This is my first shot at real estate photography. The good thing is that there is absolutely no pressure as I’m not getting paid and ANYTHING would be better than some quick, horrifically lit camera phone shots. After the break, come and see the process I used to light the master bedroom using my D90 and a 60 dollar speedlight…
Real quick, back story to this shoot. My sister, her husband and three kids have lived in a small cape for a while now. They finally decided to seriously look for a bigger house. They found a huge one not far from my family, and decided to pull the trigger. They had to close quickly, so now they are in their new house, put need to rent out their old house STAT. I volunteered to take some shots of the house to throw up on a few sites, plus they can double once they decide to sell the house in year or two.
The shot I’m going to write about is the master bedroom. It’s a medium size room on the second floor, rectangle shaped, with two smallish windows. Unfortunately, the room is empty, so it isn’t going to look quite as nice as it would if it was staged. It’s the standard white ceiling, with medium blue walls. I wanted to get 2 or 3 different shots of it, from different angles. It seems almost every interior shot you see of a rental/house for sale just has really boring, almost depressing lighting. I remember buying our house, and some of the shots were so bad we didn’t even want to go look at the house. My goal was to create some natural looking light, blending with what little ambient light I’m going to be able to use. I basically wanted the room to be bright and cheery, a room Mary Poppins herself would be proud to clean, err something…. With only two small windows, it’s going to be a challenge.
The first thing I did was take a few test shots to meter for the ambient. My goal was to make sure the window lighting wasn’t blown out. Again, 75% of the pictures you normally see online have the interior lit appropriately, but the windows completely blown out, although I’ve read recently that it’s more acceptable to blow out the windows than it used to be? I’m not an expert on real estate photography, but my goal was to not blow them out!
Here is my ambient shot:
As you can see, there isn’t a lot of light coming in. At this point, everything was moved out of the room, and I only had natural light to work with. There are two windows total in the entire room. I decided I’d like to be able to clearly see out of the windows, maybe get some nice foliage in the shot. I ended shooting pretty wide 18mm, at 1/100 to get the ambient light I wanted. As you’ll see, the final shot is 1/160, I darkened the windows a bit. I wanted pretty good detail throughout, so I shot at f9. Pretty crazy to see how dark the room is to expose correctly for the windows.
I brought three speedlights with me, but after fiddling around for a while, I decided to only use one. And I did something I don’t do very often, I used it on camera! The main reason I used only one flash, on camera, was that it was a completely empty room. It was a little more difficult to hide a flash, plus there wasn’t really a reason to use it off camera. I wanted even light through out, so I ended up bouncing it right off the ceiling. I used my most powerful speedlight, my Yongnuo 560II, at 1/8 power, zoomed out. There wasn’t a lot to worry about in terms of ugly shadows, as the room was completely bare.
Here is the final image:
I actually like the color of the room, it contrasts nicely with the floor. I had a lot of fun doing this shoot, learned a lot about how to light a room. And although it’s nothing special, I plan on trying again once they sell the house in a year or two!
I haven’t been on too much lately, but I plan on starting up again, and have a bunch of drafts that I have to complete. Stay tuned!