Sunday, February 6, 2011

Brighten Up Your Real Estate Listings - Albuquerque Real Estate Photography

This last week I got a call from a friend who is a professor up at a university in Oregon.  She was teaching a class on product photography for Graphic Design majors.  I had helped her with some basic lecture outlines earlier in the term, but this time she wanted to add some spice to the curriculum.  She wanted to do a lecture on HDR - High Dynamic Range so they had something fun to learn about right before their finals.

The human eye is truly amazing.  In one scene, the eye can see detail in the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows all at once.  A camera, on the other hand is not as gifted and has about half of the dynamic range of a human eye.  Even shooting in RAW falls short.  There are several HDR programs out there, including a plug-in in photoshop, that can help bring back detail in both the highlights and the shadows by merging several images together taken at different exposures.  Many times photographers also bump up the saturation to get an over the top HDR image.  While I'm not going to get into details, I will share some of the pictures I made yesterday.  I needed a subject while I was writing the tutorial for my professor friend to use, so I looked around and decided my dining room would do just fine.  The first photo is best averaged exposure from the camera, the second is a 5 image HDR composite. The HDR version makes the room just glow. It is warm and inviting. In this case the HDR isn't over the top, it's just enough to add some spice to any real estate listing.

Research done by Tim Ellis at Redfin concluded that listings with professional photography:
  • Receive an average of 61% more views than their peers across all price tiers.
  • Have a 47% higher asking price per square foot.
  • Have an increased likelihood of selling for homes priced above $300,000.


When Should You Use HDR?

If you are interested in photography and have access to Photoshop, you can manipulate images using HDR too.  Here were some pics I took in Zion National Park at the Weeping Wall a few years ago. The left picture shows a photo with an exposure metered for the cliff, but then the sky is blown out and loses detail in the highlight. The second image is metered for the far away mountain, but then the cliff loses detail and is too dark. This is a perfect situation to use HDR. With the camera on a tripod, take 3-7 images with different exposures. Keep the aperture the same and move the shutter speed up and down from the best average exposure.
When the images are merged in the HDR Photoshop plugin you can get an image like this:

There are far better programs for HDR such as Photomatix with better tone mapping algorithms. However, if you already have Photoshop, it's an easy way to spruce up your vacation photos.  (This photo is a little too saturated and "HDR over-the-top" but you get the idea of the range of things you can do.)