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Editing a Real Estate Photograph With Virtual Staging

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Staging Pads Website    Sampler    Sandbox

Email: Jim@StagingPads.com

Contact: (800) 894-7033

DIY Virtual Staging EditingAs a real estate photographer in Albuquerque I sometimes shoot out of town up in the Sandia mountain range. This was a listing the agent had not seen before I shot it and the window curtains were not hung correctly.

I proceeded with the shoot and got the dreaded email from the broker saying that she wished the curtains had been different. This would have been a 3 hour fix driving back up and dealing with 2 feet of snow.

Instead I went to my DIY virtual staging platform and added curtains, a dining room table, china cabinet  and delivered a few living room pictures to my client. She was really pleased that I would do that for her helping her get the listing in the MLS right away.

One disclaimer here is that I could restage the curtains because the originals were not affixed to the wall. In New Mexico window coverings must be requested by the buyer unless permanently affixed. Only stage items that don’t convey with the home. Virtual Staging is a great way  to enhance vacant home pictures with furniture, pictures, plants and accessories. It should never be used as a band-aid to fix something that conveys such as walls, flooring or landscaping.

We can teach you how to do the same fix for as little as $7. In other cases where I am not fixing my mistakes I stage vacant home pictures for home sellers and realtors® looking for a better online presence. As a photographer this can double my income for a shoot while helping home sellers with a more competitive listing. This type of service will also help realtors® close listing appointments as few realtors use photographers that can offer this resource currently.

Jim Gross - virtual stagingJim Gross

Author and owner of Staging Pads and national distribution and training for VisualStager

 

Virtual Staging and Sky Replacement

Jim Gross Albuquerque real estate photography and realtor®Subscribe: Marketing Homes Blog

Staging Pads Website    Sampler    Sandbox

 Email: jim@stagingpads.com

 Contact: (800) 894-7033

Sky replacement is becoming more popular in the real estate photography world. Let’s face it, a rainy day can ruin a seller, agent and photographer’s plans for even the best well-staged shoot! No problem with sky replacement.

This should always be an option for virtual staging professionals. There are some great tutorials online. I found this easy to follow video on YouTube for Photo Shop 5.

When making decisions on sky replacement it is important to keep the sky appropriate with the use. A blue sky will always be OK to use for MLS purposes. The sky replacement I used below was for a builder in a sub-division that has these views. While this home is NOT for sale, it shows their last build on the opposite side of the street where there are no mountain views. Because it shows the area and the builder’s design style it will be OK to use. I also finished the landscaping going into the neighbor’s yard.

Using sky replacement to add a neutral sky design behind a house will direct a buyers attention to the home design. You should not however touch up a house, landscaping or anything that will convey with the home.

Virtual staging sky replacement

Virtual Staging Sky Replacement

Tricks to Great Real Estate Photography

Jim Gross Albuquerque real estate photography and realtor®Subscribe: Marketing Homes Blog

Staging Pads Website    Sampler    Sandbox

 Email: jim@stagingpads.com

 Contact: (800) 894-7033

Getting good at real estate photography is a life-long progressive training session. There are some excellent sources such as Photography For Real Estate. The best real estate photographers in the world hang out here and are delighted to give a blow by blow technical description of how to get the big real estate shots.

Generally there are two schools of thoughts that deliver equally good results. One is to get it right in the camera the first time by using strobes and multiple speed lights and taking a single image that, if done correctly, needs little post production. Downside is that if you are taking 30-50 shots like many of us, this method can take hours to get the lighting right. The second school of thought is to bracket multiple images and use software such as Adobe Lightroom to enfuse the images for a high definition blended look. This can take hours as well to do post production. I believe once you get the system down, either system will take about the same amount of time.

The first trick is to get your flash off the camera. Turn it off or take it off because indoors it is not your friend when it is located on your camera. For indoor shots turn your camera to manual or the AV mode if you have that setting on your camera and put your camera on a tripod to eliminate camera shake. Lastly, unless you are using one of the two methods described above do not try to shoot into windows during the day. Stand towards the wall with the window and shoot away from them. They will make your room look dark. You can also shoot at sunset just when the last shadow in your room disappears.

Lastly, experiment with the white balance. If your pictures look yellow and the wall colors are not right that is while balance. The lower the K- Kelvin, the less yellow you will see. Areas that do not have much natural lighting such as bathrooms, basements and closed in rooms void of windows require a white balance change. Here is a white balance chart to help with the settings.

So these basic ideas will get you out of the automatic mode in your camera to a new settings that can result in great real estate photos such as the ones on this site: Real Estate Photographer.

How Much Is Too Much Post Production For Real Estate Photos?

Jim Gross Albuquerque real estate photography and realtor®Subscribe: Marketing Homes Blog

Staging Pads Website    Sampler    Sandbox

 Email: jim@stagingpads.com

 Contact: (800) 894-7033

Every so often you will hear about a real estate photo that becomes controversial or appears to have been Photoshopped.

I have heard of photographers being sued for using flash lighting to illuminate the exterior of a home at sunset. Recently a photographer is under fire for using a wide angle lens on the exterior of a home making the driveway look larger than normal. As a real estate photographer I have heard a few times over my career that the home looked “different” than the pictures. Depending on the reason for that comment it is not the worst thing that can be said about a picture.

For instance, at twilight or night it becomes more difficult to correct white balance for yellows and blues, but becomes easier to control glare from light sources such as windows. Using multiple exposures as I do and enfusing them is a far different process than photoshopping objects in or out. Our eyes are designed to compensate for glare, cameras are not. Also, I can see far more out of two eyes than my 11mm lens can capture. Yet, the only comment I have had said once in 700 home shoots is that the room looks smaller than the photo reflects.

More opportunity exists with virtual staging to start messing with items that convey with the house such as flooring, landscaping and window coverings. Virtual Staging is a great way to stage an empty home on a budget. But some buyers will spend a great deal of money and even fly into a city to see a property. If it looks drastically different with fireplaces, fresh sod or other added items that can be a real problem and should be avoided at all costs. Also a disclaimer in the comments section saying that virtual staging has been added is a helpful disclaimer.

If on the other hand a photographer is combining multiple exposures to control lighting issues as is commonly accepted in the real estate industry it should not pose a problem. Color balance is a real problem because of different lighting conditions. Buyers should generally expect to not see the exact right colors on a wall as would be the case when they walk in and look at a room under various times of the day. As far as the size of a room, typically when an agent uses their cell phone in a bedroom you often see just the bed. To me that is a bigger problem than being able to see 75% of the room in a photo. Fish eye lenses should be avoided in real estate due to the amount of distortion that needs to be corrected. But showing more of the room is helpful. In general, unless the house is extremely long a non-wide angle lense works better for front exterior shots; however elevated shots can be helpful and showing the back yard or a birds eye view such as is available in Google maps.

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