"Painting" with Light, Exterior Shots with Impact

Real Estate Agent with Georgia Elite Realty

Bridgemill Dusk Photo

This shot was inspired by Carson Coots blog http://activerain.com/blogsview/105809/My-Real-Estate-Photo and Propertysnaps82's dusk shots over at the Flickr PFRE group.  This was my first shot at "painting with light" and I have to say, it was a blast!

The idea is basically to use a long exposure (6-10 secs) and then use 500w Halogen work-lights to "paint" the light onto the subject.  In this photo I used two 500w work-lights to light the tree, the front of the home and the foreground as the shutter was open.  The lights inside the home all came from the existing fixtures with the exception of the two rooms, second story far left, and the first story room on the far right (you can see the light on the ground if you look closely).  It was necessary to place additional lighting in these rooms as the bulbs were either burned out or the light was very weak and did not produce the results I was looking for.  Had I had a few extra light bulbs with me, I shouldn't have needed the extra lights (instead I had five 500w halogen work lights with me... go figure.)  The White Balance was set to Tungsten which worked well with the halogens and even accentuated the blue in the dusk sky.

One of the big advantages of being a Realtor that does his own photography is I often have several opportunities to take pictures of a property as I visit to service the listing.  This allows me to experiment and take my time as I don't typically have the same time restrictions as a pro photographer.  And having extra time is a good thing.  These type of shots have just as much to do with timing as they do with the camera and its settings.  In the end, a creative approach to a primary photo can help the listing easily stand out from the competition when Buyers or Agents are looking on-line.  I will also mention that there was nothing done to the picture (save a little lens distortion correction) nor were there any "tricks" done to make the home look different than what it normally does.  In other words, it is possible for someone to see this home in person as it looks here.  They just have to get there at the right time...



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Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker
Lee - I like the 1st photo better too. If you could have splashed a little more light at the peak of the house, the photo would have been perfect (or at least close to perfect). Nice shots. 
Jan 07, 2008 05:54 AM #15
Angie Vandenbergh
Crye-Leike, Realtors - Memphis, TN
A Crye-Leike Blogger

I prefer the front picture that is angled a little bit - very nice.

I just joined the photography group and this is one of the first relevant posts I found in the group :) I'm trying to learn to take better pictures. You gave some good ideas here. It would also be cool to take a picture of how you set up the outside lights and camera. Did you use a tripod for such a long shot? Just trying to envision all that light on the tree.

Jan 07, 2008 09:23 AM #16
Iran Watson
Georgia Elite Realty - Marietta, GA
Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer

@Angie- Thats a good idea, taking a picture of us taking a picture.  Its really much simpler than you would think.  It does require a good tripod to get a sharp image, however.  The light on the tree was coming from a two $15 halogen worklights I bought at Home Depot.

@Margaret- Thanks! 

@Ryan-  While the lights worked well on the foreground, they just weren't powerful enough to really light up the second story at the distance the photo was taken from.  As I moved closer, they were almost overpowering.  Note that it was almost dark by the time I took this one so timing is definitely an issue.  Here is a shot from closer up:

Bridgemill Porch  

Jan 08, 2008 03:58 PM #17
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

I also used worklights a few months back.

painting 01

painting 02

painting 03

I wasn't entirely pleased with them.  As you can see, taking any night shots from the pole is difficult.  The secound one is not sharp.  This last one is from a tripod, so it's sharp but I don't like the way some of the shadows look.  Okay, it's fine, I'm just being an artist...never really satisfied.

Jan 08, 2008 10:48 PM #18
I. Lee Watson

"Okay, it's fine, I'm just being an artist...never really satisfied."  Hahaha, story of my life! 

Actually they all look good and how in the world did you get the first two shots while holding a PAP rig...?  I guess you had the worklights on the ground shining on the home while you were working the PAP?  Do you put your SLR up on the pole?  The thought of that is a little unsettling to me, I can just see loosing control of the pole and watching my shiny new camera and lens meet the concrete. 


Jan 09, 2008 12:28 AM #19
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

The pole was stablized by two guy wires and yes the lights were on 5 foot stands in front of the house.  The only reason I like the pole picture better was that it allowed you to see the bank building in the background.

