Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Another Direct Comparison of Real Estate Images

The second image taken on auto-mode with an APS-C camera with a kit lens at 18mm (28.8mm equivalent on full frame) does not have the same width or dynamic range as the first image taken at 14 mm on a full frame camera with HDR.

The first image shows the room.  The second image only shows a bed...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Do You See A Difference Between These Two Interior Photos?

Here's an example of two real estate photos.  (Click on each photo to see the entire image.)  The first photo was taken with a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens at 14mm on a Nikon D750 full frame camera in HDR and processed with Adobe Lightroom and custom white balanced.  The second photo was taken with a Canon EFS 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM lens at 18mm on a Canon 70D APS-C sensor camera in "Auto Mode" with auto white balance.  The equivalent focal length of the Canon lens if it were a full frame lens would be 28.8mm compared to the 14mm of the Nikon full frame lens.

If you look at the wall, the first photo's wall is not curved,  whereas the second photo is definitely distorted.  Also, the first image has more tonal range than the second.  The additional width of the first image makes it easier to see the relationship of the kitchen to the adjoining living room and to the patio door compared to the second photo.

It is obvious that the ultra-wide angle lens image processed in HDR is far better than the standard wide angle lens taken in Auto Mode on the second shot.

Checking the pricing of a popular real estate photography service in the Chicago area, their prices for HDR photos are: $259 for 10 photos, $319 for 15 photos and $439 for 25 photos.  Agents can do this themselves easily if they only learned how!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

More About My Experiences with an Apple MacBook Pro with Retina

Time for an update on my continuing saga of using an Apple MacBook Pro with Retina...

Last night during our Exposure class, I was asked how I was liking my Mac.  Well... I can't answer that with just an "I like it" or an "I don't like it."  It goes much deeper than that.

If you have been reading my blog or even my Facebook posts about my computer, you'll know that I purchased the MacBook Pro to learn the Apple operating system since many of my students come in with a Mac to take their Photoshop or Lightroom class but they may be so new to the Mac that they don't really know how to use it!  Because of this, the class slows down and I could not help move them along because I knew nothing about the Mac either!  I've been a PC user since PC's were invented!

So I purchased the Mac early in 2015 and have been forcing myself to learn it and to use it exclusively whenever I am not at the school.  I decided that I would use the Mac the way all Mac users should use it.  I use the trackpad (which I initially hated), I learned the shortcuts.  I try my best to function like an Apple user should.

I only use a PC when I have to now.  At the school, I have a PC so I must use it.  But outside of the school, I use the Mac 100%.  So here's my current thoughts...

I am beginning to appreciate the Mac.  I didn't like it at all when I first got it because it was so foreign to me.  You can't do things on a Mac like you do them on a PC.  Is it the Mac's fault?  Not really.  It's a learning curve that you just have to accept.  Once I accepted that I must retrain myself, I started to get to know how to move quicker on the machine.

Today, I have so many Apple products, I might as well work at Apple!  I have an Apple iPod (my first Apple product from years ago).  I have an iPad Mini 3 with cellular.  My wife has an iPad Air.  We both have Apple iPhone 6s+ phones.

What I appreciate is how well all these devices work together.  I can answer my phone calls on my computer!  I can answer calls on my iPad Mini 3.  I can text and talk on the phone through my computer at the same time.  It's amazing!

I have not had any issues with the computer slowing down after use.  My PC's had notorious issues of slowing down once the registry gets messed up from excessive use.  It has gotten to the point where I had to wipe the hard drive and reload the operating system on the PC's just to get them to work at a reasonable pace again!  None of that for the Apple... so far.  I'm told I probably won't ever see that happening.  We'll see, but so far, all indications point to that as a fact.

So in all, yeah... I'm an Apple fan now I suppose.  The MacBook Pro with Retina is a 13" version.  It's smaller, lighter, never gets turned off and just sleeps when I close the cover.  It has amazing battery life.  It starts up in an instant.  No more long waiting times just to boot the computer.  I have not seen any indications of a virus on the computer (although I'm told that it's not impossible to get a virus, it's just less viruses around for Macs).  I have not seen any malware issues.

