How to shoot and edit real estate photos

Hi guys.

Can you give me some guidelines/advices about how to take and edit real estate photos? Should I use HDR? I have saw some tutorials but I’m still lost and I have no idea where to start.

Thanks in advance.

PS: I’m new to Darktable and to photo editing in general.

Hi, I think you need to have a photo taken from inside a room but you have to clearly see also the outside background from a window?
In this case I think the best solution will be take two different images (one exposed for the internal part and one exposed for the outside light) and then merge them in GIMP with a luminosity mask.

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Tonemapping/exposure fusion are ideal for this sort of thing, and that’s a place where darktable is quite weak.

Either process each individual image in a bracket with similar settings and then merge them using enfuse, or use HDRMerge to merge the RAW images themselves and another tool (such as RawTherapee) to do development and tonemapping.

In theory, darktable has the same tonemapping algorithm used by Google’s Pixel phones - - but in practice the function is severely broken and the development team has decided to let it wither and die than allow it to be fixed.

This sort of workflow is EXACTLY why I changed tools away from darktable.

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This is what i intend.

I don’t get this part.

̶I̶t̶ ̶s̶e̶e̶m̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶H̶D̶R̶M̶e̶r̶g̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶e̶s̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶L̶i̶n̶u̶x̶ ̶v̶e̶r̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶y̶e̶t̶.̶ ̶C̶a̶n̶ ̶I̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶o̶o̶l̶?̶
It does have a Linux version.

Process each image individually, then feed the results to enfuse:

It definitely runs on Linux. It’s the only platform I’ve ever personally run it on. Maybe you’re finding some other tool with the same name?

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Now I get it. Thanks :smiley:

Sorry, my bad… :confused:

Between the two options, which one did you think it’s the best for a newbie who wants to become a professional photographer?

@42578 Have you used duckduckgo to search for
real estate photography?

Yes, I used Google too. Why?

There’s some subtext hidden in your question, I think.

That you’re asking makes me think you might be new to real estate photography in general (not just the processing).

When shooting

  • Keep straight lines straight, and vertical/horizontal lines correct.

  • Use a tripod! (This can be problematic when shooting from corners, but adapt! :slight_smile: ).

  • Turn the lights on in the room (yes, even in the daytime). (Watch your white balance - incandescent bulbs are a different temperature than sunlight and will make processing quite difficult later - and don’t get me started on fluorescents).

    • In general, I tend to shoot for sunlight - this way exterior and interior shots should match up easily w/o any extra fiddling.
  • Shoot from roughly eye height. (The goal is generally to present the space as someone standing or sitting in it might perceive it).

  • Try to shoot as wide as you can (you’ll be surprised just how quickly 50mm or 35mm becomes way too tight inside).

  • Expose carefully. Since you’re using a tripod (you are right? :smiley: ) you can take multiple exposures at different shutter speeds. If you’re in a room with a window I like to expose for the room and then directly outside the window (you can use the meter on your camera to tell you exposure).


  • Consistency (shot to shot if doing a set or as a job)

  • Don’t get crazy - keep the colors natural and the dynamic range compression reasonable (don’t use crazy HDR tonemapping operations (maybe Mantiuk 2008?)). It’s ok if there’s shadows under the bed!

  • If you get some good parameters you like, consider saving/using presets.

  • If you want to get fancy you could slightly color tone or adjust based on property and desired perception in the viewer.

Some software options to help:

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Yep, darktable is completely broken for tone-mapping.



(From a single shot at 100 ISO, exposed to protect highlights, pushed +5 EV in post).

I agree, colors don’t look like shit and halos are missing, so that’s not really an HDR tone-mapping. Plus, no clarity +100 in highlights, and it almost looks believable. Big fail.


On the Enfuse suggestion, you may find it easier to just use Hugin for the entire workflow.

Just in case your tripod is not steady or you don’t have one (gasp!) you ca use Hugin to align the (multiple exposure) images all together and it includes Enfuse which you can include as part of the processing pipeline.


It’s exacly that. I edited the post :+1:

Yes :smiley:

When I’m editing a HDR photo and the window is overexposed and the room have the right exposure, what are the things that I have to change to get the right exposure on both places?

I don’t know what this is. :no_mouth:

Thanks for all the tips. :+1: :smiley:

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  1. You need a dynamic range beast, like a Nikon D850 or a Sony A7R III,
  2. You expose to not clip highlights (both have an highlight-weighted metering mode), using base ISO of the camera and a tripod for steadiness,
  3. You brighten as much as needed in post (using exposure module)
  4. You use filmic for the tone and gamut mapping to bring highlights back
  5. You might better try to mask exposure modules to selectively bring back windows and such (using parametric masks + feathering makes it quite easy, even when leaves occlude the windows),
  6. You rarely need to stack exposures in practice.
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You might want yo check HDR Merge as well, which will merge your bracketed shots into a single file you can then edit in darktable.

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It seems to produce believable HDRs, which is good. The last time I checked the sky, it had about the same amount of edges and gamut escapes as their banner pic:

Local tonemapping for the win \o/.

I was actually referring to capturing the images, not processing here. If you’ve got a single shot that looks this way refer to @aurelienpierre’s advice for processing the single shot.

If you’re shooting I would take two images in a sunlight room - one with the room properly exposed, and another with window exposed properly. (I would just adjust the shutter speed, but I suppose you could do it with EV controls in modern cameras too - you don’t want an aperture change to modify the view).

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HDR issues (expose for bright window as well indoors) are one issue already discussed. Another is the inherently bland look of an opposing wall.

Focus stacking for indoor shots helps a lot, where a wide angle lens is placed perhaps on table so objects close the camera (a flower pot or a frying pan or a book) are in focus as well as the wall on the opposite side of the room. Focus stacking can make such compositions striking and eye-catching. Marketing real estate is all about hooking the customer’s attention.

Landscapers know the importance of composing for close up as well as far away. Tall far away mountains always look better if there is a tree or a fence line close to the camera, framing the imposing snow-capped peaks in the background. That scenario works well for indoors too.


Actually, given the dire state of HDR merging, I would burst a sequence at same exposure on tripod and simply average the raws (only for noise dilution), then process a single picture, and stay away from anything that calls itself HDR-something and clutters the workflow with poorly color-managed layers.

That or OP’s professional career might be short-lived.


@42578 What cameras and lenses are you using?