I use a Nikon 5400 (point & shoot).  It allows me to get a live video feed so I can frame the shot.  There are ways to get a feed from a DSLR, but I think it's more work than it's worth.

Look at the APLanding site to get more information on PAP.  Me and a others have a few blogs on PAP here in activerain.

Jan 09, 2008 12:35 AM #20
Mike Martin
Northwood Realty Services - Pittsburgh, PA

Great photos.

My question is where did you plug the lights in? I don't see any extension cords. 

Jan 09, 2008 03:45 AM #21
Michael Eisenberg
eXp Realty - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Real Estate Guy
Great photos, I like the first ones composition better for sure. These are inspiring shots
Jan 09, 2008 11:33 AM #22
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX
Mike,  for my shots, I plugged the likes in at the outlet near the front door.  I just Photohopped the cord out.  In another situation I got permission from the neighbor across the street to plug in at their house.
Jan 09, 2008 01:48 PM #23
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells
This is gorgeous and it's the exact reason that I hire a pro to shoot my pictures. I could no more do this than sprout wings and fly.
Jan 09, 2008 04:11 PM #24
Don Stern
Realty Executives South Louisiana - Baton Rouge, LA
Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate
Great effect!  I'm going to have to try this technique out.  Thanks.
Jan 10, 2008 06:50 AM #25
Ginger Sala
Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~

Mike ,Beautiful photos. Are you talking about the work lights that painters use? 


Jan 12, 2008 03:38 PM #26
Joseph McCullen
Silentstill Photography & Design - Cape May, NJ
yep, the first photo works.  Second is good, but not for the primary.
Jan 23, 2008 05:39 AM #27
Arizona Real Estate Associate Broker
MR Realty - Mesa, AZ

Lee, first photo is fantastic. Showing up late as a result of information on buying a DSLR camera..but a rookie with a desire to learn about photography and believing it will help make my listings shine above the rest. My first introduction of pole photos was from another AR member, I will have to search out her blog. She does amazing photos. I will go search and come back to let you know. I was amazed as well and leery the camera would take a dive..but I guess it can be done. Great job here and thanks for sharing.

Apr 12, 2008 09:30 AM #28
Rod Rich
Atlanta Communities Real Estate - Atlanta, GA
Atlanta- Associate Broker
Great job. I used to be in the photo biz. now i just don't have the time.
Apr 18, 2008 07:02 AM #29
Julie Kippen
Vernal, UT
Love the idea of taking a picture at night. Very nice!
Apr 18, 2008 09:45 AM #30
Mike Davis
Keller Williams Realty, Augusta Partners - Evans, GA
Realtor, Selling Buying Homes Fort Gordon, Hephzibah, Augusta, Evans

I LEE, theses are some of the best shots that I have seen in your area, I am from Augusta Ga and never thought about useing work lites in the evening and now that it is getting dust quicker I will try experimenting at home first and then at the listings



Oct 11, 2008 01:34 PM #31
Steve K Sarasota, FL

I really hope you still come back and read the comments because I have a great suggestion.  In the 2nd photo from the top - the one where you moved closer to the house, notice the large amount of reflection on the bushes/leaves. This is where a Polarizing Filter on the lens would be perfect because the filter's primary function is to remove reflection from non-metal surfaces; plus, the filter rotates allowing you to adjust the amount of reflection removed. In addition, the Pol filter deepens the blue in the sky which would also help to make it 'pop'. You can always add this effect in Photoshop but you cant take away the reflections.

The photo is very nice but I would have moved back a few feet to get the entire house in view. Also, the glaring reflection from the bushes is distracting and takes away from your main subject-the house. You have done a great job and with the market slowdown, you could probably make some extra money doing photography. And heck, if you are selling/closing houses due to your photos, you could even try teaching your own classes(learn Dreamweaver and make websites for realtors too).


Good Luck

Oct 23, 2008 11:33 AM #32
Doris Freeman
Broker/Agent, Realtor, Madison-Gibson-Crockett

Great photos everyone.  Thanks

Have A Great Day

Oct 23, 2008 01:17 PM #33
Doug Wolfe
Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc. Phoenix, MD - Phoenix, MD

very nice.

Dec 27, 2008 08:07 AM #34
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Iran Watson

Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer
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