Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Real Estate Photos - Part 2: HDR Style (Basic)

Continued from Part 1

I was taking photos of a house this weekend to get experience.  After taking some photos Strobist (i.e. off-camera flash) style, I knew I would not have enough time for all of the rooms.  I therefore switched to a simpler technique -- high dynamic range (HDR) imaging.

Note: HDR is a technique where multiple different exposures are taken and combined in postprocessing to represent a wider range of highlights and shadows than would normally be possible.

I wanted to use HDR to give the images an unusual look, though I didn't want to overdo it.  To take an HDR shot, I just put the camera on a tripod then used the camera's bracketing feature to take several different exposures (I took 9 exposures, 1 stop apart).  It is possible to do bracketing manually as well.  Note: you should adjust shutter speed (not aperture) when taking different exposures.

Once the images are taken, they can be combined with various software.  Some software are specifically for HDR, such as Photomatix.  I used Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3, which has an HDR Photo Merge function.

Here's a comparison between a normal shot and an HDR shot.  Note the additional details in the highlights and the shadows of the HDR version.

Normal photo:

HDR version:

Normal photo:

HDR Version:

A few more samples:

Here's a comparison between the strobist style (or my novice application thereof) and the HDR style:

Strobist style (flash on window sill, aimed at ceiling to bounce):

HDR style: