Are you or someone you know thinking of selling or renting out a property? Whether it’s a house, an apartment, a restaurant, or a hotel; the key to successfully marketing it is with captivatingly well exposed, and well-composed photographs. Here are a few tips on how to successfully photograph a clear, bright interior with visible exterior showing through the windows. Learn how to stack your bracketed photos so that your finished photographs show the outside and the inside of your rooms clearly and perfectly balanced.
The problem with interiors
Here is what it looks like when you expose for the inside or interior of a room.
This is what it looks like when you expose for the outside.
This is a big problem, right? You can very rarely get a well-balanced shot of the interior of a room without blowing out the windows. The trick is to take several bracketed exposures of each room and stack them, in order to get a clear, evenly exposed photograph.
Here is what you want your final photo to look like.
This is what you will need to shoot interiors:
- DSLR with auto bracketing feature.
- Tripod – I like to use a tripod with a bubble level on the head to ensure straight horizontals.
- Wide-angle lens – Depending on your camera’s sensor, use the widest angle lens that you have available.
- Shutter release – Not essential, but quite useful to reduce camera movement (resulting in a blurry image) when pressing the shutter.
Quick and easy steps to achieve the perfectly exposed shot
Firstly, it’s recommended to do a little home staging of the rooms that you want to photograph. Having it clear of clutter and clean definitely makes for better photographs. You can arrange some flowers and some fruit bowls to warm up the interior space, and make it look inviting. Clearing the floors of clutter will also make the rooms look more spacious.
You don’t need to redecorate or go through a whole moving process, but definitely, a little planning beforehand will make your photographs look more professional. Sometimes just moving a few pieces of furniture around or putting things away in another room will suffice. Turn on all lights that you feel will give depth to the room and open all curtains and blinds. I always like to show the outside, but of course, if the view is not a very nice one, you may want to shut the blinds partly.
A wide-angle lens is best for this type of photography because you will want to get most of the room into your shot. I often find that shooting from corners of the room and getting three walls into my shot will help the viewer get a better feeling for the size of the room. Sometimes shooting from the doorway also works well if the room is very small.
You often have to squeeze and make yourself small to get behind your tripod. I sometimes find myself in some pretty strange positions in order to get the perfect shot. You may even develop some contortionist skills doing this type of photography. Move around the room to find the perfect angle that showcases the best features of the room. Also, try not to shoot directly at windows. Instead, if possible, try to shoot at an angle.
Setting up and shooting
You will want to set up your camera on a tripod and shoot at waist level, not eye level. The verticals need to be straight and by lowering your camera and shooting straight you will achieve a better-composed photo with a better angle. Look at the view from your camera and try to assure straight vertical lines when looking at cabinets or tall furniture.
Set your camera’s auto bracketing feature (AEB) to shoot several shots. Depending on the amount of light in each room, you will need to shoot between three to nine bracketed exposures at 1 to 1.5 stops between each. I prefer to use natural light as much as possible, so timing the photo shoots with the time of day is essential. Usually, the more light you have in a room, the more brackets you will need.
A shutter release will assure that the camera will not move during the bracketed shooting. You will want to shoot quickly and have the camera as steady as possible if you’re not using a shutter release.
There are several different techniques to stack your photos in order to blend your bracketed exposures together. I personally use a stacking software called Photomatix Pro 5. I am satisfied with the results I can achieve with minimal adjustments and I enjoy the time-saving quality that it provides.
You can search for other HDR software and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget. You usually get a trial period or a trial version that includes watermarks. This will allow you to test with your own photos in order to see if you like it before you purchase it. Recent versions of the most popular photography software like Photoshop and Lightroom now have a HDR merge feature to perform HDR processing and tone-mapping.
Your photos are ready when you feel like the room is evenly exposed and you can see the outside view clearly through the windows.
Have fun experimenting with your photography and showing your friends and family what great, professional looking interior photographs you took of your property! They may even ask you to photograph their properties if ever the time comes when they are contemplating selling or renting.
Don’t hesitate to show me your photos in the comments section.