September 7th, 2016
Last week William in Florida asked the following:
I wanted to share a picture (photo to the right) and ask your opinion on it. Lately I have noticed that when I’m taking outside pictures during the day, my windows are very dark, even with the lights on inside, it does not seem to help or do much to brighten them up or look more natural since there is such a difference in the brightness outside vs what the interior lighting is able to provide.
Beyond getting a wireless flash and sitting it inside each window sill on the inside, any ideas or suggestions on setup to help minimize this effect?
Great question. This is another aspect of the classic challenge that real estate photographers have to deal with: the large difference between the brightness level inside and outside. It’s worth noting that the theme for the August PFRE still contest was daylight exteriors shots and most of them (even the winner to some extent) have mostly black windows or the sky reflecting off the windows. While it looks better to see the interior lights for general real estate photography black windows are not a disaster.
There are a number of approaches to reducing and removing this effect:
- Shoot at a time of day when it is not as bright outside (not always possible). Twilight shots show off the property better.
- Put a wireless flash in each room that has a window (time consuming).
- Get away from the property so that the windows are smaller so the black windows don’t stand out so much.
- Use a Mike Kelly approach and walk into each room with a flash to shoot a flash shot and then layer all the shots together with the ambient shot in Photoshop.
- Take a shot that exposes for the interior brightness (with the interior lights on) of the rooms and then blend the interior shot with the exterior shot together in Photoshop.
Which approach you choose or if you choose to do anything depends on the time you have and how much effort you want to put into your exterior shot.