Before and After - Using Your LIGHT Properly

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage NRDS # 146013739

I want to thank Dick Greenberg for hosting this challenge - Before and After.  I hope that many get an opportunity to learn some new techniques. You never know when this will come in handy!

Interior Photo

Current Listing - 365 Raintree Sedona 86351 -  MLS # 512614

Raw Image 

365 Raintree Rd Sedona AZ 86351

Enlarged Images

Raw Image 365 Raintree Rd Pine Valley AZ

Edited Image

365 Raintree Rd Sedona AZ 86351

The Process

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III - professional camera - full frame format

Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM - wide angle not much distortion

Camera Exposure: 1/80 sec at f/6.3 

Focal Length: 16 mm - wide angle - with minimal distortion - not a fish-eye lens

Image shot in Raw format - no compressed data - no loss of image quality - image can be adjusted using a good photo editor for all adjustments 

Photo Editor: Adobe Light Room  


Many of you already know that I work with my husband on all listings. My husband was a good amateur photographer but wanted to take the level up to professional standards after I became a REALTOR® . 

After seeing thousands of MLS photos, I feel that our attention to detail gives our listing pictures an edge over the competition. 

I help him with all of the photo shoots. Most of the time, I survey the room, looking for things that need to be adjusted or removed from the scene. We collaborate on the staging of the room and the best angles for pictures. There are many times that I may have to hold the flash unit (Canon Speed-lite 600 EX-RT). There is a flexible cord and diffuser that we can use to aim the flash the proper direction. This requires an extra hand. 

Raw Format - KEY Point

My husband was concerned about using this format. Fortunately, the camera has 2 slots for memory cards, so he started shooting in raw format about 3 years ago.  The big difference is no compression in data. This means the image can be as large as 35 MB. In a .jpg or .jpeg format you need to have a sharp focus. If the image is not in focus, you cannot really sharpen the image much during post editing. In raw format, you can make every adjustment necessary in the image. It will be sharp, crisp, in focus with the exposure you want in post production.  The examples are shown above. 

What Adjustments Were Made....

The cropping out of the chair was very minor adjustment. The main adjustment was adding the proper exposure to the great room. No remote flash was used in that room. It was all done by using the adjustment brush, enlarging and painting the room. Clarity, Vibrancy,  and Sharpen were all added. Also added, The Defuse adjustment which is like having polarized sunglass lenses. This adjustment helps add detail you can't get with any other adjustment and helps to focus the light, not scatter it. 

Each window was painted separately. Then the adjustments are added after the window is painted. 

Adjustments Done By Eye

Every adjustment made is done by eye. If the room appears to warm than the temperature is adjusted more to the blue.  Besides the cropping tool, the graduated filter is also used. 

Rule of Thumb

We found out that underexposing the image always brings better results in post production.  One the image is washed out, there is no color or contrast to bring back. Even a great photo editing tool can't work miracles. Underexposing the image helps you to use your light properly. It is the key to bringing the light from the outside windows in without overexposure. 

I am fortunate to have my husband help with this, otherwise I would have to farm this work out. He can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes an image. 

Once the image has been processed, it is time to export it. This is when you pick the image format (JPEG, DNG, PSD, TIFF, etc.). The file that the image will be stored, the size, resolution, quality and a few other settings. 

The smaller the image size, the size of the memory required to store it also decreases.  For purposes of MLS pictures, I make the width 1600 pixels. 

This allows customers who are viewing on a bigger screen to enjoy a larger picture if the IDX supports it.  IDX Broker Platinum which I use does support larger images. 

Go to 365 Raintree Sedona 86351 to see all the images



Other Photography Education Blogs 


More Sedona Photo Secrets Revealed - Interior List Images


A Photographer's Secrets Revealed



As a Coldwell Banker Sedona Arizona REALTOR®, my primary goal is to help my customers obtain their dreams, as well as satisfy their financial goals and objectives through real estate. From the moment I am contacted, you will observe my seasoned ability to provide you with "World Class Service" and that "personal touch" while utilizing a complete package of technology options that are of the utmost importance and so critical in today's market.

I will tailor real solutions to fit your specific needs. - Sheri Sperry -


See Reasons Why Sheri Is Your Solution

Solutions For Buyers

Solutions For Sellers



Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Debbie Reynolds 05/31/2017 11:40 AM
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Kathryn Acciari
Cameron Real Estate Group - Shrewsbury, MA
RSPS, SRS, REALTOR(R) Sturbridge-Shrewsbury MA

Simple changes that make all the difference. I especially like how the beamed ceiling to the left has been highlighted. 

