Photomatix HDR For Problem Exteriors

May 27th, 2007

M. James Northen sent me an example of a shot that he used Photomatix to get. M.J. says:

“An immediate results technique is photomatix HDR image for problem exteriors …. North facing homes are a bitch. Sun just never seems right. A gorilla ladder – 11’ up including human standing on the ladder – tripod – camera – two thirds stops from one stop under to one over exposure …. Typically 8 frames. This does not work on windy days. Palm trees flying 2 inches to the left and ghosting. Attaching an image ….. 6,000 sq. ft. $ 5,300,000. This will be the 5th time I have been in this one – mostly for the various trades and now to shoot the entire home top to bottom.”

Yes, I agree, when you are having lighting trouble outside there aren’t very many options but Photomatix is certainly one. I think this is a perfect situation to shoot RAW. If you do shot raw you can get the over and under exposed frames all from the same RAW file and not be concerned that trees move in the wind.

Notice the marketing tip hidden in M. James’ comment. He worked for folks like Stagers, kitchen designers, Granite installers before the Realtor called to shoot the whole house. They all needed photos of their work on this home. Make sure the trade people in your area have your number and know about your work in addition to Realtors.

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19 Responses to “Photomatix HDR For Problem Exteriors”

  • Also to follow up on the marketing aspect — make absolutely sure you have a EULA (End User License Agreement) with all of those clients, and of course it should stipulate that the images are NOT to be shared with third parties. So often the builder sees me shooting for the listing agent, and asks “Can you email those pictures to me?”

    And I want to say (but I don’t) “Sure, can you remodel my kitchen for free?”

  • Scott,
    Excellent point. Except I don’t know many real estate photographers that take the time to sign anything.

    Do you have an agreement or EULA that you have every client sign? Perhaps the thing to do is the first time you work with a client sign a contract/EULA that addresses all future work.

    I’ve had this arise several times with stagers that we use to stage our listings. The stagers want the photos for their portfolios and I give them the photos. But my situation is different since I’m a Realtor. I’m getting paid by the seller and I’m paying the stager in many cases so I can justify giving my photos away to promote good relations with a stager that I’m likely to use again.

  • I routinely get asked for images that will support an magazine article about the home – loosely indicating it is on the Market. My Images are taken/commissioned for the sale and marketing of a listing. Articles and features providing they are the correct photo credits are not a problem. Suddenly the builder is using your images in advertisements – marketing the builder, or the pool guy is now using yours shots in his print ads…… NO credits …… I typically edjucate them the first time around and let it go. The second time I see it happen – I send my wife over to deal with it. Most times after that everything is cool and we have a new client.

    We try to control usage —- yet recognize that in the real estate genre there are some unwritten guidelines and being fluid most of the time results in more business and cooler listings

    M. James

  • Sott, do what I do. Take their email and send them a watermarked gallery link. I do most of the time another deal and have them for customers in the future.

    I work with a couple of builders and that’s how I got them…

  • What I’ve been doing for stagers who want my images is asking them to make a contribution to a non profit. It’s a nominal amount and it saves me the hassle of billing them and collecting on a small fee. I tend to get a little indignant if someone assumes they can simply use the photos since I’ve already been paid for them by the realtor. But I do like James’s suggestions about being fluid. It can pay off in future referrals. But not too fluid.

  • M.James,
    So, is you wife a black belt or a lawyer:)

  • The stagers are the most annoying… not all, but most. They are NEVER ready, they ALWAYS change things and walk through the shooting as they’re invisible. Dont you guys love agents/stylists/owners that do changes in a room AFTER you already shot that and they ask you the stupid question.. Oh, you already did that? Can you do it again, please? Or, the one when they are staying in the shot, obviously, and they ask, Am I in the shot?… Sometime, when i dont care to much I just say, No, this camera is so special that takes the shot THROUGH you… hahahaha

  • Larry,

    I’ll bet she’s both. Yeah, I was wondering about that comment. Can she handle a few situations for me?

