Photo Tip for Shooting 16′ Above Ground with Pole Pixie

What a cool tool! I discovered this on the www.realestatephotography.com website a few weeks ago.  It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to transport. All you need is a strong extending painting pole.

It can seem a little unwieldy with the camera attached, but with a little practice it’s easy to maneuver. I think the key is to keep the bottom of the pole on the ground as you raise the camera into the air. The website www.polepixie.com has some helpful hints and lots of warnings about how to handle the whole unit so that one does not lose an expensive camera.

I have a heavy duty pole (get brand) that allows me to keep the pole pixie adapter, a tilting mount and the protective plate attached as one unit which I can just pop it off the pole and place in my car. This is great because I think it can be time consuming to realign the camera with the arrow on the bottom of the plate each time.

Once you have managed to attach everything and practice raising it in the air you can then start shooting. Unless you wish to invest in a small TV ($$) and attach it with cords to your camera, so that you can see a live feed – it’s really blind shooting. I kind of like the trial and error method using my camera’s 12 second timer. So far on the 3 properties I shot, it took me 5-10 tries to get the right angle and a focused shot. Not bad.

What a difference it made on this property. I was at the very edge of at 10+ foot drop off and well below the front door of this condo. Here is what it looked like shooting from 5’4” above ground.

Here is what it looked like from 16’ in the air.

I then used the straightening (skew) feature in Photoshop Elements to get the final angles correct.

Here’s another property that was not as dramatic, but notice how the porch looks much better as do the trees in the back of the home.

If you are shooting properties and don’t care to invest in a 15’ tripod or big rig you need to haul on a trailer hitch, I suggest trying the pole pixie and using a heavy duty paint pole that you can pop off the end.

Virtual Tours with a New Look

I have just started using a new tour company so that I can now brand the tours for my clients. Still working out some of the bugs and getting used to a new way of doing things. I thought I should post the first three here and as for some feedback on how they look and work for you. The company is working on how the stills pan in and out which I should probably be able to change within the next month. I am still working on the partial panoramics to get them to move the way I want. It’s a learning curve.

Click on the photos below to take you to the tour.

Photo Tip on Choosing a Camera for Real Estate Photography

I discovered a good blog for Real Estate photography that has been around a lot longer than I.

I am not a real techie when it comes to cameras. My Digital SLR Olympus cameras work for me. I can’t, off the top of my head tell you what lenses I use. I am visual and have to look through the lens to know if it is going to work for what I am trying to accomplish. So, if you are in need of a new camera to use for real estate photography, I suggest you go to this page: http://photographyforrealestate.net/cameras/. They also have suggestions for smaller, less expensive cameras and suggested lenses.

My First Video Home Tour

A Realtor® friend of mine, Hope Hughes and I were working on social networking when she said that she wanted to try doing a video home tour. I volunteered to try it out. I have a small Sony Handycam (DCR-SR85) – I now wish I had bought the HD version last year instead because it would better match the still shots I incorporated. Though the final results are ok at the size of a YouTube video.

It was my first venture using my iMovie program. I took advantage of my One-on-One subscription at the Apple store. I hauled in my computer and worked there for about 5.5 hours. I was only supposed to work for 3 hours, but because only one person had signed up for the following 3 hours, they let me stay. I learned so much more that I expected and was able to pretty much complete the video. And wow, iMovie was so much better than using Windows MovieMaker.

There is some discussion out there about video tours of homes. I found very recent blog post on http://photographyforrealestate.net/ where they asked how many photographers were thinking about or already doing video tours. Answer, not that many…so, who knows we may be on the cutting edge for Denver.

Here is the first video tour.

I would appreciate some constructive criticism (I went to art school – I can take it)

Photo Tip – How to Straighten Walls in Photoshop Elements

Have you ever ended up with an oddly angled wall in a photograph of a room?   If you are using a wide angle lens, this seems to happen more often. Sometimes if you are looking from a high angle down on a room – I do this a lot in kitchens to show off appliances –  it works well to leave the odd angles.

