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Apr 22, 2018, Sunday
Verticals and horizontals    HDR Real estate Checklist 20/2.8  
Apr 22, 2018, Sunday

Verticals and horizontals

A checklist for photographing interiors
April 22, 2018   HDR, Real estate, Checklist, 20/2.8
Last week I came home with a set of real-estate photos and found I'd overlooked a camera setting. Damn. The next day I re-shot them and I started this checklist for photographing interiors.

The challenge with interiors is small spaces, uneven lighting, and windows. Since these scenes are static the answer, of course, is to use HDR. You can do hand held HDR but a tripod allows the slow shutter speeds necessary include things that are dark or poorly illuminated.


  • Dark clothing to minimize reflections
  • Wide-angle lens, the wider the better
  • Remote control, the camera's timer will work in a pinch
  • Tripod + L-bracket
  • Circular polarizer

Set up the camera:

  • Aperture priority
  • AE bracketing on, typically 5-shot brackets in intervals of 1
  • Auto ISO off. You're using a tripod, you aren't shooting movement, so you don't need auto iso which otherwise I totally depend on.
  • Set white balance
  • Attach polarizer
  • Aperture set for maximum depth of focus and sharpness, f/8 is good
  • File type depends on processor. Photomatix can process Nikon raw but cannot process Fuji nef.

Check the rooms:

  • Turn on all the lights
  • Look for reflections in mirrors, windows, cabinets
  • Look for anything out of place such as:
    • Clothes
    • Towels
    • Papers
    • Pillows
    • Wires, dishes, etc.

Back at the computer:

  1. Copy images to file-type-specific folder.
  2. Batch process with Photomatix after setting bracket number and output folder
  3. Bring results into Lightroom then develop as follows:
    • Fix verticals and horizontals
    • Sharpen
    • Adjust contrast, clarity, shadows, etc.
    • Crop

Photomatix processing speed depends on the computer, the files, and output type chosen. I tend to generate several outputs but usually I only keep those marked Enhanced. On this day I shot 34 scenes, each with a 5-shot bracket, which produced 170 files and Photomatix took 3 1/3 hours.

The last step for each HDR photo is a trip through Lightroom for sharpening, color adjustment, and to fix the verticals and horizontals. While you don't always have horizontal lines to fix vertical lines are really common, fixing them makes a big visual impact, and ot's ridiculously easy with a tool such as Lightroom.

This is also when I process the exterior shots, like stitching together several shots to create a panorama. Lightroom does well with panoramas.

The full set will appear in the next post.

And while I'm waiting I'm listening to Vasen's Mitt I Livet (In the middle of life).


I'm only partially happy with this picture. Even with a polarizer it has reflections in the window and the glass shelves. But it's good enough for my needs which is to show the interior with a view out the window to the Sooke basin and the Strait of Juan De Fuca in the distance.