This was the first time I got to work with Jennifer Harris from Realty South here in Birmingham. We are both members of BNI (a business networking group) but different chapters. Her’s meets on Wednesday mornings and mine on Thursdays. One of the rules of BNI is that if you can’t make the meeting you need to get a substitute. Since I’m free on Wednesdays I often substitute at her group. As an aside, if you own a business or are a sales professional, you should join a BNI chapter. It has done wonders for my business.
Jennifer was listing the home of one of another member of her chapter, Bruce McMillan business coach. The home was beautiful but posed a special challenge. The entire back side of the home was floor to ceiling windows. The view was great and she wanted to show it off. The problem is when photographing that situation you run into something impossible for the camera to handle. If you get the exposure right for the inside the view out the windows goes pure white. Photographers call this being “blown out”. Get the exposure right to see the beautiful view and the inside will be really dark. The camera simply doesn’t have the ability to capture the full range of tones the way the human eye does. Sometimes this is a good thing. If the view outside the window isn’t very attractive then you might not want to draw attention to it. This was not the case here.
To deal with this dilemma many photographers turn to a technique called HDR. This stands for High Dynamic Range. Instead of one photos they typically take three. One is exposed for the outside, one for the inside, and one in-between. Then those three images are composted in Photoshop. If done right this technique can sometimes give good looking results. Often though, it produces weird and unnatural looking images. The colors can look garish and shadows that should be there aren’t. Overall it can make the viewer get the feeling that things were heavily Photoshopped or “filtered”
The technique I use is different. I take the time to light the interior so the exposure inside closely matches the outside. Sometimes this can be done with one light (a high powered flash unit) but often it requires two or more. Time and care must be taken to make sure the lights supplement the natural light. The image needs to represent the light that exists in the home. I will take this into account in deciding where to put the light and if I need to modify the light in anyway. This process takes longer. It’s harder to do than just shooting a three shot burst. For me though, I think the results speak for themselves.
Take a look at the photos below and see what I mean.
click on thumbnail to view larger image
See more of my Birmingham AL Real Estate Photography Portfolio