Monthly Archives: August 2009

HDR in Real Estate Photography – Part III

Back in Part II, I mentioned that Part III was the place to impart to you the right & wrongs of HDR.  How could there be wrongs?

Well funnily enough it’s actually the same sort of thought patterns that pursues thru the vein of these people here, that make that a lay down misère” for others who would like to make a quick gain.

In Real Estate Photography, just exactly how much HDR is too much?

Well, candidly there are certainly levels of tolerance. Rather than rave on, I’ll cut to the chase.

Above and below are quite possibly too much.

Whether you as an Agent or Realtor believe that it shows the property to its “best side” is irrelevant, because those ultimately judging the photos are the buyers, and at the very least you want them to be interested in the property enough to organize a viewing.

Needless to say I don’t believe today’s market is the place to have such a “cute” photo. It’s just that you run the risk of alienating a section of the populace.

Can you tell if a shot has been HDR’d?

Yes, but as they say, ………..at the end of the day, does it matter?

Take my latest listing above (it’s already got an offer above the asking price and it’s only been advertised on the net and amongst agents/registered buyers….Hmmmm maybe that’s telling me something? – Robert Simeon would certainly have some thoughts on my curiosity here ) if you look closer at the photo you will notice a tell-tale sign  a slight “halo” effect – produced mainly on border areas, note the roof line where it meets the sky.

Then look also at this Open2View shot that Ross pointed to here where he talked about the leather sofa.

To save you having to find it, click here for my reply.

Normal 35mm, yes the old school stuff, can generally display a wider range than digital, but the gap is narrowing.

Some cameras released recently have advertised the fact they have up to a 12 EV range. And it’s no doubt that CCD / CMOS technology will soon pass this in some shape or form. If Sony are already previewing 2TB memory stick’s, just  ask yourself?

But when its properly applied to Real Estate photos……..

like these Queenstown ones, then you can easily see

the benefits, and more importantly so can a buyer.

Although some photos depend just as much on “timing,”

So you work as a Realtor and just want to take better photos. Thats great because thats exactly what the client wants too, not the sort of UNCOLLECTABLE or just plain bad real estate photo’s I have been assembling over at this website.

And I hate to admit it, but scanning some recent listings on Australian RE Portals, I struggled to find heaps of bad examples of Real Estate photography. Looking here, well thats where most of the UNCOLLECTABLE ones come from, theres food daily.

I think it would be grand if you went on a NZ property portal and didn’t find a bad property photo.

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HDR in Real Estate Photography – Part II

In Part II I said I’d explain more about what you can do to experiment with this technique.

[ CAUTION – some images in todays post may take some time to load ]

Just in case you haven’t heard the term before, HDR is a technique that I have been using for the last three and a half years, and we have just seen at retail the first camera introduced, that does the previously, time consuming process, full blown – real time – in camera – certainly a wow moment in photography, even if the purists won’t admit it!

If you are a Photoshop whiz then between layers, blends, etc you already know what you are doing…..but if you are not a Photoshop whiz like me, then you, like me, need all the help we can get.

Some of the many programs available offer trial downloads, like three of the most popular ones below.

Dynamic HDR, more here.

Photomatrix, more here.

Artizen HDR, more here.

There are others, and surely there will be more. I stand to be corrected, but I believe many of the major imaging software players out there, Adobe, Corel, ACDsee, etc actually have a HDR selection in their latest programs/menus.

As well as these above retail products there are actually a few freebies you can try out. Support is usually limited but hey, you might just find you have a knack for it, and that it comes easy to you.

Qtpfsgui

Picturenaut

FDRTools Basic

Essential HDRTM

The person who benefits most is the vendor who now sees that the agent / realtor has added that little “extra” to ordinary. As a consequence you reinforce to a vendor that you take your task professionally, especially when compared to the “one snap & run” jockeys out there.

Part one of the process is the blending of, usually, multiple images and part 2 is the actual Tone Mapping that ultimately creates the final finished product.

IMAGE CREDIT – VGM8383

(Original of above shot here so you can compare)

Some go overboard with the Tone Mapping…..

ABOVE PHOTO © Jean-Michel Priaux (flickr gallery here)

some just attempt to add that creative feel,

and others go for the artistic

or that painting type of look (this chap above is good – more of his work here )

Ultimately it’s a personal decision whether you like it or not, kind of like the same feeling you get when seeing the colour of a kitchen or bathroom for the first time when visiting Open Homes.

Here’s another look at some HDR photos. And here are one & another of the most featured HDR photos ever.

In Part III I’ll finish off and point out some rights and wrongs about HDR.

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HDR in Real Estate Photography – Part I

Local, ex Dutch Harbour (yes, of the Deadliest Catch Alaskan Crab kind) Nelson photographer, Glen Bisdee says “Make First Impressions Count.”

Glen also tells me that after a few weeks on the boats (a 3mth on / 3 mth off type of arrangement) that a 3-4 hr sleep feels just as satisfying as a 10-12hr one on land in normal circumstances, and that by the time the 2 ½ month timeframe comes around the body starts to ache in places you didn’t even know could ……signaling a break would be good “real soon.”

