First, let’s start off with “What is HDR Photography?” – Put simply, HDR is a range of methods to provide higher dynamic range from the imaging process. Non-HDR cameras take pictures at one exposure level with a limited contrast range. This results in the loss of detail in bright or dark areas of a picture, depending on whether the camera had a low or high exposure setting. HDR compensates for this loss of detail by taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels and intelligently stitching them together to produce a picture that is representative in both dark and bright areas.
Why HDR for real estate photography you say? Simply because real estate photography and shooting interior architecture has been and still is one of the most difficult exposure challenges to solve in the realm of photography. Consider this…
In many cases a shot needing to be captured to showcase a property needs to capture the exposure range of the interior and the range of the exterior. My question to you would be, “Have you ever shot landscape photography?”. The reason I ask is because if you have, then I’m sure you’ve experienced the vast exposure range of the bright highlights and the dark shadows in those landscape shots. Well, the shadow region of that landscape shot in 9 out of 10 images will be brighter than the brighter parts of an image for an interior shot. Which is why when you need to capture the dynamic range of an interior and exterior for one image, you’ll begin to appreciate why HDR is utilized in real estate photography.
If you think it is difficult to capture well exposed shots shooting landscapes and you’ve never attempted to shoot interior architecture / real estate, then you haven’t experienced PAIN yet! Seriously. Until you’ve attempted (regularly) to shoot real estate in daylight hours (not sunrise/dusk, but bright daylight), then you haven’t yet found out why HDR is so important and useful for architectural / real estate photography. Because that is when you will find out the dynamic range from highlights to shadows indoors with no window in frame can be wide enough by itself and difficult enough to capture by itself that when you add an entirely new brightness range of outdoors into the mix, the reality of what digital sensors can capture becomes clear.