Learn how to create stunning real estate photos using the Flambient method in Photoshop.

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After Photo: Flambient photography edited by PhotoUp

Real estate photography is surging across the globe as more and more people turn to digital marketing methods to buy and sell real estate.

Nothing is more important than high quality photographs when it comes to motivating a potential buyer. When traditional shots can’t do property justice, many photographers turn to the new and highly effective “flambient” method (mixing flash and ambient exposures together) to get the effects that they are looking for.

In this post, we will help you learn everything you need to know about the flambient method for real estate photography. 

Let’s start with the basics:

1. What is the Flambient method?

The word flambient is a mash-up of two words; flash and ambient. As its name suggests, a flambient photo is a combination of the two styles of photography in order to achieve the best possible final image. Ambient photos rely on natural light and flash photos are used to help with color correcting, window views, and of course, additional lighting. Each shooting method has different pros and cons, but taken together, they offer a well balanced, clean, and natural final image.

2. When is Flambient photography used?

The flambient method is most often used when you have extreme dynamic range in the home. Usually, there are areas of a room that are quite dark, while the view outside the window is very bright. That’s the kind of range that is difficult to capture with just one image or a set of ambient brackets. It’s these scenarios when using the flambient method can become the most useful.

3. Working with Flambient photos

a. The Ambient Shot

We recommend starting with an ambient photo as your base and building from there. Take at least three ambient photos that you will use to build your flambient image. Make the first one your base image, then lock off the camera and shoot one image using a lower F-stop and the other at a higher F-stop. This process can be automated through bracketing.

b. The Flash Shot

We recommend separating the flash from the camera and pointing it up at the roof to get a nice spread of light. Make sure that you’re aiming the flash at a white surface because that will give you nice, natural colors to work with when you start to blend the flash shot with the ambient shots.

Note, there are times when you may want to shoot an additional flash shot that is used to get a nice, natural view outside the window. This can be very helpful when photographing homes with breathtaking views that deserve to be highlighted. This process is typically referred to as “window masking” or simply, “masking”.

Remember the goal in real estate photography is to achieve a shot that looks clean, crisp, and natural to the eye while highlighting the most important features of the room or space. It’s harder than it sounds, but this is all achievable using the flambient method.

So, once you have the flash and ambient shots, how do you edit a flambient photo?

How To Edit Flambient Real Estate Photos

  1. Open your photos in Lightroom, select them and right-click
  2. From the menu, select Edit In, then select Open as Layers in Photoshop
  3. In Photoshop, ensure the Ambient Layer is on top of the Flash layer
  4. Change the blending mode to Luminosity 
  5. Next, add a blank new layer and change it’s blending mode to COLOR
  6. Open a brush, select the surrounding color in an area that needs work and start painting in the areas where discoloration is visible. 
  7. When you’re done with that, add a MASK to the window view on the ambient layer
  8. Finally, set your brush to 0% hardness with 10-20% opacity, and brush over the areas that need recovery, excluding areas where the flash shadow is permanent
  9. Click Save and then you’re done with your first flambient photos!

We hope you found that advice useful as you learn how to create your own Flambient photos. Like we said, this process can be time consuming and difficult to master, but the results are worth it.

If you’re looking to offload your editing but need someone experienced in the flambient editing method, look no further. Sign up with PhotoUp today to start working with our team of professional editors who are masters when it comes to editing flambient photos for real estate.