As a photographer, I always see these questions pop up in different forums and groups.
“How do these editors make my photos look so good?”
And it follows with
“I tried editing photos on my own, but they never come out as good as the professional editors”
Well, you’re in luck because today, I’m going to unveil the secrets of the remarkable real estate photo editors hailing from the legendary hidden village of Vietnam. Okay, so technically, I’m from the Philippines, but let’s face it – the finest freelance real estate photo editors originate from Vietnam.
This is precisely how our team at Omorfia retouches each image, allowing us to serve over 100 clients worldwide.
Here are the software that you need.
Adobe Photoshop – This is no brainer. Suppose you like to edit your photos to its maximum potential, Photoshop is the way to go. Photoshop has the capacity to do unlimited things in real estate photo editing.
Photoshop has just released an app on an Ipad. We haven’t tested it yet, but we’ll try it soon, so stay tuned for our future blogs.
Adobe Bridge – It’s like Windows Explorer or Finder. This is where we choose the photos that we will edit. It’s somewhat like Lightroom too.
Camera Raw Plugin – Like I always say in my team. 50% of the magic of real estate photo editing comes from Camera Raw.
This is where you adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Saturation of the image.
Adobe Lightroom – We use this software to merge multiple exposures into one. This technique is much known as HDR.
You heard it right. Lightroom now has a built-in HDR plugin, so you don’t have to buy additional HDR software or plugin anymore and it’s pretty darn good too.
You can download all of these in Adobe Creative Cloud. All of these software is included in their Photography Plan for $13/month
To get started on retouching real estate photos, Here are the few pieces of equipment that you need.
Laptop or Desktop
If you don’t have a computer yet, you can check out this link on what computer specs Adobe recommends.
When it comes to retouching real estate photos, time is of the essence – especially for photographers. This is why we highly recommend utilizing a pen tablet, which is significantly more efficient than using a mouse or trackpad. The one we are using is a Wacom Intuos Art
Designer 4K Monitor
While a 4K monitor may seem like an optional luxury, we learned the hard way that using a low-resolution monitor can cost you potential clients. As such, we believe that utilizing a high-resolution, true-color monitor is a must.
In editing real estate photos, we have to be extremely precise with the colors and brightness of each picture and a monitor calibrator is a big help to achieve that.
Most photographers recommends Data Color SpyderX Capture Pro. This is the one we are also using.
Important Adobe Photoshop Tools To Remember
Lasso Tool (L) – is one of the ways to select parts in a photo.
Pen Tool (P) – is another way to select in Photoshop. This tool is much more efficient and has more control than the Lasso Tool.
Adjustment Layers – Under Layers Tab, this is where you can see the adjustment layers.
Curves Layer – This is where you can adjust the brightness of the photo, and add tint to it.
Hue and Saturation – From the word itself, you can increase or decrease the saturation of the image.
Levels – We are using the Levels Adjustment Layer to Adjust the whites and blacks of the photo.
Please note that these Adjustment Tools have a lot of functions. However, the ones I stated above are the functions we are using in Editing Real Estate Photos.
Okay. Let’s stop on the boring side. Let’s get started on the good stuff.
First, to select photos that you’re going to edit, open Adobe Bridge.
We use this software because literally, it is a bridge for both your photos and your editing software (Adobe Photoshop).
Why Adobe Bridge? Because it is neat and supports most of the video and image formats ( ex. JPG, CR2, DNG, ARW, etc. ) out there and has a user-friendly interface.
You can also select multiple images and open them at the same time.
We use it mainly for selecting multiple exposures without any hassle of opening it one by one.
Most photographers say it’s old-school to use Adobe Bridge, but if you’re working with multiple jobs, Adobe Bridge is way more comfortable than using Lightroom.
Make sure that you’re in the Film Strip tab.
In the Folders tab, choose the folder that you would like to edit.
Now, select the exposures that you will edit. Press (CTRL/COMMAND) to select multiple photos.
Press (CTRL+R) and for the MAC user (COMMAND+R) to open Camera Raw.
You can also click this Icon to open Camera Raw.
Once you’re in Camera Raw,
Go to Basic Panel, and you can see all the adjustment tools you can use.
1. White Balance
We strongly recommend you use the eyedropper icon or the White Balance Tool located on the right side of the panel or simply click ( I )
Click somewhere white, and in this case, for example, the objects that are whites are the ceiling and the lamp.
The first picture shows how unnatural and odd the temperature of the photo is. And with the help of this tool, you can adjust, correct some colors instantly,
It doesn’t work all the time, but frequently it is.
This tool can save you some time for blending and adjusting photos.
To learn more about the adjustments, you can check our detailed explanation here.
After adjusting the photos click “Done”.
If you only work on one exposure, you can skip this chapter. But if you’re using flambient technique here’s how to blend multiple exposures.
For Interior shots, you need 3 photos. 2 if the space doesn’t have a window.
Select all the photos you need in Adobe Bridge
Go to Tools Tab
And select Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
Next step is to align the layers.
You need to do is to select all the layers. (Ctrl/Command+A)
Then go to Edit Tab
And select Auto-Align Layers.
