Food Photography: How to Ripen Tomatoes in Photoshop

Food Photography | November 25, 2016 | By

  • Before-Ripen tomatoes
    After-Ripen tomatoes
    BeforeRipen tomatoes After



Here is a simple method for increasing the saturation of a specific color in Photoshop. In this example, we’ll use it to “ripen” tomato slices on a bacon cheeseburger.

  1.  Here is the “before” image.  The tomatoes are in need of a saturation boost.



2.  Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.  Select the Reds (vs Master) and push the saturation slider to the right until you achieve the desired effect.

Tomatoes - 2

3.  Now select the Yellows and move the hue slider just a bit to the left.

Tomatoes - 3

4.  These changes are currently applied to the entire image, but we only want them applied to the tomatoes.  In order to hide the effect, fill the layer mask with black (command-delete on a Mac).

Tomatoes - 4

5.  Now choose a soft brush and set the foreground color to white.  With the layer mask selected, start to paint the effect back onto the tomato slices.

Tomatoes - 5

6.  Continue painting the color back into the tomatoes, being careful not to stray into other areas of the burger.

tomatoes - 6

7.  Finally, adjust the opacity of the Hue/Saturation layer to a level that suits your taste.

Tomatoes - 7


Prefer video?  Here you go!


Quick Tip – Improve your food photography with glass block

Food Photography | July 13, 2015 | By

Most food photographers will agree that natural light makes for the best photographs.  Unfortunately, it is not always possible to take advantage of natural light.  In these cases you are left to artificial light, usually in the form of speedlights or strobes.  While artificial light can be used to produce beautiful images, it generally requires the use of some type of modifier as, on its own, artificial light tends to be harsh and flat.  Modifiers come in all shapes, sizes, and forms – from the DIY bedsheet diffuser to a professional Softbox.


Food Photography – Cranberry Walnut Bread

Food Photography | February 10, 2015 | By

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Food Photography – Apple Turnover

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Garlic Cloves – Chiaroscuro Style

Food Photography | December 22, 2014 | By

Garlic cloves shot in chiaroscuro style

Garlic cloves shot in chiaroscuro style


Garlic Cloves - Chiaroscuro
  1. Canon 7D
  2. Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
  3. Canon 580EXII
  4. Radiopopper transmitter and receiver
  1. Place garlic on cutting board and surround on three sides with black foam board.
  2. Turn off any ambient lighting.
  3. With camera on tripod, shoot a series of images in aperture mode while moving the position of the handheld flash for each shot.
  1. ISO 100
  2. Exposure: 0.3 sec at f/8.0
  3. Flash set to ETTL mode
jarrod erbe | photography

The chiaroscuro (dark-light) technique in the visual arts is characterized by the use of strong contrasts between light and dark.  The use of the chiaroscuro technique in food photography results in sharp contrast that emphasizes textures and also adds a bit of intrigue.  

While this style of image is typically shot in natural light, I chose to experiment with flash.  The set up for this image is simple:  garlic cloves were placed on a wooden cutting board and the cutting board was surrounded on three sides with pieces of black foam board.  This image was shot in a darkened room, using a single handheld Canon 580EXII flash as the light source.  With my Canon 7D on a tripod, I took a series of shots while holding the flash at different positions near the scene.  You can create a seemingly infinite number of light and shadow combinations by experimenting with the angle and distance of the flash as well as the position(s) of the black foam board.  As you can see from the shadows in this particular image, the flash was positioned at approximately 7:00 relative to the cutting board and was held at a low angle.  This provides strong side-lighting on the garlic without opening up too much of the shadow detail.   The shadow area at the back of the image was further darkened in Adobe Lightroom.

Dark, moody, food photographs are a popular trend and a quick internet search will provide plenty of inspiration such as this collection on Pinterest.  For more beautiful examples of chiaroscuro food photography, check out Nadine Greef’s work.