Retouching Architectural Photos


When you are selling new homes you should show the buyer the home that they will move into and show it with lush spring of summer landscaping. They don’t buy the sales office so why show it? You will lose money if you wait till spring to get photos of your new models.
BeforeIt took 12 photos to build the image of the home that the homeowner will move into.

AfterWhile on location I photograph all the components needed to reconstruct the model home to make it look like the one that the buyers will move into. I need garage doors and driveways. I also need wood, stone or brick textures to rebuild some areas. I keep a library of photos of trees, bushes and grass to use to cover winter landscaping and construction around the home. The key here is that it has to look real.

Here is a link to the 2 minute video in my Video Portfolio: “Retouching Architectural Photos”

Now here’s the technical stuff:
Screen Shot 20 layersThe content aware delete tool (Spot healing Brush) and the clone stamp tool are used all the time.

Making good selections is one of the most important skills to have. I use the lasso tool, the quick select tool, the magic wand, the pen tool and the color range selector.

Most of the time I need to change the color of the garage door. I may desaturate the existing color, use levels to lighten or darken the door and then paint the color on a new layer with low opacity to keep the texture of the door.

For the brown grass I may be able to select the grass and change the hue or I may add a blank new layer and paint with green or patch green grass in from another photo. Sometimes it takes a combination of these techniques for the grass to look real.

All added layers are carefully selected from their original photo, pasted onto the working photo and they are always changed using the Free Transform tool to closely align with the new image. Then I need to “Skew” the layer (driveway or door) to match the perspective in the new photo. I use levels, brightness/contrast and color adjustment layers to match the new layer to the existing photo.

Green leaves are selected using a selection tool to pick the tree and then the color range selector to get just the green leaves and not the trunk or branches. I always leave the original bare branches under the new leaves for the final image.
video still bare treesOne of the final steps is to blend all the new layers with the main photo. Since the original exterior photo is usually taken at dusk I may have to reduce the contrast on new layers to match the lighting. I may darken it and adjust the color to blend in.

I will often flatten the image and vignette the image to darken the outer areas. This is often done manually to have individual control of the the tones from the sky to the foreground.

Be patient when you are retouching architectural photos. The first exterior images took me 5 hours to retouch when there was construction and dormant landscaping to cover. Now I have it down to 3-4 hours for an exterior.

More before and after images can be seen in my retouching portfolio.

More to explore

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Photoshop; Advanced Retouching

Cruise America hired us to photograph the interiors of 3 RVs. Here’s the challenge, all photos were done in their corporate headquarters

New Challenges in Factories

Recording video in a factory with precision water jet and laser cutters can create some problems. Flying water, sparks and laser hot

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