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Applying HDR Judiciously In Real Estate Photography

Using High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique can dramatically improve your real estate photography. But how much is just right? This excellent video gives examples of the good, the bad and the ugly of HDR photography:

Notice how turning on the lights in the indoors shots make such a great difference.

After you’ve seen these without and with HDR images, don’t you want to take all your pictures with HDR from now on? Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

Representing the reality of your listings is important because you want to avoid accusations of misrepresenting them (pictures look much better than reality). You want to use HDR so you can accurately represent your estates.

One important thing the video does not mention is the proper use of White Balance to correct colors under artificial lighting (indoor photos). As this article points out, the whites are not real whites, though there is indication of color correction. Auto White Balance (AWB) usually does not do a good job under artificial lighting and you need to switch to manual WB. The author proposes using multiple small speedlights to light your indoor shots, but that’s easier said than done and can introduce more problems than it’s worth. Anyway, obtaining accurate white balance manually is pretty simple and most decent digital cameras will allow you to quickly (and easily) set it.

What do you need to take HDR shots? Almost any camera will do as long as you can dial in an exposure compensation. Plus you’ll need an HDR software such as Photomatix. If your camera has an Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) feature, all the better because you can take 3 or more shots with just one click of the shutter.

Are there cameras that do in-camera HDR processing. Yes, but results vary and never as good as when you manually do it.