It is obvious in this picture that I am looking down on the room to show off the appliances and tops of the counters.

When you are really looking more directly at  room and the walls are slanted like the second photo, it is better to try and correct the angle.

With a few simple steps you can make the walls in a photo straighter.

Step by Step instructions:

While your photo is open and in the workspace of Photoshop Elements go to the top menu bar and click on “Image” > “Transform” > “Skew”

You might get a message asking if you wish to create a new layer. If so, select “Yes”

Now make sure that your image is small enough to see all of the corners of your image with additional space around all four sides. You can do this easily on your PC by clicking “Ctrl -” (the minus symbol) on your Mac it’s “Command -” (also the minus symbol).

Place your cursor on the corner you wish to move out – hold down the left mouse button and drag the corner out until your wall is mostly straight. Go to the opposite corner and drag that corner out to straighten the other side.

This image shows how far I dragged out the corners to straighten the walls in this particular image.

Once you are pleased with the results click on the Check Mark. Next you want to go to “Layer” > “Flatten Image” . The reason for this is make the file itself smaller and easier to save as a jpeg file.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Using Visual Tour® to Create Virtual Tours – Made for REALTORS®

As a photographer I have been using Visual Tour® to create virtual tours for my clients. This program was developed for REALTORS® who do their own photography. It is easy to use and the results can be quite wonderful.

You can have as many as 50 images within the tour. You can do a combination of still shots and panoramics – all of which can move, if you so chose.

Visual Tour® requires that you use a digital camera. It’s best if you shoot with the highest resolution possible. When I started my business 5 years ago, I just had a high quality point and shoot camera. I have since moved up to an Olympus SLR (single lens reflex) which allows me to shot very high quality images. As I have moved up with the quality of my equipment Visual Tour® has been upgrading their viewers and I think it’s one of the best interfaces for viewing tours on the web.

I generally do panoramic shots that are more of a 180° shot instead of the 360° shots that many of the tour companies do because I find that the room is not as visually distorted when viewing. In doing those pan shots I have trained myself to shot with the camera vertically by hand instead of horizontally on a tripod. I always shot each panoramic twice, just in case some of the walls, counters, etc. don’t quite line up when the images are stitched together.

Here is a recent tour for you to check out:

I will plan on talking about some tips and tricks I have learned doing virtual tours using Visual Tour® in this blog in the future. If you have particular questions or comments. Please comment above.

Photo Tips – Realtor.com Has a Cool New App for the iPhone

There is now a really cool application for the iPhone from Realtor.com. It’s free for everyone.

You can keep track easily of the homes for sale in your neighborhood. Or if you are driving around and you really like a particular neighborhood the gps in your phone will help to locate all the houses for sale by REALTORS® in that area.

The results will let you know how many photos are there to view on each home.

F.Y.I – – – Here is something most people don’t know. If the REALTOR® has an enhanced listing with Realtor.com, known as a showcase listing – that REALTOR® can put up to 25 images into the listing on realtor.com. If they don’t have that enhanced listing, only 4 photos (even if the REALTOR® puts the maximum number of photos  into their local mls) will show up on Realtor.com.

You can refine the searchs, if you are looking for particular criteria on a home – Price, size, number of bedrooms, etc. You can also save your searches.

So, right there on the spot you can view photos of the home. This can come in really handy if there are no flyers out front.

The features of the home are listed as well as the listing agent’s contact information.

You can also see where the homes are located on the map.

I have only been playing with this application for a week, so have not fully discovered all aspects of the application. But, from what I have learned – it’s not only a cool app, but could really come in handy.

So, this is just another good reason, if you are a REALTOR® to have the best photos possible on the internet.

You can find the application either on the front page of Realtor.com or from the iTunes Apps Store – search for “Realtor.com”