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Enhancing a bad picture taken with a bad phone camera

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I am not a photographer so I don't have the equipment nor the setup to take good photographs to work with.

Especially my random food pictures taken with my 170$ phone tend to end up looking so unflattering that I don't even want to share them with anyone because the colors are so bad, the food looks disgusting.

I've been looking for ways to make these pictures look more appealing and am pretty proud of the outcome of this one. Of course, it's not even close to perfect and if anyone has any advice on editing low quality pictures, it would be much appreciated. Most editing tutorials start out with professional raw images, which I don't have and a lot of the techniques used come out different than expected, so it's been a tough journey that I fear will only ever end once I get a better phone or camera.

Anyway, here's the before (left) and after (right):

 

cucumber_salad_before_after.thumb.jpg.7e3cd2656fe6c26a763f21a21c21b1a2.jpg

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There's literally loads of ways to enhance a picture, it all depends on what end result you want; it's mainly down to personal choice.

My edits used several adjustment layers.

HSL targeting the reds and greens.

Selective colour adjustment to modify the stand out colours.

Highlights and shadows adjustment to emphasize the 'wetness.'

Vibrance adjustment.

Curves adjustment to finish off.

 

op39362e7dc3acb230c124d268b9e3626f.jpg


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Sorry, I should have specified. My goal is to enhance the image in a way that most closely resembles an unedited higher quality picture. So no obvious color boosts or extreme "filters" to hide the original lack of colors.

So in a way, my question could be reformulated as: how do I increase the color and brightness range and variety in a way that looks natural?

Worst case I'd recolor the picture by hand, in which case advice for that is also appreciated.

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i thought your result was pretty good all things considered. I might take down the highlights just a tad as the blown out pixels are making your food look a bit plasticky. 

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It's not so much a 'bad phone camera' ... more so a lack of understanding of the tricks food photographers use!

Have a look here and here

Your image (zucchini?) looks unappealing because, in the photo, it looks over cooked—mushy and lacking in colour. The trick here would be to photograph it raw (or very slightly cooked). This way the colour, texture etc would be retained. Spraying the veg and adding steam (how to—pointed out in the links) would create an illusion of a freshly cooked dish.

Bon appetit!   


https://www.peterdinnan.com/     photography with elements of mood, abstraction, pareidolia, gestalt and the morphics

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7 hours ago, PedroOfOz said:

It's not so much a 'bad phone camera' ... more so a lack of understanding of the tricks food photographers use!

Have a look here and here

Your image (zucchini?) looks unappealing because, in the photo, it looks over cooked—mushy and lacking in colour. The trick here would be to photograph it raw (or very slightly cooked). This way the colour, texture etc would be retained. Spraying the veg and adding steam (how to—pointed out in the links) would create an illusion of a freshly cooked dish.

Bon appetit!   

Those are some pretty cool tricks! Interesting to know what we're actually looking at when seeing those mouth-watering pictures.

It's a pickled cucumber salad in my image (pretty niche, I know) that I made and I wanted to share it in an online group of fellow enthusiasts. In this case, it would defeat the purpose to fake the actual food but next time I should think of a better setup and/or background beforehand when I make food with the intent of sharing pictures of it. I looked at some reference images of pickles online and they all seem to place them on a desaturated wooden table and it does look a lot better than my plain white table :35_thinking:

Thanks for your input!

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18 hours ago, AffinityJules said:

There's literally loads of ways to enhance a picture, it all depends on what end result you want; it's mainly down to personal choice.

My edits used several adjustment layers.

HSL targeting the reds and greens.

Selective colour adjustment to modify the stand out colours.

Highlights and shadows adjustment to emphasize the 'wetness.'

Vibrance adjustment.

Curves adjustment to finish off.

 

op39362e7dc3acb230c124d268b9e3626f.jpg

Yum!!!!!


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