The Window Pull Technique Tutorial for Real Estate Photo Editing

It’s almost impossible to capture bright and dark areas with the same settings without losing details in either the highlights or shadows. Especially when you’re taking a photo that includes a window, it’s not uncommon for the window to be completely blown out. 

Through the window pull technique, you can replicate real-life scenarios of properties and mimic how your eyes process the views. Let’s walk through how to use this technique to retain all of the details in your images that include windows.

The Window Pull Technique Tutorial for Real Estate Photo Editing

Putting this into context in interiors, there is always a property that sells because of the view from within. People love a good backyard, or perhaps the view of the beach or a sight of lush greenery. The bottom line is the view helps sell the property and real estate photo editing helps the client achieve this goal.

The window pull technique saves the view. In real estate photo editing, it means pulling in the view from the window and making it visible in the picture. This is because of the challenge of glare. =

It is an inevitable phenomenon that distorts the view from the camera going out of the window. This real estate photo editing technique will salvage the view to the best of its ability, working hand-in-hand with your camera.

What You Will Need

In order to move forward with this real estate photo editing technique, you must take bracketed photos at the property site. This means taking several images of the same frame, only in different exposures much like a high dynamic range. 

The intent here is to capture several images with different exposures because as the focus of exposures differ, there will be images that will produce a visible view of the landscape outside the window. The trade off, however, is that the room is darker. 

The solution is to take flash shots to expose the interior correctly. For the flash shots, you can expect to have overexposed windows. The other set of photos will have well-exposed windows and underexposed interiors. Now, do you see where this is going?

Capturing Bracketed Photos for Window Pulls

When bracketing, the photos must be the same compositionally, apart from the different exposures. Even a slight camera movement can cause blurriness. So, use the following camera settings and gear to take good bracketed photos. 

Camera Settings

Most cameras have automatic settings. Based on the scene, they choose the right mix of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for a decent exposure. 

This isn't what you want when taking bracketed images. You need to intentionally take overexposed windows and a well-exposed interior, and then an underexposed interior and well-exposed windows. So, to avoid the interference of any auto settings, make sure you’re using manual or a semi-manual mode.

  • Set the camera to RAW mode: Set the camera to RAW mode to capture RAW photos instead of the default JPEG. This helps you capture as much data from the image sensor. This gives you more flexibility and control when editing the photo later.
  • Use manual mode or aperture priority mode: Use aperture priority mode if your camera offers automatic bracketing. Otherwise, use manual mode to have full control over the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
  • Use ISO 400: ISO 400 strikes a balance between noise and exposure. Higher ISO can cause noise, and base ISO can cause underexposure of the interiors.

External Flash

The built-in flash on your camera creates harsh shadows, flattens details, and leaves your real estate photos looking like they were shot in a dentist's office. Get a speedlight. It allows you to control the light and create more natural-looking illumination in the interior flash shots. 

Tripod and Remote Trigger

Even the tiniest camera shake between shots can ruin the final image. A tripod acts like a rock-solid platform. The camera stays perfectly still for each bracketed image. 

Remember, when you press the shutter button on your camera directly, you might introduce camera movement. So, use a remote trigger to activate the shutter from a distance.

How to Capture the Bracketed Photos

As you can tell, bracketed photos need a still camera so the scene is static.

  1. Set the camera on a tripod and use manual focus to focus on the room. This prevents motor movements when shooting.
  2. Adjust the speedlight power and bounce the light off the ceiling. Try different settings until the illumination appears natural.
  3. Use the default matrix metering to take well-exposed photos of the room interior.
  4. When capturing the outside view of the room, set the camera to spot meter mode and capture well-exposed photos of the outside view. Spot metering mode makes the camera ignore the dark room and focus on the window opening. 
  5. Note: you can reverse the steps and point the flash at the window if the outside of the window is dark and the interior is well-lit.

Blend the Photos to Create Window Pulls

As you jump into your real estate photography workstation, all giddy and excited to produce the perfect interior image, you need to understand that real estate photography must represent what really is on the other side of that glass. 

