HDR Real Estate Photography

HDR Real Estate Photography

HDR real estate photography is a photographic technique for architectural and interior photos that make photos vivid and clear. High Dynamic Range allows you to fuse divergent exposures, photos of the particular location captured at contrasting shutter speeds into a compositive image comprised of the best light information of each exposure.

hdr real estate photography

Let’s find out how to create it on your camera, in Photoshop and Lightroom, and define the differences between HDR and Flash photography.

HDR Real Estate Photography Tips

Look though the following tips to take professional HDR interior and exterior photos from the first try.

Tripod Is Necessary

A tripod is a must in your real estate photography gear set. It helps you make all photos without any blurring, shot at even quite long shutter speeds, seize the whole dynamic range of the object, take different exposures and make each frame identic to others.

Differentiate a Single Exposure and HDR

hdr photography

Sometimes one flash may give way more, but it is far from a true HDR picture. Using interior photography lighting techniques even from the “raw’ material you may receive overexposed, neutral or underexposed photos and then unite them into a single HDR photo, but it is not the same thing as making individual pictures.

Is it so you may wonder? Obviously! If you shot one and the same exposure, using a given number of settings, you are tracking data within the framework of the set range. File post-processing is not important as the data get by the camera remains stable. What you really change is the mode how the data is lead into the picture.

According to my personal experience, when 3 or more photos are captured at various exposure value, they have different data levels, which give you a space for creation. In such a way, you may get a real HDR photo. The larger number of images means the bigger amount of data at the disposal.

Decide Do You Really Need HDR?

real estate hdr workflow real estate hdr workflow
 
Get Real Estate Photo Editing

From the definition, we know that HDR means “high dynamic range”. That’s why if you take photos with fairly even lighting you don’t really need it. The camera itself is capable of getting enough shadows and highlights in order to create a great photo just from a single exposure.

Moreover, if you intend to photograph shifting objects or moving humans – don’t get upset if you fail. The HDR photography is useless enough in this case.

Don’t Be Greedy and Buy a Top-Quality Software

hdr photography tutorial

Once you follow the interior photography tips and techniques and get the piled set of photos, you wish to merge them together as smoothly and professionally as possible. There are so many cool programs which can become useful for this purpose.

Personally, I advise Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro or Photomatix Pro. Both variants are very easy to use. It is possible to find other free alternatives on the Internet, but as experience shows the quality of tone mapping they provide is rather poor and can spoil the whole work.

Remember, neither interior photography camera settings nor the best flash diffusers for real estate photography can replace the tone mapping process. It is done in an algorithmic manner, so if the software possesses very powerful algorithms, your results will be much more astonishing.

Make ISO Low

camera settings for real estate photos

During HDR processes the noise may become intensified and reveal itself in shadows and highlights. If you want your HDR images to be the best and have great clean lines and only a few shortages, keep the ISO low-down.

Save Photos in RAW

shooting real estate photography

HDR technology aims to demonstrate the max number of data from one exposure. As a consequence, you need to set the real estate photography flash setup and increase the image data in every exposure. To achieve this, always photograph at the highest quality setting and use the top-quality file type for your computer to edit photos further (RAW/TIFF).

Use Camera’s Histogram

For most interior photography jobs, HDR style is compulsory. Still, if you are not sure if you need it – look at the histogram in your camera. If you try to capture the image and notice a visible clipping at the histogram’s end – be sure that the data happen to get lost in either the shadows or the highlights of the picture.

To improve this, copy the necessary number of exposures to ensure that you will have the equable peak balance across the total diapason of exposures. In such a way, there is the image data for all the frame areas.

HDR Real Estate Photography FAQ:

I often hear the same questions about HDR photographing. That's why I created this list of the most frequently asked questions and tried to answer them in as much detailed way as possible.

1) What is HDR real estate photography definition?

hdr interior photography

HDR stands for high dynamic range, which is generally the difference between the “lightest” light and the “darkest” dark that can be captured in the photo. So, it is a specific way of creating the photo, incorporating a variety of exposures. As a result, a photographer gets the combined photo.

2) What are the advantages of HDR real estate photography over the regular one?

HDR method enables the photographers to reproduce the observed things mainly as people perceive them. As a result, the rooms won’t lose their vibrancy, the windows will preserve the contours and the dark spots will be present according to real estate photography lighting rules.

3) Is it appropriate for all properties?

Of course, if you take photos of a hollow place, which shows blank interiors, even the proper real estate photography lighting setup will be of a little use. The same effect you may get even with common techniques. You will notice some results if the building has some lighting or color, so HDR can enforce it. Another variant is connected with exterior photography, when technologies may be applied to outside part.

4) In what situations is HDR inappropriate for my job?

There are few options. These are the color pallet has neutral shades, there is no furniture in the room, the scene out the window is not notable.

5) Why is the HDR interior photography pricing?