Does it work fast for all programs?  No.  Microsoft Excel still runs slowly on it.  I think it's the program's fault though, not the computer's.  You can't copy and paste quickly on it.  It takes a while to "memorize" the copy before you can paste and if you do it too fast, it will paste the previous copy.  That results in mistakes.  Not good.  But if you use Apple's own "Numbers" program which is their competitive software to Excel, it has no problems.

I don't see any real advantages using a PC or a Mac while using Photoshop or Lightroom.  There are some different ways to approach the same result, but I don't see any advantages of one system over the other.

The computers whether PC's or Mac's are only as good as the user using them.  If you master the differences between the machines, you can use both effectively.  But for now, yeah, I guess I'm more pro-Apple than I have been in the past.

Whatever You Do In Life Today Prepares You For What You May Do In The Future

One bit of advice I have given to students over the years is that whatever you do in life today prepares you for what you may do in the future.

It's true.

For myself, I have done a LOT of different jobs over the years.  When I graduated college, I helped with sales at my family's stereo store.  I have had many sales jobs since then too.  I've worked as a project manager, a director of operations, a VP of sales and marketing.  I have also collected crime scene evidence and processed evidence for fingerprints.  I have taken lots of photos at crime scenes too while working at the San Diego District Attorney's Office.  I prepared crime scene sketches of building interiors for use in court cases.  I've testified as an expert witness in Forensic Photography, Videography and Audio.  I've photographed weddings.  I've created portraits.  I opened a photography school.  I teach photography.

Looking back on all the things I've done over the years, each experience was useful for the next job I was to get.

For example, today, I own a photography school and teach there as well.  I am offering a Real Estate Photography class soon.  What qualifies me to photograph homes?  Think about what is involved to run this class...

I photographed crime scenes.  Many of these are interior photos of homes or commercial buildings.  My experience in photographing crime scenes and interiors of buildings is just like real estate photography.  The difference is that in crime scene photography, I had to tell a story of how rooms connected to other rooms.  I had to show the path that the suspect took when he went through the building.  These are the kinds of photos that are also needed in real estate photography, except many agents don't know that.

My experience in law enforcement is helping me with my current job of teaching a real estate photography class!  My sales background is helping me to market and sell the class.  My experience in managing our stereo store is helping me in running a photography school business.

Everything you do in life prepares you for what you will do in the future.  Don't think that what you do today isn't worthy or important.  It's just preparation for your future.

Carry on...

HDR For Real Estate

These real estate images were shot using HDR (High Dynamic Range) with a Nikon D750 and Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens.  The images were processed in Lightroom CC.  All real estate photos on the MLS should like this good, don't you think?  Unfortunately, many agents and brokers do not have the photography skills or equipment to do it.

With an investment of a basic camera, an ultra-wide angle lens, a flash, Adobe Lightroom software and training from Balanced Exposure, they can easily get similar results as you see here.  Better photos help gather interest and promote viewings.  I think all real estate professionals need to get some training to help market their listings, don't you?  I have a promotional discount for the real estate class on my website at www.balancedexposure.com.  Check it out if you need this help!

Monday, January 04, 2016

Real Estate Photography - New Class for Agents and Brokers

The last several years, I had been thinking that I needed to offer some photography training to real estate agents and brokers.  The photos they use to market homes on the MLS (multiple listing service) range from really great to really poor.  It has always amazed me to think that some agents try to market homes that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with substandard photos!

Above are just some of the photos I took today of one of my students' home.  I shot them properly with a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 ultrawide angle lens.  But below are some examples of the same home taken on "auto mode" with a DSLR camera.  You can see, some did not come out too well because "auto mode" misinterprets the interior lighting due to the outside light from the window!  Auto mode is NOT the best way to photograph homes!  Plus, I used a typical wide angle lens too at 18mm on an APS-C cropped sensor camera.  It's usually not wide enough.  Can you see a difference between the properly shot images vs the average "auto mode" images?