How to Photograph Large Windows - Real Estate Photography

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    Many real estate agents still like to photograph their own listings Geocentric Productions, Inc. would like to help make your image the best it can be and provide you with some insight that we have learned in photographing over 60 thousand homes. 

    Geocentric  has passionately  photographed homes for over 23 years now, so we clearly know how to do it well.  We also understand that all homes deserve to have great photos. The photos take are a big part of your Image as a Real Estate Agent.   Today more than ever your image surely matters.  This will be the first in a series of hopefully many pointers we have learned over the years.

Incorrect Window Exposure Photographing a Room with a Large Window

This has always been a challenge for many agents. However with the right knowledge and understanding, it can be less of a challenge. There are three methods in this series to help you capture a photo of a room correctly. 

First we need to Understand what makes this photo a challenge

The dynamic range of the human eye is able to see many more shades from light to dark than a camera sensor or film. On your camera you have a f-stops setting this may be in a menu or on the lens itself but all of today's cameras will have a setting for f-stops. With out getting overly complex in our explanation each f-stop or stop increases the amount of light allow to reach the film or digital sensor. 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22 32 45 64  are all common stops.  Each time you increase the setting by one stop the lens will allow double the amount of light to reach the film or digital sensor and each time you decrease the stop you allow 1/2 the amount of light to reach the film or digital sensor. 

EyeHuman Eye and the photograph

The human eye is able to see as much as 24 stops difference in light, however a high end digital camera is able to record only 14 stops difference in light and a cell phone will have less than a 9 stop difference in its ability to capture light. As you can see there is large difference in the dynamic range that your eye see's and what a camera can record. This becomes even larger when we consider that each stop is twice the amount of light and there is at least a 10 stop difference in what we see and what we can record. 

Not only does the Human Eye and Camera see a scene differently, but each computer screen and printer has limitations also, so even when your camera is able to capture a full range of light from the brightest brights to the darkest dark's in a scene you may not see the entire spectrum on your computer screen or be able to print  it out just as you saw it. 

How to overcome the limitations.

Although there are many ways to accomplish the task of compressing the dynamic range in a given scene. I would like to cover just  three each one very possible to do even for the most inexperienced photographer and when combined will help you in almost any dark room situation. 

  1. WindowExposureCorrectSelect, and Re Compose

    I find this to be one of the quicker and easier methods as your photographing a room, it does not require any additional equipment and no pre-shoot set up is required. 

    Every cameras shutter release (The button you press to take the photo) has two positions pressing the shutter down slightly will lock in the exposure settings (both F-Stop and Shutter Speed and on digital cameras also the white balance is set at this time) and focus is also set at this time. Normally there will be a beep of some sort indicating that the settings are now locked in. Although some may have deactivated the beep, this option of a beep is on most cameras and would be found in the settings menu. 

    If you point your camera to an area in the room that is about the same distance as the window but much darker your camera will lock on to those settings when you press the shutter release part way down. Now still holding the shutter in this position turn the camera back to frame the image that you are wishing to capture, and press the shutter release the rest of the way down. You will have tricked the camera into exposing for that different area in the room and yet still photograph the window. This way you will achieve a much bright interior photo getting the proper exposure for the walls and dark table like in this photo to the right.

    Remember If your not happy with the results the first time you try. You will be able to try a few different starting points. After all with a digital camera it only takes a second and you can always delete your mistakes.  Just remember to only hold the shutter down part of the way to lock in your exposure. Then recompose the image as you're holding the shutter partway down. 

Next months we will cover the second method using a flash, its not as scary as you may think. 


John Kruze
0 #1 John Kruze 2014-03-19 08:14
Thanks, for the great information, I definitely will be trying this out on my next listing.
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