Merrimack Valley Real Estate- Serving MA and Southern NH

Tutorial Using Multiple Flash with Photoshop Layer Mask

The following tutorial will show you how to use multiple flash with Photoshop Layer Mask.  This kitchen photograph taken in Methuen Massachusetts was particularly difficult to light effectively with strobes.  Because I am trying to show the entire room there are really no where to hide the strobe lights.

Equipment used

  1. Nikon D7000 with a Sigma 10-20mm
  2. Bogen Tripod-  This would be impossible without a sturdy tripod to prevent any movement from shot to shot.
  3. 3 Nikon SB80 flashes
  4. 2 Benbo Travel Angel Tripods-  I use tripods to hold the flashes rather then light stands. they have a much smaller foot print.

The first step was to take one available light shot to expose for the overall scene.  The problem with just using this shot are all of the windows and light just blow away with no detail and cause a bit of flare around the extreme highlights.

Secondly I took a flash shot where the back door, the overhead lights the highlights on the floor and the upper window had detail.  I used two flashes as you can see in the diagram.  Flash one is camera right bounced behind me into the corner of the wall and ceiling.  Flash 2 was laying on the floor bouncing of the ceiling to add some fill to the cabinets and walls deeper into the photo.  This shot alone was pretty good but I knew it could be improved upon easily.

There were a few areas that I wanted to ad some light as they were going dark and lacked some punch

Pop 1 was skimming arcoss the chairs to add some life to the chairs and increase some light on the floor and the front of the island.

Pop 2 added light to the end of the cabinets on the left facing the camera.  Thos were going almost black. 

Pop 3 added light and sparkle to the upper cabinets above the sink.

When I do my pops to accentuate areas I keep the main lighting I used intact.  This makes it very easy to blend in Photoshop.

Lighting Diagram

Photoshop Layer Mask

My typical go to technique in Photoshop is to blend an available light shot with a flash shot.  This gives me a very naturally lit scene quickly.  Heres a quick tutorial explaining the technique. 

With this shot I added some extra layers to provide the additional light where  I wanted it.  This is accomplished by using layer masks.

Photoshop Layer MaskEach layer is stacked.  Then with each layer you add a layer mask where that lyaer is hidden.  The layer mask is black.  Then you paint in the area you want and to what degree.  If the area is completely white it shows through a 100% if the area is grey it is showing though partially.

With the layer mask you can fade the effect and reverse the effect by painting with black.  You can also you mask the areas only the areas you want affected if you are ttrying to be more precise.  


Is it worth it?

You may ask if it is worth the work.  Once you get comfortable with these techniques you will only spend a few minutes shooting and a 5-10 minutes processing. 

With this particular home, the finish especially the kitchen was outstanding and far exceeded anything that was of similar size, bedroom count, and neighborhood.  We were asking considerably more then the comparables.  We needed to show why online. 

Many homes have one or two, what I call, "money shots".  Money shots are the one or two areas of the home that are so impressive and will drag the buyers in.  I felt it was worth spending the extra time on the kitchen.   There is no way you could capture this scen properly with a camera on your phone or a point and shoot camera.

With that said, the listing hit the market,  we received offers that were about 20% above the comparable homes.  Underagreement in 10 days. 

Great Real Estate Photography Produces Results

I am a real estate agent with a photography background.  I pretty much only photograph real estate for myself and on ocassion I will work for other agents.  My real estate photography has become a huge marketing tool for me.  I can show sellers how great real estate photography can increase online traffic, showings and ultimately bring them a great offer.  View the rest of the photographs of this home.

I have noticed recently that there are certain areas around me where more and more agents are hiring professional photographers to photograph their listings.  I think in the coming years you will either have to produce exceptional real estate images yourself or hire a professional.  Don't get left behind!


This article, Tutorial Using Multiple Flash with Photoshop Layer Mask was brought to you by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. I provide exceptional online marketing to get your home sold!  I can be reached at 978-360-0422 if you are thinking of selling your home in Essex County or Middlesex County Massachusetts and want to make the most of your next home sale.





Comment balloon 12 commentsKevin Vitali • September 21 2014 06:56AM
Tutorial Using Multiple Flash with Photoshop Layer Mask
The following tutorial will show you how to use multiple flash with Photoshop Layer Mask. This kitchen photograph taken in Methuen Massachusetts was particularly difficult to light effectively with strobes. Because I am trying to show the entire… more
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