What Lighting Technique Do You Use For Real Estate Photography?

July 7th, 2011

Since I’ve been working on updating my Photography For Real Estate eBook I’ve been thinking about the changes that have been going on in real estate photography lighting the last few years. Back in 2008 I did a poll of what lighting techniques real estate photographers were using. That poll (the 6 poll down on the Polls page) doesn’t even have some of the techniques that have become popular in the last few years.

My impression from talking to real estate photographers is that at least the following changes have occured:

  1. There has been a big increase in the use of multiple off camera manual flash.
  2. There has been a shift from HDR to Exposure Fusion.
  3. There has been a movement to hybrid techniques combining HDR/EF and flash.

So I think it would be a great time to start a new improved poll that covers everything people are doing.

Thanks for your participation!

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4 Responses to “What Lighting Technique Do You Use For Real Estate Photography?”

  • When I first started shooting real estate photography, I was an industrial photographer who was use to shooting multiple lighting using Elinchrom 500wt monolights and pocket wizards.

    After realizing how little realtors wanted to spend and how little you make on this photography, I used only one mono light bounced off a back wall or ceiling. Later I downsized using just one light on camera, bounced backwards onto a 32” white Flex fill reflector, which worked fine for most work except bright windows in the scene or mirror.

    Now, I invested in the new pocket wizard Flex TT5 for my D-300 Nikon, but use it on manual flash. I place a speed light on my camera, bounced, and use a second speed light (in manual) on a stand with a diffuser dome to light an adjacent room or dark area. I also try to take custom color balance readings from my lightdisc. The Nikon D-300 (same with my D-700) does strange things with color balance. When I set the color to daylight or auto balance and use a Nikon flash (using a PC cord) the color looks fine. But, when I place the same Nikon flash in the hot shoe and turn on the flash, the images shift to a yellow cast. Nikon can not tell me why.

    I am still in a testing mode and need to find the quickest and efficient lighting method for the amount of compensation for the shoot. I wish Nikon would come out with an SLR that does in-camera HDR.
    Many of my realtors are buying better cameras (some point and shoot now do HDR in camera) and shooting their own properties. But, I can offer something they can’t do; I can shoot homes from about 40 feet in the air with my pneumatic 12 meter mast and radio trigger.

  • I think we’ll see an even bigger shift toward flash-only and flash+fusion lighting over the next few years. The colors that CFLs and FLs put out (magenta/green), plus tungsten (orange), plus daylight (blue), can make an all-ambient exposure look like a disco pretty quickly.

  • @eric,

    The Nikon 5100 does HDR in camera. My better half bought one last weekend but she’s not had a lot of time to tinker with the HDR stuff yet so I can’t speak to it’s image quality.

  • Why do real estate photographers turn lights on in the house they are promoting, personally, I think it distracts from the features of the house on offer, what do you think??????????????????

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