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:


  1. I really believe HDR is doing a good job for real estate
    Take a look here
    You did well with the hdr
    I never tried but I’m interested, how long it takes do a dhr?....
    What aperture you used? my impression is you dint use a small one since you don’t have a huge deep of field
    Your tripod seems to be low …strange position
    What lens you used?

    Any way don’t stop with the hdr ….this is good already

  2. Thanks! With this real estate market, brokers need all the help they can get! :)

    I use a low end laptop and it takes only a little while (less than a minute) to process 9 images. But I used JPEG and limited the size to 1024x680. When I used raw (NEF), it took forever and the results were very noisy.

    For my aperture I used f/8. Perhaps I should have used f/16... Anyway, I used the Tamron 17-50 VC. The 17mm is very useful but unfortunately this lens has serious barrel distortion at 17mm. If I were a professional real estate photographer I would probably get a Sigma 10-20 or something.

    I used a slightly low angle to make the ceiling look a bit taller than it is.


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