What Can I do To Improve The Quality Of My Interior Images?

April 11th, 2016

CompositionForInteriorsThis is a follow on post from yesterday. It turns out that Annette in Pennsylvania already has some of the best real estate shooting gear you can get (Canon 6D with Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II). So her real question was , “what can I do to improve the quality of interior images?

My answer to her was, “spending time and energy on composition and lighting would do the most improve the quality of your images.” Annette picked up on the composition part of my suggestion and was anxious to improve her composition. Here are some suggestions for improving your composition: Continue Reading »

What Is The Best Camera and Lens Combination For Real Estate Photography?

April 10th, 2016

TheBestI got a very challenging question from Annette in Pennsylvania:

I was searching your site for advise on the which is the best camera and lens combination for the highest quality images. I am in the $5000 and under price range. I will be doing Video in the future but want to produce the highest quality Architectural Photos I can. I shoot mostly HDR.

Annette, I have the feeling that there is more to your question than just what you said above. I think you may be asking what can I do to improve the quality of my interior images.

First of all, it’s important to understand that the amount you spend on your camera body and lens is a small component of the quality of your images. If you replace your current gear with a near $5,000 body and lens don’t expect your real estate clients to say, “oh, wow, your images look way better with your new camera and lens.” In fact, if you don’t tell them most probably won’t be able to see the difference. Particularly if you do HDR post-processing where has as much or more effect on the image quality as the camera and lens. Continue Reading »

How Has Your Upgrade To Windows 10 Gone?

April 7th, 2016

Windows10Michael says:

Inevitably it looks like all PC users are going to have to upgrade to Windows 10.

I was wondering if those in the group that have upgraded would share their experience and what previous version they upgraded from?

Yes, Michael is right, Microsoft wants you to upgrade to Windows 10! As I mentioned last week, a couple of months ago Microsoft started some strong arm tactics to get everyone to upgrade. Brad Chacos over at PCworld.com to describes some of the strong-arm tactics that Microsoft is using. The pressure is mounting! You WILL upgrade to Windows 10! If you want to control when your upgrade happens I suggest you see my last post on Windows 10.

I have a little experience in this area because I bought my wife a new Windows 10 laptop for Christmas and had the job of moving her from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The only complaint I have is that despite the fact I got a laptop with twice as big a hard drive as her Windows 7 laptop (her Windows 10 laptop has a 128 GB drive) she is within a few GB of running out of hard disk space. Part of the explanation is all the promotional software that comes on new Windows laptops. Other than disk space her transition has been fairly smooth. But she is not a Lightroom and Photoshop user.

For those that have upgraded what was your experience moving to Windows 10?

Fotokite Phi is A New Category Of Elevated Photography For Real Estate

April 6th, 2016

FotokiteThere’s a new variation on doing elevated photography called Fotokite that will be available in a few months. Fotokite is an interesting approach to doing elevated photography. Don’t mistake it for a drone replacement because it’s clearly not. It’s a tethered drone which makes it much simpler than a standard drone. This tethered approach solves a number of issues that standard drones have:

  1. Tethering allows simpler electronics and makes it much cheaper than a regular drone.
  2. It is so simple to operate it requires NO training. You just take it out of the box and fly it. Just like a child flying a kite. Probably easier!
  3. The tethering also eliminates many of the regulatory issues.

While you can’t get the fantastic video that an untethered drone can get as you can see from the video above you can still get some pretty interesting shots. It has a long tether that is extra. I think it will have application in real estate photography for those that are looking for something better than a pole but simpler than a drone.

Initially, it’s being sold in Europe (Switzerland) but they will ship to many other countries.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Using Big Lights For Real Estate Photography?

April 5th, 2016

N-FlashJennifer recently asked about lights bigger than small flashes. She said:

I’m seeing many FB posts in RE Photography groups where many RE photographers are starting to use more powerful flashes (N-Flash, Profoto B1, Flashpoint Streak Light etc.) I do feel that I could use more power than I’m getting from my speed lights and would love to hear some pros and cons from those who have made the switch or added these big guns to their bag of tricks. I use a Canon 5D Mark III as my main camera for RE.

