The Bread & Butter of Editing

Hi guys! So you may have noticed the blog got a makeover — what do you think? I designed a great header image on this site called with a photo I took in Colorado on my iPhone 6! I’m a big fan of the new layout, especially the way it displays all the photos.

Anyway, here is the post I promised about the very basics, the bread & the butter, of editing:

The Bread

Of course, the main ingredient to a good photo is composition. Things like angles, arrangements, shadows, lines, etc. determine the design of your photo. Editing just serves to enhance your design. Learning how to manipulate the two basic aspects of editing — lighting and color — allows you to create beauty in the little (or big) things you photograph.

Let’s take a look at our bread:

pancake ballsbread







The Butter

Each of these wonderful dishes is served most by one aspect of the editing process:

  1. Lighting – Consider the toast. You’re at a really hipster fondue restaurant where no two chairs are alike (some are definitely borrowed from the library), the service is unnecessarily slow, & the checks come in mason jars. You snap a photo of your bread & butter getting warmed by the sun. You check your snapshot on your phone and the picture is dark & it makes your toast look grey. What do you do?
    1. Open up that photo editor & go to lighting!
      1. Brighten the photo, but just until the general outline of the toast becomes clearly visible – NOT until the toast is white!
      2. To see your food even more clearly, decrease the shadows (slide the bar under “shadows”) until you can fully see everything. At this point, the darks in your photo will look grey and not black. Don’t worry, we’re about to fix that next!
      3. Go to contrast and increase until you achieve a light-dark balance. All of this should really bring out the stripes of the blinds falling across the table. If necessary, increase just darks.
    2. Now go to color & increase the warmth until your butter looks as yellow as it should be.

2. Color – At a totally different place (still hipster, maybe you have a problem) in a different city at a totally different meal (breakfast) you confidently order the “pancake balls,” which your friend later tells you are actually called ebelskivers. They arrive with a side of melted chocolatey nutella and you actually move the entire plate to the windowsill to snap a photo against the slightly distressed white background. You look at your laborious shot and realize the sun coming in through the window completely white-washed your photo. What do you do?

  1. Open up your photo editor and go to color!
    1. Actually decrease the warmth (or temperature) until the windowsill takes on almost a bluish tinge.  You actually don’t want to increase warmth, because when you increase the saturation next it will naturally bring out the yellows and browns of the food, without also turning the background yellow too.
    2. Increase saturation until your ebelskivers look as golden as they do in real life, and your nutella looks like you could touch it.
  2. Go to lighting and increase highlights to make the background look nice & white.
  3. Adjust everything else (brightness, contrast, etc.) as necessary!


As a recap, all the options in each of the main editing sections are as follows:

  1. Lighting:
    1. Brightness
    2. Highlights (controls the intensity of whites in the photo)
    3. Shadows (controls the intensity of the shadows in the photo)
    4. Contrast (controls the ratio of light to dark in the photo)
    5. Blacks (some editors have this feature just to increase the intensity of the color black in your photo)
  2. Color
    1. Warmth (goes from blue at one extreme to orange at the other)
    2. Saturation (controls the intensity of each of the colors in your photo)


Happy editing!



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