Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Archive for the ‘Workflow’ Category

Workflow for real estate photography

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 »

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 »

Lightroom 1.1 Moves Closer to Being The Only Photo Editor You Need

Posted by larrylohrman on June 28, 2007

If you already own Lightroom and have used it in the last few days it will have automatically asked to be updated to version 1.1. Version 1.1 is free and has some pretty nice features. The two I like the best are sharpening, noise removal and clarity. Uwe Steinmueller over at has one of the best summaries of the new features I’ve run across.

Sharpening now works much like Photoshop CS3 in the area of sharpening. Clarity is a awesome new feature in Camera RAW 4.1 that Lightroom and PS CS3 now use, that allows you to improve the local contrast and detail in an image. On the images that I’ve used it on the effects are quite striking. I like it!

The significance for RE photography work flow is that there are now only two features missing from Lightroom that prevent it from being the only software a real estate photographer will need. Those features are perspective and lens distortion correction. It seems very likely that these are features that will be added to Lightroom in the future. But to it wouldn’t hurt to let Adobe developers know what you think by giving them input on the Lightroom User Forum.

Posted in Lightroom, Workflow | 9 Comments »

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 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?

Posted in Workflow | 6 Comments »

#1 Real Estate Photo Distraction: Converging Verticals

Posted by larrylohrman on March 2, 2007

I did a post last April on this subject but this is such an important subject that it needs to be raised over and over. This time I’ve done a longer article on the subject in PDF form so Realtors can easily pass it around. In the complete article (link at the bottom of this post) I’ve included some examples of how to fix converging verticals and put in some tips on how to minimize the effect when you are shooting. In the process of doing this article I discovered that Photoshop Elements 5 has a great new “Correct Camera Distortion filter similar to the one in Photoshop CS2. Also, I’ve decided not to add links in the “Interior Photographers” list on the right sidebar unless I feel the photographer’s work is a good example of following my “10 Commandments” of real estate photography.

One of the most common mistakes Realtors make with marketing photos is to use images that have walls that don’t appear to be vertical. This problem is caused by not holding the camera level in the front-to-back plane. When using a wide-angle or ultra wide-angle lens this problem is exaggerated. This effect is also referred to as “converging verticals”.

Surprisingly many real estate photographers don’t understand the negative aesthetic impact of having converging verticals in real estate images. I think part of the reason is that many times we see images of buildings that have converging verticals that are being used for other non-marketing purposes and the impression is that these images are creative or arty. Quite, the contrary, images like this occur when the real estate photographer is in a hurry, not paying attention and is not willing to take the time it takes to correct the image.

Read the whole article


Posted in Photo Editing, Workflow | 5 Comments »

Lightroom Can Streamline Real Estate Photograhy Workflow

Posted by larrylohrman on February 16, 2007

The more I use Lightroom the more I’m convinced that it has the potential to nearly take over a Real Estate Photographer’s work-flow. I know, I’ve been chastized by my Mac user friends for not including Aperture... if I had a Mac I’d try it out.

I’m anxiously awaiting delivery of my copy of Lightroom 1.0 which from all reports has several features that the beta versions didn’t have. The most significant is cloning and healing for spots. It looks to me like Lightroom 1.0 is only missing one feature essential for Real Estate Photographers. That is image distortion required for making sure walls are perfectly vertical. However, if you are careful, and use a bubble level or carefully watch the verticals in relation to the edge of the image frame in the view finder you don’t have to straighten walls after the fact. I’ve gotten so used to straightening walls in Photoshop that I don’t even pay much attention to keeping them perfectly vertical when shooting. I like straighting walls when I have a vertical guide to help get it perfect.

For now if you need to straighten walls you’ll have to continue to do it in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Hugin.

The other image adjustment Lightroom won’t deal with is barrel distortion correction. That is, if you use a wide-angle converter or have a wide-angle lens that has barrel distortion you need to correct it. All zoom lenses have barrel distortion but if you don’t have straight lines near the edge of the frame you usually won’t notice it. As I’ve mentioned in other posts PTlens is an effective way to deal with barrel distortion.

I just love the wonderful interface that Lightroom has for fine tuning white-balance, exposure, color etc. This interface combined with the quick and easy interface for selecting and cataloging images is superior to anything I’ve used. For those who shoot JPG you get all the same benefits as if you were shooting RAW.

For all the latest tips and info on Lightroom see:

Posted in Photo Editing, Workflow | 2 Comments »

To RAW or Not to RAW?

Posted by larrylohrman on October 24, 2006

I’m not surprised that I got several comments about my admonishment to shoot RAW on my recent post on adding zap you images. I know this is and issue with several RE photographers I’ve talked to recently.

Sure there are other lots of other ways to achieve the same result without shooting RAW as Geoff and Marc comment but it’s just too easy to adjust exposure, saturation and white balance etc when you open a RAW file instead of using layers. Call me lazy but moving little sliders and watching for the result I like is pretty easy.

