Photographing small homes

FyniteApril 25, 2013

Does anyone have any advice / guides on photographing the interior of small homes? I am having trouble getting far enough from any given wall of the room to get a good picture of the whole wall.

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Professional photographers use wide-angle lenses to photograph interiors. You would need a DSLR at minimum with a decent wide-angle lens. Regular digital cameras won't cut it. If there is a window opposite the wall you are photographing, I suppose you could open the window and shoot from outside.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 6:06AM
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Elraes Miller

They are now offering various lenses for add on to phones and small cameras. The pricing is very acceptable. My daughter has one for her IPhone. I'm a bit critical of the photos, use a Nikon DSLR with an 18-55 lense which takes full room shots. This lense is not considered wide angle.

Am impressed with these little lenses available. They seem to have many options from macro to wide angle.

Run a search on your camera or phone and see if there is an add on lense. Most of the reviews have good examples of photos taken with the different lenses.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 6:58AM
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One hint to make the photograph of a room appear larger -- note this when you're looking at hotel room photographs: No matter how small the room may be, never allow both the left and the right wall to appear in the photograph. You might scoot right up to the edge of one, but "omitting" one of the walls makes it look as if the room continues on and on.

Another lens that photographers use to make small rooms look larger is the fisheye lens; however, that obviously distorts things.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:08PM
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If you google "interior photography tips" you'll find a million tutorials and sites devoted to this.

Personally I despise the current trend of getting too close with a lens that's too wide to give a false sense of scale--do they think you won't notice that the room is only ten feet wide instead of 50 when you go to look at the property? What's the point of enticing someone who's looking for a room the size of a ballroom to come see your teensy cottage?

Further to what MrsPete said, another maxim of real estate photography is "always shoot into the corner". Like all maxims, it's helpful but also something to disregard when necessary.

It's true that the iphone and other smart phones have much better cameras than they used to, but it's also true that those lenses are optimized for bright light and the quality suffers greatly indoors. The lenses are slow, which means blur because in low light the shutter has to stay open a long time, and noisy, which means lots of graininess.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 4:41PM
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Well, since it is my home I'm not interested in enticing anyone :)

And while I am shooting into a corner, my problem is that I only get 2 feet to either side of the corner. And as you said, I don't like the fisheye distortion thing. I suppose I could get a DSLR, but it seems like a lot of money for a small project.

I was hoping for something more in line with photo stitching software. I thought about using gimp and just setting up some guide lines and mapping the photos onto them to build a composite photo. Then I thought that seemed like a lot of work, so I tried downloading Hugin, but after the first run it crashed. (And it still gave me a certain amount of fisheye.)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 10:49PM
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Apparently hugin 64 bit is more stable on my computer than 32 bit.

I'll post the results as I learn to use the program :) It is kind of more complicated than I hoped. (Apparently image recognition in the absence of context is not something that has progressed as fast as I had hoped.)

Here is the *very rough* first pass, basically, 7 pictures that make up the far wall of the bathroom. (one thing I learned is "take photos with the door closed behind you." The minor extra space isn't worth the floating appearing / disappearing door. In my defense, I was trying to protect the barely dry paint.) You can see that on the shower door, where I told it what is a vertical line and what is horizontal, it does fairly well. Where I didn't tell it, it is alot weaker

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 12:17AM
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Baths are always hard to photograph, unless they're ginormous. Check your camera and the software that came with it--many cameras have a special stitch mode and a program for your computer to use to complete the pano. My canon does almost as well that way as what I can do in Photoshop.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 11:11AM
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No, you're not shooting into the corner. You're doing a straight-on shot, which shows BOTH corners. This is dull and expected. Instead, hold the camera over the sink . . . and angle the camera so that you're "cutting out" the corner where the tub and the toilet meet. Your goal is to show ONLY ONE corner. Trust a photography teacher: It'll make a big difference in the photograph.

OR do the same thing in the opposite direction: Close the door and take the picture towards the toilet wall, cutting out the window wall altogether.

- A more interesting angle
- Suggests greater size in two ways: 1) it suggests that the wall you're now showing might be farther back than it actually is. 2) shoots across the small room's greatest distance (diagonal).

You're definitely right about closing the door. You don't consciously see it with your eye . . . but the camera records every detail, and the door is distracting. If you were a professional photographer, you'd probably take the door off the hinges to allow yourself those extra few inches of wall.

Also, the picture will look MUCH better when you've finished the room with towels, curtains and accessories. Right now it's very stark, and that adds to the blah of the room (even though I really like the shade of blue and think it'lll be a great room once you're done with it).

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 7:41PM
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Very wise words from MrsPete. Look at some well-shot listings--they aren't going to show you the entire bathroom. Even in a large room you get more of a spacious feeling if you don't see all the walls. Should have mentioned that in my last post.

Stitching is okay if you're trying to get a wider shot than your lens can do well. With a point and shoot camera you're likely to get bad barrel distortion, where the walls seem to bend outwards, when the lens is all the way open, so you may want to zoom in just a hair and stitch two shots. Just don't try to stitch in both opposite walls of a room.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 10:44PM
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