Why Photoshop is essential / by Neil Alexander

Property Photography - Neil Alexander

This last week I was asked to shoot a property for a local estate agent. With this hopefully being the beginning of a fruitful relationship, I was determined to do everything within my powers to make sure the job ran smoothly. I try and go the extra mile as a matter of course, but for this I was prepared to go further! The job itself was straight forward enough and it was very useful to have the agent himself with me as he provided some very useful feedback there and then to better understand exactly what he wanted from the shoot.

Many layers with their layer masks went into making the resulting image

Many layers with their layer masks went into making the resulting image

There was one particular shot though which was a challenge. The property is fronted by a 7 foot hedge, and this hedge is probably no more than 6 or 7 feet from the front of the building itself. The main image of the front of the property needed to be in landscape format, give an overview of the property including the surrounding properties, the path leading up to the front door, and not have the enormous hedge obscuring the ground floor. After several test shots, it became quite apparent, that even with the use of step ladders to get above the hedge, it wasn't going to be optically possible to get in one single frame.

I use a pair of Nikon D300 bodies, which are probably into 5 figures actuations and are far from new. But they do me just fine. Occasionally low light causes me a problem and they can get noisy but for 95% of what I do, they're great. They do however have a cropped sensor. About a 1.5 crop I think. The widest glass I have is a Sigma 10-20, so at it's widest I'm probably getting about 15mm. That in itself is fine. Plenty wide, believe me. Much wider and you're going fish-eye and that's a complete no-no for real estate photography. A full-frame body with the 10-20mm may just have squeezed it in, but I doubt it. So for this particular frame, due to the constraints of the enormous hedge, the only way I could have got the photograph in one frame would have been to use a fish-eye.

After a rather substantial amount of head-scratching, I was left with the conclusion that the only way I could make this shot work was with Photoshop and a spot of layering and masking. After fixing the converging verticals, the next step was to layer in several adjacent photographs and mask them in. While not technically optically possible, the resultant image is still a very accurate reflection of the property itself, and one with which the client is very happy with. It took me a long time to get there, and left me a little stressed at times, but failure was not an option.

Incidentally, without a Wacom tablet, and only the use of a mouse, this masking process would have been a really arduous task. I've been using a large Wacom Intuos 4 tablet for some time now, and I have to say that it's been an absolute revelation for my workflow. I've seen that Wacom have just recently released version 5 of the tablets, but not yet had a chance to have a play with one. The reviews have been outstanding and if the previous model is anything to go by, then it's a tool that you really need to have in your workflow. Have a look here - Wacom Intuos5 Large Pen & Touch Tablet


Finally, some of you may have heard that I am exhibiting at the Greater Manchester Business Exhibition on the 29th May. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you all along.

- It’s INDEPENDENT (not affiliated with any others you may have seen before – it’s being run by 2 businessmen from Manchester)

- There will be over 60 EXHIBITORS that are non-conflicting (See flyer – no two offer the same service - http://pic.twitter.com/lgGwMSTW )

- There will be  4 FREE seminars to all visitors from market leaders on management skills, networking skills, marketing skills and social media.

- There will be a VISITOR LITERATURE table (you can bring your own flyers and market your company)

- Its FREE!

- There will be a REDUCED RATE HEAD SHOT for your online profiles on the day by yours truly.

The buzz that has already created about this event has meant that places are going fast! If you want to reserve a place, the go to: http://gmbizexhibitionmay29-esearch.eventbrite.co.uk/?srnk=1&ebtv=C

It is also being run as  a linkedin event. Some of the exhibitors and visitors have left messages. Feel free to go and have a browse, leave a comment. http://linkd.in/GHvTEP

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch and if I don’t see you before, see you on the 29th. Bring plenty of business cards!