How To Make The Most Out of Our HDR New feature

HDR is Now Available In Tourbuzz/Urbanimmersive

We are proud to announce that we have an HDR processor available for all Tourbuzz/Urbanimmersive photographers. As more and more photographers opt for HDR to provide astonishing real estate photos and save post-editing time, the fully integrated solution within Tourbuzz/Urbanimmersive will bring a lot more value.

HDR (high dynamic range imaging) photos are very popular in real estate photography because they let you bring out all the light potential of an image. Thanks to the superposition of several different exposures within the same frame, the HDR overcomes the common challenge of backlighting.

Many professional DLSR cameras are integrating built-in HDR image processing. Still, the size of their internal processor limits the number of exposures and settings that some photographers are looking at.  This is why many photographers still prefer using external third-party image processing solutions.

Up until now, those real estate photographers have been overwhelmed by the amount of work involved with the post-production of several HDR images.  Playing with multiple exposures of several photos done during a single day of work requires file manipulation and computer processing resources. As a result, productivity suffers, along with your bottom line.

That ends now!  Introducing our new fully-integrated HDR solutions now ready to be used in your Tourbuzz/Urbanimmersive application.

How To Make The Most Out of Our HDR New Features

To help you make the most out of both HDR options, here are some tips to consider.

If you want to use an automatic built-in, Auto bracketing settings are available in most DSLR cameras. We suggest putting the camera on Aperture Priority. Many Auto bracketing will only do 3 photos (-2,0,2) at different shutter speeds. Some cameras like the Nikon D800 will do up to 9 exposures.

The image histogram will tell you if the exposure of an image is good or not just by looking at the curve of the percentage of each color present in the image. The curve tells it all. If the exposure is all black, it will pull the whites of the final image to gray. If the exposure is all white, it will pull the dark colors to pale.

Shooting Face to the Sun

In many real estate photography scenes, your camera will face a sunny window surrounded by dark elements. In those cases, decrease your brackets a bit like (-3, -2, 0, 2).  You will obtain a more detailed and contrasted view seen through the window.

Shooting basements (or low light environments)

In low light scenes like basements, do the reverse. Increase the brackets a bit so that you will see the last shot longer. Many photographers make a mistake in cranking the ISO to increase the shutter speed. The danger with this is that you will increase the noise in the final images too.  So if you use this ISO pumped technique, you will speed up your shooting time, but it might also affect your post-production time.

In our opinion, 9 exposures will ensure that you have covered all possible ranges of tones.   Our years of experience with HDR have shown that the more you have good exposures to merge, the better the final images will be.

Setting The Proper Number Of Exposures During A Shoot

Many real estate photographers will take as many exposures per frame as possible to avoid changing the setting of their camera when facing windows or in low-light environments.  During post-production, photographers will manually select the good exposures. This is what we recommend doing, and with our HDR options, it is now easier than ever to apply this selective post-production approach.

Indeed, to help you spot bad images, the Tourbuzz application is tagging images that don’t reach a specific histogram curve goal.  You can delete the images one by one or all the bad exposures at once. You can also decide to keep them depending on the final image result wanted.  If you find your final image is too dark, you would want to add the light one you just removed (if this is the case).

Manual Bracketing

If your auto-bracketing feature for your DSLR takes three exposures and you want to do more, like nine, you will have to use the manual mode. That means you will have to set the bracketing manually between each shot, stepping by 1 or 2 depending on your needs so that you could do something like -2, -1, 0, +1, +2.

If you want to set each exposure by yourself, we recommend that you fix your aperture and play with the Shuttle Speed.  It could look like an aperture at 5.6 with shuttle speeds at ( 1/2000, 1/800, 1/320, 1/125, 1/50, 1/20, 1/8, 1/3, 1/2) depending on the camera.

Avoid Image Noises

Whenever you use an automatic or manual bracketing technic, always try to use the lowest ISO possible.  HDR is well known for amplifying noise. Each DSLR camera has different qualities of ISO, but still, the lowest value is often the best choice. Of course, using a low ISO on automatic bracketing mode can increase the shooting time a bit. But the results are worth it.

In our case, in outdoor scenes, we always try to use ISO 100.  Indoors, we try never to go higher than 200 ISO, and sometimes 400 for low light scenes when the shooting day is in our legs.

With a 360 lens camera like the Ricoh Theta Z1, we recommend using ISO 80 for all exposures as the ISO of the Theta is generating a lot of noises.

Avoid vibration

When using manual techniques, make sure you have a heavy tripod, so your camera won’t move between each shot. Just triggering the camera can create micro-vibration that may blur the image.  Whether it's manual or automatic bracketing, we strongly suggest using a remote trigger to avoid putting your hands on the camera, which can slightly change its position.

We know that with Ricoh Theta Z1, you can shot a 360 image in 2 shots to avoid having to hide from the camera.  If you use manual multi-bracketing mode, we are not recommending using this 2 shots technic, which can cause micro-vibrations.

White Balance

HDR is well known to amplify yellow color too easily.  If you have final images that are turning too much on the yellow, it’s simply because your white balance was too warm.  Ideally, using a Custom White Balance will increase your chances to reach the closest true color of a scene once exposures are merged.

Custom White Balance is set using a gray card with a reading of 18% gray, the midpoint between true black and true white, or a white card that you place in front of you and take a shot.  You can find a ton of information about setting the custom white balance on the web if you are not familiar with this technique.

The custom White Balance will have to be reset for every room, which can be a time burner in a high-volume photography business context.  Therefore, make sure that at least you have chosen Auto White Balance (AWB), which in many cases, provides excellent results. Just don’t mistake choosing a one-fix White Balance setting for all the scenes unless they all share the same light and theme conditions.

RAW vs. Jpeg Images

A pixel is a pixel. RAW images are just uncompressed images. With both HDR options, you will obtain the same final image using uncompressed jpeg images. As RAW files are different for each camera manufacturers, we have decided only to accept jpeg files. Most DSLR cameras (if not all of them) will let you set the compression level of jpeg.  It’s often present at 95%. You can change it to 100% for optimal results.

“Yes, but I use Lightroom to correct lens distortions.”  

Have any thoughts, questions, or concerns? We would love to get your feedback!

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