Vacation Home Photography

Photography is often our only window into ‘reality’ as we browse online for our essential goods and services.
Would you buy a pair of shoes online if the used awful photography for their summer season?

Probably not!

With vacation homes however, this is exactly what happens, mainly due to private homeowners touring their lovely properties with a point and shoot set in Auto.
In hundredths of a second, a lovely home can be transformed into a rather dull and dreary den, as the camera tries to make sense of the troublesome lighting that pours in through the windows.
The camera tries to kill the light, unaware that it makes that room look a little shady.

Equally, bathrooms in particular take on a gawdy orange ‘sci-fi’ orange as the tungsten lights and low levels of daylight hit the back of the camera sensor, producing a less than inspiring ‘warm tone’ that looks far from professional.

Don’t fear.  If your vacation home looks like that, not all is lost!
Good photo software can repair a lot of bad in those room shots, and here’s a great series of before and afters that we ran for one of Florida’s leading vacation rental home sites.
The images were provided by the property manager, but the guys at wanted a better solution without the expense and inconvenience to the guest schedule of a full reshoot.

Before                               After

VC nature_01VC nature_01

uTVC5038319 (11)uTVC5038319 (11)

uTVC5038319 (17)uTVC5038319 (17)

uTVC5038319 (13)uTVC5038319 (13)

VC townhomeVC townhome

While some people might accuse the adjustments as ‘cheating’ by ‘Photoshopping’ the images to create a more attractive result, Lightroom simply lifts the shadows and reduces the highlights in this example.

In effect, we have merely recreated what the human eye would naturally see when in this lovely home !!

Which do you prefer?


Learn to Make the Most of Software!

Photographers keep their secrets very close to their chests!

This is partly, because they don’t want others to know their techniques, but mainly because their vanity prevents them from admitting they don’t always get things right!

As a pro, people expect perfection, but in reality, experimentation has long been one of the greatest assets for a photographer.
With the advent of instant views on digital camera backs, the opportunity to take risks and try bold ideas has never been so good!

Add the power of amazing software such as Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture and you are armed with a very powerful armoury on your crusade for fantastic travel photos.

A real life demo of the power of Lightroom!

On an assignment to the Magic Kingdom I was dashing from one area that was bathed in glorious winter sunshine, only to look at my watch to see that the parade was about to begin.  The parade is without doubt one of the greatest opportunities for those iconic images of one Mr M. Mouse!
Miss one of those and you get fired!

As I rushed to my chosen spot (chosen for the best background and light at that time of year) I scurried past a vista that looked really interesting.  I hadn’t time to set up exposures so quickly framed the shot and fired the shutter.
The camera back was useless during bright light as anyone would agree in sunny conditions, but I thought quite incorrectly that I was near enough.

Back at the room, I could see the images importing into Lightroom on my laptop and this drab image scrolled by:

Magic Kingdom Mickey Minnie

The camera had done what I’d asked it to do, and that of course was to expose at my manual settings for the afternoon light.
In this case, Cinderella’s Castle was exposed perfectly in line with my settings.
The subjects were of course another matter!  Poor Mickey and Minnie were indeed left in the shade!

Over the course of over a year, I grimaced whenever I saw the thumbnail in my Lightroom collection, until my editor wanted a topiary of the loveable mice!
As I searched my files, I realised I had little, other than of course the shady characters above!

In a desperate attempt not to fail, I opened the image up in Lightroom’s develop mode and set to with some very basic adjustments just to see what I could achieve.
Lifting the exposure was out of the question, but adjusting the fill, white slider, vibrance, saturation and highlights pretty much got me to where I wanted to be.
With a final tweak to the green and blue saturation and luminosity sliders, I was there.


In hindsight, I’m sure you might think that this is a little ‘overworked’ (messed with too much).
Of course in hindsight you’d be correct, but, I got my money for the shot, the image performed well for its purpose and nobody came back to tell me that I’d boosted the green a little too much (which of course it is!).

My experience has taught me to;

  • Always take a shot that might work
  • Always keep images safe and never delete any
  • Learn to use software well
  • Make bold adjustments then back off a little if it goes wrong
  • Shoot in RAW for forgiveness

I hope that this example encourages you to dig out a few of your library shots and see what you can do!