Exposure Fusion/Flash Hybrid – A Secret Weapon For Beginning Real Estate Photographers

October 8th, 2012

After talking to some beginner interior photographers lately I think it is time to recycle some of the old exposure fusion/flash hybrid posts that we’ve done here on PFRE in the last couple of years. Here is why:

  1. While multiple small flashes is without a doubt the way to shoot for optimal results, this is technique is difficult enough that you don’t learn to do it over night. It takes some practice.
  2. Shooting 3, 5 or 9 brackets is pretty easy. And if you process these brackets with Exposure Fusion (using LR/Enfuse, Photomatix or EnfuseGUI) you’ll get pretty good results.
  3. You’ll get even better results (fewer shadows, crisper whites and more accurate colors) if you just use a single on or off-camera flash with a diffuser.
  4. It almost doesn’t matter what you do with the flash, it will improve the results. The fact you are shooting brackets removes a lot of the shadows or errors you tend to make with small flashes.

So my advice to any beginning interior photographer is simply shoot some brackets and add a on or off camera manual flash to one or more of the brackets. You’ll start to get the feel of using and triggering flashes and eventually if you want to go totally small flash either get Scott Hargis’s ebook or video series. In the mean time you can dependably do shoots and deliver very acceptable results with the EF/Flash hybrid technique.

Here is a list of more detailed posts on how to use this EF/Flash hybrid technique:

  1. What is Exposure Fusion?
  2. HDR Pro feature in Lightroom 4.1  — Updated 10/9/2012
  3. Blending Flash and Ambient Frames for The Best of Both Worlds
  4. Shooting Brackets For Exposure Fusion and HDR – Part 1
  5. Shooting Brackets For Exposure Fusion and HDR – Part 2

The last lighting technique poll I did showed that Exposure Fusion/Flash Hybrid is the second most popular shooting technique behind multiple flashes. There’s a reason for this! It works pretty well and it’s easy to learn while you build up to the ultimate technique – multiple off-camera flash.

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6 Responses to “Exposure Fusion/Flash Hybrid – A Secret Weapon For Beginning Real Estate Photographers”

  • This was a great discussion the first time around and continues to be a good discussion. Thanks for rehashing and restoring these great tools.

  • I agree with your advice for beginners to shoot brackets, but also shoot some flash shots. This is how I started. Play around with your flash or multiple flashes if you have them, but also shoot brackets. I’ve ultimately decided to blend my flash shots with HDR or ambient shots. Although many times I just use my flash shots.

  • Photographers like Dan Archatz has made a profession using this technique.

  • I think this discussion needs to be updated with the latest offerings of Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4. I’m sure many people know that you can take multiple brackets, bring them into LR, and then port them over to PS using “merge to HDR PRO”. Within the HDR window that pops up, simply select the 32-bit image option and then save back to LR. Now LR has an extra 3-4 stops of adjustment to work with to edit the picture with. No more dealing with the HDR tone mapping or fusion effects.

    I’m wondering if anyone is using this technique successfully for their interior photos. I’m marketing now and haven’t lined up any customers yet but curious to know the experience of others. I still plan to use flash (I have 3 with pocket wizards) but if there is ever a situation I just can’t seem to get to work right with my 3 units, there’s always the multiple bracket route.

    Thanks for bringing this back up again Larry!

  • @Rich- Excellent point! Thanks for bringing that up. I did a post on HDR Pro back in June (See: and should have included it in the list.

  • I pretty much built my business on this approach and while it does take a little extra time, the results are well worth it. Reading back on the original post its interesting to see how my own approach has evolved. The primary difference is that I have become comfortable enough with multiple strobes that I only use this on the money shots and shots that would otherwise just take too long to perfect on site. Its good to see others are getting some mileage out of this technique.

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