These three common food photography editing mistakes can be ruining your food photos, but you can fix that easily.
One of the biggest pain points of any new photographer is editing. Editing is fun, it’s not like camera settings. All those sliders and options are exciting, but that doesn’t mean editing is easy. It takes some time to get a grasp on how to edit so your images look interesting but true to the eye.
With editing, we want to bring the best out of the image. However, it can also make your image look worse. Here are a few editing mistakes you might be making and how to avoid them.
1. You’re overediting
Raise your hand if you’re quilty of making your food images look anything like the food looks in reality. Not in a good way, obivously.
I’m raising my hand up high! I was really loving my clarity slider at one point.
It is very easy to get tangled into all the settings that editing software has and just bump all the settings as high or as low as possible. There’s no such thing as too sharp, right? Wrong.
While we can really enhance textures, colors, shaprnes and contrast with editing, we need to make sure it’s not all too much. With editing you want to showcase how beautiful food looks in real life. You evoke a sense of taste, smell and texture of the dish.
Imagine if someone served you a garlic soup, but there’s just too much garlic and it’s not cooked all the way. All you’re left with is the intense smell of raw garlic. Not very appetizing, right?
It’s the same with food, you want some taste, but not too much.
How to make sure you’re not overediting?
First of all, you need to diferentiate editing jpeg and raw files. Raw files are, as the name states, raw and unedited, while jpeg already have some edits that were created in the camera. This means that if you apply same settings in the same amounts to jpeg files as you would raw files, they will very likely be overedited.
This is also an essential concept to understand, whenever you’re using presets. If the presets were made for raw files, then you might need to make a move some sliders, so you don’t decrease the effect of the preset.
On a side note, let me encourage you to start shooting raw if you aren’t already. Especially, if you’re working for clients!
One other thing that will help you with not overediting is to really ask yourself ‘Does this look true to life?’
If you’re photographing red peppers, you need to ask yourself questions like ‘Is this color like I see it in real life?’
I know, it’s hard to be stuck in the exciting slider mover state! I know, I get it! But just think of the mantra ‘Less is more’.
Let’s look at the two images below. The left image has way too much contrast and sharpness because Texture, Clarity, and Dehaze were set up too high in Lightroom. The right image is more balanced and true to life.
You’re only making global adjustments
Global adjustments? What even are global adjustments?
Global adjustments are settings applied to the entire image. However editing the entire image at once might not alays end up in an appealing image.
This is when local adjustments come in handy. While global adjustments make changes in the entire image, local adjustments only change one part of the image – the part that you intentionally choose.
Lightroom offers three different types of local adjustments – brush, radial and graduated filter. These are all super powerful tools that you shouldn’t neglect if you want to see your food photos improve.
If we look at the two images below, we can see that by applying some filters only to a part of the image (the cake) you can add more interest to the main subject. I applied clarity and lifted the exposure in both images. In the left image, I applied it to the entire image. In the right one I only applied it to the cake. The difference is very subtle but you see how the cake pops just a little bit more in the right image.
3. You’re ignoring the histogram
One of the editing mistakes people make when they start with photography is not paying attention to the histogram. Either in their camera or in editing software.
The histogram is a graphical representation of exposure. There are a few things you can read from a histogram, but one of the most missed is ignoring the clipping warning. This feature warns you if your shadows are clipped or highlights are blown out. Histograms can clearly tell you if you’re losing data on either end of the graph – the shadow end or the highlights end.
Lightroom has built-in warnings for lost detail in highlights and shadows. You can turn it on and off by clicking the tiny triangle on either side of the histogram, just like you see in the image below.
You might think, you’ll be able to see if you have blown out highlights or shadows. Trust me even with a trained eye, that’s difficult. Not to mention that it really depends on your screen, it’s rendering of color and it’s brightness.
Can you think of any other editing mistakes?
I hope you enjoyed my short list of possible editing mistakes you’re making. Let me know in the comments, if you feel like there are some other mistakes food photographers make when they edit their photos.
I also have a brand new Moody Food Preset Collection specially designed for food photographers: