Real Estate Photography – Get perfect windows with layer masks in Adobe Photoshop.
Last Updated on December 11, 2020
Real estate photography is not for the faint of heart.
While stunning images on social media of properties around the world are easy to find, it may make you think that you too can pull off similar quality work. On the surface, it may seem easy, but if you have ever tried to take pictures of your own home you will notice that even with the best and latest mobile device or camera, your pictures do not compare to those of a true professional.
The pressure is real.
The 2019 NAR Buyers and Sellers Report indicates that 87% of buyers value professional real estate photography – the number one item that they look for when searching for a home online. Which means that it’s not hard to believe why real estate photography is associated with higher selling prices and less time on the market. This also translates into real estate photography needing to really show off the best features of the property, and when the view is important, it means you need to showcase that in the interior shots, not just the exterior ones.
So how do you actually do this?
An excellent method is to use layer masks in photoshop. Layer masks can be more time consuming than other methods like shooting in HDR or editing raw images but you can get results that are superior.
The first step is to get the required materials together. You are going to need two images, one light and one dark. The reason you need these two images is because you will be using the interior of one image and the windows from the other. When combined, they will have the best exposed areas of both.
Open both images in Adobe Photoshop and combine them so that the darker of the two is the bottom layer. This can be done by selecting the entire bright image using the rectangular marquee tool and copying it (Ctrl+C). Select the darker image and paste the lighter one on top of it (Ctrl+V). The resulting combination will have both images represented as layers.
Select the top layer and press the button to add a layer mask. A small white rectangle will appear to the right of the layer thumbnail. This represents the layer mask and when selected will allow you to modify it.
Select the area you would like to mask. This can be easily done by using the pen tool and selecting points around the window frame. Click all four corners and then click on your first point to make a rectangle. Then right-click anywhere inside the rectangle and choose “make selection” to select the area.
Select black as your foreground color and fill the selected area with black by choosing Edit/Fill/Foreground color.
The windows from the darker image will now appear in the lighter image, giving you far more detail than would have originally been there. The final image will now have the best exposed areas of both images.
BONUS: You can tweak a few settings to make things perfect. Double click on the layer mask to access options. Then, adjust the sliders for feathering and density to get a more natural look.
Real Estate Photography is ever-changing.
They say you can always learn something new and this is especially true for real estate photography. Real estate is evolving, photography is evolving and Photoshop has endless possibilities. If you spend the time learning you can really perfect your craft, and with the suggestions from above you too can have stunning window views in every home.
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