Correcting Lighting in Photoshop

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The other day I posted an Almond Cookie recipe. I wanted to quickly share one of the ways I use Photoshop to correct some problems with lighting. Here’s the picture of the ingredients that is straight out of the camera. You can see that the foreground images are too dark. I needed to correct that.
before editing
There are lots of ways to do what I’m about to do, and people have their opinions and techniques that they love. This just happens to be the way I typically go about lightening & editing. There are a couple steps:

– I create a duplicate layer for each object I’m editing so that I retain the original underneath it all.
– I use the pen tool to draw a path around the object I’m trying to edit. You can also use the magnetic lasso tool. I’ll use that sometimes, but I prefer the control of the pen tool.
– Once you’ve created your path with the pen tool, I name my path and ‘make a selection’. You can put a slight feather on the path when you select it in order to blur the edges a little. I put a 1px feather on these selections.
path tool
Once the path is selected, the edges will be blinking.
– At this point, I’ll typically create a layer mask to isolate the specific object I’m editing.
– Then I head to the curves panel and start pulling the top portion of the curve to the upper left (which brightens the whites), and drag the lower portion of the curve to the bottom right (which darkens the blacks)
curves panel
Continue on with drawing paths for every object you’d like to edit. I drew a path around the can, the egg & the bottom of the measuring cups. I edited each independently to lighten them to the point I was happy.

Here’s the after with the three objects adjusted and lightened:
after

It’s sometimes easier to see them side by side. Here’s a combined before and after. You can see how much lighter the foreground items have become.
before and after

If you’d like a really well written explanation that shows a slightly different way, check out this tutorial by a fellow Boston Terrier lover.

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