My take on this subject is that for standard real estate photography the bigger flashes will work but can get by without them. A great demonstration of this is that Wayne Capili uses this kit for real estate shooting and these are the results Wayne gets. It does take some learning to get to the point you can get the results Wayne does with a few small flashes but it’s well worth the effort to learn the technique.

One N-Flash in it’s carrying case (see photo above) without a stand is bigger and weighs more than Wayne Capili’s entire real estate kit. Why would you want to carry around more gear than is required to do the job?

So who uses big lights and what are the pros and cons?

How to Avoid or Fix Moiré Patterns

April 4th, 2016

MorieRob asks about moiré patterns in his photo to the right:

My RE photography is taking me to some interior design photography and I’m obtaining some moire affect. See the photo to the right.

My gear is a Canon 6D with f 2.8 “L” lens. This particular photo was a two exposure set up….one ambient to catch some light in the back of the room and two flash set-up, camera left and right, behind with some dodge and burn. Also, ISO 320, f/10, 1/10 shutter.

What am I doing wrong? How do I kill moire affect?

Continue Reading »

What Kind Of Exposure Accuracy Should You Expect From A Chimp?

April 3rd, 2016

ChimpBrandon brought up the following issue last week:

I’ve noticed that most photographers these days seem to prefer “chimping” exposures over using a light meter (Mike Kelley and Scott Hargis both mention their preference for this in their video materials). While this makes sense to me, especially in real estate photography with digital equipment, I have found it extremely difficult to accurately judge exposure from the back of the camera screen (I use a Canon 5D Mark II). I have tried adjusting the LCD brightness and I use the blinking highlight exposure warning. Sometimes I’ll take some shots that look great in camera and find out they’re over-cooked with flash once I open them up on my desktop. Using the CamRanger helps a bit but it adds a lot of time to each shot, and with basic houses seems a bit overkill. The same problem sometimes occurs when taking daylight exteriors—it’s just hard to tell whether I’ve nailed the exposure based on the LCD. Does anyone else have this problem, and what steps have you taken to address it?

Continue Reading »

How Do You Resist Pressure To Reduce Your Price

March 31st, 2016

WillWorkForFoodKeri and Rex both asked very similar questions recently. Keri said:

I have been a photographer for 8 years. The past month is when I started really pursuing real estate photography solely. I started with $100 a house but after travel, moving items, rearranging furniture, shooting, editing and posting… Roughly 4-5 hours later I feel like it is not enough. I raised prices depending on square footage no more than $175… Now I have some agents wanting to negotiate a lower price. How do I handle them without losing clients. Maybe workflow pointers would be helpful. I need help!

First of all, congratulations for realizing that you need to raise your prices and doing it! Continue Reading »

How Do You Deal With Clients That Won’t Pay?

March 30th, 2016

3rdParyViolationKaren says:

Have you ever heard of a photographer placing a lien on a property where payment was not received?  I recently did a full-day video shoot which required days of editing and has not been paid for because of a bad check.  The shoot was a large scale project for a multi-million dollar property.  Is it possible to place a lien on a property?  Are there any contacts you might have for legal advice?

First of all placing a lien on property requires a Judgement. That is, you have to get a judge to decide to place a lien on the property. This means you may need to pay a local  attorney to help you through the process.

My guess is that the first thing a judge will ask is what have you done to get payment from this person? That is, the judge would want to be sure that the person owing you money is refusing to pay you. My advice would be: Continue Reading »

Real Estate Photo Delivery: A Way To Provide Great Customer Service And Look Professional

March 29th, 2016

DeliveryTyrone in Chicago recently asked the question:

I have a client who wants a second disk of his project because he lost the first one. Putting together a second photo disk, should I charge a fee for work that I have been paid for in the past (last Year). Or just let him have it.

