HDR Tutorial for Real Estate Photography - Basic Technique

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

Part 1 lists the steps to shoot the scene, part 2 the steps to render the photos in Photomatix.

I - Photographing an interior with a bright window

An interior with bright views out of the windows is a scene with very high contrast.

Taking several photos (underexposed photos for the windows, overexposed for the interior) will allow you to capture both the interior of the room and what is outside the window.

The basic technique for taking the exposures is detailed below.

The technique assumes your camera has an AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing) function that allows to take at least 3 photos in 2 EV steps or 5 photos in 1 EV step. If this isn't the case, or if you need to ensure that all details in the view are rendered, use the advanced technique instead.

1.
Turn on all lights available in the room.
2.
Check that the flash of your camera is switched off.
3.
Set the ISO to 400.
4.
Set your camera to Aperture priority mode (usually abbreviated A or Av).
5.
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.
6.
While your camera is pointing at the place you have chosen for step 5, take a note of the shutter speed that it displays.
7.
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.
8.
Set your camera to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) mode.
Canon 5D III
Nikon D700
AEB setup examples (more on this page)
9.
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
10.
Switch your camera to Continuous Shooting mode.
11.
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 and render them in Photomatix. NEXT: Merge to HDR