In the interest of time, I'll give the three most common methods that we use at HotShotPros.com so that you can showcase rooms with windows. It's important to note that there are literally hundreds of ways to photograph real estate listings and showcase the view past windows.
But before we start, let's take time out for a Captain Obvious moment....
"CAPTAIN OBVIOUS SAYS"
"The camera is a tool, and so is a hammer...
Of course I know how to use a hammer, but I will NOT build your house!"
- Off Camera Lighting:
The easiest, but most inefficient way is to bring in off-camera lighting. If you can learn lighting, you can manipulate any shot to look like you want it to. Perfect lighting can typically be shot at or close to your cameras Automatic settings, but the major drawback is that every home or property is different so you'll have to be an expert at it before you can be very productive. This method is usually only done by professionals but is quickly being replaced by HDR photography. The greatest problem with this method is that good lighting kits will typically cost between $1000 and $2500... and the wear and tear should be a major concern if you shoot allot of properties.
- Camera Settings:
The most common way is to set your exposure low and to fill the room with the flash. Most photographers have there own settings for this and it usually does get through windows very well, but will almost always cast unwanted shadows from furniture and fixtures. At HotShotPros, we very rarely use this method, although many inexperienced photographers and some professionals do still use this method as their primary style.
The way that it's done will vary depending on the lens that you're using, as every lens is different and will handle light in greater/lesser amounts. To produce good shots on most DSLR cameras, you should be able to set your Base at "F5.6, 200, 1/200 keeping in mind that you will need to set your Flash to the Highest setting to fill the underexposed room but showcase the windows. Take a test shot and then manipulate the shutter speed down as needed. Again, this process will work fairly well, but will often cast unwanted shadows from Furniture and Light Fixtures if you aren't really good at what you're doing.
Because of the shadows that this method tends to create, it's recommended that you hire a professional. However, for those of you who are DIY... the settings above should at least get you headed in the right direction.
- HDR Photography:
If you want Magazine Quality photography, you should call a professional that has mastered HDR Photography, and at a minimum the two aforementioned techniques. In the simplest terms, HDR Photography is creating one image out of many. It stands for "High Dynamic Range" and is done by taking a series of exposures (from very dark to very light) of a single image and then combining them all to make one image. When done correctly, the image will be bright and crisp with a varying degree of clear windows that can be further manipulated with HDR software or other professional editing methods. This process eliminates all of the shadows but comes with a very steep learning curve. (Click here to see some examples of quality HDR Photography)
NOTE: HDR imaging should be done professionally. When its done wrong, it creates a very surreal "Cartoon-like" image, can strain peoples eyes and can cause allot of shimmering around edges of the subject in print materials. There are many Photographers passing this off in the industry as acceptable, do not be fooled. HDR imaging can produce very realistic and desirable results, and when done right... is the best option for real estate.
I hope that this has helped you with your Real Estate Photography, and boosts your success... but remember, prior to hiring a professional, compare their work to other Real Estate photographers in your area. Although most Real Estate photographers will charge about the same, they are not equal in quality.