HDR for Real Estate Photography


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HDR has many applications beyond landscape photography. I recently put my Photomatix skills to use on some real estate photos and was quite pleased with the results!

A single RAW image can only do so much

You might be asking why you should go through the trouble of HDR for real estate photography – the answer is that most interiors show best with lots of light, meaning curtains open. This leads to a lot of bright and dark areas that your camera simply cannot capture in one frame. Check out this “normal” exposure, straight out of the camera:

Photomatix Pro for Real Estate Photography | Single Median Exposure
Single Median Exposure

Notice that the details are blown out in the window and there are many dark shadow areas. Certainly, if you are shooting RAW you can bring out a few of the highlight/shadow details in Lightroom; however, there is no detail in much of the window. A single RAW frame can only go so far.

Creating Natural Results with Photomatix Pro

I captured eleven frames of this scene to make sure I had detail in all highlight and shadow areas. Instead of using the typical Tone Mapping process, I opted for Exposure Fusion. The folks over at HDRSoft have put together some great settings specifically for real estate photography/interiors!

Screen Shot | Exposure Fusion | Photomatix Pro

For interiors, check out the Fusion/Interior setting. Most often I went with the method defaults and then made my final adjustments in Lightroom. Easy peasy!

Fusion HDR | Photomatix Pro | Interiors | Screen Shot

For exteriors, I like the results I got from the Fusion/Natural setting. Again, I made minimal adjustments in Photomatix before returning to Lightroom for final adjustments.

Fusion HDR | Photomatix Pro | Natural Exteriors

Let’s Compare, shall we?

Tone Mapping Default Screenshot | Photomatix Pro

The Tone Mapping default is much better than the single exposure, but a bit “crunchy” with unnatural colors and shading.

Exposure Fusion | Fusion Natural Default | Photomatix Pro

By switching to Exposure Fusion (Fusion/Natural – default setting) the result is better – more even lighting, but we lost some detail in the window

Exposure Fusion | Fusion Interior Default in Photomatix Pro

With Exposure Fusion (Fusion/Interior) we get the best result! Natural looking lighting, color, and detail.

After Photomatix Pro | Exposure Fusion Interior | Real Estate Photography
The final image after few final adjustments in Lightroom for contrast/sharpening.

Photomatix Pro is a very powerful program that goes beyond the crunchy, stereotypical HDR! If you haven’t tired it in awhile, I encourage you to take a few multi-exposure shots and play! Make sure you check out the Exposure Fusion settings. If you were burned out on the overdone look of tone mapped images, you might become re-enamored with HDR! Don’t forget to enter “angandrieux” at checkout for an additional 15% off your Photomatix purchase!

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