Personally I’ve always remember being told once “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Both quite similar and in reality allude to the same intention.

And that intention should be uppermost in anyone’s mind when it comes to the photography of Real Estate. In Real Estate it’s so important to get this right before the marketing commences.

HDR is an acronym for High Dynamic Range.

A quick primer here.

The human eye is generally known to see at first glance a range around 10 EV, but with adaption up to 20 EV. By adaption I’m talking about a human eye’s ability to cope with a wide range of luminance’s. Look……others explain it a bit better than me here, here & here.

Or put another way by a photographer, in what I’d call plain english terms very well here…

The -entire- range of the human eye is quite large, as you say. In a pitch black room, you can see the tiniest light. Likewise, you can adapt to very bright light. But you cannot see that entire range all at once. At any given average lightlevel, you can only see about 3 or 4 stops on either side of the average. Think of it like this: lay a one foot ruler next to a yard-stick. You can move that rulers anywhere along the yard stick, but at any given time, you’re still only at 12 inches, whether is 1-12 or 24-36.

As a quick example, I’ll use my latest listing this week to illustrate.

From a series of 9 bracketed photos taken with my Nikon D200, here are the brightest and darkest shots taken.

From the bracketed photos I take what I feel is the best three slanted/biased to continue with, these three.

After HDR and some post processing, we have…..this

The large amount of blue sky, well its Nelson isn’t it? Actually it also helps for a new listing because their is ample space in advertising parlance to place the “NEW LISTING” tag without it getting in the way of any features of the property. Ans secondly even once that NEW LISTING tag goes up, there is still heaps of “experience” in the remaining detail. In other words it doesn’t detract from the photo.

On the day in question speed was of the essence to get the listing up onto the web, and as the weather was forecast to be inclement later in the day, I decided that even though the light wasn’t perfect that morning, “nows good.”

Your thoughts?

Now it’s not exactly cheating, the sun was out and it was a beautiful typical Nelson “near spring” day. Other than what I have seen some “retouchers” do, those are the REAL clouds you see too.

Cheating is when a photographer tries to remove power lines, TV aerials, etc and rightly so, this is not tolerated by the authorities for Real Estate photography in NZ.

It’s just that, courtesy of the suns angle, and with many homes having eaves, the range of shadows to highlights can be extreme, and often doesn’t show a property “as you remembered it” when taking the photo. In Part II I explain more about what you can do to experiment with this technique.

NB – due to the complexities of colour shifting when resaving / optimizing HDR JPEG images some photos may look very different than your finished image once loaded up on to Real Estate portal. Often the portal has its own software that will resize / reframe / rejig your photo, and so its sometimes a case of experimenting here. Even the expense a full blown colour calibrator probably wouldn’t assist in this.

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A better mouse trap – from Nelson

Well actualy a Reverse-Bait Trigger Rat Trap developed in Nelson.

Only someone determined to look after & foster the environment could design a Reverse-Bait TriggerTM Rat Trap.

From Ka Mate’s own website comes this description of its founder, Nelsonian Bruce Thomas…..

Bruce retired in 2007 after a 39 year career in ecological and conservation science, with DSIR Ecology Division and Landcare Research; researching, reporting and publishing in a variety of fields such as environmental survey, herpetology, ornithology, entomology and Antarctic research. He is probably best known for his ground-breaking work with Rowley Taylor in eco-restoration of islands and the development of ground-based rat eradication techniques, particularly Breaksea Island, the first large-scale rat eradication campaign achieved.

Their experience has manifested itself in the benefits here, notable is the mention of ease of deployment by field workers, important in a country with the terrain we have.

One of the charitable projects that Ka Mate have embarked on is Nelson’s own …

The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary is a community based project and its aim is to provide a mainland based “pest-free” environment into which will reside some of NZ’s unique birds and reptiles. When finished, the sanctuary will be surrounded by 14km of “pest free fencing” with the ultimate goal to have an “oasis” where members of the public can view these animals in almost their natural habitat, and the animals themselves can flourish again in safety.

Currently one of the more successful ways that NZ has found to regenerate species has been by utilizing remote offshore islands, thereby ensuring control over predators but meaning the public doesn’t get to share directly in the joy / personal  interaction with them.

Late last year the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary hosted a “Meet the Chicks” event at which 6.5% of the planets population of Kakapo chicks, an endangered species in NZ, were on display.

Around this time in conjunction Ka Mate, the sanctuary were delighted to share in the launch of the new pest control system developed by local Nelsonian Bruce Thomas.

The system uses an innovative reverse triggering system which the company has applied first to rat traps. Bruce and Pam Thomas very generously donated $5, 500 worth of traps and associated tunnels to the Sanctuary on the day, together with a donation for each trap sold. As a result the Sanctuary has over 100 Ka Mate traps in the forest right now to enhance vermin control.

So as you can see we not only love our environment but locals are constantly doing thing to improve it.

SOURCE – www.kamatetraps.com and www.brooksanctuary.org