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Your Listing Photos Don't Have To Look Cattywampus(SP?)

Your Listing Photos Don't Have To Look Cattywampus(SP?).

It's almost become a comedy to see some of the photos displayed on the MLS. Clearly, some are simply documentary. Many are rushed, and the ones with dirty clothes and unmade beds are simply shameful as well as unprofessional of the agent. This is the "horrid" group.

Yet many of the better photos, of clean and well prepared properties, and even those taken by some paid photographers (note that I didn't use the term "professional") come out looking fair to many.... but frequently exhibit distortions that could have been corrected with better lens selection or POST PRODUCTION ADJUSTMENTS. I'm not talking about adjustments that alter the truth, but adjustments that bring in-camera distortions into line to accurately represent the truth.

Often, the photographer uses a very wide angle lens to be able to get everything into the picture. There may be value in that in some circumstances, but more frequently than not, significant distortions are created, some are easily correctable using proper camera angle or software. Here's what I mean:


A grid was created on a computer. All lines, both vertical and horizontal are absolutely straight, Optical distortions don't come into play on the original

Graphic of Keystoning by Brad Rachielles

Using a camera with a wide angle lens to shoot the same grid as pictured above, but not well centered, The photo on the right has those straight and parallel vertical lines now heading for a vanishing point off in the distance where they will eventually meet. This is called keystoning and is the camera's perspective. This effect makes doors look narrower at the top if shot from a low angle, wall corners angle out away from each other and rectangular windows have unrealistic shapes.

The CURE(s)

The good news is that these may be easily correctable. Using a tripod, try setting your camera at different heights, the best will likely be at the same height as most viewers eyes. The average  American male is about 5'-7" tall, and his eyes are just a couple of inches lower. Then adjust your zoom lens focal length to get rid of the distortions.... moving backward several feet and using a normal focal length setting rather than very wide angle may help for "whole wall photos".

That's the easy way.... if you have the room to move back and the camera adjustable to make it happen. I think you will be surprised though.

Taking a little more technical know how, software offers great solutions. Some time ago, my computer came pre-loaded with Adobe Photo Elements(R), just one of many affordable and manageable products for photo editing. Within 60 seconds after loading the program, I achieved the following results on a sample photo taken from

room photo





For all practical purposes, a homeowner may be happy with this photo, but note the vertical lines of the paintings, windows and the wall juncture. This is a perfect example of the keystone effect that can be corrected with software. By all means, expect to get photos from your professional photographer with vertical lines straight up and down.







Photo with keystoning removed


 By going into the "correction function of the menu bar and selecting "Skew", the keystone effect was easily adjusted out. Very minor cropping was required to bring the photo back to a rectangular shape, but little was lost and the window edges are straight up and down. The paintings look like they are hung right and the far wall junction is vertical. This was a rush job and a little more precision may have been possible. Someone who knows the software well may comment with other ideas.

With some practice certainly there could be improvement.

This post production is just one of many things to make your original photography look like what they eye really saw or the mind perceived. Similar or even free software on line lets you do color correction to bring walls back to their true color, correct the contrast or brightness, cropping out the pajamas on the floor, create collages and add frames.

Your Listing Photos Don't Have To Look Cattywampus(SP?) You owe your client the best that you can do.... and the tools are available. Best of Success!


Photo: CC on 4/9/12 by BFS_man

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It's All About YOU!             Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, GREEN, Upland, CA. 

CalBRE# 01489453


Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, GREEN 

Helping Inland Empire Buyers and Sellers with their Real Estate needs in the Communities of: Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Claremont, Ontario, Chino, Chino Hills, Pomona and La Verne, CA.

CDPE Certified Distressed Property Expert, Brad Rachielles, Real EstateCall Me at 909-816-7333 

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Comment balloon 10 commentsBrad Rachielles • April 09 2012 06:19PM
Your Listing Photos Don't Have To Look Cattywampus(SP? )
Your Listing Photos Don't Have To Look Cattywampus(SP? ). It's almost become a comedy to see some of the photos displayed on the MLS. Clearly, some are simply documentary. Many are rushed, and the ones with dirty clothes and unmade beds are… more