Weekly Photo: Using photoshop to enahnce realestate photos

exposure for the interior overexposes exterior view

exposure for the exterior under exposes the interior

through the magic of photoshop we get a good exposure for the interior and exterior

My wife has been getting me to do her realestate photography this spring.  This has been a learning experience for me.  I have been primarily an outdoor, scenery and flower photographer.  Shooting photos to showcase the inside of a house has presented a lot of problems I do not usually encounter with my photography,  using wide angle lenses to shot rooms causes the walls to tilt in, how do you get the best light to illuminate the room and what is the best angles to showcase a room (more about how to solve these problems in a later post)?  I got a lot of help with these concerns when I attended a workshop by Scott Hargis, a San Fransisco realestate photographer,< http://scotthargisphoto.wordpress.com/&gt;.  His website and the realestate photography website <http://photographyforrealestate.net/&gt; both have helped me a lot.

The biggest problem I have faced is being able to get the exposure correct for the interior and also the exterior view in windows.  A lot of the homes have beautiful views out the windows that will be a great selling feature.  Even when the view is not great and I am shooting during the day the window will often be a bright glare spot that will detract from the interior view.  There are several methods to solve this.  Photoshop 9 now offers full mask capability.  I have not used that method yet, but plan to experiment with it.  You can also use the photomerge, exposure command under new in file.  You must take multiple exposures of the same scene and then merge them using the command.  I have tried using it.  I am not totally in love with it as it gives a lot of control to the computer.  I shoot the scene using my bracketing setting in the camera.  I set it for 1 fstop up and 1 fstop down.  I then open 2 or 3 of the exposures in photoshop and let photomerge do its work.  Photoshop combines the images and adjusts the exposure across the image to the exposure it feels is correct.  While the resulting image was ok, I felt that neither the window exposure nor the interior room exposure were right on to where I would have wanted them.  I did not use a tripod but really worked to keep the camera steady as the 3 photos were taken.  For the size of images needed for the internet I did not really see any focus or image overlap problems.

The method I used for the images above is the same method you can use to replace any object, such as someones head  in a photo.  I shot three bracketed images again.  In photoshop I then opened the interior image and did whatever adjusting I needed to do it.  I then did the same for the exterior view.   I then used a selection tool to select the view out the window.  Your selection does not have to be perfect because you can erase what you do not want later, so something like the rectangular marques tool works.  Once it was selected I used the move tool to move the selection over the interior view.  The window scene then shows up on the interior view.  Close the exterior scene.  Using the move tool move the window image so it is now over the glared window view of the interior scene.  This exterior window view is a new layer, so you can adjust it without affecting the interior background layer.  Reduce the opacity of the window scene so you can place the window in the correct spot.  If you find it is a little different size or  shape use the free transform tool to adjust the shape and size until it fits over the window in the interior view.  Use the erase tool to remove any parts of the exterior view that you do not want.  When you think it looks good, increase the opacity and flatten the layers.  There you go,  you now have an interior view with a great view out the window.  I like this method because I can adjust both views independently and not affect the other.  The other thing I like is that the two images do not have to be perfect mirror images that would require a tripod.  I can move the window and adjust it to fit.

If this all was very confusing check out web sites or books that offer the idea of replacing someone’s head in a family photo.  It is the same idea.  Sorry it is not cool to put your head on that beautiful beach body.

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