In the last couple of articles we’ve been discussing a few tips, techniques and insights into getting started with real estate photography. In part one, we covered exteriors shooting, moved inside for a closer look at interiors shooting in part two, and examined making floor plans. Today we’ll explore a few useful post-production tips that will make life easy as we take advantage of the bulk arranging power of Photoshop Bridge CC and harness the processing power of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) to make select edits quickly across multiple images at once with ease. Let’s run through a few basic steps, starting with the selection process.
When the shooting is complete, it’s time to make a few bulk selections and edits. While some will prefer to use a Lightroom workflow as far as up-front editing, I defer here to a Bridge CC (folder-based) workflow over a Lightroom (collection-based) workflow to rate and arrange selections, batch rename finals and make bulk edits as required. Though easily accomplished in either app (to each their own preference here), I find the simple Bridge-to-ACR interface to be ideal when it comes to quickly managing and processing bulky (and quickly off-loaded) real estate projects.
The fastest selection method for this work is to take advantage of the one-to-five-star rating system. Working in Bridge, let’s switch to the Filmstrip (upper-right region) workspace, acquire a full view and scroll through the gallery with the right arrow key, giving all potential finals a five-star designation. To do this: simply drag your cursor across the stars located just above the file name, or press ctrl/cmd+5 (in this case) to apply the rating via keyboard shortcut.
Our goal is to analyze and select an ideal image to represent each view, angle and space from the group. Here it becomes painfully obvious as we’re starting out: the better we shoot, the less we have to adjust in post. While this gets easier with every job, seeing and correcting these framing and composition errors will cause us to grow as photographers and refine our technique with each outing.
Having rated our selections, navigate to the rating filter pull-down (upper-right region) and choose to view only our five-star images. We now find our shoot of 150-250 total images has now been pared down to between 35 and 75 keepers ready for final arrangement.
To easily arrange files into a logical order of flow: let’s switch back over to the Essentials workspace and adjust the thumbnail-size slider (lower-right corner) to view multiple images at once in order to conveniently drag & drop our images into their new positions.
The following list will provide a solid overall framework for arrangement to keep in mind when assembling a gallery or tour:
- Neighborhood or community entrance signage and views
- Exterior front and side elevations and views
- Attached garages and carports
- Front walk and main entrance
- Interiors – main level; including decking and/or porch views as required
- Interiors – upper level; including finished attic spaces, decking and/or porch views as required
- Interiors – lower level; including sizable storage rooms and updated utility rooms & equipment
- Exterior rear and side elevations and views
- Paddocks, outbuildings, gardens, water features and play areas
- Elevated and aerial site views (optional)
- Neighborhood and community features (ponds, tennis courts, walking paths, clubhouses, etc.)
Note: these are by no means intended as best practice for real estate work. It is however recommended as a good starting point for establishing an effective flow of imagery for any gallery or virtual tour.
Having arranged the images, the next step is to rename the files accordingly and permanently hold them in their new positions. To do this, with the five-star filter on and our images where we want them: select all (ctrl/cmd+A) and right-click on any image, locate and select the Batch Rename option. A dialog will open allowing us to rename and save the files either in the current location, or the destination of our choosing. Assuming the arrangement is good, rename the files with a three-digit sequential numbering system. Doing so will ensure the files are held in correct linear position when uploading to a gallery or tour.
At this point, my preference is to create a select sub-folder and copy the files and their new file names to this location for initial edits in ACR. We can always go back to the original folder for any images we may later decide to use. By selecting the Copy to other folder option as opposed to Moving them guarantees our originals are always preserved in-tact for future use. Once we dial in the settings we need, we can then save the current setup as a Preset to apply as needed in a single stroke. As shown in the sample image above, we have it labeled as MLS for simplicity.
While it’s always tempting to jump immediately into ACR as soon as the images are off-loaded, it’s much easier to hold off until the selection process is complete. There are seemingly always a few additions and exchanges along the way from the original folder, but for the most part we have our finals and are ready to make a few bulk edits. Narrowing the selection field up front significantly speeds up this process. Let’s take a look at a few common adjustments.
Jumping back to Bridge, let’s select all renamed images (ctrl/cmd+A) and open them in ACR by clicking the small aperture icon in Bridge (or by right-clicking on an image and choosing Open in Camera Raw):
Select all images and navigate to the Lens Corrections panel and select the Profile tab. If the image doesn’t automatically adjust, look up your camera and lens via the make and model pull-downs. It’s likely your lens has been profiled by Adobe and can be automatically corrected for distortion and chromatic aberration in a single stroke.
Look out for images tilting slightly forward or backward, or a little off-center. Locate a group in need of the same change and select them individually in the ACR panel by holding the CTRL key, then navigate to Lens Corrections –> Manual and we’ll find the tools needed to correct these issues. Try out the Balanced vs. Level and Upright correction presets, or make finer adjustments via the individual controls across multiple images at once.
When shooting RAW in varying light, I prefer to select all images and navigate over to the Detail panel and add a small amount of Luminance Noise Reduction, then head back over to the Basic panel to apply any White Balance corrections and (if needed) a trace amount of Clarity and/or Contrast for the entire group.
Select all exterior images and recover Shadows and Highlights as needed via the sliders in the Basic panel, or dial-in more precise adjustments via the Tone Curve panel. Likewise for interiors, many images will be in similar need of adjustment and, by way of ACR we’ll make short work of this process as well.
Remember: this is not fine art material, but if we develop a quick and straight eye when it comes to shooting, our editing life is much easier. I’m always amazed at how skewed my shots can be after so much framing effort. It kills me, but it’s just a fact I accept and strive to avoid moving forward. It’s easy at first to get wrapped around the axle in trying to do a good job. Some of us have to learn to slow down and pace ourselves a bit, making sure to not overlook any key shots along the way.
After renaming and editing the work in our select folder, it’s time to commit our ACR adjustments and save out our final images.
Jumping back over to Bridge and our select image folder: select all (ctrl/cmd+A) and open with ACR. In the ACR dialogue, we can select all again and navigate down to Save Images... We can now commit our adjustments to the files where they are, or choose to copy them to a select destination.
My preference is to create a finals sub-folder within the project tree as a permanent home for final selections, then copy and commit the changes to that location. Here we’ll have the option of resizing for final output as well. For example, the tour site I prefer to use recommends images to be uploaded at 4000px on the long side @ 300ppi.
Remember: the better we shoot, the less we have to process. By shooting well, we’re able to effectively handle all of our basic edit needs right here in ACR without officially entering Lightroom or Photoshop at all.
To the degree that we focus on nailing exposure and framing in-camera, we do ourselves and our clients service by speeding up the process in so doing. All that remains is to click Save and commit the changes to the desired destination and begin uploading for client review.
When the project is published and delivered, we can confidently transfer the files off-site via Drobo or cloud-based storage (etc.) and recover the much needed hard-drive space.
If you’re new to Adobe and would like to put these tools to use in your own workflow, be sure to check out the Adobe CC Photography bundle containing the latest release(s) of both Lightroom & Photoshop CC, including Camera Raw along with all the latest software updates for only $9.99/month. We’ll be doing some fun contests and giving away copies of the Photography CC plan as well, so keep an eye out for opportunities to win weekly right here at Photofocus.com.
And with that we’ll pick it up next time as we take a closer look at a couple of useful add-ons, starting with tips for effective floor plan services. Thanks for visiting. I hope you found the information helpful.
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