What Is Your Primary Method Of Lighting For Real Estate Photography?

April 6th, 2014

I think it’s interesting to see what approaches to lighting readers are using and how it changes over time, with changes in technology and personal preferences. I did an identical poll back in 2011. I also did one back in 2008 but the questions in 2008 were different enough it can easily be compared directly to the 2011 poll. Here are the results from 2011:

2011 Pool – 1025 readers took the poll

  1. Multiple off camera flash – 26%
  2. Exposure Fusion/flash hybrid – 17%
  3. HDR processing – 13%
  4. Exposure Fusion – 11%
  5. Single, on-camera flash- 10%
  6. HDR/flash hybrid – 8%
  7. Ambient light only – 7%
  8. Multiple off camera E-TTL/CLS – 5%
  9. Hot lights or studio strobes – 2%

Many people use a mixture of techniques. I’ve heard many people say they shoot a series of brackets so the have some options if things go wrong. For the poll select the technique you use most.

The other thing that happens is you start out using one technique and as you see a better way you progress to a different technique. I used an on-camera flash for years until I met Scott Hargis and Dan Achatz at the workshop we did in Seattle in 2008. Dan is a master of HDR and while Scott was doing a demo of bright window lighting, Dan shot and processed a HDR shot of the bright windows (at about 3:40 in this video).

Please take the poll before you leave!

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8 Responses to “What Is Your Primary Method Of Lighting For Real Estate Photography?”

  • It’s hard to say what I’m using more NOW. I used to use exposure fusion exclusively and I am now delivering finished images that are half flash/hybrid and half EF. I am getting more comfortable with multiple off-camera flashes and I am also getting results I am trying for. I will still shoot an exposure bracket and I will also shoot brackets with lights on and off. I’ve never filled an 8mb memory card with images and if I do, I have several more cards in my bag, so there isn’t any down side to the extra images. Anything that I don’t use to create the finished product gets dumped when the customer signs off on the job (or a week or two later). I haven’t yet used my studio strobes on a RE shoot, but if a job comes up where I need the power, I’ll bring those.

    A “5,4,3,2,1” poll might work better if polldaddy does those.

  • Where’s “Single, off-camera flash”?

  • Though I prefer multiple off-camera flash, I might have predicted that some form of multiple-exposure technique/software would have evolved to produce superior results by this time. The interesting thing is that multiple off-camera flash is gaining ground over HDR type techniques.

  • Plus the line between multiple-exposure technique/software and off camera flash gets pretty blurry when you add to the mix how much you can push the lighting around in LR5.

  • @dave – It’s included in multiple off-camera flash. I wanted to keep the poll wording identical to the 2011 one so they are comparable.

  • @ Chuck Spaulding – not so much. The point of using lights is to be able to control the direction and create highlights or shadows even if the existing light is flat as a pancake or otherwise un-flattering to the subject — it’s not just about boosting shadows. Using lights gives you creative control that is un-attainable via any other method.

  • I still find that the blending an HDR or ambient exposure with a multiple off camera flash exposure is the best for my results. While I usually only blend the HDR or ambient in at 15-25%, I believe it adds a lot of natural warmth to the scene. It’s a personal preference that takes me an extra 2 minutes per scene. No matter what, I always bracket with natural light in case I need it in post processing.

  • @Scott, your right, for me the line is blurry because I use LR to “fix” what I wasn’t able to accomplish in the original shot. Using LR’s tools to improve shots helps make what some might consider average shots into good or acceptable shots, learning how to light correctly would make those shots exceptional.

    Its a process.. Someday I hope to get to exceptional.

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