If the natural light in a room or scene simply needs a little more help, then it may be time to add your own light to the scene. Adding flash to your real estate photography workflow can seem like a hassle, however it is actually quite easy, if time allows for it.
Using Flash to Light Interiors
The interiors are probably where you’ll be using flash the most. When there aren’t windows around, the lighting fixtures aren’t enough to brighten up the entire space.
Before starting out, try shooting the interior with only the ambient light. Make sure that you exposure properly so that the windows aren’t blown out. Retain as many details as possible as it can be difficult to edit them in Photoshop. Doing this first makes it easier for you to figure out where to add lights.
The rule of thumb when shooting interiors with flash is to use it in manual mode. With small rooms, you can get away with using only one flash. However, larger rooms might require two or more flash units in order to get a similar exposure.
Bounce off your light on the ceiling or on walls, if there are darker areas in the space. Bouncing your flash makes the light softer and reduces the harsh shadows. Make sure that you use a neutral-colored surface when bouncing off the light. Test your frame first to check if you are getting harsh shadows or hotspots on your image. Experiment the direction where you’re pointing your flash. Often, it’s a matter of practice and testing out what works best.
Using Multiple Flashes
With bigger spaces, you might need more than one flash unit. No matter how many flash units you’re using, you still need to start out by photographing the ambient light. This allows you to figure out where you need to fill in some lights.
When adding in light, add one flash unit at a time. If you already have one flash lighting up the foreground, this light usually spills into the background due to its intensity. Make sure that you adjust the rest of the flashes accordingly.
If you cannot find any neutral surfaces to bounce off the light, umbrellas are also effective in diffusing your light source. Light the flash through the umbrella and direct it on the area that needs some brightness.
It’s all about testing and experimenting with the different flash placement to make sure that there are no lens flares or hotspots in your image. You need to keep doing test shots until you achieve the look that you want.
Perfect Combination HDR and Flash
There is much debate in the photography community on which is better, HDR or flash. However, you don’t have to choose one and completely neglect the other. You can use both and combine them in creating a better image.
HDR or high dynamic range is a technique in photography that creates a more dynamic range of light as compared to the standard photography strategy. In real estate photography, HDR is achieved by taking three photos at different shutter speed or exposures. These three images are usually composed of a base photo with the ambient light, a darker one that has captured the needed details, and a brighter one with the room lit up. Using post-processing software, you combine all the photos in order to create an extended luminosity.
You might wonder why you have to use flash when you’re already shooting in brackets for HDR. Flash, when used properly, can make it easier for you to control the brightness and contrast, especially in post-production. You can one or more light sources to balance the lighting in your image. Make sure that you take multiple exposures to make editing and blending easier.