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Over exposed windows. The white-black hole of real estate photography

Scott · April 22, 2016 · Uncategorized · 0 comments

Today’s post illustrates the differences between photography seen on most listings and mine. To show these differences, I shot both in the same room, same daylight, same angle, with only a change in workflow.

Photo 1 is pretty indicative of most photos you will see in a listing online. I shot this with an on-camera flash pointed behind to bounce off the wall/ceiling. This is most people’s go-to method. In order to get full exposure throughout the room, you meter the light in the darker part of the room to make sure you can see those dark parts. The results are the windows being washed out or ‘blown out’, creating a harsh glare that flattens all the details in the room. Look at the wall with the windows…it’s hard to see any details in the window frames. Composition-wise it creates large areas of negative space that dominate the shot and keeps the viewer from looking around the photo/room.

Photo 2 is the same shot but slightly under exposed to enhance the details of the view and to cut down the glare from the windows. But you can also see that now other parts are very dark and details in other areas are almost completely gone. Look at the burgundy chair, it is almost like a black hole. There is no detail. It’s even hard to tell what color it is. Off toward the dining room and kitchen it looks like it is a cave-like tunnel with no light at all.

In both Photo 1 & 2, these over and under exposed elements kill the composition. They create dominant areas of contrast that block the viewers eye from traveling around the photo/room. People see over exposed areas and it becomes like looking into the sun. Under exposed photos are lacking detail and make people feel like there isn’t enough light in the house, which in this case, is not true. The living room, dining room and kitchen have ample windows letting in plenty of daylight. The camera just fails to balance out both areas at once.

Photo 3 is how I shoot rooms. It is a combination of flash work and multiple exposures to create the end result.
If you compare the two, you can see a lot of differences. The space itself is lit better. You notice the entire room. The windows are not blown out – you can see the view outside. The wall of windows has depth – you can see and feel the dimensions of the room. The chairs, compared to the previous shots, have depth, color, detail and texture. Look at the difference in the carpet. In the first two shots, it is flat and uninteresting. In the third, it has texture. Also notice the color differences in all three photos. In the first two, the color accuracy is distorted by the camera trying to capture the light. In the third, the colors are vibrant and more accurate.

In real estate photography it is paramount to capture light, texture, color, and depth accurately for the viewer. In my photography, I achieve all of these things to ensure a listing has maximum potential. Interesting and beautiful photography leads to more buyers and better results.

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