In building my Real Estate Photography business, it is a constant learning process to find better techniques to improve quality and save time. These little tips will also help my portraits if a client is placed in front of glass with a beautiful view.
When on location, one does not have a choice of day or time of day to shoot interiors if we wish to shoot more than one house per day and make some money. Lighting conditions are different in every house and at all times of the day. Practicing on my living room during the morning hours represents the worst situation for HDR photography. Normally we would shoot a very dark exposure to capture the view through the window, leaving the rest of the photo almost black. At this time of day the windows are blown out, and the HDR capture looks terrible.
I have spent hours looking at Utube examples, using Channels, masking the Blue Channel, you name it. When painting in the window view in layers, often the woodwork details are very dark, and the photo looks fake and unrealistic. I have even meticulously used my pen tool, isolating each individual window pane so that the view could be painted in accurately. Takes a lot of time that I do not have.
The best way I have found is to use the "Window Pull" technique, whereby a high powered flash is used to overpower the outside light and make the interior woodwork somewhat equal to what was captured with available light through the windows. But then I was running into a problem with severe light reflections off the windows.
The way I solved this dilemma is to use a powerful 400 watt to 600 watt Quantum Speed light, and point it at the ceiling on a high light stand--very important. Found this out by constant reading. Make the light reflect down from the white ceiling. One pull on the left side of the room where the picture window is, and another on the right side, gives me two images to bring into Photoshop on layers with my HDR finished image, and this is the result. Now my double-pane window was damaged by a pressure washer causing condensation streaks in the window, but the example hopefully describes the technique.
Using HDR multiple image results are far better than most photographers out there using flash, but knowing how to pull the window views into your work will set you far apart from the pack. Real Estate agents love it, and for high end properties, this knowledge is a must. Nobody will take this business away from you with a cell phone.