With these simple tips for editing dark and moody photos, you’ll be able to make your images pop and create stunning imagery with ease.
Today we’re gonna go through tiny little things (that are actually not that tiny) that you need to be carefull about when editing dark and moody photos. I’m gonna take you through a few things I find very important while I edit. And if you stick around, at the bottom of the page, you also have a video of me editing my moody image in Lightroom, with lots of explanation.
And if you’re a fan of presets, which I most definitely am, I have a Moody Food Preset Collection right here.
Let’s start with basics. Exposure, or better said, correct exposure is abslutely important in any kind of image. The thing I see very often is dark photos being to dark. Too dark to see the detail well and far too dark to make the subject stand out from the scene.
This is not only important when you light your scene while taking it, but also when you edit!
Okay let’s talk more about your subject popping out. This is definitely always the most important thing to achieve. So just like with exposure, we also need to take a really close attention to the contrast in our images, especially when they are dark.
With dark and moody photos, contrast is your power! You want contrast, but you also want to make sure it’s not blowing out the detail.
There’s no one tip for making the contrast perfect, it’s all about your creative vision. But generally, if you take a good look at all the detail up close, you’ll be able to see, if you’re loosing some important parts of your image.
Naturally, when we shoot images in a dark setting, we’ll get lot’s of shadows. And shadows will enhance textures. And texture is good. The problem arises, when you’re shooting a textured food on a textured backdrop. If you just adjust textures and shadows for the entire image, you might see your backdrop distracting from your subject. This will especially be prominent in flatlays, since you’re most likely have the backdrop entirely in focus.
Local adjustments are your friend in this case! With local adjustments, you can apply the edits only to a particular part of the image.
Local adjustments are your friend
We discussed local adjustments a bit in the previos tip. And here we’ll talk about the full power of local adjustments in editing dark and moody photos.
Shooting in a dark style can often create things like too bright highlights, too dark shadows, not enough exposure in some parts of the image, and so on. Even if you pay close attention to all these things while you shoot, you might still get some things look a bit off.
Local adjustments are super helpful in these cases.
Don’t go overboard with a vignette
We love a vignette, right?
And for a good reason. A vignette in dark images will definitely give a definition to a dark image. However, this is the one edit to be careful about. It’s very easy to go overboard and make it look fake.
Here’s where you should be very tough on yourself and asses whether your vignette is looking fake or real.
Your camera makes a difference
You’re probably thinking ‘What has my camera to do with editing?’
Each camera creates the photos a little bit differently. Each one will produce different colors and contrasts. And therefore the edits will also need to be different.
If you only ever use one camera, you’re already used to it. You know what kind of images it produces. But when you take another camera in your hand, let’s say you got a new camera. This camera will see things differently and you’ll have to adjust your edits if you want to get the same result.
Watch me edit a dark and moody photo in Lightroom
To see how I’ve applied all these tips into my editing proces what me edit an image of some blood oranges in Lightroom.
To download the raw file used in this video