Blog Tag: photography

Accepting Critical Reviews with Grace

In my years at RTV I have seen a lot of photos. I mean, A LOT of photos. Some are wonderful and amazing, some are ok, and occasionally there will be some that leave me feeling like I need to wash my eyes out with hot water.

For a long time I would take note of who the good photographers were and avoid the ones that submitted less than stellar images, and I left it at that. But then I heard Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture and changed the way I did things. It made me realize that the message I had been sending you when I didn’t give feedback was “I give up on you. I don’t think you can do it.” And that wasn’t true.

I was just afraid someone would get angry with me. I like to be liked. I like to be nice. But I also believe in you and think you can do better and want you to do better, so now I try to tell you when things don’t come out exactly how they should. Or I make Melissa tell you, lol. My hope is that I am doing you a favor and helping you grow, and I think for the most part people take it that way. But sometimes they don’t and there are angry emails and phone calls to me and about me and I have to deal with the ramifications. And that’s ok, I’m a big girl, I can deal with it.

But a month or so ago I gave some feedback to a photographer hoping that he could look into what was going wrong with his shoots and figure out how to fix it. His response was so appreciated that I asked if I could share it with you.


I wanted to Thank You for this feedback. I have been wanting this since the beginning. I have no idea what I could be doing to provide a better product without the opinion of someone else.

I had a feeling that we were going to have a problem with these last pictures. I noticed that I was having some problems with my lens about 4 months ago. My shots started having those halos and streaks through them. I have been trying to edit them out and it is just not working.

FYI, I have purchased an “L” series lens for my Canon 50d, as well as a portable, softbox, flash kit to help with the lighting in the darker areas of the hotels.

I also enrolled in a short photography class to help with these issues, if in fact, it is me and not just the lens that is doing this.

As for this last shoot, I will be happy to re-shoot this location when he calls me back out this Spring, as I do not like not providing what is expected from me.

Thanks for the information and please let me know when more information comes about the conference. I will need to know ASAP so I can schedule accordingly here with my work.


His gracious response shows that he truly understood that my feedback was meant to help him grow. He also went one step further and offered to fix any issues that we had with his initial shoot. And that speaks volumes to me. His desire to learn and grow and also to provide the best product possible will keep him working with RTV for a long time.

Jacqueline Burke
Director of National Accounts
Toll Free 866-947-8687 Option 6
Direct 231-932-1605

RTV’s Monthly Talk Shows Provide Continual Education

Albuquerque, NM Virtual Tours

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being part of a panel of three on the “Rock the Shoot” round table hosted by RTV’s one and only Jacque Burke.

While I was on the panel with Michael Metzig of O C Real Tours & Brett  Weaver of SpotLight Virtual Tours to share our techniques for shooting Choice Hotels I too learned something that evening.

When Michael mentioned that his Photographer, Ben didn’t use flash but instead bracketed exposures and used the Exposure Fusion feature in the Photomatix Pro software, I was a little more then intrigued.

The thought of being able to shoot interiors without flash was very appealing considering I was looking at replacing a very expensive flash unit that had just exploded on me the week before.

Immediately after the Round Table I Googled Photomatix and downloaded the free trial version and began shooting some test images. Now I had come across this software before for HDR processing after an HDR Webinar in 2009 and never tried it because I just wasn’t impressed with most HDR images I viewed. They all seemed over-processed and unrealistic. However, I was not aware of the Exposure Fusion option!

 Well to say I was very impressed is a major understatement. The speed and ease of the software as well as the resulting fused image is nothing less then amazing. Well worth the price if admission especially with the 15% discount when using the Promo Code “beforethecoffee”. While I haven’t completely switched to Flash free images I will more then likely in the very near future after a little more experimenting.

Now this evening I only caught the tail end of tonight’s Webinar and was pleasantly surprised to find Brett Weaver on the panel once again. After the jealously wore off…LOL, I found myself again very impressed at what Brett was showing us with the Adobe PhotoShop Lightroom . Yet again, the seemingly easy corrections this software performs appears to be a major time saver. A bit more pricier then Photomatix, this will have to wait a little before it becomes part of my Virtual Tour processing arsenal. 

