Architectural and Real Estate photographer servicing Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA.

Architectural and Real Estate photographer servicing Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA.

To light, or not to light...

Hey folks, this is my first actual blog post. I am not much of a blogger, clearly, but I wanted to show everyone the difference a little bit of lighting can make in real estate photos. Now, I'm not going to lie, it took quite a bit of work in Photoshop to get the final image. I am still figuring out how to get it perfect in camera. Practice makes perfect, right? That being said, here is the before shot, straight out of camera. Ambient only exposure.

Ambient shot.

It's not bad. Is it dark, yes, but nothing a few curves couldn't fix. I'm sure many realtors would be ecstatic post something like this. I, on the other hand, can't deliver something like this. I don't have it in me. Even though this is just a real estate shoot, I treat every shoot like it is for a huge client with a budget to match.

First off, the doorway into the formal dining room is almost nothing more than a black hole. It's not very warm or inviting. Lets bring some light into it. 

Flash camera right & dining room.

So for this shot, I added a flash at camera right, bounced into the ceiling to bring up the exposure a bit. I also added a flash in the dining room, but it's not quite right, so lets move it a bit.

Blended exposures and added flash to camera left.

Much better. It's still a little over exposed on the crown molding, but it'll do for now. The next problem is the flash that is bringing up the ambient is casting an ugly blue on the cabinets at camera right, and there is no light at camera left. 

Added ambient to fix the blue cast, removed reflections, and lit the cabinets on the left.

I moved the flash over to camera left to fill in the cabinets on the left better. I also blended in some of the ambient exposure to fix the blue cast and overall ugly lighting on the island and cabinets on the right side of the frame. Oh, and as you can see, I got rid of the reflection of the hanging lamps from the microwave, as well as an ugly reflection in the sink. I am not going to flood this blog with pictures from every exposure, but there was a total of two exposures blended to make the picture above look this way.

Curves applied.

Here you can see I changed the image quite a bit with selective lightening, darkening, and overall contrast. The last step is correcting verticals, removing additional reflections, brightening up the shadows above the cabinets, removing noise, and sharpening the image. 

This is the final shot that I will be delivering.

That's it. As much as I'd like to get it 100% in camera, time constraints for real estate shoots make it pretty tough. I hope you learned something, or at least enjoyed looking at the beautiful kitchen. As you can see, a couple of lights and Photoshop can drastically improve your images.