sabatomic » perth pet photography, lifestyle photography and portraiture

Grill’d Photoshop Tutorial

Over the last two weeks I have been going on a mini Photoshop tutorial spree and was excited to do things a little differently and test out some new techniques (as well as old ones) on the photos from the Claremont Grill’d visit I posted about last week. I’ve tried to put a little tutorial together, let me know what you think, things may not be explained at a beginner level, but with screenshots and some ingenuity, I hope beginners will be able to follow along too.

I posted up my lightroom process for a photo last week and you’ll see the massive difference between how I edit in lightroom (quick and dirty) versus photoshop (longer, more complicated – and this one is a quick edit).

Click below to read the whole tutorial…

Original image

This is a crop of one of the shots, just so you can see the delicious burger detail. The original image is a little dark. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t blowing out any of the details on the light side of the image but didn’t care much for the darker areas, so I shot slightly underexposed.

Step 1: Peach overlay

First of all, I wanted to warm up the image. The original looked very cold to me, so I added a Colour Fill adjustment layer with a light peach (hex code #fadbc7), set the blending mode to Multiply and then reeled back the Opacity to 16%.

Now, the image looks a bit warmer but it still looking too dark overall. Time for a Curve facelift.

Step 2: Curves

Often with a Curves adjustment layer, I’ll use a very gentle S-shape curve. This heightens the impact of the image – making the brights brighter and the darks darker. You’ll notice I’ve slid the darks up the left side of the axis – I am bringing up the brightness of the blackest blacks, at the cost of losing detail in the dark pixels, which I don’t care much about in this particular image. It is hard to explain this in words, and if you’re not familiar with how curves works I recommend finding a tutorial by googling “curves in photoshop”. I then brought the Opacity of this layer back to 37%.

Here is the result:

The image is still looking far too cold so it’s time for Colour Balance.

Step 3: Colour Balance

I want this burger to look warm and inviting, which I translate to mean more yellow / magenta. This can be achieved in a subtle way using a Colour balance adjustment layer. I’ve pushed the Midtones toward yellow by -52 and the Shadows towards magenta -22. I never touch the Highlights of the image, I find that it looks very artificial (just my personal preference). I bought the Opacity back to 72%, I always bring my layers back in opacity a bit, it varies because I use the preview to decide where to stop the slider:

It’s looking a lot more appetising now, but I want to play more with curves to make it look dreamier.

Step 4: Curves again

My definition of dreamy in an image means brightening the dark parts of the image so that it looks faded. There’s a number of ways to achieve this but here I’ve used another Curves adjustment layer, and crawled the left end of the curves up the vertical axis in blue and green curves. I’ve taken screenshots of the RGB, Red, Green and Blue curves below:

Here’s the result:

Step 5: Soft light

On your colour picker, choose 50% grey as the Foreground colour (#808080) and black as the Background colour. Make a new layer and do a Radial type Gradient fill from the focal point of your image out toward the edge. Select white as your painting colour and paint with a very large, reduced opacity soft edge Brush, paint a little over the areas of the image you want to highlight (the burger!).

Set the blending mode of this layer to Soft light. Any pixel on this layer with 50% grey makes no change to the image beneath, any shade darker than 50% grey makes the image darker and any shade lighter than 50% grey makes the image brighter. This explanation is probably confusing, a quick google has failed to find anything suitable to explain, so I’ll make a tutorial on this another time! I set the Opacity of this soft light gradient layer to 22%.

This is the layer after I was done painting it:

And after soft light blending mode, this is where we’re at:

Step 6: High Pass

High Pass helps chisel out the detail in a picture by using soft light blending mode to modify only the edges of an image using the same principles as the previous step. Be careful with it, because overenthusiastic use of this technique can easily ruin a picture.

I copied the background layer into a new layer and then chose Filter > Other > High Pass. I moved the slider until it gave me a picture that had detailed information about the edges in the image, which in this case, happened to be Radius 3.0. I clicked ok and then set the blending mode of this layer to Soft light. I knocked the opacity of this layer back to 70%.

Voila! Done. Here’s the original vs finished image again:

I’ve tried to make these Grill’d images look tastier, warmer and fresher, because that’s how I felt it really was when I had my burger. Some would say that this is a false representation of how the burger looked, but a photo never captures exactly what you see, unless your eyes are made of camera sensors and your brain is too useless to do any modulation of that information!

Please comment and let me know if you found this helpful and are interested in seeing more of these :)

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  • July 1, 2011 - 8:57 am

    Chisa - Hey, this is very helpful! I take photos of food a lot, but aside from adjusting the colour balance I don’t usually do much to them, and I think they often look a bit lacking. Great tutorial :)

  • July 1, 2011 - 10:51 pm

    Sab - Hey chisa, I’m glad you found it helpful! I don’t get a lot of comments here so it’s good to get some feedback :)

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