Sharing the info: getting the colour right

I decided I needed a few more photos on my food portfolio, so took a whole bunch of pictures of food I bought at the St. Lawrence Market. Most of it was pretty straightforward, although it required great care: I was using a mandoline without using the guard. Oh yes, it’s true.

A mandoline is sharp enough that you don’t have to race through things. You can take your time with the slicing. Especially with slicing asparagus. You want to use a leading hand and a trailing hand, and use them the way you would on a sewing maching: no fingers where the needle is, no fingers at the blade. Before, and after. Here’s the resulting pictures of the asparagus:

Flat asparagus salad

Now, that wasn’t what caused me problems. No, I had difficulties with reds and jpegs. Fancy that, eh?

I had two perfectly ripe Roma tomatoes. I sliced one, but it was too thin to be attractive. Changed the settings on the mandoline, and got some beautiful slices, and decided to compose a Caprese salad and photograph it.

As Guy McCrum, instructor of Food and Product photography over at George Brown College put it, the tomatoes looked radioactive. He was being kind.

Something to be aware of is that jpeg doesn’t do all colours equally well. I learned this back in the day when I used to do competitions over at Worth1000, but had forgotten about it. Until I had this perfectly ripe tomato. Yes, it looked even slightly overdone on my calibrated monitor, but when I moved it up to Flickr, it turned into something like this. I tried recreating it today, using the same procedure I used to color correct it initially:

Nuclear caprese

Truly, nuclear. The eye has problems figuring out what is going on because of the colour intensity.

Tried just moderately changing the color correction, but that just moderated the nuclearity a little bit. Still not an acceptable image.

Guy recommended I try adding a layer in Photoshop — convert the image to black and white, then apply that as either an overlay or a soft light to the original image.

What could I lose? I converted it using the B&W conversion, and deliberately made the reds much darker. Tried not to change the other colors: the cheese and snipped basil looked right.

Here’s the result. Slightly tamed, but still the full, amazingly red Roma that it was. Just not… quite so glowy.

Close-up on Caprese Salad

This entry was posted in Food, Kitchen and table, Photography, Photography - documentary by pat. Bookmark the permalink.

About pat

Visual thinker, first got interested in digital imagery in the early days of Omni magazine, back when it used to review what had happened at SIGGraph. I worked in the 3D software field for 23 years. Lifelong enjoyment of gardening grew over time; I was a Master Gardener (briefly) and had a vegetable and herb allotment garden in Toronto to grow vegetables, as well as perennial gardens at home. Gardening and enjoying fresh produce also raised my interest in cooking with really good local food. As more restaurants in Toronto are offering local fare, I enjoy dining out and sampling the visions the different chefs have.

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