Looking for tips for photographing holiday accommodation


TPF Noob!
Dec 4, 2003
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Hi everyone

We have a holiday apartment between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales that we opened this year. At the time of opening, we were in a bit of a hurry so I just took a selection of semi-adequate shots on a Canon IXUS.

You can see them at Lake District / Yorkshire Dales Self-Catering Cottages

I’m not really that happy with them as I don’t think they paint the accommodation in the best light, but they have kind of done the job for the time-being. Now I would like to look at upgrading the images.

Recently, I bought a new DSLR – the Canon EOS 50D with the 17-85 lens. I am still learning with it, but am pleased with the results so far.

I am going to have a go at doing some better shots later this week and am just looking for tips. For instance:

Would I be best shooting in RAW? I normally just use the highest JPG setting…
Do I need to use a tripod? I have an old one somewhere…
Do I need to be using a different lens? A wider angle, perhaps? If so, any recommendations?
Should I be using reflectors or additional light sources? Don’t have any so any recommendations welcome if it’s something I need…
Should I be using HDR? Never done it before but willing to learn…

My main concern is the main shot – the one with the balcony, the river, the bridge and, in the distance, the castle on the top of the hill. I want to show them all to their best in one shot, if I can, and am wondering if HDR is the best way to achieve that.

I’m also considering ‘setting up’ rooms. Ideas so far are:

Balcony table with bottle of Champagne in ice bucket and couple of glasses.
Fresh flowers.
Nice bowl of colourful fruit on one of the tables.
Kitchen surface with a nice loaf of homemade bread on a chopping board, with knife and a couple of slices.
Cafetiere with coffee, and cups, jug of milk, sugar, etc.

- all things that will hopefully make the place look a bit more lived in, and give people a more welcoming/cosy impression.

Any more ideas like this or any tips at all would be most welcome, and I’ll gladly report back with some new shots in due course…



Watch the Birdy!
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Jul 8, 2005
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Wow, you've set yourself quite a task there. In no particular order, here are my thoughts on those aspects upon which I feel qualified to comment:

-The balcony shot. Relatively straight-forward, but a matter of waiting 'til the light is right. Most likley earlier in the morning or later evening. Ensure you have a nice, blue sky (ideally with just a few puffy, white clouds) and use a polarizing filter to reduce the glare on the water and increase contrast and saturation. I would also use a much wider lens or produce a panorama so that potential customers can see more of the view.

-Yes, I would definitely recommend shooting in RAW as this will give you much greater flexibility in post-processing and allow you to more easily adjust white balance, exposure etc. You will need special software; Adob'e Lightroom 3 is very good, but pricey. A quick Google will find you a slew of software, including some good freeware.

-You should definitely be using additional light, whether reflectors, strobes, or even just bright work lights. Reflectors can be something as simple as a mirror, tin-foil or large sheets of white card stock. You can buy cheap, off-shore flashes and optical triggers for very little money and make diffusers (to soften the light) out of any translucent plastic, again very inexpensively.

-A wide lens will be very useful for the interior shots; my suggestion for the best budget vs. quality is the Tokina 11-16 f2.8 zoom. I'm not sure that the tripod will be a lot of use; I tend to find myself moving around a lot trying to find just the right spot when doing work like this. I don't think HDR will be necessary, but if you're unable to light certain areas well, it might be a good alternative.

-I like your room staging ideas; I'm fond of the turned back bed, some clothing [carefully] casually laying about, and perhaps a book or two here and there.

Good luck!

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