Food Photography: How To Edit Photos In Photoshop

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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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

40 Responses
  1. Kurban Ali

    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?

  2. Sunil Barman

    Great tutorial and very easy to follow. I really like how you achieved the end result without a lot of effort. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yousuf

    I am satisfied to read this tips about food photography. I am a middle man business person and I want to know details about Photoshop services to start my business as a contractor. Thanks

  4. Adam

    This tutorial is simply amazing. Thank you for sharing it with us, Iโ€™ll definitely be using it in the future.

  5. Rose

    Appreciate the whole steps, but why don’t you finish the job as Save for the web, Yes I got the quality but this is something that we need to answer on Image File Size too.

  6. Georgia Brooks

    Many many thanks for sharing such a wonderful photo editing tutorial. I appreciate your wonderful explanation. In my humble opinion, Fotor photo editor is one of the superclass tool. No doubt! This editor is a surprisingly powerful photo editing tool. It is so user friendly and well laid out that I can’t imagine it isn’t holding the monopoly on its competition.

  7. Georgia Brooks

    Hi Katerina,
    Many many thanks for sharing such a superclass tips. Wonderful explanation and I really appreciate. I will certainly dig it and personally suggest to my friends. Iโ€™m sure theyโ€™ll be benefited from this website.

  8. Clipping

    Editing image is not easy for me. BTW I have no word to appreciate you. One of wonder article I have seen! From me, you will get 5 stars ๐Ÿ˜‰ Keep it up. Thank you.

  9. Shanai Williams

    That was a really easy to follow tutorial…. thanks! I got a few good tips from there. Your page was referred in Chelsea’s Messy Apron’s book!

  10. Clayton Waters

    Interesting, although it seems like a bit of a production. The after photo looks nice though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Katerina Petrovska

      YAY! SO happy to hear that, Linda! Thank you!!
      I am very glad that I was able to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Vanessa

    Thank you for this grat post! Now I finally understood how to manage the mysterious “white-balance” ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Katerina Petrovska

      Hi Vanessa!! SO happy that this helped you! White balance drove me up the walls up until I figured it out in Photoshop. ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Bailey

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m new to the food blogging world and thanks to your simple tutorial, my recipe pictures went from slightly embarrassing to something I’m proud to show off! I’m so thankful for people like you who will share your knowledge to help us newbies out!!

    1. Katerina Petrovska

      Thanks so, so much, Bailey!! I am really happy to hear that I’ve helped someone in this crazy little food-world of ours! hehe ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Myra

    Did you ever do the follow-up tutorial on Getting Fancy with Food Photography? I very much appreciated the food photography tips and would welcome the follow-up!

    Thank you for sharing!

  14. Cรฉcilia Chocolat

    That’s a great tutorial (I had some problems to understand it, I’m a new french blogger…) ! Thanks a lot for sharing!

  15. Mary Frances @ The Sweet Tooth Life

    I’m so naive when it comes to PS so this tutorial is incredibly helpful! Aaaaand I think your photos are gorgeous. Going to check out last years tutorial!

  16. Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Love this post! I feel like I only know 1% of PS (seriously!). This is so helpful, especially the white balance. Thank you for sharing your wisdom! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Laura Dembowski

    I use photoshop and think it goes okay for me, but you have a lot more steps. I’m excited to try your method the next time I edit photos and see how it goes.

  18. Valerie

    I had no idea PS could do so much! I feel like such an amature now for using Pixlr (and a wee P&S camera!).

    Very helpful tutorial. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Kim Beaulieu

    Hey Kate, which version do you have? You probably already told me when we chatted but I’m old and forgetful. I think I need to just dive in and get it. I’m still using picmonkey. I need to up my editing game. I’ll be using this daily once I get it. You rock.

  20. Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen

    I’m in the process of sloooowly moving my work from Lightroom to PS. Lightroom is very intuitive and easy to figure out and PS – not so much! But, PS is such a powerful tool and is capable of so much more so I’m trying to learn as I go. Thanks for this tutorial, Kate.

  21. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    THANK YOU for taking the nudge & doing this post! It will be so helpful to so many people! I know PS is daunting to many because well, it’s just so complicated! But knowing a basic workflow and just being able to do some basic things is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to put this together and compile it! Pinned to my food photog board!

  22. Julia @Vikalinka

    Amazing! Stop laughing at yourself and accept that you do know what you are talking about! I have so much respect for bloggers who are willing to share their knowledge. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish I was using photoshop but I am using Lightroom. Any tips on that front?

    1. Katerina Petrovska

      Thanks, Julia!! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m sorry I can’t help you with Lightroom – I have never even tried working in LR.

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Katerina of Diethood
Hey There!
I'm Katerina, a cookie-maker & picture-taker! For me, eating is a moment to share, an enjoyment, a passion. I hope you enjoy my recipes!

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