Finally! Spring has arrived so your property photos should look brighter and more cheerful shouldn’t they? I say, ‘should’ advisedly, because bright sunshine can either make or break a photo. Take a read below and you’ll find out how you can Make or Break that all important exterior photo when it’s sunny…
ISSUE 1: SUN GLARE AND SHADOWS
The right time would be when the sun’s lighting up the elevation you’re photographing. The wrong time is when it’s behind the property and shining into your lens. When that happens, you’re going to see something below…If the elevation faces due north, then unless you’re in mid-summer there probably won’t be a ‘right time’, because the sun will always be behind the house.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TIMING
The best time to take your photo is when the sun’s shining ON the elevation. So, before you attend, work out what time of the day that’s going to happen and take it then. Also, try to avoid the sun shining through trees onto the elevation if that’s possible.
Your best bet for a north-facing elevation would be to take your photo when it’s slightly cloudy so that the sun is shaded. The sky may look white (unless the photo’s very under-exposed), but you can still have a blue sky by adding it afterwards. Doctor Photo adds thousands of blue skies to photos every month.
We’ve shown you this great tool but if you’ve missed it we recommend suncalc.net. It’s free and super useful for working out where the sun will be in relation to a property.
ISSUE 2: YOU LOSE DETAIL DUE TO OVER EXPOSURE
Another challenging situation would be when you’re photographing a white house where there’s heavy shadow on it – perhaps from sun shining through trees. Often, parts of the house elevation will be very bright next to heavy shadow. If it’s so bright that detail on the house (maybe a window) disappears, then you’ll have what we photographers call ‘a problem’. The problem is that when a detail is so over-exposed that it’s white, then there will be zero data there to be manipulated so that it can’t be made darker. (Solutions below)
1. EXPOSURE COMPENSATION BUTTON
When you look at the photo you’ve taken on your camera screen, if you think the house looks over-exposed, then take another and this time use the Exposure Compensation button to dial in a faster exposure, so that your photo will become a little darker. But be careful not to make it too dark, because when shadows are lightened in post, there’s not a lot of data in those either, so they can look speckly and lose quality. Heavy shadow can ruin a photo as much as a white sky might, so send it to Doctor Photofor expert treatment to bring out the best of that image.
2. ISO SETTINGS
One of the settings that can cause the quality of your images to appear more ‘speckly’ in the shadow areas, is the ISO setting. I can teach you all about this if you have a workshop with me but suffice to say here, that you should try to use an ISO with a low number – 100 to 400 – if you want your images to be of good quality.
You can use a higher number if you have a top of the range SLR, but agents mostly don’t use those, so try to use 100 to 400 if you can – never use Auto ISO.
About the Author
John Durrant is a professional photographer specialising in country houses in the South-East. He was an estate agent for 37 years retiring from partnership in his award-winning agency in 2005. Recently he wrote the 12,000-word Guidance on Property Photography for the RICS. He’s the founder of Doctor Photo Ltd which is the Digital Studio for Estate Agents, editing thousands of photos for agents each month and running photography workshops around the UK.
Taken any images with dark shadows or exposure issues recently?Send them to the Doctor and we can fix them (as long as there’s data behind those over exposed features!)