May 03, 2017 10:38 AM #32
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Very informative, Sheri. Not only do you and your husband do great work but you bring home the point that great photography makes a big difference in attracting potential buyers to look at a home. If the home does not look good on-line it will not get as many personal visits. Our Team uses professional staging and professional photography for all our listings in order to give our clients the best results.

May 03, 2017 10:43 AM #33
Mega Team Real Estate
Realty ONE Group Alliance - San Mateo, CA
San Francisco and Peninsula Real Estate Concierge

Great post.

May 03, 2017 10:58 AM #34
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Great before and after.  I dislike it when the after is angled differently, etc.  This really shows the differences, and highLIGHTS them accurately!  

May 03, 2017 12:00 PM #35
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

What a difference between the 2 photos! I need to learn more about improving photos. Bookmarked this post.

May 03, 2017 12:02 PM #36
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

How did you lighten the dininr room like that, Sheri? And add detail back into just the windows, without the disturbing the main photo? Amazing difference. LIghtroom must be the shizzle!

May 03, 2017 12:53 PM #37
Steven Nickens
Elite Pacific Properties Maui - Wailea, HI
R(S)GRI ABR, Maui Real Estate Hawaii

Sheri, great tips thank you for sharing.

May 03, 2017 04:22 PM #39
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

OH MY GOSH!  Now, I know why your photos are always simply amazing - you KNOW what the heck you're doing, Sheri!!  I'm so impressed!

What a wonderful explanation of your fabulous transformation. Thank you for sharing!

May 03, 2017 08:01 PM #40
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Sheri Sperry - MCNE® - now I am not an expert photographer and all the settings for me may not mean anything.

What means most to me is - the 'AFTER' effect! Yes, an excellent transition from original to the final version.

One day, I will learn photography...

May 03, 2017 10:33 PM #41
Sham Reddy
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Great tips!!!

The main adjustment was adding the proper exposure to the great room. No remote flash was used in that room. It was all done by using the adjustment brush, enlarging and painting the room. Clarity, Vibrancy,  and Sharpen were all added. Also added, The Defuse adjustment which is like having polarized sunglass lenses

May 04, 2017 05:23 AM #42
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Seeing all the windows bright white from the sun in mls pics is a pet peeve of mine. If an agent isn't going to use a professional photographer then they really should know how to make these adjustments! Great job.

May 04, 2017 06:36 AM #43
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Most pro photographers will have their camera(s) set up with pre-programmed adjustments to minimize/eliminate post production. ...Just not enough time when you do one shoot after another. Post-production or editing takes a lot of time. After doing this work, I can tell how much time and effort a pro puts into their pictures. 

May 04, 2017 08:08 AM #44
April Swenson
Coldwell Banker Ocean Shores Brokers - Ocean Shores, WA
CRS and Managing Broker - Ocean Shores Real Estate

Pictures are key. That is a powerful camera you both use. Thank you for sharing.

May 04, 2017 08:45 AM #45
Patricia Feager
Selling Homes Changing Lives

I just love the effects and the tips you gave too. The difference is amazing and you taught me a lot today! 

You are a lucky woman to have such a great man and I'm sure he's proud of you in everything you do. You both deserve continuous success. Your efforts are well worth it!

May 04, 2017 04:30 PM #46
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Sheri Sperry - MCNE®  True art is revealed in this photography lesson . I have heard Dick Greenberg  rave about your husband Rick . You are very lucky to have him to help you . I thought I was doing miracles wit iPiccy .  This is amazing

May 05, 2017 11:28 AM #47
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

Great job on this before and after, and I love how you showed us how you did it. I'm nervous about this challenge, haven't done it yet... -Kasey

May 06, 2017 08:06 PM #48
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond

Sheri Sperry - MCNE® you use film technology so well and your pictures are outstanding because you take it to the next level...

May 08, 2017 04:23 AM #49
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty & Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

Sheri, this is a good entry for the contest and you did a great job providing us with the details of what was done to improve the image. Thank you!

May 08, 2017 05:53 AM #50
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Thanks for the tips. I have never shot in raw and would love to try it and see how it looks. You did a great job.

May 08, 2017 07:37 AM #51
1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

I tried working with  raw photos, but they are so huge that I decided to forgo that .  Great Job!

Jun 06, 2017 07:14 PM #52
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Sheri Sperry - MCNE®

(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®
Don't know Sedona AZ? Let me answer EVERY question! Call me!
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