Hand Blended Photo on the Left / HDR Image on the Right
Why I use Hand Blending vs HDR (High Dynamic Range)Blending.
HDR is taking several ambient (natural room light) only photos and, with a software program, combining the images to produce a single image using the various exposures.
In most cases, there are no flash photos taken or used in HDR work. Setting up a Flash is time-consuming and is one of the reasons people use HDR for Real Estate Photography.
In this example, I did 6 different Ambient exposures to create a single HDR image. I then hand blended in the Lamp's light. This is a step other's may not do, but I feel it is necessary because, in most HDR images, Lights are difficult to get correct.
By doing an HDR process the photos can lose image quality. This is especially true in the windows, they can look "Milky". Materials, such as the Table in this photo, can lose their natural and true look. Certain parts of an image can take on unnatural shadows or loose what we call proper tonality (Lightness and Brightness of an image).
The Hand Blended photo, was from 10 shots with flash and 2 ambient shots. I take each photo into Photoshop and hand blend in just the details I want. There is almost no loss of image integrity. Colors are correct and the window image does not look milky.
For you camera buffs, for my RE shoots, I generally use F/11, ISO 200, 24mm Tilt/Shift Lens on a Full Frame Camera.
Although in the example above, to have a fair comparison, I used my standard RE camera settings, however most RE HDR photos use F/8, ISO 320.
I made no different adjustments to either of these photos. Each uses a preset that I use on all of my Real Estate photos.
I could certainly have played around with the final HDR image settings in Photoshop, but the problem you run into is that it can lead to inconsistently lit images in a portfolio of photos, i.e. some could be brighter or darker than others.
The Hand Blend technique allows for all photos to have a consistent look and brightness
Timewise, doing the HDR image, after composing the photo, is about 5 minutes, all in! This includes working with the image in Photoshop.
For the hand blended image, all in, is about 15 minutes per photo.
Architectural photos can take me 20 - 30+ minutes each, However, I would be working with a 30+ base of images.