Technology has come a long way since the dawn of the first film camera. In 1888 we had finally achieved a way to capture a moment on a piece of paper that could stand the test of time and be admired in history for many years to come. Throughout the years we have achieved many milestones in photography that allowed us to progress from the film camera to the smartphone. Even though camera technology has substantially progressed since the advent of the first camera, it still does not begin to compare to the wonders of the human eye.
Professional property photographers and videographers will always refer to the dynamic range of an image as the first step used to measure its quality. The word dynamic range represents the range of light intensity between the darkest and brightest point in an image. The dynamic range of the human eye is nearly double that of most digital cameras today. Smartphones have come close by processing images with their advanced image processing algorithms, however, they just fall short of the mark when capturing photos of interior spaces with mixed lighting.
Below we discuss the 4 different types of real estate photography to allow you to choose the best option when searching for a property photographer.
Single Exposure / Photo
This technique is often used by photographers who are new to property photography. It is the easiest technique as it only requires that the photographer capture one image of a space. Limited editing is usually applied to these photos. Due to this, the dynamic range of the image is very poor and often leads to the view outside of the window disappearing.
- Fastest time spent on location
- Fastest time spent editing
- Fastest turnaround time
- Inaccurate colours
- No window views
- Areas of the image are either too bright or too dark
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
HDR is the most widely used photography method in real estate. The process generally involves the photographer capturing between 3 - 5 images of a space at different exposures/lighting levels by adjusting camera settings to capture one dark photo, one standard photo and one bright photo and combining them using special computer software. The software blends the best parts of the dark photo with the best parts of the light photos to create a photo with an even exposure with increased dynamic range. This allows the viewer to see the interior space without sacrificing too much of the view.
Because cameras also fail to see colours as we do often leaving the interior lights on while using this method could cause a range of strange colours to be displayed on the final image. This is especially true when the light bulbs in the space are of different colour temperatures i.e. warm white, cool white, daylight.
- Minimal time spent on location
- Minimal time spent editing
- Fast-turnaround time
- High dynamic range allows you to partially see the window view and interior
- Works well on bright interiors
- Inconsistent results
- Poor colour accuracy
- Can display haloing around objects
- Exaggerated colours when turning on interior lights
- Does not work well on dark interiors with a bright window
This kind of photography is often adopted by photographers who are looking to deliver a better end product. The process involves attaching a flash / speedlight to the top of the camera and directing the light from the flash to the ceiling to brighten the scene. This lets the photographer balance the inside and outside lighting levels to allow the viewer to see the interior of the space without degrading the view.
- Reasonably fast time spent on location
- Fairly easy and quick editing
- Quick turnaround time
- Allows you to see window views most of the time
- Works well for small rooms
- Does not work well in large rooms
- Can often make it seems as if a large room is 2 different colours as the flash right does not reach the far end of the room
- The glare of the flash will show up in windows, glass doors, polished surfaces and shiny metals
- Unnatural shadows and lighting direction caused by the flash
- Uneven lighting levels in long narrow spaces.
Flambient / Exposure Fusion (Flash Ambient Blend)
Flambient or exposure fusion is a technique used by professional photographers to create editorial quality images. This technique is the closest any photographer will get to producing images with a dynamic range close to that of the human eye. It involves capturing multiple images often 1 single exposure as described above, 1 flash exposure and one photo of the window view. These exposures are manually combined to create the most realistic representation of a space.
- Editorial quality images
- Perfect window views when done properly
- Smooth transition between shadows and highlights
- Near perfect colour accuracy
- Longer time required on location
- Longer time required to process the images
- Slightly longer turnaround times
- Requires advanced editing skills which are often learnt over many years with lots of trial and error