HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT SOME REAL ESTATE PICTURES LOOK A BIT CARTOON LIKE? IN RESPONSE TO DECADES OF LACKLUSTER IMAGES, SOME AGENTS STARTED USING A SPECIAL PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUE KNOWN AS HDR. BUT IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO TAKE BETTER PICTURES, ARE PICTURES GETTING WORSE?
HDR stands for high-dynamic-range. That’s a big fancy technical term, but all it refers to is a way of dealing with light where shadows and highlights are evenly exposed instead of being overly dark or blown-out. This technique resembles what’s seen by the human eye, but it also has a tendency to make pictures look fake and overly dramatic. Although professional photographers use this technique at times, amateurs or those who rely on automatic settings should be careful not to over do it least their pictures end up looking like a set from the Lord of the Rings movie. Here’s some background on how these images are made, and a few tips to make them work in your favor should you decide that this style of photography appeals to you.
Photographers create HDR images by combining multiple pictures into one. A minimum of 3 pictures, but often many more, are combined using Photoshop or specialized HDR software like Photomatix. Some cameras even offer a feature that’ll takeHDR pictures for you allowing you to skip the post-production step of layering and combining images yourself. The technique requires the photographer to take a series of pictures with different exposures ranging from extremely dark to extremely light. Software combines the images by a process called tone mapping. The resulting combinations of dark and light images produce one image that exposes a diversity lighting realities, hence the name high-dynamic-range pictures.
But the problem is that although this process does mimic the ability of the eye to see both light and dark areas, it can make pictures look like psychedelic art. If you want to see great examples of both the positive and negative aspects of HDR, take a look at any of duproprio.com’s listings.Their photographers use HDR for all their listings. Personally, I don’t like HDR photography very much, and I know that top-notch designer and architectural magazines don’t use it either, but that doesn’t mean that your clients will feel the same way. In fact, I’ve heard many people say they love the effect, and I concede that agents who use HDR are at least making a concerted effort to provide their clients with a better product which is always a good thing.
In the end, HDR is a tool, and just as any tool it’s power lies in how it is used. If you’re interested in HDR, I strongly suggest you give it a try. My main piece of advice would be to remember that when it comes to special effects like this, less is always more. So be careful not to over do it, and you’ll most likely get some promising pictures that’ll help you sell your listings.
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