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A Success Story For Manual Bracketing and Exposure Fusion

Published: 23/10/2012
By: larry

Eric Hilton in Sarasota, FL sent me the examples to the right shortly after my post on A Simple Way to Shoot Exactly The Right Brackets for Exposure Fusion. Eric says:

Yesterday I had a shoot of a home that I was told faces east, (which the realtor never checked) and was requested to be there at 9AM. When I arrived the home was facing west, and the sun was behind the house and shinning directly into my camera. I felt like I was totally screwed as I thought it was the worst case lighting I could think of.

I added my -2 stop graduated filter and fill flash, but I couldn’t over power the sun and the house still looked terrible. I then tried shooting manually bracketed 8 exposures 1 stop apart (as described in the post) and used LR/Enfuse to process.

Afterwards, I brought it into the new ACDSee pro 6 and tweaked the image. This technique truly saved the shoot, my butt and gave me an acceptable image, which I thought looked quite good for this situation.

Great success story Eric! I don't usually think of manual bracketing and EF processing as a solution for controlling super bright outside shots but it makes sense. Good job of being innovative and rising to the occasion.

13 comments on “A Success Story For Manual Bracketing and Exposure Fusion”

  1. Are the pictures to the right supposed to be a before and after comparison? The above shot was before the photographer used ACDSee pro 6 and the lower shot is his final after using ACDSee pro 6? If so, I don't buy it. The camera elevation of the above shot is higher than the lower and the shadow on the driveway tells that the second shot was taken hours from the time of the upper photo.

  2. Hi NWRE, yes, that is correct. The first image I shot about 9:35 and realized i was totally screwed. I decided to shoot the inside and back of the home very slowly in hope that the sun would move in a more favorable attitude. When I completed the interiors and back of the home, I tried to re-shoot the front again and hope the sun would be better. It was slightly higher but still directly behind the house coming straight into the camera. I decided to come back the next day, as i had another shoot to do. Instead (at 10:59am about 1.5 hrs after the first shot) I raised the camera (while standing on a 4 foot ladder)and placed a 2 stop graduated ND filter on my lens, (which I always carry) and a lens shade. but the sun was still shining in the lens. I then took my 32"round reflector and held it over the lens as a gobo to keep the sun from hitting the lens and cutting out the lens flare. I then did my 8- 1 stop exposures to cover all my dynamic range. When I got home, I downloaded the images into ACDSee Pro6, and uploaded them into L/R Enfuse which created the HDR fused image. This still needed some tweaking, which I did in ACDSee Pro 6. ACDSee Pro 6 is a upgraded version of their older PC software (not for the MAC yet). it has been a great quick editing program that renders excelent results with real estate photos.

  3. It's so easy to look a property up on Google Maps prior to arrival to get "The Lay of the Land". It's part of my pre-planning that I do prior to every shoot...

  4. Thanks Rick, I use Google all the time, but mostly just for driving directions, since my GPS doesn’t always find a location.. I never think of using Google maps for home orientation. When I book a shoot, one of the first questions I ask an agent, is which way the front of the house is facing, so I know whether it’s a morning or afternoon shoot. This agent told me east, so I never checked. But now, I will. Thanks for the advice

  5. I downloaded an Iphone application called LightTrac and it's been a blessing ( You can plug in the location address and request to schedule the shoot for a time that will work best for the property, or prepare for lighting situations out of your control.

  6. I always type the address into our GIS online so I can see the lot and the way the house sits on the lot. It is easy to see when it should be photographed. I do this while agent is on the phone with me so I can make sure it is right... Now those North facing homes in the winter...

  7. Next time think twice before accepting an appointment at any hour without checking where the house faces. Not very professional.
    Nevertheless great technic. The image turned acceptable but really nothing special or appealing. It could look much better if you took it in another hour.
    Real estate agents are not professional photographers and don't need to known what hour is the best to shoot. That is why you are all hired for.

  8. Always good to do your own map check! I've discovered that many of the agents I work for have no sense of direction.

    +1 on the TPE (The Photographers Ephemeris) recommendation. I use it all the time and love it.

  9. Great job on the photo! You got stuck by the agent and you still made it happen. We can appreciate your work but I am sure your agent is clueless! They don't know what we go through to get quality shots.


  10. Great job on what looked like a hard to do shoot. Some would have just made do with what they could accomplish on camera. This is a situation where bracketing and fusion worked really well and "saved your butt".

  11. Eric, I don't mean to beat a dead horse but I trust you now see it is not up to the realtor to know your subject, you are responsible for that. Google maps and lighttrac are both tools I use even in the quote or proposal stage as it may become the difference in making two trips or one.

    Another help Eric may be that due to the geographic area that you in, if you are at all able, try shooting during the Fall and winter months between the window of 10AM and 2PM as you will have more control over the sunlight. Just a suggestion from a fellow Floridian photographer.

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