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Congratulations To Mike Leland PFRE Photographer Of The Month For October

October 30th, 2014

2014-OctMikeLelandMike Leland of Tucson, AZ has won the October, PFRE Photographer of The Month award. Mike is the first to win this award three times. Old timers in this contest will remember Mike from back in Sept and Oct 2011 when he won this contest when he was working in Cairns, AU.

Here are the first, second and third place winners for October:

  1. #32 – Mike Leland - Tucson, AZ – Shot from a guyed mast with camera at 30 ft.
  2. #8Alasdair McIntosh – York, UK – Shot about 25 ft using a telescopic mast and a wireless trigger.
  3. #31 – Dan Ryan – New Jersey – Shot on the Manfrotto 161MK2B Super Pro Tripod just above 9 ft.

There was a great bunch of images this month. Difficult job to pick the top three images. I’ve put all the entrants names on the photos in the flickr contest site.

Here are Mike’s comments on this photo:

I am incredibly humbled by winning this months competition. It’s getting stiffer month by month which is a great thing! It is my desire to spend more time in this community and participate with the competition and the flickr group to better my skill set.

This 5000 sq ft home is located on the 5th fairway of Skyline Country Club in Tucson, AZ, USA. The current owners purchased the home at a good price but near shanty condition. A complete and total overhaul was in order to take advantage of its phenomenal location. What you see now is the result of a great collaboration between the homeowners and one of the nations top designers. Of the original 3,500 sq ft of the house, 1,200 was retained (the stone walls on the right).

The homeowner is semi-retired and enjoys gardening. What you see in landscaping is all his handiwork.

I arrived at the home just prior to sun-up to firm up my composition and start metering. My intention was to strobe the interior (as the windows are deeply tinted) along with some of the exterior features. Once I got to shooting test shots, the radio transceiver decided to malfunction so I went au natural.

The camera was about 30 feet from ground elevation atop a guyed mast. I used a one stop ND grad on a Canon 17-40 and a wide angle hood with bellows shifted away from the sun. The body was a 5dmkiii. The shutter was released via magic.

This was a single capture at ASA 400, Aperture f/7.1 was exposed for 1/250 of a second.

LR5 adjustments include highlight and shadow recovery along with a lens profile and CA correction. From there, I made slight lens corrections in PS and added some local contrast with NIK filters.

My favorite tools used on this shot were coffee, good boots and my trusty cam-ranger :)

Here’s One Thing My iPhone 6 Is Better At Than My 5DMkII

October 29th, 2014

TimeLapseI really enjoy creating time-lapse video. I’ve done several posts in the past about it in years past. Several years ago readers enlightened me about the problem of flicker so I’ve studying the art of shooting time-lapse and how to shoot it right. Last year I did a post on the subject. I’ve been improving so I now know how to control and remove flicker. Doing this with a DSLR shooting RAW images is a lot of work! It takes 32 GB of RAW images with a lot of Lightroom and LRTimelapse processing to render about 30 seconds of time-lapse video.

In the last year I’ve tried some of the IOS Apps that do time-lapse. Last December I shot this disappointing time-lapse from Diamond Head using the TimeLapse App on an iPhone 5s. A lot of quality issues with that one.

So when IOS 8 came out, with a timelapse feature built into the camera App I didn’t have great expectations. However, when I tried it out I was pleasantly surprised with this result (no editing, straight out of the camera). The most amazing thing is how fast and easy it is to get this result. Just a few seconds after touching stop, the finished video is rendered and ready. This particular time-lapse only has 3 or 4 noticeable flickers between :28 and :40. The rest is flicker free. Sure, if you shoot RAW and process and render the whole thing yourself you have much more control, but I’m beginning to doubt that it’s worth all the effort. I love getting good quality results so fast. I’m going to be shooting much more time-lapse with my iPhone 6.

 

Put Your Real Estate Photos In The Right Order!

October 28th, 2014

PhotosInorderTim Wilson pointed out this article at inman.com today. Tim said what caught his attention in the article was the following:

What I found super-intriguing was that the sequential order of the photography made a difference. The participants I interviewed wanted to see the photos flow in an order emulating how they would naturally walk through a home. They wanted the first photo to be of the exterior, capturing the entire property, and then see photos that take them through the home. The last photo should be an exterior shot of the rear of the house.

Tim said this is the first time he’d heard this. My response to Tim was:

Yes, absolutely, I’ve never even thought about the fact that I always order photos in walk-through sequence because my wife has always insisted on walk-through sequence ever since I started shooting her listings in about 1990. After getting scolded so many times for not putting photos in exactly the “right order” I guess I’ve just totally habituated this concept. I even deliver photos to agents in walk through order.

