HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.
In photography, a setting with a high dynamic range is one where there is a very wide range of lights to darks. For instance if you are in a home with large windows on a bright sunny day, there is a huge difference between the light coming in from the windows compared to the ambient light given off by fixtures in the home. Our eyes and mind do a terrific job adapting and balancing that range of light. We usually can still see the detail in the room even though there is bright light coming in from the windows. However the sensor on a camera, even some of the most sophisticated cameras in the world, still have a hard time doing what our brain and eyes do. How many pictures in real estate listings have you seen where it looks like a nuclear blast is occurring through the window; or the outside looks fine and the room is almost totally black?
This is where HDR photography can be used effectively to give a good view of the interior and exterior of a home.
The process of HDR involves taking multiple exposures that cover the entire gamut of light and then blending those images in a specific HDR blending software. Today we have cameras that can do this automatically but I am not aware of one that produces clean, good quality images directly out of camera.
ARE YOU COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES WHEN HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR LISTINGS!
In the image above, notice how the lines are converging towards the center of the picture and not straight. The term we use to describe this is "converging verticals". The proper way to shoot architecture is to have the camera attached to a tripod along with some sort of leveling device (preferably attached to the camera) to make sure the camera is totally level.
Now look at the second image and notice the lines on the walls and edges of the shot are straight. This allows the viewer to see the home as if they were seeing it with their own eyes and without distortion of the room.
Again look at image one. Notice the harsh shadows and the unbalanced light throughout the image. Lighting like this emits a cold harsh feeling for the viewer. Emotion is what sells homes; and pictures are where the emotion begins. You want your buyers to say WE MUST SEE THIS HOUSE NOW as opposed to LET'S PASS ON THIS ONE. IT LOOKS SO COLD AND DREARY!
When I began photographing homes in HDR I was totally amazed at what I saw. It gave a whole new look that seemed to be an improvement to some of my shots with an on camera flash.
But as time went on, and as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, I soon realized that my HDR images lacked that clean crisp look. They looked somewhat surreal. This was not the look I was after and I felt it did not provide a proper representation of the homes I was photographing.
When camera makers began introducing in camera HDR, a number of Realtors jumped on board and were then suddenly adding their own HDR images to the Multiple Listing.
No longer impressed with what I was producing, I started looking for an alternative to HDR. I thought about bringing strobes, softboxes, reflectors and a whole bunch of equipment to do my shoots. But then I realized this can be troublesome when going in someone's home that they are still living in. Many times there are young children and pets present and this could be a hazard waiting to happen.
Then after much experimentation and trial and error I came up with a method of HDR processing that I believe, gives a much cleaner and professional look without having to bring a boat load of equipment in people's homes.
If you look at the door and ceiling in the image above it actually looks dirty. Of course it was not dirty at all. This is due to the extreme HDR processing. The image below is the same series of exposures as the image above but processed differently. The only lighting used is the ambient light from the light fixtures in the room and the daylight coming in from the windows
© George Crudo Photography