Using HDR Photos in Real Estate Photography

Camera are amazing tools and have come a long way in their almost 200 year history. But there are some very real limitations in capturing the entire dynamic range of colors and shades of a scene in a photograph. That means that a scene that may have caught your eye doesn’t look so great when you take that image.

HDR photography, or high dynamic range photos reveal details in shadows and highlights that are typically lost in an image. We will talk about how that is accomplished a little later in this article.

Lets talk about the human eye for just a minute first. When you look out a bright window from within a room, your eyes like the camera cannot see detail in the dark areas in the room and the very bright areas outside the window at the same time. This is because the difference between the brightest element and the darkest element in the scene, the dynamic range is too great.

HDR photography reveals details lost in the shadows or highlights in a single image by combining multiple images that were all taken at different exposures. This HDR technique is commonly used in real estate photography and if done well you will be able to see detail inside a room as well as outside a window. If done poorly the colors often end up over saturated, the light areas of the image look hazy and the entire image can take on a somewhat surreal aesthetic. Perfecting this process is one of the key to great real estate photography.

The HDR process typically requires three or more images taken at different exposures (bracketed images). The goal is to produce a more evenly lit image where more detail is seen across the entire range of light and dark areas in your photograph. The process of combining images to make an HDR image may be done manually in various image editing software applications like Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Photomatix to name just a few. Some more recent DSLR cameras and smartphones can even perform this image merging internally, but that comes at a price, as you will lose some control over the final image output.