Find out why HDR is the best choice for real estate photography, and how to fix mistakes to get top selling photos with Aurora HDR.
If you saw two property listings – one with high-quality photos, and one with no preview at all, which one would you pick? 99.9% of the time you would go with the property that has photos.
It might sound drastic, but quality photos could make the difference between booking a viewing or not.
In this article, we look at Aurora HDR for real estate photography.
We look at why HDR photos are suitable for real estate photography, and why Aurora HDR, in particular, is an excellent choice as an editing program.
Why HDR for real estate photography?
First, we should look at why HDR is suitable for real estate photography. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. This technique combines multiple photo exposures together. The aim is to produce a balanced end product that looks natural.
An HDR composite will usually contain an underexposed, mid-range, and overexposed shot. Each shot captures some different detail.
For example, the overexposed shot may capture the detail of darker areas. A program such as Aurora HDR will then combine these bracketed shots together. This is such a useful tool for real estate photography as you will see below:
HDR helps combat the highly varied lighting situations. Lighting within a property can be hugely varied. There are many different light sources to contend with:
- External light from windows and doors
- Internal light from light switches and LED sensors etc.
- Reflections from glossy surfaces.
Trying to balance this lighting can be a nightmare:
- If you expose a photo of the interior walls, the light from the windows will be glaring and too bright.
- Alternatively, if you expose a photo for the light from the windows, the interior will be too dark.
Aurora HDR for real estate photography can help address this issue and combat those tricky lighting situations.
The colors are bolder, the sky looks more vivid and the house itself looks brighter. Photo by Chad Sucher
HDR provides a more accurate representation of a property
To follow on from the point above, HDR can create a realistic portrayal of a property. There is nothing worse than looking at property photos and having your expectations set, only to visit the property and find out it actually looks completely different.
Furthermore, basic photography could cast a house in a poor light and put potential buyers off. HDR photography gives realism.
An HDR photo shows the property as close as you can possibly get to its true form without the physical visit. In this original, the colors and furniture look a little flat.
Here we have added a subtle HDR edit to boost the colors and detail to give a realistic look. Photo by Edin Chavez
HDR shows realistic details
Again we come back to the lighting issue and shadows. Many real estate photos have some details concealed. You may not see the quality of the wallpaper or paint for example on walls.
Moreover, you may not be able to fully see the quality of carpets and flooring. In addition to this, fixtures such as kitchen units and white goods may not be crystal clear.
HDR photos can bring out this previously lost detail. You will be amazed at exactly what can be captured and how much detail you can see. Areas that would usually be cast in shade can be displayed in full detail and clarity.
Moreover, these darker areas will not have any background noise as you will see in the section below. Viewers can gain a superb idea of what the property has to offer.
Now the interior is more balanced and the reflection from the window is not as bright. Photo by Chad Sucher
HDR enhances textures on fixtures, walls, and furnishings
As mentioned above, HDR photography can help enhance details. This is great for showing textures, patterns and minute detail. If your property is furnished for example (It could be a pre-furnished rental unit), an HDR shot can cast those furnishing in the best light.
This will help viewers see exactly what they would be moving into, and the quality of the furniture they would be using.
Processed photo with Smart Structure and Smart tone applied to enhance the texture of the grass and the cladding. Photo by Chad Sucher
HDR removes the need to create a complex setup with lights & flash stands
Creating a professional photo setup for real estate can be time consuming and expensive. To make a high-quality portfolio, an extensive setup is required. This could include light stands, multiple flashes, diffusers, and other equipment.
Purchasing the equipment is not cheap to start with. Then you have to spend time setting it up. Once you have it set up, you will have to take some trial shots. These may not be perfect. In which case, you would then have to re-adjust the setup.
By using this approach, your working day may be slowed down and you may not complete as many jobs as you wish.
By using Aurora HDR for real estate photography you can eliminate this time-consuming process. All you really need is a tripod and your camera – the HDR processor will do the rest!
What are the key issues in real estate photography?
We have looked at why Aurora HDR for real estate photography can help. Now we can look at practical applications and how this software can address key issues in real estate photography.
Aurora HDR is extremely powerful. Whilst some image processing software may have HDR support, Aurora is dedicated to HDR photos – its what it excels at.
This software uses a combination of artificial intelligence and powerful processing to create awesome and realistic HDR photos. It has features such as the HDR smart structure filter, adjustable gradient filters, integrated LUTs, and the Quantum HDR engine.
