Monday, August 23, 2010

Real Estate Photos - Part 1: Strobist Style (Intermediate)

I took some real estate photos today for a friend who's a broker.  When I got to the house, it was midday with the sun almost directly overhead.  I would have preferred to take photos close to the golden hour, but I had a scheduling conflict.  The overhead sun though, was perfect for one of the rooms - a hallway with a skylight.

Here is the first test shot - all ambient (ISO: 200, f/4, 1/60):

The first thing I tried to improve the shot was to add more light in the green room.  I set the YN-560 in the green room on a window sill (so that it would be consistent with the natural light), bouncing to the white ceiling.  I used the YN-560 in optical slave mode and triggered it with the D300's popup flash in manual mode.  The YN-560 triggered successfully even though it was not in the line of sight, and the popup was on 1/128 power.  I kept the exposure value the same but used f/8 for sharpness (ISO: 200, f/8, 1/15), and I used the YN-560 on 1/4 power.

I didn't like how the popup lit the balustrade, so I attached an SG-3IR infrared filter to cover the popup flash.  This time, 1/128 power did not work.  With the SG-3IR, however, I could use the popup flash on full power without affecting the exposure.  So that's what I did:

Next, I wanted to brighten the hallway a bit without destroying the ambience from the ambient :) I tried putting an SB-800 in the room at camera left, aimed at the ceiling.  The SB-800 was on manual, in SU-4 mode, I believe at 1/8 power.  I again kept the exposure the same.

It created a shadow on the ceiling that I found distracting.  I tried bouncing it instead, behind me.

The brightening effect on the room was enough but I felt that the balustrade was illuminated too much.  I reduced the power on the SB-800 by a stop:

A crude lighting diagram (the red flash is the YN-560 and the green flash is the SB-800):
 Comparing the original ambient-only shot with the final shot:

I tried taking a shot of the same hallway from a different angle. This time I tried putting the Sb-800 on the window sill of the room on camera left, bouncing to the ceiling.  A lighting diagram:

I adjusted power so that its shadow would be almost invisible.

(Darn - I forgot to turn on the lights in both shots...)

For my other shots, I tried a different technique (HDR), which I'll post about next.