The reason for this is that not all the photos are perfectly shot in one same angle,
some are tilted and will result in a distorted or blurry image if you blend it.
Just like the example below.
Quick Tip: Use your tripod and place it in a stable position. And it is smart to use a remote app to control your camera for a more stable shot.
We can now proceed to the next step, which is blending.
Here, we need your Flash and Ambient exposures.
Make sure that your Background layer(Bottom Layer) is your Flash exposure and Middle Layer is Ambient exposure
Let’s turn off the Window Exposure for now by clicking the Eye Icon.
Select the Ambient Layer and decrease the Opacity to 50%.
And set the blending mode from Normal to Luminosity.
This is where we are going to use the Lasso Tool (L)
We use this tool to even out all the dark parts in the photo.
As you can see in this photo the dark part is in the bottom right corner
and some parts in the left corner and upper right corner needs enhancement too
After you select all the parts that need to be enhanced or brightened, you need to put some Feather Radius in it.
and to do that, just go to Select Tab
and then select Feather or just press (SHIFT+F6) for both PC and MAC.
Add Feather Radius depending on the photo or file size. We usually use 100 – 300 px feather radius.
Make sure that you don’t skip this method and proceed to the next process because it will end up like this.
And now we will lighten all the selected parts using Curves Tool, and there are 2 ways to access this tool
First is to
Go to Layer Tab
Choose New Adjustment Layer
And the other which is the easy one.
Click the Circle Icon below the Layer Window
After clicking the Curves Layer, a Layer “Curves 1” will appear.
Click the line in the middle and drag it up a little to lighten up the selected area.
The higher the curves the brighter the selected part gets and vice versa. So make sure you don’t overdo it.
Adjust the curves accordingly.
In this process, we are going to remove color casts. Most of them are in the form of a blue tint.
This is pretty common in real estate photos.
Let’s push the saturation up so we can see it better.
Again, go the the Create New Adjustment Layer and choose Hue/Saturation
As you can see there are some blue color casts in the left part of the image and some on the bed.
And to that, we need to use the Lasso Tool (L) to select all blue casts.
After selecting, put some Feather Radius. 100-300 px
Let’s create Curves Adjustment Layer again. Make sure it was under Hue/Saturation Layer.
Click the RGB and Change it to Blue.
In order to remove the blue cast, let’s push down the blue curve a little until the blue casts turns into yellow.
You can now delete our Hue/Saturation layer guide.
And that’s how it’s done.
Before pathing, let’s duplicate & merge all the layers first.
Select the top layer that is visible and HOLD (CTRL+ ALT+SHIFT +E) or (OPTION+COMMAND+SHIFT+E)
Let’s path the ceiling by clicking all the sides.
and then right-click on your mouse or trackpad.
Choose Make Selection.
After making a selection create a Hue/Saturation Layer
Adjust Lightness from +20 to +50
Saturation to -20 to -30.
Let’s turn on the Window layer by clicking the Eye Icon.
To change the window view, we need to Path (P) the window.
Just like ceiling, let’s select the edges.
and then right-click on your mouse or trackpad.
Choose Make Selection. Input a Feather Radius 1 px.
We don’t want them to be seen in window’s metal frames so we have to delete it.
Go to Brush (B)
Right click and change the Brush Hardness to 80%
Make sure that the brush color is black and opacity is 100%
Let’s change the brush size according to the width of the metal frame.
To remove the excess frames, click the alpha mask of the layer.
Hold shift and click the start and end point of the line.
We are almost done
Save File – before we proceed to the last part of our project let’s have a quick save on our progress.
Save a Photoshop format (.PSD) in case you have some revisions or you need to add something on your file.
Before we save our final file or the JPEG file. Let’s align the photo one more time.
Let’s flatten the image by right-clicking the layer window, and select Flatten Image.
Open Camera Raw by HOLDING (CTRL+SHIFT+A) for PC and (COMMAND+SHIFT+A) for MAC
Go to Geometry
Choose 4th option to straighten all the verticals.
To sharpen the image, let’s go to the Details in Camera Raw.
Push the sharpness option according to your taste.
Last is to hit Okay and save your JPEG file (Ctrl/Command+Shift+S).
And we’re done!
In conclusion, achieving stunning real estate photos demands more than just a camera and some basic editing skills. It requires a sharp eye, meticulous attention to detail, and the right tools at your disposal. Fortunately, by following the expert tips and techniques we’ve provided, you can elevate your real estate photos to a whole new level and leave the competition in the dust.
But what if the thought of editing your real estate photos feels overwhelming and stressful? Fear not, for our team at Omorfia is here to help. With our unrivaled expertise in real estate photo editing, we can turn your ordinary photos into true works of art. Our experienced photo editors utilize cutting-edge techniques and tools to ensure that your photos look their absolute best, giving you more time and freedom to focus on other critical aspects of your real estate business.
Don’t let mediocre real estate photos hold you back any longer. Contact Omorfia today and let us transform your photos into masterpieces that will dazzle your clients and leave a lasting impression.
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