Very often I run into real estate agents who just can’t wrap their heads around why they have to outsource to get good photography. After all, you just show up with a good camera, take a bunch of pictures, download them, throw them into email or dropbox and you are done! Easy, right?
I wont go into the weeds about how very expensive those "good" cameras and lenses are, or how these are just the beginning pieces of equipment you'll need. That’s a different topic. However, as in most things, its more complicated than you think until you take a close look. Even with a great camera, the shoot is only the beginning. A lot more goes on after the shoot than most agents and brokers imagine.
What is Post Processing?
Post-processing is what comes AFTER the photograph is taken and downloaded. At least half the work for professional photographers doesn't happen at the shoot, but later in this post processing step. Although some images I take are not bad right from the camera, I would never think to present them to a client for display. Every photo I take gets processed using three programs..Photoshop, Lightroom, and Photomatrix. Here are some of the most common corrections needed.
1. Balanced Lighting
Architectual and Real Estate Photgraphy offer some of the most challenging lighting conditions a photographer can run into. Interiors are often too dark, especially compared to window light, which causes lack of interior detail(underexposure), and blown out windows (overexposure). Proper light metering along with properly placed off camera flashes are a must at the time of shoot, but post processing is where the real magic happens. HDR photography blends mutiple images of different exposure to give you one great image. That blending is done in post processing and is as much art as science.
2. Fixing the Verticals
Nothing marks an amatuer photograher as easily as slanted walls. Too often I'll see an agent who thinks all he/she needs is a wide angle lense to get the professional look, but instead just ends up with a mess. Every photo I do gets it's vertical lines corrected. This is an absolute must, especially with wide angle lenses.
3. Color Correction
Interior photos often come out the wrong color initially because of the varying types of light in the photo. Camera's are much more sensitive than the human eye, and show the color of the light source. For example, normal incandecent lighting is very warm light which usually gives your photo a yellowish tinge. Flourescent lighting is cool light and can cast a blueish light, sunlight is in the middle, closer to white. Post processing corrects for these white balance (color temperature) differences giving your photo a more natural appearance... another must have post processing correction.
4. Correct Cropping
I see incorrect cropping all the time. A good crop will draw the eye to what you want the viewer to see. In many cases that means cropping out extraneous, distracting parts of the photo... all while keeping the correct aspect.
5. Painting the ceilings
Even with great camera, proper light metering, off camera flashes, and HDR photography, ceilings often still look a bit dingy in spots, or overexposed near lighting fixtures. I will often slightly "paint" the ceilings to ensure they look as they should... white.
6. Blue Skies
Nothing helps convey a feel good feeling in an exterior photo like a nice blue sky. Unfortunately, great skies are hard to come by, but with the magic of Lightroom and Photoshop any photo can have that depressing grey sky turned into a happy blue one.
This list of corrections is by no way comprehensive, and doesn't even go into the equipment and skillset needed to take the photos.... but I hope it gives you insight as to why post processing can make all the difference.