As far as size, sure shooting RAW files creates bigger files but once I open the file and make the adjustments I want I immediately save the adjusted files in a 800 x 600 72 DPI JPGs of medium quality. This means that all the RAW files for a listing shoot take around 500 Meg (7 to 10 meg per image for my camera) and the adjusted sharpened  ready to use JPG images for the shoot take around 1.5 meg. At the current cost of storage I don’t find this a problem. I think it’s a small price to pay to have the ability to make easy, non-destructive adjustments without selecting exposure, white balance, saturation etc at exposure time.

If after we put a home on the market we decide to do a brochure, or some use that requires a better file than the 800×600 72 DPI JPG I go back to the original RAW version.

If you want to get into more depth on the subject of shooting RAW one of my favorite articles on this subject is the one by Michael Reichmann at

Posted in Workflow | 4 Comments »

Adobe Lightroom is In Your Future

Posted by larrylohrman on September 29, 2006

For anyone that shoots allot of digital photos Adobe Lightroom is probably going to be in your future. A public beta 4 for both the Mac and Windows is now available for download. Adobe Light Room will eventually replace Photoshop for photographers. The first release of Lightroom is expected some time in early 2007. This first release will probably not replace Photoshop but later releases probably will.

Lightroom is designed specifically for digital photographers whereas Photoshop was designed for graphics designers 16 years ago and has been widely adopted by photographers because it does allot of what they want. Lightroom is a database that manages all the photos you have and allows efficient sort, comparing, cropping, adjusting and printing. Although you currently can do all the adjustments that camera-raw allows my guess is that photographers are going to fall in love with Lightroom and demand that pixel editing functions currently missing from light room be added.

I’ve been using Lightroom for as long as it’s been available for Windows (couple of months) and it is a very smooth and usable already. I used it recently to do a project where I needed to create a photographic presentation for a home owners association regarding the use of new darker colors on homes. I drove around the Seattle area for a couple of days shooting shots of new construction homes that illustrated the use of new dark colors. I ended up with over 100 shots. Lightroom allowed me to very quickly sort through and choose the photos I wanted to use, do minor exposure, saturation and tonal adjustments and them print the photos for a printed presentation. This whole process would have taken at least 5 times as long using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements than it did with Lightroom.

Lightroom is a very different environment than Photoshop but once you use it a while it’s a very quick and easy way to do all the things you need to do with photos except pixel editing. For now, if you need Photoshop you can pass an image to Photoshop much like the CS2 Bridge works. I think Lightroom will become a big part of how I work with images.

Posted in Workflow | 3 Comments »

Creating Photo CDs for Clients

Posted by larrylohrman on April 26, 2006

Have you ever had a need to give a client photos on a CD? We do this for all of our selling clients and many buying clients. Sellers like to have a copy of photos and virtual tour as a keepsake of their home their leaving and buyers like to have a photos CD to show their friends and family. This is a product opportunity for Photographers.

The way the photo CD should work is all one should have to do is stick the CD in the drive and the photo display interface should automatically be displayed. A CD that works this way is called an “auto-run” CD.

The easiest way to create an auto-run photo CD is to put all the photos you want to have on the CD into a HTML photo gallery. You can make a HTML photo gallery with Photoshop Elements, Photoshop or many other graphics programs. One popular gallery program is a Flash gallery called SimpleViewer available for free at:

Create the photo gallery in a separate folder. To make the CD auto-run you’ll need an auto-run utility. There are many but the one I use and like is called AutoRun III by for $49. Once the photo gallery is created in a folder, run AutoRun III and tell it which file to execute to display the photo gallery (usually index.html or something similar). After AutoRun is finished all you have to do is copy the folder that has the photo gallery and special AutoRun files in it to a CD and you’re done. Now the photo gallery will start up when you put the CD in a PC CD player.

For CDs I use little mini Pocket CDs called “Cool Pocket CD-R” by Memorex. They are 3.25 inches in diameter and will hold 210 Meg. I put a photo of the front of the home on the CD cover and a sticker on the back that has all my business card info on it.

Posted in Workflow | Leave a Comment »

Scanned Images from Film

Posted by larrylohrman on March 27, 2006

Today I ran across more sky replacement images that I forgot I had. So I added seven of the best ones to my free sky replacement images at These skies are scanned from slides that I shot 7 years ago on a trip to Saint Marten in the Caribbean. So I can no longer call my sky collection “Seattle Skies”.

This is a good example of the fact that you can use all the techniques I talk about with a film camera. Just have the film scanned to a CD when you have the film processed. You don’t have to have prints made. Just load the images on the CD like you would from you camera memory. I did this for several years before purchasing a digital camera just so I could get the benefit of using Photoshop to fix images image problems.

Posted in Workflow | Leave a Comment »

Use Google Earth as your Sky Camera

Posted by larrylohrman on February 12, 2006

Think of as your digital camera in the sky. Google Earth gives you a satellite photo of any given address. This is a great feature for marketing properties. You can save the google earth image as a JPEG file for use just like a image taken by a digital camera. The image is just like you were flying over the property at 600 feet. At 600 feet you can see each of the flower pots on my back deck! We currently have two land listings that I superimposed a plat map over a satellite photo to help show characteristics of the property (see the accompanying image).

Posted in Aerial Photos, Workflow | 3 Comments »