You can only work with the real estate photos you’ve taken, and you may not replace the view with something that is extremely beautiful but does not actually exist in the property. 

For instance, if the view is the backyard with the swimming pool, do not swap it out for a beach shot. This house does not sit in front of a beach and this constitutes misleading the buyer. 

Before blending the bracketed photos, you should adjust the colors and rectify lens distortions.Use the following steps to make color and lens corrections in Lightroom, and then blend in Adobe Photoshop. 


Open and Adjust the Images in Lightroom

Open Lightroom and navigate to the Library module. Click the Import button in the bottom left corner to import your photos. Go to the Develop module and adjust settings such as color temperature and lens corrections to make the image look natural and real.

Export to Photoshop

The next step is to blend the photos in Photoshop. To export photos from Lightroom into Photoshop as layers, right-click on the photos, select Edit In from the menu, and choose Open as Layers in Photoshop.

Work With 2 Layers of the Same Photo

You’ll be blending 2 layers of the same photo, with one darker or underexposed and the other exposed perfectly. Here is a breakdown of the two photos. 

Normally Exposed Photo

This is defined as the photo that makes the interior fully visible and well-lit but the view from the window cannot be seen. The relevance of having this photo in this photo editing technique is that it will serve as the base image.

Darker Photo

This is the image where the view outside the window is highly visible and glare-free, traded off with the hardly visible interior. The purpose of having this photo is to utilize the view and later get rid of the unwanted and unfathomable dark interior.

Align The Photos

Align the photos to avoid blurriness and place the normally exposed photo underneath the darker photo. Aligning the photo is similar to the stacking technique. Go to Edit and choose Auto Align layers.

This allows these two images to be centered together, avoiding possible blurred areas that would otherwise be removed using the ghost removal technique. In order to avoid the additional step of removing blurs, it is best to do and set things right the first time.

Add Layer Mask

For the top layer, click the Add Layer Mask option found at the bottom of the layers panel. The layer mask option is found at the bottom of the panel, denoted by a rectangular icon with a circle at its core. Its purpose is to serve as a layer to work with where the enhancements can be made without destroying the original photo. 

Most window pull techniques will be destructive in nature. However, layers will help avoid these instances especially when there is no assurance of an additional copy of an original photo. Invert the layer mask using the buttons CTRL + I on your keyboard to hide the darker layer which is on top.

Paint Over the Window

Use the brush tool with the color white to paint over the window. Brushing the window area will expose the visible window underneath. It will not be perfect, however, leaving several parts of the visibly lit room muddled with patches of the darkly lit interior.

Restore the Original Window Frame Color

Give back the original window frame colors by inverting the layer color to black and brushing over the fixtures, making sure to retain the view. 

Retouching to restore the right color will make the entire photo look realistic, and the windowsills and furniture that were not intended to be part of the exposed area will look as if they were never touched to begin with.

Flatten the Image

Flatten the image to merge the layers together. Select all the layers and hit the right-click button on the mouse. This will show several menu items where ‘Flatten Image’ can be found. The intent of this step is to merge the pictures together, rendering them final for you to save as one file instead of two layers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Camera Settings are Ideal for a Window Pull?

The best settings for window pull are to use Manual or Aperture Priority mode, set the aperture to f/8 - f/11 for a sharp foreground and background, and use ISO 100 - 400. Use a flash, a tripod, and a remote trigger.

How Do You Expose Windows in Real Estate Photography?

To expose windows in real estate photography, take bracketed exposures to capture details in both the bright windows and shadowed interiors. Merge the exposures for balanced final images using software like Photoshop.

How Do You Take a Picture of a Window Without a Reflection?

To take a picture of a window without reflections, avoid straight-on shots to minimize reflections from the camera lens. You can also use a polarizing filter to reduce glare and reflections from glass. Generally, you use the same technique when creating high dynamic range images.


This real estate photo editing technique to make windows visible is truly a marvel to look at. It brings the best of both worlds into a single image and helps replicate the reality of the beauty that the property holds. 

Even if you believe the view is not pretty enough to make a sale, pulling it in through the window through real estate photo editing can help it sell better than looking at a gob of light that consumes the entire room. 

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