Using the tips I learned from the serious eats article on food photography I I had an idea of what kind of editing I should be doing to my photos. The article suggested looking at things like:
- Fix white balance: Usually this involves selecting the white balance tool, then clicking on a spot in your image that should be a neutral white or gray (napkins, menus, and shadows on plates work well for this). You can also manually adjust the color balance using the temperature and hue sliders.
- Adjust levels to brighten or darken your image: The goal should be to make sure that the lightest spots in your photo are pure white while the darkest areas are pure black, with the majority of the image staying in the center portion of the levels curve. You should also aim to preserve any detail on both the light and dark ends of the spectrum.
- Adjust contrast, brightness, and saturation: The goal should be to make your images pop, but not look like they’ve been exposed to radioactive waste. If your camera supports RAW format and you have an image editor that can process it, use it! It makes adjusting things like color balance much, much easier and in many cases, will allow you to fix things that are virtually unfixable once you convert to JPEG or TIFF. Working from RAW is like working from a photographic negative, while working off a JPEG is like trying to fix a photograph that’s already been processed by the local CVS. You just don’t have as much control.
Here is an example of an original RAW file of one of my photographs. All the images from this restaurant came out with a slight yellow tint to them because of the lighting used inside the restaurant (and poor light coming through the windows) and also I didn’t adjust the white balance on the camera prior to shooting.
Because of this I wanted to make sure I fixed the white balance on the photos. Using photoshop I created a new layer and added 50% fill and adding a ‘difference’ effect on the grey layer over the original image.
Then by selecting a ‘threshold’ adjustment layer you can see the image in high contrast, by bringing down the threshold to about 20-25 percent you can view the beggings of the shadows on the image.
Using the eyedrop tool hold shift and click on the black areas of the image. You should see a target selection stay where you clicked-deselect the threshold layer and the grey fill layers, and select a new adjustment layer over the original photo layer for ‘curves’.
Using this curves adjustment layer select the middle eye drop that allows you to adjust the grey levels of the image. Using this eyedrop click exactly on the selected target that was previously chosen on the threshold layer.
This should fix the white balance on the original photo giving this result.
After adjusting the white balance I went on to adjust other aspects of the photos. Notice how the image above has a slight white washed appearance, that I find is not usually noticeable until you start adjusting the levels and contrast.
With a levels adjustment layer I hold ‘alt’ and select one of the sliders on the histogram and slightly adjust them in wards until the first pixel on the image is overexposed usually giving me the ideal light levels and repeat this with the blacks on the left hand side if needed to add a bit of darkness if the image is over exposed (this usually doesn’t look good if over done)
Other adjustments where made such as increasing the contrast and sometimes the brightness. As well as increasing the saturation just slightly to bring out the colours in the food. This can also been done with colour balance but it was something I wanted to just minimally increase so that the photos wouldn’t look saturated but still have the colours pop out.
I repeated a similar process for all my other photos I edited, of course not all of them followed the exact same suit but this was a basis for what I did for most of them.