Never the less, the superb monthly RTV Virtual Tour Webinars continually hosted by RTV persistently proves to be a wealth of information not to missed. If you can’t make it, be sure to download from the RTV RPM site when posted a few days later.  You too may be surprised at what you learn.

Dale Hart
DragonFly 360 Imaging
Albuquerque Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour: 505 962 2207

Virtual Tours and the Elusive Perfect Exposure

I started producing virtual tours about three years ago. Initially I was just curious about the technology utilized to create them, but I quickly saw their value in helping to showcase the work of my architectural firm. Being able to show a client a building from the inside or to place them in the middle of one of our Cleveland Ohio outdoor lifestyle centers seemed like a great use for this media.

Given my background in Ohio real estate development and my interest in photography and “all things technical,” l thought it would be fun to turn my hobby into a real business that combined all of those elements. In Early 2008 I found RealTour Vision and created

Since I am not a professional photographer, its sometimes a struggle to get perfect exposures for the shots needed to stitch together a great panorama. It was particularly difficult when I first started since I was using a 6 shot setup with an 8mm fisheye lens on a Nikon D200 DSLR. (Four shots horizontally and then one up and one down) Correct exposure was critical and post processing in Photoshop was essential. While I liked the result and the ability to do true spherical immersive images, the time investment in each spin was not practical for typical real estate virtual tours. RTV’s 12 shot method gives me much better quality “out of the box.”

Regardless of the technology used, correct exposure is important. So what is the best way to set the camera? Should you use supplemental light, flash or studio floods? What about white balance? It can be very confusing and there is no one best method for every situation. The following outlines several different methods that can be used to get the right exposure. Experiment and see what works best for your situation.

The trick to creating any panorama is to insure that there is even exposure across the entire set of images. Shooting in automatic or aperture priority mode may result in different exposures for each frame, especially if there are dramatic changes in lighting within the scene. While the individual frames will look good, the contrast between frames can be too much for your blending program to handle effectively. So, what is the best way to shoot these photos? There are several different opinions and everyone does things a bit differently. So, in order to simplify the process, I have outlined a few of the options that I use on a regular basis.

Option I – Consistent Exposure and White Balance

Instead of using one of your cameras automatic modes, try using Manual mode instead. Meter only for the mid-tones in the scene. First, if you are using a digital SLR select an aperture setting that will give you good depth of field. I like a setting of f 8. Since we are on a tripod, we can control the exposure with shutter speed. Scan the entire scene and find the extreme lights and darks then meter for the mid range. Once you know that setting, shoot each picture in the sequence using the same set of exposure settings. You should end up with a well-balanced set of exposures to stitch together. I prefer to use natural lighting, so if I have good ambient light I’ll keep the room lights off or try to have them on the lowest wattage possible. Remember to select the appropriate white balance and keep it the same for every frame in the sequence. Turn off automatic white balance in your camera settings menu.

Option II – Adjusted Exposure

Start by setting up just like Option I and meter for the mid-range condition. Note the exposure setting. For each shot, adjust the shutter speed to provide more or less exposure as needed, but do not vary from the mid range exposure setting by more than a stop or two in either direction. Adjustments should be made relative to the mid-range exposure setting, not the previous shot setting.

Option III – Bracket Exposures

A common way to handle difficult lighting situations is to bracket exposure. By taking a series of shots we can expose for both the highlights and the shadow areas and then combine the images in Photoshop to get the correct blending. Post processing is time consuming, but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. Fortunately, my Nikon D200 offers several automatic-bracketing options. I find the three shot setting works best. Again, I set up and meter to find my mid-range exposure. I shoot in Aperture Priority mode and let the camera automatically adjust shutter speed to give me a bracketed sequence. The camera will shoot Normal, then Under, then Over at each rotation. Basically, I take three shots at each station, letting the D200 change the settings. Be careful to stay in sequence, rotating before all three shots are taken can cause major problems. Once I have all the shots I have a few options. I can separate the shots into a normal, under and over sequence and then stitch each sequence individually. Save them to high resolution jpg, and bring them into Photoshop to blend them together. I have had little success with Photoshop’s (cs2) HDR process, but have found a nice plug in by Fred Miranda called DRI Pro Plug-in v2.0. I believe it was less than $20.

