Color Correction and Grading Techniques in Real Estate Photo Editing

Photo shoots can come out very successful. In fact, most of the time, the photos you want captured are the ones that look nice on the camera’s screen. Little did it reflect though, the reality of what should have been seen by the human eye. There are some scuffs on colors and even streaks that you do not want to appear. Some may even look too dark or too bright that the actual objects you want to convey through the image are hardly seen. Thankfully, real estate photo editing provides an avenue of rectifying these imperfections.

Among the techniques critical to real estate photo editing are color correction and grading techniques. These are basic techniques that are a must during post processing and must be executed with the interested buyers in mind. The intent is to recreate the photo as if the person is there on site to visit the property and make a decision to buy or not. Unfortunately, cameras are not built to mimic a person’s retina 100% accurately and therefore result into imperfections of sorts.

What is the Difference of Color Correction vs. Color Grading?

These two terms might be interchanged a whole lot but understanding it and knowing how each one works will surely help in communicating that wants and needs of your clients as well as knowing what do execute. To start off with, color correction refers to the basic and fundamental steps in correcting the photo. Correcting means bringing the photo up to color standard which is defined by an even distribution of light, an even tone of color, and correct representation of colors between the picture and the actual site. In example, color correcting a color cast is a must to bring the photo in an accurate representation on how people perceive the property if viewed in person. Surely there will be no tint of yellow if it is viewed with the naked eye on site.

Color grading technique is defined by many as taking color correction up a notch. It is changing the tone of the image and visually making it different to incite different reactions and elicit distinct reactions based on the color. In example, the difference between warm and cold photos are the overall tones. A bright and sunny day with a blue sky and bright orange sun will draw in happy emotions. Editing in a dark blue hue due to an overcast will have an opposite and melancholic effect. The grading technique might have a heavier play with saturation and heaviness of the colors, hence dictating the tone.

Color Correction Techniques

Color correction in real estate photo editing will have different methods depending on the software being used. However, the concepts and terms will be the same with regards to the adjustments that need to take place. Also note that it is not limited to colors, but also includes the lighting and illuminations of the photo.

  • Exposure – This is defined as the amount of light that entered the camera during the photo shoot. It varies from area to area in a photo so at times the property can be well lit but the sky is unclear and vice versa. Getting this right and balanced is where real estate photo editing comes in. It can be done through combining layers through a method called stitching or simply and adjustment on brightness in the photo to make everything visible.
  • Shadow and Midtone – Light generates shadows and unwanted dark areas. Getting rid of shadows can be done with midtone adjustments. Midtones are basically the so-called grey areas which are literally the middle of white and black. Adjusting the midtone can surface the areas covered by shadows making them visible in a greyish color.
  • White balance correction – While the brightness and colors are impacted by how light is reflected on them, it is the white balance that actually controls the neutrality and balance of all the colors. The color white as we know is made up of several colors that mix in a calculated amount to produce the neutral shade. The white balance may be tipped due to certain degrees of power of colors or proximity of objects.

Color Grading Techniques

There are several grading techniques available to use in Photoshop at the very least. The techniques are so varied that any single one of them will yield the desired result and give a different mood or feel to the image.

  • Filters – One of the simplest ways to change the mood of the photo is by putting a tint over it. Some may think that color casts may already exist to get the job done, but this is simply not the case. Filters can be intense or flat, but still give a warm feeling when chosen to be yellowish with a little retouching.
  • Curves - It relies on the knowledge on how to adjust the curve based on a color histogram and achieve the desired shade. The RGB colors (red, green, and blue) are the dominant colors to be moved. Adjusting them to a brighter or darker side or a more intense feel depends on how miniscule the change in the curve is made.
  • Color Saturations – The intensity or heaviness of colors of the objects within the photo can be adjusted using vibrancy and saturations toggles. Color correction aims to balance the colors being represented so they do not look like a can of paint that spilled all over the object making it stand out and unrealistic.


As a photographer, the need to fathom that photo shoots are not the end game, they are just a means to getting the process going and that realty editor is non-negotiable. Making photos worthy of listings must be done with utmost intricacy in editing and performing color corrections to fix the imperfections within. The next step of color grading techniques must also be considered to not become an afterthought due to its salient nature in changing how a photo feels.

Whether it is color correction or color grading techniques, the reality of real estate photo editing remains a must in delivering high quality photos and more importantly realistic looking ones. The difference in both techniques must be distinguished as well in order to understand what process needs to be executed and more importantly an alignment in communicating.


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