This is part 8 of the series where I'm teaching you how to use the Free Photo Organizing and Editing App called Picasa. If you need to catch up, check out my Picasa Series recap listing here and you will see the previous articles. Today we're going to be looking at Tuning Listing Photos.
I don't need to tell you that people are going to be looking online to find the next house that they want to buy. As a listing agent, you need to do all you can to create the best virtual presentation which will bring interest to the home. Picasa helps you to take photos of your listing and get the most out of them with some very easy to use Tuning Tools. You will notice when you are viewing a photo the left palette has three tabs. We will be looking at the Tuning tab.
Picasa shows a histogram that tells a story of the light spectrum in a particular photo. Where you have peaks in the mountains on the histogram tells a bit of a story that you can pick the editing tools by.
In the kitchen "before" photo below you can see there are lots of mountains on the darker side of the spectrum but you can also see a little peak over on the right of the chart. This is the bright windows in the scene and many RE photos have shots toward windows, so this is common to see. The Fill Light slider will take the darker areas and brighten them while leaving the brighter spots less adjusted. So in this photo, the fill slider can get used to good effect. The Highlights slider will take the brighter areas and add more brightness and the Shadows slider will darken the dark areas. These latter two can be used to add more contrast into a dull photo. So in the photo below, highlights and shadows can be used slightly to help out... but just not too much highlights in this case for the windows would be way over-exposed.
In the bottom photo, I can use a little more on the highlights slider since there is not much direct light coming in the window. You can see on the "before" histogram that the right of the chart is pretty flat. So I usually start with fill light and bring it up until it is better. Then I slide up the highlights and usually just a little shadow to help the contrast.
It is important to understand that Picasa works in what we call "non-destructive" mode. In other words, you can undo all edits at any time. Picasa merely records your changes such as tuning and cropping and displays your photo with the edits overlaid. What this means is that if you want to see and use the JPG outside of the context of Picasa, you will need to take an extra step. If you do the export command or the upload command, the edits will be incorporated into the resultant photos (previous tutorials on those topics are linked for your reference). So if you are uploading to the MLS, you will want to use the export command (which also lets you create a smaller resolution photo that will upload faster.) You can also lock in your edits with the Save command, but I generally don't do that so I know I can always go back to the original and start over.