So put photos in walk-through order so viewers see the property sequentially in logical order.

What Are The Rights Of Agents and Homeowners Regarding Real Estate Photos Use On Social Media?

October 27th, 2014

PhotoSharingLynn asked the following question concerning agents and homeowners rights when it comes to posting photo you’ve taken for clients on social media:

I have been doing RE photography for little over a year so my biggest concern is to get my name out there to increase my client list.  Social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc seem like a good way right now to do that, but my concern is client/agent/my rights.  Do you know what the rights of the agent and homeowner are when it comes to displaying (your work) the photos on your business Facebook page, Twitter, website, etc…

Two examples of a situation I’m in right now, first one is a basic int/ext and twilight shoot on a 900k home, after I delivered them to the agent I asked if it was ok to post on my pages and she said “NO” that the homeowners do not want the sale public, thats its being sold via the local RE agencies (?).  She said we would have to ask the homeowner first…..is this legally true or is just RE etiquette?
The second, is a Twilight shoot, FREE for an ex-family member who is a top producing agent.  (while I was on location I did speak with the homeowner who new that these shoots were to promote the sale of their home by the agent) I delivered 15 photos on this $1.3 M home and asked the next day if I could post on my pages, and he won’t respond… do I have the right to post without his ok?
I’m not a lawyerHere is my opinion on this question:
  • First of all, sure, you have the legal right to post the photos you shoot for real estate on social media. All you have to do is follow a few real estate photographers or videographers on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube to see that its being done regularly and quite extensively. And typically most agents and homeowners want all the exposure to their property they can get.
  • However, your legal right is not the only issue to consider. Deferring to the wishes of your clients and their homeowner clients is important to keeping happy customers. Trading some social media exposure for upset clients is not a good trade off!
  • Believe it or not there are homeowners out there that are sensitive about having the interior of their home made public. This means they may freak out at the thought of having photos of the interior of their home posted on Facebook. And there are agents out there that want to be control of every aspect of marketing their listings. Not honoring either of these situations will likely lead to loosing customers.

Has anyone else had the kind of problems that Lynn is having?

 

How Do Real Estate Photographers Manage Their Files With Lightroom?

October 26th, 2014

LRorganizationReader Randall in Pennsylvania  asked the following question this last week:

I’m just getting started using Lightroom and I was wondering how other real estate photographers are managing their files. For example are they creating one catalogue file per year or per project? Where are they storing the catalogue files, locally or on the external drive with the photos?  In the past I have been putting all of my photos taken for my real estate photography business onto one dedicated external drive. I create folders for each year and then subfolders for each project by State, City, Street address, then subfolders entitled > As shot > Selected > Processed > Published > Hi Res > Low Res. I was wondering what file structure others use for maintaining their photos.

I can tell you what I do. Although, I don’t claim that it’s optimal. How you organize depends some on what volume of shoots you do. Also, too many, organization is very personal. Here’s how I use Lightroom:
  1. I have a folder for each year and within that folder I have a subfolder for each shoot named so that the folder name has both the date and the address. If I do an RE shoot it might be called 2014-10-23-5889Montevallo.
  2. I keep everything I shoot in a given year in that Lightroom year folder.
  3. I keep one or more years on an external drive. For the current year, that I work with most I use an external SSD so Lightroom runs fast.
  4. Each drive has its own Lightroom catalogue.
  5. For real estate shoots, all the finished photos that are delivered to the client are in a collection that has is named with the address of the property and the date of the shoot.
  6. Also, each client has their own collection that has each shoots I’ve done for that client as a sub-collection in the client collection.
  7. I keep two backups of every Lightroom external disk, one off site. The current disk I backup every night.
I’ve used this same basic organization ever since I started to use Lightroom and I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve included a Lightroom Import tutorial above by Simon Maxwell that has a lot of good information about importing images into Lightroom. How do organize you shoots in Lightroom?

October Video Contest Extended Through November

October 24th, 2014

VideoContestExtensionWe have 3 great video entries for October, but I’d like to extend the video contest through November so we get more video entries.

We’ll continue to accept video entries for the contest until November 22.

The video jurors will be using a new scoring system. This system is a refinement to the system suggested by Greg Nuspel where each video will be scored on the following criteria:

  • Technical
  • Aesthetic
  • Communication
  • Originality
  • Impact

As we announced earlier there are 6 additional jurors, 3 of which are Realtors.

Which Is Best For Real Estate Photography – Canon 70D or 7D?

October 23rd, 2014

70DIsabel in Costa Rica says:

Hola, I have a basic gear question for you: I want to buy the best equipment for RE photography without spending a fortune. According to all the reviews the best lens in the Canon EF-S 10-22 mm. I decided I am going to buy this lens, but now I have doubts on which body to buy. Is the 7D a good option? Is the 70D a better option? Which Canon body do you recommend will make the best combo with the Canon 10-22 lens?

