There is not a recipe for a good photo. There is no perfect camera, there is no perfect lens, and there is no perfect lightning. There is only a perfect shot. And what is a good photo is a highly subjective matter. I am not tending to elaborate on this matter as ther are already just perfect tutorials on basics of food photography from Lolo and Helen for My Cooking Hut. I decided to show you how to do some simple editing of your photos. I chose a tungsten day on purpose, as I knew photos would get darker and set White Balance to Auto and had no additional lightning but the daylight. I have a Canon EOS 350D and shoot my images in RAW format. If your camera has that option, and you’re still not using it, I suggest you begin. There is a software that came with my camera, but as it’s Canon’s, I’ll show you how to edit photos in Photoshop.
Left: RAW image; Right: curves edited
So, what have I done? In Photoshop, click Image->Adjustements->Curves. It will open a small window like on the photo bellow. Move the line in the direction of the arrow until you’re satisfied with the result. In order to save it as JPEG you’ll have to switch to 8 Bits/Channel (Image->Mode->8 Bits/Channel). RAW image processing operations are performed at 16 Bits/Channel or greater, and Photoshop won’t let you save it as JPEG if it’s higher than 8 Bits/Channel.
Left: Auto Levels did nothing smart; Right: manualy adjusted levels, much better.
Another useful tool is Levels. There is an Image->Adjustments->Auto Levels, and sometimes it can work miracles, but it was powerless with my kiwi. Manual adjustment is always the best solution (Image->Adjustments->Levels). The photo I got with Level adjustments is not too different than the one with the curves tool, but the white background is whiter, and my kiwi looks more natural.
Left: Original JPEG shot with PowerShot A460; Right: curves adjusted
Left: Auto Levels; Right: Manually adjusted levels
For comparison, I tried shooting the same photo with my old camera, Canon PowerShot A460 in Macro mode (that is a flower option). I placed examples of both methods I used. It’s not perfect, but it’s something. And much better than grayish original.
With my photos, mostly I use curve editing tools, but that’s just me On a perfect sunny day, you wont need any editing. And for the advanced users, there are many ways to set up a good lightning (Lowel EGO or a DIY version of the same, but more on that in some later post).
If you’re looking for some free photo editing software, I highly recommend GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP doesn’t natively work with RAW images. But, there is a small plug-in that will make him to. First, install the GIMP, then UFRaw and you’re all set
Importing UFraw manager. Arrow on the left shows slider for exposure setting, and the one on the right shows tabs for White Balance, Curves, Color, etc.
After exporting the file into the GIMP (by clicking OK), most of the other options are pretty much the same as in Photoshop.
Brightness/Contrast slider in Gimp
And here is how the kiwi looks like after GIMP. Nice?
There is another high quality free image manipulation program – Paint.NET. But, it requires Microsoft .NET Framework to be installed on the machine. Working with it is pretty much the same as in Photoshop and GIMP. So, if there are any geeks here with VS, I know you won’t need instructions on how to install ;) Just give this program a try, you will be very happy with it