too warm. I love light software, loaded in one second, with little memory footprint and fast tweaking.

  5. I have been using ACDsee since it’s inception and am now beta test the pro 2.0 version. Since the introduction of Lightoom I have incorportated it into my workflow for certain jobs as well. I find culling images faster and simpler in ACDsee as well as the actual import of images but could not use it to edit anything. I like the abilities that it has for creating quick electronic brochure proofs for clients.

    A typical workflow consists of taking the images off the cards – I then open them in ACDsee and go through all of them quickly to get an idea of what is there and make delete completey useless images. I then go through the images again (I use the shift key to move forward and the backslash key to tag images – I find this is quick and comfortable on the hands)tagging the ones that I am going to work with including small angle adjustments and exposure differences. Once I have those images tagged I copy them to another folder inside the original folder – called In Progress. I then run Image Processor from photoshop on all of those images. It lightens the shadows, enhances the colors to a more velvia look after that it applies a sharpening specifically balanced to my camera and puts them in another sub-folder called JPG. I then look through those images and cull some of the closer in look and exposure images.

    At this point I choose a handful of ley images and do some dodging & burning in the shadowas and highlights to create some more depth. Re-name the jpg folder to Name of homeowner – address – subdivision within the Realtors Folder.

    I tend to set my folders up by real esate company then agent then the Name of homeowner – address – subdivision. I can then go back and search pretty easily if I need something from several years ago. Where Lightroom comes in is when I have had something that needs very specific color or exposure corrections – I have not found anything better.

    I am still working on setting my Lightroom up to handle batch minor adjustments but am still more intrigued with the more specialised power that it has for fixing images that I ahve to have but am not happy with the color. Lightroom has a lot of wonderful features that much like photoshop I want to take them in slowly and get it right the first time. Scott Kelby and Martin Evening both have good books on the subject and there is not a lot of overlapping content.

    I typically don’t crop anything – for straightening wall I use LensDoc – plugin for photoshop – again I use a bubble level in the hotshoe and try to watch things carefully when actually shooting. Sometimes I screw it up and LensDoc works for me. I have played with DXO and just couldn’t be bothered to learn it – bit lazy I know but it seemed cumbersome to me.

    I then burn two CD’s in most cases one for the agent involved and the other for the graphics person at the Real Estate company so inevitably one will get lost and I then only have to refer one to the other. In some cases I have FTP access to company servers and will FTP images. I hand over the larger images and let them or their graphics people handle re-sizing for the web and eamiling.

    Hope that helps – I would be interested in hearing others actual workflows.

    M. James

  6. I guess I use Lightroom differently from those who have complaints about it. In my work, it is not a substitute for Photoshop and no shots go out of my shop without getting enhanced in PS to some degree. LR is a nice, fast and simple way to get quick,quality previews while I’m still on-site, without bogging down the speed and memory of my laptop the way PS does.

    For me, it is strictly a workflow and editing tool that has low memory needs and is suited perfectly for my Sony laptop while on location. Before I leave, I know what I’ve got and whether it will do the job. Great little tool.

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