Creative Connection

5 Simple Editing Tools for Sensational Food Photography

Author: Bo’s Kitchen

’The eyes eat first’ – heard this before? It’s something that’s stuck with me through my food photography adventures. Even back in the days of shooting and editing with just an iPhone, my goal has always been to create pictures that looked good enough to eat.

Over the last four years I’ve learnt how to use Adobe Lightroom to make the most of my photographs, in fact, as soon as I got my first DSLR camera it’s been the only software I’ve ever used for editing! In this post I’ll be sharing some of my favourite editing hacks with you, along with my top 5 tools in Lightroom that I use again and again.

The first and most important thing to mention is that no amount of editing will make a great image. Trust me, I’ve tried! Editing should be like accessorising a snappy outfit, it adds the finishing touches to bring it to life, but only works if you have the right foundation. With this in mind, I make sure to get my photo right first and foremost by checking and adjusting the white balance on my camera and capturing the best light possible for the food I’m shooting. I always shoot in raw, so I have the highest quality picture to edit in Lightroom.

Although editing is best used to enhance your food photos, with time and practice your style of editing can be a useful way to develop your own unique style.

There are so many options and tools to use in Lightroom, it can seem overwhelming at first. Don’t be put off though, just knowing your way around the basics can have a dramatic impact on your photos. These are my top 5 most-used tools in Lightroom. I’d be lost without them!

  1. Contrast – This tool is designed to define the areas of light and dark in the photo. I’ll increase the contrast in every one of my pictures as it really helps to bring out details and make the image pop!
  2. Temperature – Ever look at a picture and think it looks too cold and blue, or too warm and yellow? Sometimes even with camera settings spot on, the weather will add a funny tint to your pics. This slider will make your picture warmer (yellow tones) or cooler (blue tones). I use this tool to either enhance the blues in my picture or even out the blues so that my whites look truly white.
  3. Shadows/highlights – I love using these tools to add a little extra drama to my images. Lightening the shadows can show more detail, making for a captivating image. Whenever I increase the shadow slider, I always decrease the highlights so that the bright spots aren’t blown out. Alternatively, you can make the shadows darker which can make colours appear more vibrant. These tools are a great way to increase contrast without using the contrast slider and something I play around with in every image.
  4. Vibrance – I’m known for my love of colour, so this tool is up there with my all-time favourites! Drag the slider to the right to make colours brighter and more intense. I prefer to use the vibrance tool, rather than saturation, so that the colours stay true to life. Use this carefully though, as over saturated food photography can end up looking fake, which isn’t always appetising.
  5. Selective colour – Probably the most popular tool for foodies! With selective colour, you can make colour adjustments to specific parts of your picture. This is always preferable to increasing the saturation overall. Want to make your blueberries bluer, or your raspberries redder? This tool is for you! You can change the hue, saturation and luminance of each specific colour, which can totally change the overall feel of your dish.

In addition to these five tools, I also love using the adjustment brush to highlight specific areas of my picture. If I’m shooting a smoothie bowl for example, I’ll use the adjustment brush to highlight the bowl. This means that I can then make specific changes to the smoothie bowl, without affecting the rest of the picture. This is a powerful way to draw the viewer in and keeps the focus on the food.

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