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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:
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!
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!
Let’s Compare, shall we?
The Tone Mapping default is much better than the single exposure, but a bit “crunchy” with unnatural colors and shading.
By switching to Exposure Fusion (Fusion/Natural – default setting) the result is better – more even lighting, but we lost some detail in the window
With Exposure Fusion (Fusion/Interior) we get the best result! Natural looking lighting, color, and detail.
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!