Food Photography: How To Edit Photos In Photoshop

How to edit photos in Photoshop: My step-by-step Photoshop-flow.

Food Photography How To Edit Photos

Hi, Friends! Welcome to my annual Help-A-Blogger-Out blog post!

Last year it was about How To Make Money Blogging: Working With Blog Networks, and now we’re going to focus on those delicious food photos.

Honestly? I am literally laughing at the title of this post. It makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about. I really don’t. I mean, I do, but I am not an expert in Photoshop. This tutorial is a step-by-step process of MY photoshop-flow. It doesn’t mean that it’s the correct way – and I’m sure that it isn’t – but it’s what I learned on my own, it’s how I edit photos, and it’s what works for me, most of the time. That’s my disclaimer. 

I get tons of emails about food photography, camera, post processing, editing, etc… and I try to answer each and every one of them. If I haven’t written back, it’s because it slipped through the cracks or the Junk Mail Folder swallowed it. However, I’m happy and very thankful for those emails. It means that someone is noticing my hard work. YAY! It’s also a huge compliment when someone tells you that they love your photos. In my opinion, I am far from where I want to be, but photography takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. We all get better at it with time.

Thus, after a brief conversation with a dear bloggy-friend about my flow in Photoshop, and a nudge or two from her about doing this post, I decided to go ahead and share what I know.

Also? Resizing these images took an entire day, and they STILL didn’t work out perfectly. Ugh. #foodbloggerproblems
Just follow the arrows and read all the notes. Put on your eyeglasses, too.
one more thing… if you see an ad at the bottom of the photo/s, you can just “x” out the ad. Girl’s gotta eat – I live off those ads. 😉

Before you start to yawn and walk away, let’s do this!

We are going to work on editing a photo that features a Roasted Strawberries Tart.

Screenshot Photoshop

1. Open your photo in Photoshop.
Press Ctrl+J to create a Layer.
Go to “Filter”, located on the top row.
Click on “Filter”, scroll down to “Sharpen”.
Click “Sharpen” and select “Unsharp Mask”.

Screenshot of Photoshop

2. A box will appear like the one above. This is where you are going to Sharpen your photo.
Look at those numbers – mine are set at:
Amount: 170%
Radius: 2.0 Pixels
Threshold: 0 Levels
Sharpen by inserting those numbers and Press “OK”

Photoshop Screenshot

3. When you are done with Sharpening your photo, go to “Layer”, located on the top row. Click on “Layer” and select “Flatten Image”.

Screenshot Threshold

4. Now we’re going to fix the White Balance, Highlights, and Shadows.
Go to the right bottom of your Photoshop screen. You will see a circle that is split in two colors – black and grey. Right-click on that circle and select “Threshold” from the menu.
The photo will look funky. Not to worry – this is what we want.

Screenshot Sampler Tool

5. Go to the “Eyedropper Tool” located on the left, where the arrow is pointing.
Right-click and select “Color Sampler Tool”.

Screenshot Threshold Dark

 Do you like how I left that little pop-up on the bottom of the photo above? I am just noticing it… Please don’t mind.

6. The arrow is pointing at the slider. You want to move this slider all the way to the left. Once you’ve done that, slowly move the slider to the right until you start to see dark patches on the photo.
At this point, stop moving the slider and click on a dark patch. See below:
Screenshot Dark Threshold

Right-click on the “Threshold 1 Layer” and select “Delete Layer”.

7. We’re going to repeat the process.
Right-click on that circle located on the bottom right.
Select “Threshold”.
Move the slider all the way to the right. Once you’ve done that, slowly move the slider back to the left until you start to see white patches on the photo.
At this point, stop moving the slider and click on a white patch. See below:
Screenshot Threshold White

Right-click on the “Threshold 1 Layer” and select “Delete Layer”.

8. Click on “Levels”, which is the icon that looks like a picture of a graph.
Screenshot Levels

In the “work area” marked with an arrow and a number “2” above the arrow, you will see three color sampler tools. Click the very top one. It’s darker than the other two.
Go to the photo and click on the target that you selected as the darkest part of the photo, or the arrow marked with the number “3”.
Screenshot WB correction

Go back to the work area and click on the third color sampler tool, marked with the arrow and a number “1”.
Now click on the previously selected lightest part of the photo. I have it marked with the arrow and a number “2” above it.

From hereon, I try to correct the colors, add some light, contrast, shadows,  and so on.
Screenshot Photoshop Tutorials

9. Click on the “Curves” icon marked with an arrow and a number “1”.
Go to the work area and click on the bar marked “Default”.
From the drop-down menu, select “Lighter (RGB)”. Marked with an arrow and a number “2”.
This will lighten your photo just a bit. Move the line up and down to see how light/dark you want the photo to be. See below:
Screenshot Add Light

10. Click on the “Curves” icon again.
In the work area, click on the bar marked “Default” and select “Linear Contrast”. Again, you can play around with this and see what looks best. See below:
Photoshop Levels

11. At this point, I try to fix the colors by clicking on the icon that looks like a balancing scale. If the photo is too green, I add some red, if it looks too yellow, I add some blue, etc… See below:
Photoshop Color Balance

My last step involves “Saturation”. You want that color to pop, so don’t be afraid to play with this tool.

Screenshot Photoshop Tutorial

12. Select the “squared” icon located to the left of the balance scale.
Move the slider to the right to inject color. I normally move up to about 10, but depending on the photo, sometimes I only need to go up to 5, other times I need to go to 15. Sometimes more.

Tutorial Photo Screenshot

Aaaaand that’s it! This is my flow. Nothing fancy. Sometimes I do get fancy, but that’s for our next tutorial. Try playing around with your photos in Photoshop and start making your photos the best that they can be.

I really hope that I was able to help some of you. If you have any questions about how to edit photos, or anything else related, please ask in the comments. I will most definitely answer back. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a follow-up post and/or tutorial.

I also want to let you know that one of my favorites, and one of the very best food photographers, Naomi from Bakers Royale just wrote an amazing piece about Food Photography for Bloggers.  If you want to get better at this food photography business thingamajig, you must check out her post. She is beyond amazing.

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40 comments on “Food Photography: How To Edit Photos In Photoshop”

  1. Thank you Katerina for sharing this awesome guide on how to edit food photos perfectly with Photoshop. Just got a question in mind, do you use only Photoshop to edit photos? Have you tried Adobe Lightroom?

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