Creating a second CD for the photos seems pretty trivial. If it wasn’t for the fact that you need to get it to the client via the mail or dropping it off at his office someplace it takes more work to talk about it than to do it for him. Making sure the client has the photos is the kind of thing is generally that is considered great customer service. Do it for free and thank him for his business! Continue Reading »

Never10 by Steve Gibson Lets You Control When And If You Upgrade To Windows 10

March 29th, 2016

Never10Just recently I had a discussion with Russell in Portland about if there was a performance benefit if he upgraded his Windows 7 machine to Windows 10. I told him I doubted that it would improve his Lightroom or Photoshop performance and he decided he would stick with Windows 7. Apparently there are many Windows users out there that have no intention of upgrading to Windows 10.

But just a few minutes ago while listening to Steve Gibson’s Security Now podcast Steve said there are quite a few cases in the last week where Windows 7 and 8.1 machines have upgraded to Windows 10 WITHOUT users clicking the upgrade button that keeps nagging you. Sounds crazy, but Steve is very trustworthy and has committed not to upgrade himself. The auto-upgrade thing happened to a very close friend  last week so he had a lot of details on the situation. If I heard this from almost anyone else, I wouldn’t believe it.

As a result, Steve wrote a piece of code that prevents upgrading to Windows 10 without your permission. Steve is giving this away for free. If you want to have total control over when and if you upgrade I suggest you install a copy of  Steve’s Never10. Apparently, Never10 is very popular, he’s had 27,000 downloads in the last couple of days.

Basics Of Elevated Exterior Photography For Real Estate

March 28th, 2016

Wanda in Virginia recently asked:

I have a question and was wondering how other photographers handle this. It just seems that the best position for photographing most exteriors is higher than my tripod will reach but not high enough for a drone. How do other photographers handle this. I have thought about bringing a different camera that is rigged to a higher pole type tripod and even considered using a platform and a ladder. Any suggestions?

Yes, Wanda is definitely on to something. There are two basic reasons: Continue Reading »

Why Does Making Comments On The PFRE Blog Require A Website Address?

March 27th, 2016

ComentURLsJames recently asked:

Why do your forums require a website? Do you not realize some of us are novices just starting out and have not made enough money yet to incur the expense of a website?

First of all, what James is talking about is that starting back on April 5, 2015, everyone leaving a comment on the PFRE blog is required to fill in the website field of the comment with a valid URL. There are two basic reasons I instituted this feature of the blog:

  1. Mike ONeil summed it up nicely. He said, “Very simple, I get more value from what I read if the person writing is someone who has experience in what they are writing about. A website lets me verify what they say.
  2. Anyone, even a novice can have a website for free. Real estate photography is highly internet oriented and having a website is the first step at getting started in this business.

Continue Reading »

PFRE Video Contest Will Be Extended To April

March 25th, 2016

VideoContestThe PFRE video contest will be extended into to April so that we get more contestants. It will close on April 23rd.

For those, that would like to enter the contest please read the contest rules and procedure for entering.

We currently have 4 contestants but hopefully by April 23 we’ll have 4 more. Best to have 6 or more entries in a contest like this.

What Kind Of Computer Do Real Estate Photographers Need?

March 24th, 2016

HardwareLast week Lee in Seattle asked the following:

I need to upgrade to a newer computer. Help, please, with advice on starting point for basic choices?

1. Which Windows computer model is ideal for PFRE image processing and management Windows or Mac?

2. Regardless, are there any guidelines for minimal hardware configuration, processor, RAM, hard drive, video card, etc?

I will be doing serious Photomatix, Lightroom, Photoshop, PTGui, plus minimal to moderate video editing.

First of all, which operating system you use (Windows 10 or Mac OS) has more to do with what you are used to and which ecosystem you are attracted to than any inherent suitability for photo post processing. I love the smooth interoperatibility of the Apple ecosystem and wouldn’t give it up but many others could make the same case for Windows 10. Here are some general rules of thumb for hardware: Continue Reading »