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Exterior Home Photos - Doing It Yourself

By Rachel Lewis

So you've just finished your latest home building project; time to take some great photos to show it off. To save yourself the expense of hiring a professional, here are a few steps to take to ensure your photos will be of the highest quality possible.
The exterior of any new home is the first impression most people have and to best sell yourself and your work, high quality exterior photos are a must. Many of the basic principles of interior photography can be applied to shooting exteriors.
Start by setting your camera to the maximum quality possible. You can always downsize your images later for email. Also ensure your lens is clean and clear of fingerprints or smudges that'll blur your photo.
Time of day is the single most important factor when considering photographing the exterior of your new home. The ideal time to shoot will vary as this depends upon which direction the home faces. South facing fašade can be shot most of the day though east is best early in the day and conversely, west facing will work best in the afternoon. As a basic rule, keep the sun over your shoulder but keep an eye on where your shadow falls.
Shooting exteriors at twilight will give your home a prestigious feel. While more effort is involved than daylight photos, the results are rewarding and worthwhile. About ten minutes after the sun sets, the sky turns a deep blue. Shooting at this time, with all the interior lights on will create an inviting atmosphere in your images.
To add some extra light to your fašade, a common builders light on a stand can be used. Use the light sparingly to highlight garden beds and lawn being careful not to overuse it. Camera flash is less than ideal for exteriors as the scale of most buildings will be too large to light this way.
Set your camera to its widest setting and get back far enough so that you can include the whole house in the frame. Try and avoid having the garage in the foreground and if possible shoot from the opposite side to minimize its size. Also, keep an eye out for any unwanted reflections in the windows of the building.
It's important to keep your camera level both vertically and horizontally. If the camera isn't straight, the home will appear distorted. A ladder is always a good idea to gain a higher viewpoint, particularly when attempting to include the roofline of a two-story home. If you do have to tilt the camera to include the whole building, ensure the camera is still kept level horizontally. A dedicated spirit level, available from camera shops, can be used for this purpose.
Try and use a tripod when photographing both exteriors and interiors. Not only will this provide the sharpest results, it will also make it easier to ensure your camera is kept straight and level. Due to long exposure times in low light, a tripod is always required with twilight shoots.
As with interiors, photographing exteriors requires a basic level of styling. Ensure all blinds and curtains are open and even, turn on interior lighting including lamps and watch out for potential eyesores such as rubbish bins, hoses and doormats. To brighten things up, you could always add some potted plants. Finally don't forget to close garage doors and move any cars that might be in the frame.
Most digital cameras come with basic image manipulation software. Once you've downloaded your images onto the computer, you should be able to use this software to easily enhance them. Common adjustments include lightening and darkening, adjusting color saturation, cropping and resizing for web or email format as well as correcting color balance. While this is a solution to 'repairing' images, it's always important to start with the best composed and exposed image possible.
Above all, put in the extra effort and you will be duly rewarded. Be critical of your photos and take time to refine them - the results will speak for themselves.


    Rachel Lewis is a freelance architectural photographer based in Melbourne, Australia.

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