Color Correcting / Retouching Food Photography

Color Correcting / Retouching Food Photography

This photograph came to me with the following instructions from the photographer “Help with raspberry sauce on ladle (seems a bit dull), remove the bits/crumbs on the plate in front of tenderloin, brighten image overall?” The photographer’s last comment was “What else would you suggest?”

My suggestions were two-fold. First, improve tone, color-balance, and contrast overall. Once that is complete address the “beauty retouching” issues—remove the drip of the sauce from the ladle and shape of the sauce in the foreground, smooth the cuts in the meat, and tidy-up the right-edge.

The final image was used on a food blog and in the photographer’s portfolio.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owner

Corn Soup Photo, Before & After Photo Retouching

Color Correcting Food Photography

See, Smell, Taste ~ The appeal of food is first visual. Then, the sense of smell and how it tastes draws you into the experience. Food photography has to accomplish all three sensory experiences through its visual interpretation. Two things should be considered when critiquing food photos—does the food look like how it tastes and smells and is the color appetizing.

Corn Soup with Potato and Truffles – Although interestingly composed, this image suffered from low color contrast, a blue cast, and lack of sharpness. Through careful manipulation, pleasing color was restored, detail enhanced, and a visually appealing image was created.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Before & After Photo Retouching of Food Photography

Color Correcting Food Photography

When neutral colors are not neutral, in this case the white dish, the whole image suffers. Similar to the previous photograph, this photo lacked color and tonal contrast. With the color correction complete, the beauty and variety of the green hues can be fully appreciated.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Food Photography Before & After Photo Retouching

Color Correcting Food Photography

A cool color cast is sometimes attractive but seldom on food photographs. In this photo the blue color cast made the oysters and caviar less than appealing and certainly not appetizing. By warming up the overall color, neutralizing the whites and giving a boost to the contrast and sharpness, the image was restored to its attractive and pleasing color palette.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Color Correction of Beverage Photographyt, Before & After Examples

Color Correcting Food Photography

This cocktail named Summer Burst, and in its original state, did anything but burst. By creating translucency, depth, color variation, and texture the drink is now visually appealing and looks tasty and refreshing.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Improving Lighting

Improving Lighting

Creating and shaping lighting in post-production is where retouching skills meets photographic expertise.

The original lighting emphasized the tomatoes in the background rather than the main subject of the photo. I needed to re-direct the viewer’s eye to the foreground of the photo, bringing emphasis to the “action” in the photo which is the pesto in the hand of the model and contents of the bowl.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Before & After Photo Food Retouching, Photo of Beef

Color Correcting Food Photography

Another example of a photograph suffering from a blue color cast. By bringing the image back to neutrality the white dish is now the color it should be and the food is pleasing with appetizing hues.

Copyright Right Belongs to the Respective Image Owners

Color Will Vary Depending on Your Monitor Type, Calibration, and Monitor Profile

Accurate Color

What does the above statement mean? All devices are not created equal. Every device, be it a computer monitor, a smartphone, or a tablet has a range of colors it can produce. This range is called its color gamut. Think of gamut as the number of colors in a box of crayons. Low-end monitors have fewer colors at their disposal to display the colors in a given photo than high-end monitors manufactured specifically for design and photo professionals.

Monitors must also be calibrated and profiled to display colors accurately. Even the most expensive monitors will not display colors accurately if they have not been calibrated and profiled. Age is important too. A monitor’s capabilities deteriorate with use and age.

To learn more about color, color perception, color settings within applications, and color management visit the Resources + More page.

For a visual demonstration on how our working environment affects color perception see the blog post Perception & Our Environment.