Use the Power of Photography to Market Real Estate

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Whether you are marketing a premier property or a distressed one, good photography can help in your sales and leasing efforts.   And while not every piece of real estate will photograph well, there are ways to photograph it to make it look more attractive than in reality.   Here are some tricks that we photographers use:

Dramatize a Property at Sunset

Many properties that look plain in the daytime can look great at sunset.  The difference can sometimes be quite dramatic.  Postproduction graphics software can be used to further enhance the photos and make colors pop, as well as retouch out distracting details.  In addition, skies can be “replaced” to make the shots even more spectacular.

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Retouching can even change the whole look of a photo and can turn a daytime shot into sunset one.

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Showing People Traffic at Shopping Centers

When shooting retail properties, clients often want to show a lot of foot traffic in front of stores.   However, when photographing—even on a weekend—there may not be enough shoppers around to make it seem busy.  We have perfected a technique for adding people into shots and showing a lot of activity.  In this way, we can even control the demographics of shoppers portrayed.  Don’t like the kid with his cap on backward?  He’s gone.  Want more millennials in the picture?  No problem.  Let us control who you want to show.

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Tips for Photographing Commercial Real Estate – Part 2

Determining the Time of Day for Photography

When is the best time to photograph a building?  It depends on the orientation of the building and the sun’s position in the sky.  It’s easy to determine where the sun will be in relation to your building.  Simply go to www.suncalc.net and type in the address of the building.  The satellite map view will show the orientation of the building and you’ll be able to determine where the sun will be throughout the day.  You can also determine where the sun will be at any time during the year by typing in the desired date.

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By knowing where the sun will be throughout the day, you can also predict whether buildings in the vicinity will cast shadows onto your building.  If you remember high school trigonometry and can determine the height of the surrounding buildings and the sun’s altitude or elevation (angle of the sun up from the horizon) during the day, you can calculate the length of the cast shadows.

Minimizing Lens Distortion When Photographing Buildings

All lenses have varying degrees of optical distortion that affect the shape of buildings.  When the camera is close to a building and pointed upward, the shape of the building will take on a distorted shape called “keystoning.”  This effect is particularly pronounced in wide angle lenses and can be reduced in a couple of ways.  Using lenses that are considered “normal” or “telephoto” reduce the amount of optical distortion in the photo and also force the picture to be taken from farther away.  Another way to reduce keystoning is by shooting from a higher viewpoint, especially when taking pictures of tall buildings. Even when using a wide angle lens keystoning can be minimized by shooting from a viewpoint at around half the building height.  When shooting buildings that are only a few stories in height, standing on top of your car can be enough to reduce wide angle distortion.3 views_1060

Professional photographers use special lenses called “perspective-control” lenses that reduce or eliminate the keystone effect.  The front element of the lens shifts vertically, enabling the photographer to take a picture without pointing the camera upward.  Perspective control lenses are only available for digital cameras that can take interchangeable lenses and have full frame sensors (24mm x 36mm).

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Using this type of lens, buildings can be photographed from close-up without distortion.

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Another way of correcting wide angle lens distortion is in postproduction using programs like Photoshop, DxO, Lightroom, and Aperture.  However, these programs require more than superficial knowledge and may be best left to graphics professionals.

 

Using Photoshop to Enhance and Retouch Photographs

As digital camera technology has progressed over the years, software for postproduction processing has also kept up with the improvements.  Retouching that required many hours of time and expense during the days of film photography can now be done digitally in a fraction of the time.  In truth, modern digital techniques can easily create images that surpass reality and go beyond mere documentation.  Though it would be too involved to cover using a program like Photoshop, here are some examples of what can be done with it:

Brightness/Contrast Correction, Shadow Recovery, and Color Enhancement

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Color Enhancement

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Sky Replacement

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Photo Compositing & Sky Replacement

The final photo was created from four images (including the sky).

