This may not be the best example but I liked the colors and angle. I have seen lot of similar photos. They look very colorful but not overdone (does it have any technical term) . Any suggestions for capturing these kind of pictures?

tray of colorful yummy food

Source : http://www.flickr.com/photos/32769813@N08/5462155930

  • Could you please reword the question so that it is not so generic?
    – ab.aditya
    Feb 23, 2011 at 6:48

5 Answers 5


I think the word you're looking for is "saturated". In any case, this looks to me like it was taken with a fairly wide-angle lens from quite close up (note the rather exaggerated perspective of the tray). The saturated colors are largely a result of fairly careful lighting, in this case from the right of the camera.

Especially if you're accustomed to on-camera flash, this can make a big difference. On-camera flash tends to show quite a few specular highlights. Since (by definition) a specular highlight doesn't show color, a lot of them have a tendency to give washed-out looking colors. Moving the flash 30-45 degrees (or so) away from the lens axis eliminates (or at least hides) a lot of those specular highlights, so you get much more saturated colors.

  • 1
    I think the major factor here is not so much the physical shot but the processing. This image would be created by use of a high contrast and possibly increased saturation/vibrancy. Mar 19, 2011 at 15:15
  • This is a high contrast image. Generally, when increasing contrast in post (ie. Photoshop), saturation is increased.
    – jaxxon
    May 31, 2011 at 15:57
  • I agree that this was (most likely) altered in post. Note that the histogram shows a good deal of clustering at both extreme ends. This implies loss of detail in both highlights (blown out) and shadows (blocked up). You may like this look and if it's for personal use, go for it: Crank up the saturation and contrast sliders. Many buyers will not want this contrasty an image, choosing to add some later if their application calls for it.
    – Steve Ross
    May 31, 2011 at 16:48

In addition to what Jerry and labnut mentioned, you can apply so called S-curves in Photoshop's tone curve utility. Of course this also applies for the Gimp and many other tools. This will boost the contrast and saturation even more. It can be used as an alternative or alongside with the Soft Light layer technique described by labnut.


I think the real reason this image looks the way it does is by use of a high contrast and saturated processing.

Take my own example. This is the default development settings for this raw file in Lightroom.

enter image description here

But by drastically increasing the contrast, the saturation, blacks and highlights pops out.

enter image description here


Jerry's answer is spot-on, diffused white lighting with good white balance is essential.

The next best opportunity for controlling your colour saturation is at the RAW to jpeg conversion. Your final opportunity is in Photoshop/Gimp but I have found it is best to do it at the RAW conversion stage.

In my case, since I use Ufraw, these instructions are specific to that tool. I select the Colour Matrix option and then increase the saturation slider above 0 according to taste and the end effect desired.

You have one other option, and that is local contrast enhancement. This gives the image more 'snap' and boosts the colour a little.

These instructions are for Gimp, but Photoshop is quite similar. Create a duplicate layer and set the Mode of the duplicate layer to 'Soft light'. Now drag the opacity slider to somewhere between 0 and 100. I find that 40 works for me most of the time. Then flatten the layers.

  • 1
    I like the soft light layer mode in GIMP too. It allows you to manipulate light in a more film-like way: it leaves the brightest white and darkest black where they are and shifts other colours. Helpful for appling contrast enhancement without blowing highlights or darks. Or reducing contrast without making highlights or blacks grey. Mar 19, 2011 at 13:23

Type of light source is important.

You're looking for a light source that represents the full spectrum evenly. In short, never fluorescent, tungsten is OK, diffuse flash is good, diffuse daylight is good.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.