Isabel, I don’t have direct experience with either of these bodies but here several things to consider:
  1. For typical still real estate photography what body you use makes less difference than your choice of lens. The Canon 10-22mm lens is a great choice.
  2. I agree, the Canon 10-22mm is historically the best lens for real estate photography although recent reports and reviews of the new Canon 10-18mm indicate that it may be almost as good for less than half the cost.
  3. If you get the 7D, I would get the new 7DMKII that was announced a few weeks ago, but won’t be available for purchase most places until some time in November. My research indicates the area that the 7D shines is shooting video. If you aren’t going to shot extensive video then the 7DMKII is probably not worth the extra $800 or so more than the 70D.
  4. If you are going to be doing primarily stills the 70D would be very adequate. The 70D does video, it’s just that the I believe the 7D and 7DMKII are better for video.

Does any one out there have direct experience with the 70D and/or the 7D? What would you advise Isabel?

How Important Is It That Your Real Estate Photography site Has High Google Ranking?

October 22nd, 2014

SEOLast week PFRE reader Aubrey asked the following question:

I wanted to ask you how can I get up in the rankings on the list for preferred photographers in southern California? I’m on the middle of the 2nd page, but would like to be on the 1st page. How can I do that?

There’s a quick and easy way to get higher ranking for your RE photography website and I frequently revisit the subject. Here’s the post from last year that explains how to do it. It certainly doesn’t hurt to do this. If you aren’t in a big metro area with a lot of real estate photographers this will usually get you on the first page for the search term “real estate photographer your-town”. If you are in someplace like Seattle there are a crowd of people that have already done this so it won’t get you on the the first page.

But here’s the deal. Having a high Google ranking for the search term “real estate photographer your-town” isn’t going to get you a ton of business. There are much better ways to build your business than just getting a high Google ranking and waiting for the phone to ring. To build your business you need to actively market yourself to the top listing agents.

It’s better to think of your website as a medium to present your work (your portfolio) and have it at the center of your marketing process where all your marketing materials refer to your site. That way you can present your very best work to people you market.

Real Estate Photography News

October 21st, 2014

NewsAgentmarketing.com wants to help RE photographers market to agents: Within the last year I’ve encountered several companies that have a business model of getting in between the RE photographer and the agent. This is an example of one. At this point I can’t tell which of these are of use to RE photographers and which is aren’t. In general, beware of companies that get between you and your clients and charge processing and transaction fees. Thanks to Todd McIntosh for this link.

Transport Canada just released new info regarding drones: Wow, Transport Canada appears to be on the ball and engaged and coming up with rational and effective regulations. This article explains how to get a Special Flight Operations Certificate if you fly a UAV commercially or heavier than 35 kilograms.  Thanks to Tony Boros for this link.

How to Hire a Real Estate Photographer: Expert Tips for Agents: I think there is a lot of good advice in this article on what photographers should be asking their clients. Thanks to TA Wilson for this link.

3D Listing Photos To Simmer Up Real Estate Marketing: This is indirectly a pitch buy Redfin for Matterport as we talked about last month. Also in this article is reference to another study: “recent study by VHT Studios, one of the largest real estate photography firms in the United States, found that homes with professional interior photos sold 32 percent faster than those that didn’t have an expert behind the lens.” Thanks to Dave Williamson for this link.

 

PlanEdge: Create Floorplans On A Tablet With A Laser Measure

October 20th, 2014

PlanEdgePFRE reader Sean Elliott at Exposure Property Marketing told me about some new floor plan creation software. Sean said:

Whilst the market is quieter I thought I would take the opportunity to contact you about a new product we are using at Exposure Property Marketing.  We have helped a software company here in the UK Boxcubic Ltd design a new tablet based floor plan app that allows users to draw plans digitally on-site without the need to re-draw them later or outsource them to an offshore CAD team.

The website for PlanEdge is planedge.co.uk. The site has pretty complete information on the product, with a series of video tutorials.

I think this is a great concept! Pairing a blue tooth laser measuring device with a tablet and creating the floor plan as you walk through the property is a great design. My only feedback to Sean was that it would be great to have this App available on IOS and Android. Right now Windows tablets are 3% of the market, Android is 61% and IOS has 35%. Although, since the cost of the tablet you are using, is a relatively small part of the yearly cost, it may make sense to just go purchase a Windows Surface 2 tablet so you can use this application.

So what does everyone think of Sean’s application? Give him your feedback.

Small Flash vs Enfuse/HDR – How Do You Decide?