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Tips for Photographing Commercial Real Estate – Part 1

Photography is an important tool in selling or leasing commercial real estate.  After all, it would be difficult to interest buyers in a property unless they have an idea of what it looks like.  Not every project has a marketing budget that can support hiring a professional photographer, and when you must take your own photos, following a few simple tips can significantly improve your photographs.

The Nature of Digital Photography

While current digital cameras are quite sophisticated and enable users to easily take good photographs, it is still a tool that must be properly used in order to produce the best results.  With digital photography taking the picture is only half of the process.  The other half involves working with the image using a graphics program, such as Photoshop, which is beyond the scope of what can be covered here.

The Camera

Simple point-and-shoot digital cameras can be adequate for taking architectural photos of buildings.  However, many point-and-shoot lenses are limited in capturing wide angle shots, which is an essential feature to have in shooting building exteriors and interiors.  If you are able to afford a camera that supports interchangeable lenses, consider the Canon EOS Rebel T3i or T5i, or the Nikon D3300 or D5300. Get a zoom lens in the 18-55mm zoom range.  Cheaper options are cameras with a fixed zoom lens such as the Canon SX50 or SX70, or the Nikon L830 or S9700.  Talk to a salesperson at your local camera store for advice before buying anything.Cameras_1060

 

Shooting in JPEG, TIFF or RAW

All digital cameras have settings to produce JPEG files, which is a common format for using photographs in documents and on websites.  JPEG files are compressed files that are easy to transmit electronically, and the degree of compression can be set on the camera. However, during the compression process some data is discarded and can never be recovered.  In addition, JPEG compression is lossy, meaning that every time the file is saved some of the original information is lost, affecting image quality.  If you aren’t planning on doing postproduction work to your photos after they are taken, shooting in JPEG may be your only option.

Some digital cameras support the TIFF format, which is an uncompressed format that is widely supported by image manipulation applications.  TIFF files are generally much larger than JPEG files but have the advantage of being lossless, meaning that information is not lost every time the files  are saved.  Because TIFF files are uncompressed, they contain more data and give better quality results when adjusted in Photoshop and similar programs.  If you are planning on having postproduction work done to your files, TIFF would be a good format to use.

The best but most difficult format to deal with is RAW.  Most point-and-shoot cameras do not have the option for shooting in RAW, although the more expensive SLR digital cameras that support interchangeable lenses do.  The RAW camera format is an uncompressed file containing minimally processed data from the camera image sensor, and requires image processing after shooting.  Not all image manipulation programs support RAW processing, although sophisticated programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture do.  The advantage of RAW is that none of the data contained in the original photograph is discarded, and you have a wide range of options in manipulating the image in postproduction.  RAW will give you results that JPEG or even TIFF files can’t, which is why it is the format of choice for professional photographers.

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Weather and Its Role in Photography

To get the best results when photographing a building, it’s best to shoot on a sunny day.  The difference between photographing on a cloudy day versus a sunny day can be like night and day.  A blue sky and sunlight improves the overall look of a photo, as can be seen from the examples below.

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However, there are times when a cloudy day can actually help a building photograph.  If the building has an entrance that faces north, that side generally gets little or no sun during the day, except in late summer.  Shooting the entrance on a cloudy bright day may give a better result than if you were to take the photo while looking toward the sun. Avoid photographing with the sun in front of you if at all possible.  When the sun is in the shot, it creates optical artifacts called “lens flare.”  In addition, the camera’s exposure control may render the front of the building, which is in the shade, as either too bright or too dark, depending on where the camera is pointing.  Shooting early or late in the day will increase the chances of getting better photos of north-facing buildings.

 

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Turning the Ordinary into the….better than ordinary

Here’s an example of how you can turn a photo of an ordinary building into something more visually interesting just by shooting at a different time of day. It also helps to have Mother Nature give you a helping hand with a great sunset. This was an actual sunset, not photoshopped in.123jpg

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