How to Edit Lighting

There is so much advice on taking good pictures, especially for food blogs. Usually involving buying a new camera and some lighting fixtures. The only problem is that there are those of us who simply don’t have room for all those things…whether in our budgets or in our homes. I have a little Nikon Colorpix, which I really like, but the quality isn’t as nice as I would like for it to be. My pictures usually have a nice resolution, but the lighting can be a bit…wanting. Especially in winter. (Then there are times when it takes me a week to finish a project and it’s sunny one day and dark and rainy the next….)

Fortunately, I have photo editing software. So on days when I feel like it, I can fake decent lighting.

I’ve written up a little tutorial for those of you who, like me, can’t buy a bunch of new equipment for whatever reason. Much as we would like to. I used Paint Shop Pro 8, but you can also get the same results with Photoshop and  Gimp…I’m just not as familiar with that as with PSP8. (If you’ve never used it, you can find a free trial either at Jasc or Download.com. If you don’t have any luck there, Google it. And be careful. :P)

I’m going to use a picture from my magnetic make-up post last week because I spent quite a while doctoring those photos. Here’s how to edit lighting once the photo has already been taken.

How to Edit Lighting // Budget Girl --- Sometimes bad lighting happens and there's nothing you can do about it. Here's how to fix it with a little editing! (Note: Use the free program Gimp instead of Paint Shop Pro.)

Throughout this tutorial, I am going to assume that you have some basic knowledge of the program you’re trying to use. If you don’t, you can find all kinds of tutorials online to help you figure out where things are and what different tools are for.

Step 01: Crop and resize your picture as necessary. My pictures are generally 457×353 pixels. Here’s my starting point:

How to Edit Lighting // Budget Girl --- Sometimes bad lighting happens and there's nothing you can do about it. Here's how to fix it with a little editing! (Note: Use the free program Gimp instead of Paint Shop Pro.)
Step 02: Go to Adjust –> Sharpness –> Unsharp Mask. Make sure your settings are as follows:
Radius: 11.00 Strength: 50 Clipping: 10

This might be the default. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember. 😛

How to Edit Lighting // Budget Girl --- Sometimes bad lighting happens and there's nothing you can do about it. Here's how to fix it with a little editing! (Note: Use the free program Gimp instead of Paint Shop Pro.)
Step 03: Add a new layer (Layers –> New Raster Layer). Select the Fill tool and set the color to #FFC0C0 (it’s a reddish pinkish color). Set the opacity level to 50%. Or around 50%…it doesn’t have to be exact. In fact, your opacity levels will change depending on the picture you’re using.

How to Edit Lighting // Budget Girl --- Sometimes bad lighting happens and there's nothing you can do about it. Here's how to fix it with a little editing! (Note: Use the free program Gimp instead of Paint Shop Pro.)
Step
 04: Repeat step 3, but change the color to #FFFFC0 (it should be a light yellow) and set the opacity to around 70% (again, depending on your picture).

How to Edit Lighting // Budget Girl --- Sometimes bad lighting happens and there's nothing you can do about it. Here's how to fix it with a little editing! (Note: Use the free program Gimp instead of Paint Shop Pro.)

You could end here. But I wanted mine a little brighter.

Step 05: Copy the merged image (Ctrl + Shift + C) and then paste that over everything (Ctrl + L). Set the filter to Multiply. Duplicate that image.

How to Edit Lighting // Budget Girl --- Sometimes bad lighting happens and there's nothing you can do about it. Here's how to fix it with a little editing! (Note: Use the free program Gimp instead of Paint Shop Pro.) Step 06: Copy merged again and paste on top of everything. Set this layer to Screen, 100%.

How to Edit Lighting // Budget Girl --- Sometimes bad lighting happens and there's nothing you can do about it. Here's how to fix it with a little editing! (Note: Use the free program Gimp instead of Paint Shop Pro.)

With some pictures, you can use blue filters (if my picture is too orange, I sometimes add a lavender color, a teal color, and just a little yellow–mess with the opacity of each until you’re happy). You can also duplicate the layer with the original picture, drag the duplication to the top of the layers, and set to Soft Light. Change the opacity to whatever you need it to be. This picture was bright enough, so I didn’t do that.

Of course, it doesn’t look as good asit would with an expensive camera and nice lighting. Though I could stand to try to figure out how to use my camera. 😛 But it’s better than nothing!

chelsey2
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2 comments

  1. Anne Lagache says:

    This is not for public printing. I couldn’t get your photos to display on your blogs about tweaking the photo after taking it.
    I’m on an old iPad 2 on iOS 9.01.
    Anything thoughts why the photos have a question mark in their space instead of the photos.
    Thanks very much.
    Warmly,
    Anne Lagache

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