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Cook Up Better Food Photos With This Lightroom Presets Recipe

I’ve been using MCP Actions Photoshop Action Sets for some time now to edit both portraits and food images. About a year ago I decided to make the plunge into Lightroom, and I’m kicking myself for not doing so sooner.

I was more than elated when, shortly after making the switch, MCP Actions released their amazing Quick Clicks Collection. I can get so much editing done in such a short amount of time now, I don’t know how I got along before. I rarely need Photoshop to edit food photos anymore (though I still like to finish up my portraits that way).

These Lightroom presets get results. Here’s the proof:

You may be familiar with a couple of popular websites out there that showcase gorgeous food photographs from around the web. I have always struggled to get my photos accepted to these sites, one of which is exceptionally particular. My photos would be rejected for lighting, sharpness, etc. I’d play around with them some more in Lightroom or Photoshop, and maybe, if I was lucky, they’d get accepted on the third or fourth try. Since using these presets, more and more of my photos are being accepted…and on the first try!

Below is a recent photograph of mine that’s gotten a lot of attention lately, along with the step-by-step edit (the recipe). I’d had a truly awful photo posted with this recipe for years, but I’ve slowly been going back and replacing some of those pictures I took before I had a DSLR. Because Jodi’s presets truly make my photos more mouth-watering, I won’t keep you in suspense. Here’s where you can find the recipe for my Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake.

SOOC:

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake before Cook Up Better Food Photos With This Lightroom Presets Recipe

A couple of notes before we get started:  Firstly, I always shoot in RAW and check for blown-out highlights before proceeding with the shoot. This often leads to images that appear underexposed, especially when there is so much white in the background, as in this photo. Not to worry. Quick Clicks will take care of that, and it’s much easier than dealing with an image that is OVERexposed! Secondly, you want your food to appear natural, so avoid getting too funky when playing around with your presets. Cool Twist Urban presets might look great on that photograph of your niece, but you’re not going to whet any appetites applying them to your granny’s Apple Brown Betty. I generally stick to the Clean Edits when it comes to food. Not only are the colors more natural, but they make for a sharp finished image.

  1. Played around with the white balance presets to see which one gave the most natural look. In this case I used Daylight and Sunshine.
  2. Adjusted the exposure until achieving a pleasing brightness, checking the histogram to ensure my highlights weren’t clipping. 1/3 stop was enough.
  3. Tried out various Clean Edits and decided that Lucky was the best fit for this image.
  4. Applied Blowout Buster Extra Light to help tame some of those highlights.
  5. Lightened up some of the shadows on the cake using Flash Fill Light.
  6. Burnt Edges V1  was used to help keep the eye focused on the center of the image.
  7. Medium Sky popped the blue in the napkin and blueberries a bit.
  8. Medium Landscape popped the blues a bit more and also warmed up the yellow some.
  9. Used the adjustment panel to drop the saturation on the yellow back to +15 and the blue to +30, giving the colors a more natural appearance.
  10. Went back to the exposure adjustment and increased it to +0.86, again ensuring that highlights were not clipped.

Post-Edit: 

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake after Cook Up Better Food Photos With This Lightroom Presets Recipe

This blueprint was created by Dawn DeMeo of Dawn’s Recipes. Dawn has been blogging about food on her current site for over 7 years, a hobby which kindled a passion for photography.

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Laurie says:

    Thanks for such a detailed description and I love the edit!

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