I recently got an email from Atticfire that reminded me that I haven't mentioned them for a while. I first discovered the Atticfire and did a post on it back in Oct of 2007. Since that time participants in the PFRE discussion group managed to reverse engineer how the Atticfire team creates the dramatic effect in their images.
Back in 2007 I pestered Eric Prine (an Atticfire principle) to tell me what they were doing to get this dramatic look (he of course declined).
I find it interesting that many real estate photographers find the dramatic Atticfire style "over the top" while some find it dazzling and want to use it on it on their photos.
How do you create dramatic images like this? The consensus of the PFRE discussion group is that Atticfire uses Photoshop layering and "image harvesting". This technique is presented in Vincent Versace's book Welcome to Oz: A Cinematic Approach to Digital Still Photography with Photoshop. Once you read through Vincent's book you immediately say to yourself, "oh ya, I see what they are doing".
As many have pointed in the past, this is NOT a technique appropiate for an average real estate shoot where you've committed to deliver 10 to 20 photos in 12 to 24 hours! Shooting and post processing these images takes waaay more time any real estate agents are willing to pay for! This stuff is high-end home art, not real estate photography!
I think the big message for real estate and interior photographers is that this whether you personally like the look or not, this dramatic Atticfire style is very popular with high-end home owners and celebrities. If you don't believe me check out this Feb 2008 article in the NYtimes article that features Atticfire right along with Julius Shulman.
I keep bringing Atticfire up as an example because this kind of work is one direction that a real estate photographer can grow towards. It's an example that there is a high end market for high quality work. This the kind of work that Andy Fame, who I featured back in Dec has successfully moved into. Hopefully the Atticfire site will be an inspiration to other real estate photographers that want to move in that direction.