May 19th, 2008
I’d like to synthesize and distill the information and discussions about how to approach using HDR for real estate photography.
First of all it is important to look a lot of real estate images and refine your ability to see subtle differences styles and lighting.
Next I think you must always be working to prevent committing the deadly sin of allowing the real estate photo to look unreal. The two ways this usually appears is what I call the “grunge” (walls look like they need to be washed) or “radioactive” look. In real estate work there is an expectation of reality so the more dramatically creative looks frequently see in HDR work is not appropriate for real estate work.
As an benchmark of realistic results that are possible with HDR look at the real estate images of David Palermo and Dan Achatz. David and Dan use HDR extensively and their work illustrates what is possible with HDR.
How do you approach getting realistic results with HDR for real estate work? Here is my summary:
- Shooting bracketed images: Use shutter speed to bracket. Many use 3 bracketed shots -2 EV, 0EV, +2 EV most DSLRs will do this with auto-bracket feature. Christian Bloch, in The HDRI Handbook, recommends spot metering on darkest part of image and lightest part of image and bracket all the way between light and dark in 1 EVor 2 EV intervals.
- Most popular software: Photomatix, Enfuse ( LR/Enfuse PC/Mac , Bracketeer for Mac, Enfuse Gui for PC, xFuse for Mac) Photoshop CS3 and Photomatix used together.
- Photomatix settings (starting point): Dan Achatz recommends (some place in the PFRE discussion group) starting values: Strength=20, Saturation=35, White Point=10, Black Point=10, Gamma=1.
- HDR books: Two good books on the HDR process are – The HDRI Handbook, by Christian Bloch and Mastering HDR Photography by Michael Freeman.
- Detail discussions: There have been some good detail discussions on using HDR for real estate photography in the PFRE flickr discussion group. here, here and here.
I’m sure there is something I’ve missed. Anyone care to add to the summary?