This type of photography is known to cost more. This happens because of the extra time required and usage of best HDR software for real estate photography, which is expensive and demands some professional skills. It may seem unrealistic, but even a single HDR photo requires a photographer to spend at least a quarter of hour extra on editing. On the other hand, you won’t regret it when you see the final images of a wonderful house.

6) Most of the HDR photos are of a cartoon-style. Is this true for each picture made with this technique?

real estate photography for beginners

It is pretty clear, that every photographer has his own unique style. You may create “extreme HDR” photos, which really resemble cartoons and have very few realistic features. Still, they are the perfect for artistic purpose.

Personally, I prefer my works to be more toned down. As the interior photography is used for its intended purposes, every photographer is aimed to show the properties as natural as they are.

7) Is it possible to convert a grubby and disordered place into an attractive location?

It is not a “photo-magician”, that can replace all the shortfalls with his magic wand. Ugly, dull place will still look the same.

Real Estate Photography HDR Vs Flash

Even professional photographers cannot exactly answer the question what is better for real estate photography – flash or HDR. Both techniques can result in cool photos.

HDR Photography

real estate photography hdr vs flash
Pros+
  • Higher dynamic range
  • Enhance textures via 'micro contrast' (local contrast)
  • There are apps that do photo editing
Cons-
  • Halos
  • The look is a bit derivative
  • Increases noise
  • Reduced (and often no) color accuracy
 

It is much more convenient to take a camera and a tripod, focus on the image and press the necessary button. Luckily, modern digital cameras have a bracketing option. In such a way, a number of different exposures (3-4) are recorded thanks to the default settings.

Flash Photography

hdr with flash
Pros+
  • Absolute control of the lighting
  • Can be used in rainy days
  • Ability to use lower ISO, decreasing overall image noise
Cons-
  • Extra gear
  • It can be expensive
  • Steeper learning and experience are required
 

This method of shooting is less time-consuming but requires you to have some knowledge of the use of flashes, however, photo editing will be slightly easier than using the HDR method.

In case you can’t work with speedlights and want to explore new technique of capturing real estate, work hard to learn the HDR method.

Best HDR Software for Real Estate Photography

To help you navigate among the best HDR software for real estate photography, I have prepared a brief description of three popular options.

Adobe Photoshop CC

real estate hdr photoshop real estate hdr photoshop
 
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Pros+
  • Unlimited picture editing options
  • An integrated stock library
  • Many tutorials
  • Compatible with various image formats
Cons-
  • Paid subscription
 

If you choose Adobe CC, then as part of the Photography Plan you get two powerful titans in the field of photo editing - Lightroom and Photoshop. Together they are an incredibly effective tandem.

If you are engaged in real estate photography, then you will certainly appreciate the wide selection of photo editing tools provided by Adobe products. Adobe does not contain automated tools to speed up HDR photo editing but you can do everything on your own.

Photomatix Pro 6

photomatix pro 6 real estate photomatix pro 6 real estate
 
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Pros+
  • Special tools for tone mapping
  • Natural and realistic HDR
  • Batch photo editing for HDR time-lapse
Cons-
  • You should be very attentive to avoid unnatural HDR look
  • RAW output isn’t available
 

This is a good program for HDR real estate photography as it contains some features that are especially important for this type of images. Photomatix Pro contains several useful presets that will help you create amazing HDR photos.

You can easily mix rendered pictures with source files. For these purposes, you can use two presets – ‘Interior’ and ‘Interior 2’. HDRSoft team designed them specifically for HDR real estate (interior) photography.

Aurora HDR

aurora hdr interiors aurora hdr interiors
 
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Pros+
  • User-friendly interface
  • Works well with Lightroom or Photoshop
Cons-
  • Quite expensive
 

The intuitive interface is one of the undoubted advantages of Aurora. The improved responsiveness and overall speed that can be noticed in the new version of this software make it a good app for HDR photo editing. You may view images in real time. It will be easier for you to control all steps during photo post-processing.

FREEBIES for HDR Real Estate Photography Editing

To provide customers with HDR-style photos, sometimes it is not necessary to use certain camera settings or a special software. Try using these FREE presets to achieve stunning results.

Free Lr Preset "Contrast"


This filter will add a bit of grungy look to your photos and increase contrast. Your real estate shots will gain some volume and depth. Make your pictures sparkle in a new way with this preset.

Free Lr Preset "HDR"


If you need to highlight details in darken or too light areas of the photo, then you should try this HDR real estate photography preset.

Shadows will be much brighter. It also affects the contrast and brightness of the details and increases the saturation of colors.

Free Lr Preset "Soft HDR"


By making subtle changes to the image settings, this filter gives amazing results. Colors and tints remain unaffected, and the details of the image are clearly visible.

However, be careful because this filter can increase the sharpness at the edges of the photo.


Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments. read more