First Crack at Real Estate Photography

A couple weeks back, I asked for help on here with how to set up a series of real estate photos that I did for a friend of mine. She bought a beaten down house by a nearby tourist town with to fix it up and rent it out. I watched a couple of youtube videos on real estate photography lighting and editing and gave it a whirl.

I had the camera set up on a tripod and used one or two strobes for most of these shots. I kept the camera settings consistent, but adjusted the power on the strobes in between shots. Then I layered them all in gimp, and masked them out as needed. For the shots with windows, I did take one frame at a slow shutter speed so the outdoors were exposed properly. The big glare in the window from the strobes was not a problem because I masked it out in GIMP afterwards.

Anyways, these shots aren’t groundbreaking, and there are a couple things I’d do differently, but pretty good for a first try, IMO.

I’ll lead with the worst one first. This one I actually shot handheld because I was getting lazy and didn’t feel like wrestling with lights and umbrellas in the small room. This was a single frame using ambient light. 1/15th second and ISO1600. I think the colors are a little more drab here because of the high ISO. Most of the other ones I shot between 100-320 ISO.

Here is the other one that I shot handheld in a single frame. I had two lights available, and the room was small enough that I could fuss with the lights to get an even exposure, which was easier than taking a bunch of shots to composite later.

These next few were all shot with between 3-5 frames depending on the size of the room. For the small bedroom, I used an umbrella and a single strobe on one side of the room.

For this last one I took a few more frames and hand held a speedlight to make sure I had enough light on the ceiling by the yellow door.

@Claes asked in my original thread how the pictures turned out, so I figured I’d make a post about it. Thanks again to the always-helpful forum members!


Nice fixes and staging!

I know this isn’t the critique category but here is some feedback. I feel uncomfortable with the edges being splayed out like that (due to angle, lens + perspective adjustments). This is most apparent with the beds, picture frames, windows and doors. The light seems overbright or not enough. Not exactly the homey, dreamy feel that a tourist would appreciate.

On the other hand, the textures, detail and outdoor views are pretty.

I don’t mind critiques. I don’t care for the distortion either, but I don’t know what to do about it. I figure it’s just how it goes a superwide lens. Most of the pix were shot at 12~18mm focal length on a full frame camera.

I did rough edits in RawTherapee and applied the lens profile for my camera/lens combo. Other than that, I did not mess with any distortion or perspective settings. Maybe there is a better way?

They are pretty extreme but you could try the perspective correction… The tool in Darktable is pretty good…

I am less familiar with the tools in RT

If you were going to do this often, Lowa makes some near-fisheye zero distortion lenses for exactly this purpose.

I’ll prefix my comments with the disclaimer that I’ve never done this kind of photography, so please take my comments with a grain of salt… :open_mouth:
I wonder if in some of the views the distortion could be avoided by having the camera lower and level? Obviously that would show more ceiling, but I thought with a wide lens you could always crop some off. In effect like a tilt shift lens :grinning:
Having said that, I like most of the shots, including the distortion in some of the of the shots.
Thanks for posting!

I also have a question: do you need to use artificial lights for interiors/real estate?

A couple of years ago I was asked from a friend of a friend to do some shots for his property, and I went there with the best kit I had at the time (an old 18mm f/3.5 Ais Nikkor and a 50mm…), and realized I didn’t want to use my cheapo speedlite setup because I was modifying heavily the mood of these rooms.

I should have done a bit more study before hand but I didn’t, and now the question remains: what do the real architectural photographers do, use natural light or not? Or try to recreate with strobes the feeling of natural light?

For the purpose of displaying the house to rent out the images are very successful. Well done. BTW, I really like that you have balanced the interior lighting to match the exterior lighting.

Here are some tips you could try. To avoid vertical lines that bend in or out the camera must be perfectly level. If the camera is tilted upwards the walls will bend into the centre.

Also, when working in very tight spaces consider doing panorama stitching to get a wider coverage. I have done this successfully in the past.

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These are very nice! I think they make it clear what the house looks like.

My suggestion is to look out for and correct tilt; I’m thinking specifically of the image with the sofa, the fridge and the stools, and the one behind it. Maybe it’s just me but tilted photos are one of my pet peeves :sweat_smile:

Well, while I can understand you point of view, if you look at professional real estate photographs, they don’t show leaning verticals. Look at this site for example.

Otherwise, you did a really good job.

@Stampede I forgot to say that I look forward to see what you do next!

Good shots, I think. They are informative, and the place looks inviting.

The yellow door looks weird. I can see a door, but not a doorway. There seems to be large windows to the right of the door, and lots of small windows to the left, and the door seems to be hinged to a post between the windows, but no door-shaped hole for the door. Perhaps the hole is hidden by the door.

I don’t care for the distortion either, but I don’t know what to do about it.

It isn’t distortion, but perspective. When the camera is pointed down, an object on the floor is further from the sensor plane than a same-sized object on the ceiling. Objects that are further away appear smaller. (Cue a Father Ted joke about cows.)

Perspective is natural, but disconcerting when the view is very wide. To avoid it, as others have said, ensure the sensor plane is vertical, ie the lens axis is horizontal. Some tripods have a bubble built-in. Some cameras have a similar feature, eg the Nikon D800, so I can ensure the camera is not tilted up or down.

My main comment is to avoid the shadows from the strobes. I use one of these for the small strobes:

Place it in front of the strobe to block the forward aiming light and just bounce the light from the back. You can get a color cast if the ceiling is not white (eg. Wood).

If you are using a ulrawide lens, try to keep it 100% level. That normally minimice distorion of converting lines. And use a software to correct the distortion as much as you can on the computer.

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