When you are shooting a home with a view, there's nothing more important to the home owners and listing agent than seeing stunning view through the windows. You want to make the windows look like someone took out the glass!
From a photo editing standpoint what you'd like is have complete control of the interior and the view through the windows independently. Here's how to do that:
- Start out by creating two exposures. One exposed for the windows, and one exposed for the interior. You can do this by either making two separate exposures on a tripod or open a RAW file twice and adjust the exposure once for the windows and once for the interior.
- In Photoshop put the two exposures each on their own layer. Put the window exposure below the interior exposure.
- Now create a selection for the windows. There are a bunch of ways to do this in Photoshop. My favorite is to click on the channels tab in the layer pallet, make a duplicate of the blue channel, and then use curves to increase the contrast of the blue channel. Since we are going to use this blue channel to make a layer mask that will let the outside view show through from below we make the windows white and everything else black. When working with layer masks, "white reveals and black conceals". To make the mask perfect it will require some painting with black and white. How much depends on the particular image and how complicated the window boundary is.
- Next select all the black pixels and in the layer pallet click on the layer mask button. This will let the windows show through.
- You can refine the layer mask more by clicking on it in the layers pallet and painting black and white with a small brush to remove imperfections. If you have trouble with this masking procedure, have a look at my "Sky masking with Photoshop" video. It uses exactly the same technique but is masking the sky instead of the windows.
- Now to fine tune the look further you can put a curves adjustment layer above the window layer and above the interior layer and tinker with the look of each until they have the punch you want.
Why do this instead of using HDR or Enfuse? You'll find that with this technique you can give the windows more punch than with HDR or Enfuse. You can make it look like there's no glass! Just like those view property home owners like. Of course, the trade off is that the making the mask I describe above can take a lot of time. The more plants and objects that are in front of the windows the harder it is. This is probably not something you are going to do on every image in a shoot, just the very best images or the ones to be use on brochures or in high visibility media.