  • In France the selling contract is rarely exclusive, so other agents and the owner himself often promotes the property too. Since a year that our photos are of good quality, they have been borrowed by other agents twice at my knowledge. The first time we haven’t reacted by lack of legal knowledge. The second we were on the limit but we didn’t use an Huissier de justice to attest the infringement. When sellers grab them directly, it’s more difficult to gain our rights : we want to keep their confidence.

  • In response to Larry’s comment #7 – she is a Type A personality with a streak of Southern Charm and a no frills vocabulary.

    M. James

  • @Larry — I go through a pricing/policy sheet with every new client before the first shoot, then I assume they’re “on board” from that point on. The policy sheet spells out the usage terms, which are also printed on the back of every invoice.

    @ Mark Riebman — Can I suggest a non-profit? It’s called the “Photographers Should Get Paid Foundation” and you’re the main beneficiary.
    Stagers are businesses just like you – they should pay their own way without subsidies from us!

    Just my 2 cents’ worth…

  • Scott,
    I like that. At least make sure they have your policy in writing.

  • Since we are talking legal issues, does anyone have a good “boiler plate” EULA? Perhaps even a few examples of typical policies.


  • Scott,

    One of my problems is knowing the market price on these photos. I’ve had two stagers ask to buy my images and one told me what another popular photographer was asking so I just had to go with that in this case. The donation idea is based on my own giving and saves me the hassle of invoicing.

    On a related subject, I’ve been having some difficulty getting paid recently so I’m changing over to COD for most of my clients. One client was so egregious that I deleted all the photos from the virtual tour I created and told him he was not authorized to use the photos on the mls until I received payment. In this case, the house is still on the market six weeks later so I could do that. I know a lot of businesses have issues with slow and non payments but I’ve never before been in a business where I’m invoicing so much and seeing such a high rate of foot dragging.

  • I hear you! I just decided to do the same thing. I have a credit card authorization form that I have my clients fill out, before their first shoot. They check a box that allows me to keep their credit card number on file so that can I bill their credit card at the time that I deliver their photos. It works alot like when a hotel or rental car company takes your credit card number as a deposit when you make a reservation. It costs me a little more, but I’d rather pay around 1.75% in processing fees instead of having to deal with depositing checks in the bank or deal with sending out “REMINDER” notices on a weekly basis. The level of “foot dragging” is getting to the point of being ridiculous. How angry would your client be if you took two months to get them their photos? We’re often times expected to squeeze in properties on short notice and crank out the final photos and tours by the next morning. And, I’m sure you would agree that it isn’t asking too much to be paid when our work is complete, or at least within 10 days of invoice date (especially when you offer a pay online feature).

  • ‘To the point of being ridiculous’ is exactly the phrase I’d use to describe it. How about a 75-80% foot dragging, beyond two weeks? And I agree, we work really hard to make things go smoothly for them by getting the photos to them fast. As I get busier, I know which realtors I’ll jump through hoops for to get the photos for them or schedule a shoot, and which ones I won’t. But I have started asking for payment at the shoot now, accept for my trusted clients who are prompt. BTW, one of my regular cliens always brings a check to the shoot and sent me a check once, in advance of the shoot.

  • You know, I’ve been really, really lucky on this score — I have had exactly 2 deadbeat clients, one of whom I wanted to “fire” anyway. My best client disappeared for about 5 weeks once, and was in arrears on a shoot, but when she surfaced, she paid the old invoice, the shoot I was doing for her that day, and booked another, paid in advance. So all was forgiven.

    On another note – can I meekly suggest that we move these ongoing discussions over to Flicker, where it’s easier to keep track? A lot of this stuff would be best discussed on the Flicker Photo Business forum, where there are lots of pro photogs with opinions.

  • Yes, you may even ‘boldly’ suggest. Thanks for the link.

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