The second option is to just visually select the images that seem correct and assemble a set to be stitched. This eliminates the need for Photoshop work, but this method is highly dependent on your scene and your ability to visually compile the correct image.

Option IV – Supplemental Lighting

I’m not a big fan of using supplemental lighting for virtual tours, primarily because I am not as well versed in flash photography as I should be and have had difficulty creating clean stitches. I know many people do this without issue, but I struggle with it. I have recently been experimenting with a flash diffuser produced by Gary Fong and have been very pleased with the results. I need to experiment with the diffuser using all of the exposure methods to see which approach gives me the best results. I think this method will solve many of the more common lighting problems that we all encounter. I’ll report my findings next week.

Stephen G. Moluse
Cleveland Virtual Tours

Order a Cleveland Ohio Virtual Tour – (866) 952-TOUR (8687)

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Welcome Snow Birds! Get Your Az Virtual Home Tours Here!

We have been doing many virtual tours for Scottsdale vacation rentals. Here’s a Grayhawk vacation rental that we recently shot….Give Christian a call to book a vacation rental in Scottsdale!

The owners of vacations rentals are having huge success with their Phoenix virtual home tours! Think about it, literally every potential renter is from out of town and will certainly utilize virtual home tours of Arizona vacation rentals.

Virtual tour companies in Phoenix are gearing up to shoot vacation rentals so Snowbirds won’t pass your rental by. We want to set YOUR Phoenix vacation rentals apart from the competition with professional photos and/or 360 virtual tours! Shooting the Grayhawk home was fun.

We took some professional photos

and we took some fun photos!

If you want a Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Gold Canyon or Phoenix photographers, please contact us and find out how affordable it is to make you home look it’s best!

VirtualNdustry “We Build Virtual Tours”
Call 480-228-2370 to schedule virtual tours Phoenix, Valleywide Service

Check out our virtual tour blog

If you are not located in Arizona, please check out the RTV nationwide network of virtual tour providers that we are affiliated with.

Professional Photography Service from RTV

RTV is excited to announce that it now offers Nationwide Professional Photography Services! With this new service, companies that need high quality high resolution still photography can contract with us to handle all their photography needs for them.

It will allow them to streamline their photography, minimize their administrative duties and give them a consistency they wouldn’t have if they used multiple vendors at multiple sites.

With our vast network of Professional Photographers we can guarantee national photography service coverage, even in the smallest of towns.

Working with our network of photographers across the nation, I’ve come to see how wonderfully talented they are. I’ve sent a photographer out to shoot a virtual tour of a ranch and received not only the virtual tour, but also a whole host of stills shot from expert angles and expansive shots taken from the roof. These photographs are not “snap shots”, they were high resolution, high quality well shot photographs worthy of magazine covers.

So when I had an inquiry from a national company looking for high quality still photography only, I didn’t hesitate to say we could do it. Seeing the amazing shots I get every day I had no qualms telling them that we certainly were able to provide them what they needed. My work with this client opened my eyes to the lack of National Professional Photography Services available today.

With that in mind, RTV decided to step forward and take the initiative in establishing a high quality, reliable national virtual tour network that will provide consumers with a single point for ordering commercial photography for sites located across the nation.

To showcase the wonderful work our photographers do for us we created a gallery of some of their work. Below is a slideshow that is just a sampling of the excellent photos I get in every day.

Jacque Burke
Team RTV
National Virtual Tour Photographer Network
Order a virtual tour – 866-947-8687