You’ll need a DSLR camera and tripod to shoot in HDR, so be sure to read both of those tips first if you haven’t already.
Lighting is essential in all types of photography, but especially so in real estate photography. The quickest way to turn off a potential buyer is to have photographs that are muddled or too dark. But you also have to be careful about making an image too bright. You need something just right, and there are only two methods for doing that in real estate photography: HDR photography or flash photography. Either method is great, but the cheaper and easier method is definitely HDR photography. Flash photography requires multiple flash units, tripod stands for the flash units, batteries for the flash units (which will drain very fast), a knowledge of where to put each flash to evenly light the scene, and careful composition of each shot so that your camera doesn’t pick up the flash units or their stands.
HDR photography, on the other hand, gives you a lot more freedom and will save you a good deal of time and money in the long run.
So what is HDR photography?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The principle is easy enough to grasp: Instead of taking one photograph of a scene, you take several (usually seven) at different light ranges from dark to light. Those images (we call them brackets) are blended in post-processing into one stunning and evenly lit photograph free of shadows and wash-outs.
HDR is useful for every interior real estate shot, but you’ll find it even more useful in situations where you need a clear view through a window to show off a view of the water or some other beautiful view. It’s also very useful when you’re shooting an open space and want every inch of that space to be evenly lit.
The image below shows the difference between a single shot taken in “auto” and an HDR image that was made from seven brackets. Use the sliding bar to change the image from non-HDR to HDR. Notice how bright and evenly lit the HDR photo is. You can even see out of the windows in the HDR shot!
So how do you shoot in HDR?
There are two components to shooting in HDR: the on-site work and the post-processing work.
The on-site work involves the photographer taking many different exposures of each scene. We recommend seven exposures to capture the appropriate light range, but five or even three exposures can work as well. Sometimes you may need more than seven exposures if you’re trying to capture a window view and the window is not clear on the darkest exposure. The camera needs to remain totally still as you shoot, otherwise the brackets (the technical name for the different exposures) won’t line up during the blending process later. This is why that sturdy tripod is so critical to a successful HDR shoot.
We’d love to go in-depth on how to capture these exposures, but the process varies depending on what camera and lens you’re using. We’re happy to try and assist anyone that wants more detailed instructions. You can also look up tutorials online, just be sure to include your camera model in the search.
The post-processing work involves using photo-editing software to combine the brackets into one evenly lit photograph. You can find editing software that tries to automate this process, but we’ve found that the best results come from manual blending. Manual HDR blending is a service we here at RealEstatePhotoFix.com provide as a part of our flat rate charge.