May 5th, 2011
This post is aimed at about 2 to 5% of the real estate photographers out there. If you can make vertical reference lines like the red lines in the photo to the right on ANY (even one) of your photos that don’t line up exactly with walls, window lines etc, I’m talking to you here.
The photo to the right is one of several photos on a e-mail flyer I got recently for a $2.8 million listing created by one of you in that 5%. The red vertical reference lines are my addition. Here are the two points I want to make:
- The listing agent should have sense enough to not use this kind of unprofessional photos to market any home, let alone a $2.8 million home.
- Anyone doing real estate photography charges to shoot real estate listings should have sense enough to keep verticals, vertical.
These two points should be obvious from all traditional depictions of buildings in all kinds of media like home magazines, Architectural Digest, movies and TV. You have to not paying attention to miss this fact.
Why Converging Verticals A Big Deal?
In architectural photography or real estate photography verticals MUST be vertical, which means parallel to the vertical edge of the photo because vertical walls are an assumed environmental fact. We all live in a world where the walls are vertical 99.99% of the time. We are all so conditioned by vertical buildings that when the eye/brain encounters a photo like the one above where the walls are even slightly out of vertical the brain has a hard time letting go of this visual distraction. That is, you have a hard time seeing this as a lovely bright solarium because you can’t visually get past the wacky walls.
Using Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses Exacerbate Converging Verticals
The fact is that when you use an ultra-wide angle lens to shoot interiors if you don’t have the camera and lens perfectly level in the front-to-back plane the verticals will converge in one direction or the other. So you have three choices to make sure the verticals are vertical:
- Use a bubble level to make sure you camera is level.
- Use a tilt-shift lens to correct the verticals at the time of the shot.
- Use an image editor to fix the problem in post-processing.
Correcting In Post Is The Conventional Solution
You can correct verticals with Lightroom 3, Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I find a large percentage of people I confront about this issue are just not very adept at fixing verticals so they take their best shot at getting the verticals vertical when shooting and then just don’t do much in post. Scott Hargis just posted a good tutorial on how to do this with Lightroom 3
I Consider It My Personal Duty To Rid The World of Converging Verticals
Converging verticals is the single most frequent problem I encounter in real estate photography. I’m going to go so far as to say if your verticals are converging you shouldn’t be charging money for your work. Be forewarned, I’m getting pretty obnoxious about getting in peoples face when their verticals are converging.