Sometimes creating the perfect real estate marketing images requires multiple exposures, some off camera flash, and a little photo editing magic.

A beautiful photograph, or set of photos, is the best tool that realtors have for selling homes. Not only is it worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, but great photographs have been shown to increase the asking price of a property.

But even the nicest property sometimes requires a little creative photo editing in order to achieve the look that you’re after. Manual blending is one of the most in depth and detailed editing techniques that real estate photographers use to increase the quality of their work.

How to Manually Blend Real Estate Photos in Photoshop

  1. First, open the images that you are working with as layers in Photoshop
  2. Separate the flash and ambient photos, and group them accordingly
  3. Use the ambient group as the main photo, and choose your middle exposure as a base to work from. 
  4. Press ALT and click the masking button to mask all except your base photo
    Start by recovering the blown out / overexposed areas of your base photo.
  5. Click on the Brush tool, then set Opacity and Flow to 30% for easy control, then start brushing over the overexposed areas and tone them down.  
  6. Next move on to the Darkest / underexposed areas on the base photo. Select the brightest ambient image from your layers and start brushing slowly.
  7. Click on the Brush tool, then set Opacity and Flow to 30% for easy control, then start brushing over the overexposed areas and tone them down.  
  8. Next move on to the Darkest / underexposed areas on the base photo. Select the brightest ambient image from your layers and start brushing slowly.
    * Repeat that same process again with the Flash images. Use the lasso tool to target the overexposed areas in the windows and blend from the darkest image
    (Remember to keep your brush tool opacity between 10 – 30% when doing manual blending) 
  9. When you are done, click Save and admire your perfectly blended image.

What is Manual Blending?

Manual blending is the art of combining different exposures together, typically in Photoshop, to create the perfect final image. Manual blending also refers to doing this blending work yourself (“manual”) instead of relying on software to do the blending for you, like HDR.

You have total control over your final product when you know how to manually blend your images together in Photoshop. 

When do Real Estate Photographers use Manual Blending?

real estate photo edit blend photoup living room
Manual Blend Real Estate photo edited by PhotoUp

Most often, manual blending is used to overcome the limitations in the dynamic range of our cameras. Dynamic range refers to a camera’s ability to capture the highlights and shadows in a single frame without losing any of the details.

Often you will find areas in a picture that are over-exposed and other areas that are unexposed. That can be fixed with the addition of off camera flash during the shooting process and manual blending during post production. 

When it comes to real estate photography, manual blending allows you to bring back a lot of lighting, colors, and clarity that would normally be lost with a standard HDR edit. It also lets you bring focus to the most important details of a room and showcase important aspects and features of each individual image.

That’s the reason why it’s often used for high-end, luxury properties.

Manual blending is a really useful tool to have for creating dynamic, well-balanced real estate photographs. If you don’t feel up to it yourself, it’s easier than ever to sign up with a real estate photo editing service like PhotoUp, where trained professionals are on standby to match your style and editing process, including manual blending!  
Sign up today and see what the PhotoUp team can do for the images that are central to your sales efforts.