October 19th, 2014

Questions And AnswersMy post last week got PFRE reader, Felix thinking. He posed the following question:

I’m looking forward to the book on Enfuse but it did raise a question. I know Scott favors using flash and I have read his book and taken his video course.  In your post, you said that Simon uses Enfuse extensively. Is there room for both techniques in one’s repertoire? Or is a person better off picking a single style and sticking to it as much as possible?  Do many photographers use both techniques? I’m currently using flash per Scott’s video and have been happy with the results.
Here is my response to Felix that’s based on talking to a lot of real estate photographers over many years and doing several polls here on the blog over the years:

Continue Reading »

Licensed Pilots Flying Drones Beware

October 16th, 2014

FAAlogoI know there are many licensed pilots out there that also do real estate photography and may fly small UAVs. In a move that appears to be an effort by the FAA to use what ever means they can to control small UAVs the FAA focused on drone operators, Change 6 to its Compliance and Enforcement Handbook specifically threatens licensed pilots that use small UAVs. John Goglia, in his article at forbes.com  describes the move in detail:

…drone pilots who hold airmen certificates are at particular risk, especially if they fly manned aircraft for a living.  According to the new guidance: “For a deliberate, egregious violation by a certificate holder, regardless of whether the certificate holder is exercising the privileges of the certificate in connection with the violations associated with a UAS operation, certificate action, may be appropriate. Such certificate action may be in addition to a civil penalty.”  This means that a model aircraft operator may put his professional license at risk – even though no license is required to fly a model aircraft – if the FAA decides that his or her conduct is egregious enough.

To me this indirect approach at regulating small UAVs seems underhanded. I wish they’d just focus on getting actual reasonable federal laws in place that regulate the air space under 400 feet.

Reader Questions And Answers – Assistants, Tours, Working For Redfin

October 15th, 2014

community

Chad’s Question:  I am growing beyond what I can shoot in a given week. With this I am having to turn away work and be selective with projects I do.  My question to you is, do you know if any of the coaches have particular experience with multiple photographers? Contracts, pay, insurance,  incentive,  training processes, pros cons to look out for? I have people always hitting me up for photography jobs. Trying to figure this part out is daunting!

Answer: If you haven’t already you may get some help from a previous post I did on this subject. Several commenters on this post have experience with hiring assistants. As far as coaches, I’m not sure who has had experience with assistants. I would check with Dan Milstein  or Michael Asgian. Anyone out there that can offer coaching on hiring assistants?

Bill’s Question:  I’m a real estate agent.  I always create a website dedicated to each of my listings.  These are BRANDED web sites. These web sites (really pages of BillSilver.com) are based on WordPress using a RESPONSIVE THEME.  They view well on all devices. The pictures I take are used in many ways: Virtual Tour Slideshow, Virtual Tour Video, property eMagazine, etc. I use iPlayerHD as my video host, Phanfare for my slideshow host, and eMagStudio for my interactive magazines. iPlayerHD and eMagStudio are both responsive. But, Phanphare is not.  I need to replace Phanphare with a responsive slideshow host that that will allow my slideshows to play on all devices–without me having to do anything AND without the user having to do anything special, like downloading the Phanphare app or installing flash. Continue Reading »

Still Contest Closing – Video Contest Opening

October 14th, 2014

ElevatedShotsThe PFRE Photographer of the month closing: contest for October will close the end of the day on Wed 10/15.

Right now we have 23 great elevated shots. A lot of drone shots but still many with poles. Some very nice work here!

The PFRE Video Contest open now: I’ll start accepting video contest entries now. Be sure to read the video contest rules at:

http://photographyforrealestate.net/video-contest/

News for the video contest: We are going to implement several of the reader suggestions this month.

The goal of these changes is to have the jury voting more systematic and to have a larger more diverse group of jurors.

Simon Maxwell Explains Enfuse or Exposure Fusion

October 13th, 2014

EnfuseTutorial

There was at least one comment on yesterdays post suggesting that some readers are not familiar with the terms Enfuse or Exposure Fusion. So I though it would be useful for some to review what those terms mean.

Enfuse processing is very widely used in real estate photography these days (about half of all real estate photographers). The name Enfuse refers to the open source software that implements the Exposure Fusion algorithm which is an alternative bracketing processing technique to HDR. Exposure Fusion is not the same as HDR which uses a completely different algorithm than Exposure fusion.

Software like LR/Enfuse and Enfuse Gui just act as user interfaces for the Enfuse software. Sometimes Exposure Fusion is referred to as blending. Although the term blending also refers to manual combining of several bracketed images in Photoshop. Yes, Photomatix has an option to process a series of images with the Exposure Fusion algorithm too so if you have the Photomatix Lightroom Plugin you can use it in a very similar way directly from Lightroom. Continue Reading »