How I Edit My Food Photography Images in Adobe Lightroom
I edit all my photos using the Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is my program of choice because it is relatively easy to use and it has all the tools needed to make a good food photo without being too overwhelming.
Everyone has their own approach to editing so below is a quick overview of my workflow in Lightroom. I hope that this overview provides you with some takeaways to help you with your own food photography.
When working with Lightroom, I work only with RAW images. These are files with .CR2 extensions. They are larger sizes and contain a lot of information that allows me to fine tune my editing.
Below are screen shots from the Adobe Lightroom CC (the cloud-based app). Just keep in mind that Adobe Lightroom Classic has the same tools but they are located slightly differently.
To start editing, open up Adobe Lightroom. On the right-hand side, all the tools you need are broken down into six categories in a column with the most frequently used/most important at the top: Edit, Crop & Rotate, Healing Brush, Brush, Linear Gradient and Radial Gradient.
If you are new to Adobe Lightroom, this column setup makes editing very intuitive. Just scroll top-down through these categories and play with all the different tools. If you are unsure of what a tool does, hover over the tool with your mouse and a pop-up will give you a quick summary. All edits are done by moving sliders left or right. Simple as pie.
Here is a quick run-down of what I do in the different categories.
In Edit > Light, I mainly adjust for Exposure and Shadow. I like my photos on the bright side so I usually move the Exposure slider to the right to brighten. Conversely, move it to the left to darken. I also like to open up the shadows. I tend to get a lot of shadows under plates or areas that are on the opposite side of my main light source when shooting. To open up the shadows, move the Shadow slider to the right. To darken the shadows, move the slider to the left.
In Edit > Color, I adjust the white balance. I usually just adjust the Temp and Vibrance sliders accordingly to achieve the look I want. For a warmer look, which is what I usually want with my photos, I move the Temp slider slightly to the right. I also move my Vibrance slider to the right to brighten up the colors in my photos.
In Edit > Effects, I like to up the Texture in my photos. This is the new feature that was added to the 2019 update and it’s absolutely fantastic for food photography. To really make texture pop in my photos, I move the slider to the right, but not so much that the photo looks overdone and unrealistic.
In Edit > Detail, I increase Sharpening because it’s really all about making your focal point stand out. By default, increasing sharpness will increase the sharpness to the whole photo. That means background will get noisy (pixelated and grainy). To only sharpen your main focal point, utilize the Masking tool. Click on the small arrow next to Sharpening to show more options to reveal Masking. When you move the Masking slider to the right, the more the background will be masked out, meaning more background pixels will not be sharpened. Unfortunately, you will notice it’s really difficult to see what is being masked out. To help with that, hold down ALT on the PC or option key on the PC when moving the slider. The photo will temporarily convert to black and white. The white areas tell you what it will be sharpened and the black areas tell you what will be masked.
In Edit > Optics, I always check the two check boxes to Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Lens Correction. Changes are subtle but worth doing to fix optical distortions caused your lens and the positioning of your camera and subject.
Lastly, I head over to the Crop & Rotate category to crop the photos accordingly for whatever platform I’m using. For my blog and instagram, I usually change the Aspect Ratio to 1x1 (square). For mobile, I sometime do 4x5 for more vertical space.
For any spot correction, I utilize the other categories Healing Brush, Brush, Linear Gradient and Radial Gradient. Any further corrections that I am not able to achieve in Lightroom, I right click on the photo and select Edit in Photoshop to utilize Photoshop’s more powerful tools. However, this is rarely needed since Lightroom does a darn good job already for what I need.
And there you have it. That’s pretty much how I go about editing my photos to be blog and instagram-ready.
If you are also interested in using Adobe Lightroom to improve your photos, click here.