Tips on photographing rental property to advertise on Web?


Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
Dec 21, 2008
Hello all,

We are going to have to advertise our rental townhouse soon, and plan to do so on the Web, rather than in the local paper. We are having trouble getting nice light photographs of the interior, and would appreciate tips on how to do better.

Using the flash on my digital camera, and turning on every fixture in the home, the pictures are coming out much too gloomy (except for the kitchen, which gets full sun).

While the townhouse may not be radiant, it's certainly not a dungeon, as the pictures suggest. Does anyone have experience they would like to share?

Thanks very much,

Are you using a point and shoot with on-camera flash?

An on-camera flash on a point and shoot does not have the power to light up anything beyond roughly 6 feet. If you have an SLR, the on-camera flash is more powerful, but it's still not very good to light up interiors. A flash that mounts to an SLR is much better, especially since you can aim it at the ceiling for nice uniform illumination.

Ultimately, you probably need a tripod to permit long exposures. You want the camera to not fire the on-board flash (it's nearly useless anyway) and stay on low(er) ISO, with long exposures. Maybe something like a "night" mode.

Feel free to ask for more information.
Good for you using the web for rental - we've had very good success w/ Craigslist (spent $1000 on Salem paper ads one year and $0 the next). If you upload your pics to an online site like Photobucket they have picture manipulation software that would allow you to brighten images. My Canon digital does well enough i haven't had to use it - just shoot lots of images and cherrypick. If you then do the Craigslist ad you can put the images from Photobucket directly into your ad and they are much bigger and nicer than using the set 4 images Craigslist offers in their ad software.

Here's an example of the larger size photos you get plugging Photobucket URLs into your Craigslist ads vs using the Craigslist uploaded-from-your-computer ads.

3 bdrm, 1929 home

I saw a floor diagram on CraigsList and went to see the place. To understate the dumpiness of the real place, the diagram was a good choice to make it look bigger and more attractive. Also, I think photos of an empty room look better.
By the way, you should also understand the use of "exposure compensation," should you have that feature. That may be enough to fix things.

The problem is that the windows will be extremely bright compared to the interior. This can fool the camera into making most of the photo darker, since the camera wants to balance the brighter and darker areas. The same thing goes wrong when you try to take photos in the snow, etc.

You can add exposure time to brighten the interior (at the expense of the outdoors, which you don't care about) via exposure compensation. This is much better than trying to brighten the picture after the fact.
An on-camera built-in flash is gonna give you harsh direct light with shadows cast the wrong way. Next step up from that is an on-camera speedlite flash unit which is powerful and can bounce the light off the ceiling. This will light up the rooms and cast shadows downward where you expect them to be. Next step up from that is off-camera flash from speedlites controlled wirelessly. Then two off-camera speedlites controlled wirelessly. Then flashes into umbrellas and softboxes, etc.

You should probably find someone who has a separate flash unit that they attach to their camera and use their camera+flash. Or if your camera has a hotshoe, then buy one of the recommended flashes for your camera.
just take it to a photoeditting program like photoshop or GIMP(free) and adjust the levels or the threshold. There you can you can make the blackest black not so black and everything will brighten up.
get one of those $10 500w halogen work lights and aim it into each room as you shoot...that'll do it
Top Bottom