HDR Tutorial for Real Estate Photography

This tutorial shows how to photograph a room's interior when there is a bright view through the window.

Part 1 lists the steps to shoot multiple exposures, part 2 the steps to merge the photos in Photomatix.

I - Photographing an Interior - Simple Technique

An interior with bright windows is a scene with very high contrast. If you photograph it with your camera's automatic settings, you'll almost always get a dark photo with washed out windows .

Taking several photos (overexposed for the interior, underexposed photos for the windows) will allow you to get a well lit photo where the interior is bright and the window's view isn't lost.

The simple technique for taking the photos is detailed below.

If you are a professional photographer, or need to ensure to get all details in the window's view, use the advanced technique instead.

The simple technique assumes your camera has an AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing) function that lets you take at least 3 photos in 2 EV steps or 5 photos in 1 EV step. If this isn't the case, it is better to use the advanced technique to get satisfactory results.

Simple Technique

Turn on all lights available in the room.
Check that the flash of your camera is switched off.
Set the ISO to 400.
Set your camera to Aperture priority mode (usually abbreviated A or Av).
Aim your camera to a point in the room which has an average brightness level. Keep away from the darkest parts of the interior, and the brightest areas, such as the windows.
While your camera is pointing at the place you have chosen for step 5, take a note of the shutter speed that it displays.
Switch the camera to Manual mode. Then, check that the shutter speed is the same as in step 6, otherwise change it to what you noted in step 6.
Set your camera to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) mode.
Canon 5D III
Nikon D700
AEB setup examples (more on this page)
Using the AEB options, set the EV spacing to +/- 2 EV if your camera supports it, or otherwise to the highest EV spacing it supports.

If you are not familiar with the AEB functionality of your camera, see the Exposure Bracketing Setup page or consult your camera's manual.

Canon 7D
Nikon D700
Switch your camera to Continuous Shooting mode.
Mount your camera on a tripod if you have one. If you don't, try to find a steady surface you can rest your camera on. Next, frame the shot, check the focus, then press and hold the shutter button until the bracketed photos are taken.
Once you have taken the photos, merge them in Photomatix. NEXT: Merge to HDR