Real Estate Photography

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I though this also might be of interest to a few of my readers. 

A comment came up on a residential blog named Active Rain that I also wanted to address here.  I’m on the ‘other’ side of the business where picture quality isn’t a big deal, but it still is to me.  I think it’s the most important first product differentiator.  Sorry, but I see a lot better stuff on the residential side of the business.  We can get into cap rate, absolute net lease details, tenant credit and all that stuff later.  First, we have to get someone to open the listing. 

I use the new Motorola Droid Razr, Canon SX30 and Canon Rebel T2, and in my opinion no way on earth is the smartphone, whether it be a iPhone 4s or the Droid Razr, as good as a ‘well operated’ T2 or other DSLR.   True, I use the droid heavily, for example if I’m out at a site and sending rather decent pics back to a client while I’m still at the site.

However, if it’s a nice day and the sun is in the correct location in the sky (very important) I will also use the Canon SX or T2 for good pics.  And speaking of the sun in the right location: there’s an Android app named ‘Sun Surveyor’ to help you figure exactly when that time might be, based on address, orientation of the house/building/retail store on the lot and sun position based on time of the year and time of day.  There is also an iPhone equivalent that I can’t think of the name off the top of my head.  I can, however, dig it up if anyone wants it.  I also carry a good tripod with me most of the time and lighting if I know that I’ll be doing interior shots.  Most digital cameras have a few ‘modes’ that you can experiment with to warm the interior up a bit instead of the grayish tint that you get unaided.  Also not a bad idea to shoot just a bit hot for interior shots by maybe a stop or stop and a half.  You can always cool it a bit with Photoshop or generally even with your camera’s desktop/laptop installed utility.  

I know we generally don’t have this luxury, but it’s best to shoot the outside shots on a low humidity day because the air is more crystalline.   Yeah, tell me about it, I live in Columbus Ohio.  What low humidity day?  We do get a few though.  Same thing if you’re in LA and inland.  Do the best you can to pick a day with good air.  Prior to moving back here to help with my very elderly parents, I lived in SoCal for 30 years.

Concerning wide angle shots, I don’t go below 24mm because of the barreling distortion you generally have.  I say generally, because there are some pretty expensive DSLR lens that can do a decent job of reducing this.  The extra lens can be as much as a $1,000 and depending where I’m going that day I’m a little nervous about $3 – 4k worth of photography equipment in the car.  Instead of the super wide angle, I use a panorama mode, and the desktop utility as Canon calls it, to ‘Photostitch ‘the pics together.  If it’s just two or three pics that you’re putting together, it works very well.  Ten or so pics and the pic gets very wide and very thin top to bottom.   I’m sure Nikon plus everyone else has something equivalent.  There are also all sorts of ‘free’ downloads that you can find that will also allow you to do it not only side to side, but up and down also.   I prefer to shoot at 40 – 60 mm and ‘stitch’ two or three pics together.  I have several in the below vid such as the pond, pool, and one of the baths and the master bedroom of one of the rental houses.

I shot the pics I put together for this you tube on a spectacular day with very low humidity and fantastic cloud formations, but I had but one hour between renters to do the inside.  I’m going to do a do-over for most of the interior shots and follow my own advice.  I have the typical ‘guy’ mistake of the toilet seat up and poor lighting in several of the interior shots.   This one can be much improved.  However, I have several pics that are ‘stitched’ in this one.   I’ll not embed this time because my blog is fat enough as it is.   Hope this can help someone.

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Merry Christmas 2011