Below are some common issues we found in real estate photography and how Aurora HDR can address them:
Solution: Smart Structure
Have you ever noticed that annoying glow around the edge of objects within your photos? This is known as haloing. Haloing can be one of the most irritating and disruptive imperfections a photographer can find.
This effect is most prominent along edges that have a high contrast; for example when the light sky meets a darker foreground. Halos can be caused by a number of things including:
- Applying too much clarity
- Chromatic Aberration
If you want your real estate photos to be perfect you must avoid haloing. Luckily, Aurora HDR for real estate photography can help correct imperfections such as this. Using the smart structure filter, you can add detail and structure to your images without causing haloing.
This means that your interior shots will have superb detail and no annoying haloing effect around window frames for example.
Issue: Managing and merging brackets
Solution: Quantum HDR
When creating an HDR photo, you have to manage the different bracketed photos. This can be time-consuming and cut into your working day.
Moreover, you then have to work out...
- How to merge the photos together to create the best end result.
- Which exposures work best?
- Which bracketed shots should I use?
Lots of questions and no time!
The program makes managing your bracketed shots a breeze to start with. You can easily select which photos you want to use.
Furthermore, you can process them automatically using the AI-powered Quantum engine. Basically, the program merges the brackets for you to create a stunning end product that doesn’t look contrived.
Bracketed shots before editing. Photo by Nico Sirkas
Final merged shot using Aurora Quantum Engine. Photo by Nico Sirkas
Issue: Unnatural look from lighting conditions
Solution: Quantum HDR
Some HDR photos can look contrived and unnatural. We are sure you will have seen real estate photos that look unbelievably bright – they look fake – this is an HDR photo that has not been edited or processed properly.
Your end result must look believable and natural – if it doesn’t it can cause mistrust in your viewers and potentially cast the property in a bad light.
Automatic tone mapping is a feature of the Quantum HDR engine. The AI technology analyzes the bracketed photos and combines them to create realism.
Color tones, brightness, and contrast are all considered.
The end property shots will look natural – lighting will pop, but not look ridiculous. This means that light from windows will not be over-exposed.
Moreover, if you do leave any lights on during the photo shoot, they should look natural too.
Issue: Increased noise
Solution: Smart Structure
Background noise can totally ruin a photo. Noise is usually prominent in darker areas of a photo. You may see small dots present on those shaded areas which can make the photo look grainy. For darker properties, this can cause a real problem.
You may have to overexpose a photo to reduce the noise. Moreover, it is not always possible to take a photo at an ISO setting of 100 (which would reduce noise).
By using Aurora HDR for real estate photography, you can cancel out background noise. The smart structure filter can add detail and improve the quality of the photo without adding extra noise.
Sometimes editing parameters such as sharpening can increase noise – using the smart structure feature will prevent this.
Moreover, you can actually use the “de-noise” filter which will automatically soften the image and reduce noise. Finally, it is possible to use local adjustment brushes to remove noise only where needed – this means you do not have to potentially destroy the whole photo.
Bracketed shots of a kitchen. Photos by Chad Sucher
Final shot - noise has been reduced on the darker areas. Photo by Chad Sucher
Issue: Perspective Distortion
Solution: Lens Correction
Even the highest quality lenses can still sometimes distort photos. Common distortion involves rounding and softening at the corners of a photo.
The photo may not look completely straight. It may even have a fisheye effect and look rounded. This is fine if you want to create such an effect – for a professional photo shoot, however, the photo should look immaculate – lens distortion will ruin the final image.
Aurora HDR for real estate photography has two useful tools to combat this – lens correction and transform. The lens correction tool automatically detects your camera lens. It will then analyze the photo and correct any distortion found.
The transform tool, on the other hand, allows you to manually rotate and adjust the crop of the photo. This allows you to effectively combat lens distortion and any skewed perspectives.
Issue: Chromatic aberration
Solution: Quantum HDR
Finally, another annoyance that we have touched on above is chromatic aberration. This is a type of distortion that can happen when a lens fails to focus all the displayed colors in one point.
It involves dispersion and the refractive index. Chromatic aberration can cause unsightly rainbow colored lines around the edges of objects.
Luckily, Aurora HDR can automatically remove chromatic aberration using the Quantum HDR engine. This means that your property photos will not have any unsightly colored edges.
As you can see, Aurora HDR for real estate photography really is a powerful tool. If you want to make your working life easier and still get high-quality end results, consider giving this product a try. It is possible to download a free trial.
By using HDR photos, you can take away much of the stress and trials associated with this type of photograph.