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Dark Photos Photoshop Tip (and Thai Shrimp Linguine)

I’m going to preface this post by saying that I am just about the last person in the world to be passing out Photoshop and food photography tips.  That may be the case, but I am going to do it anyway! My dear friend, Julie Lackey, who is an extremely talented portrait photographer, shared this tip with me awhile back and I have used it more than I ever thought I would.

One of the things I hate about the winter months in the midwest is how dark it gets so early in the evening. This frustrated me as a kid because it always meant we had to come in earlier from playing. Now, as an adult and one of those crazy people who can always be found taking photos of the food she cooks, the early sunset means that it is that much harder to get a good photo of dinner in the natural light. Around this time of year, a lot of food bloggers will be posting baked goods and desserts simply because it is too difficult to take a good photo at dinner time.

Enter my friend Julie and her Photoshop tip. This tip works if you take a photo and notice that the image is too dark, which usually happens when your flash is off and there isn’t enough natural light pouring in. I am not a techie, so please excuse my non-technical terms as I flubber through sharing this with you.

  1. Open your dark photo in Photoshop
  2. Up at the top toolbar go to the “Layers” tab and then drop down and select “Duplicate Layer”
  3. If your layers window isn’t open on the side of your PS main window, go up to the top toolbar, go to the “Windows” tab and select “Layers”
  4. OK – now that the layers window is open, you should see a drop down menu in it that shows “normal”. Click on that and go down to where it says “screen”. Your photo should brighten up immediatley. If it is too bright, adjust the opacity (located in your layers window) to a lower percent.
  5. Now, go back up to the Layers tab on the top of your Photoshop screen and drop down to “Flatten Image”
  6. If your photo still needs to be brighter, repeat steps 2 – 5.
  7. When I have the photo as I want it, I usually adjust the saturation slightly to give it a little pop of color and will also sometimes do a curve adjustment

The photo below was a prior version of the one at the top of this post. To save this photo from ending up in my computer recycle bin, I made the changes listed above and was able to salvage it. Many of you probably know this tip, but for those of you who don’t, I hope you found it helpful! Thank you, Julie, for sharing this tip with me and for allowing me to showcase my dinner in a new light.

What is one of your favorite photo editing tips?

And now for the recipe… a quick and easy one from Simple & Delicious magazine!

Thai Shrimp Linguine (from Simple and Delicious Magazine)

20 min | 5 min prep


  1. Cook linguine according to package directions, adding snow peas and linguine at the same time.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook carrots and mushrooms in oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add shrimp; cook and stir 3 minutes longer or until shrimp turns pink. Stir in peanut sauce; heat through.
  3. Drain linguine and snow peas; transfer to a serving bowl. Top with shirmp mixture; toss to coat.
Ahhh – I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention this! Did you know that my adoptee, Jessica of Apples and Butter, is one of the top five finalists for the Well Fed Network’s Food Blog Awards for best new food blog? If you haven’t already, head over there and give Jessica your vote!  I am so proud of her!

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  1. Thanks for a great tip and your shrimp look delicious :)

    Karens last blog post..Inaguration Day Burgers

  2. What a great tip!! I usually just use the automatic features and add a warm filter. here in Australia at the moment I’m struggling with the bright light and too many shadows.

    Natalies last blog post..Jewelry Box

  3. Thanks for the photog tip. We have neither fancy cameras nor Photoshop, so we have to make due for now. :) One day we’ll have fancy food photos!

    The Duo Dishess last blog post..There’s a First for Everything

  4. I wish I had photoshop! Some day soon! Thank you for the tip. The early nights are the hardest thing about blogging in the winter!

    Thank you also for mentioning the food blog awards. We’ll see what happens!

    Jessicas last blog post..Well Fed’s Food Blog Awards

  5. Thanks for the photo tips! Much appreciated.

    bensbaby116s last blog post..My 1st blog award…yay!

  6. Thanks for the tip, I must try this out and it seems others above me are already impressed!

    Peters last blog post..Kampanoules With Peppers and Basil (καμπανούλες με πιπεριές και βασιλικό)

  7. This is a wonderful tip that I can’t wait to try out. I’m a graphic designer, and generally employ many of PhotoShops tools to edit my mealtime images when necessary — especially in the middle of Massachusetts winters — but have never used this tool. Thank you!

    Erins last blog post..Mushroom Bourguignon

  8. While living in Andorra we adopted a Spanish lifestyle – and never eat before 10:30 or 11… Which means I always take my photos after sunset… Thanks for the tip.
    (I also just upgraded my photoshop – from 2 to 7)

  9. Thanks for posting a great tip. I’m new to the whole thing, and the photography issues seem to be my biggest hurdle. Love your blog and all the great recipes you share.

    Tammys last blog post..Iceberg Wedge with Blue Cheese

  10. You don’t know how badly I needed this tip! I don’t know much at all about photoshop, but I’m sure this is going to save me. I’ve off to try it out!!

    Deborahs last blog post..The Cake Slice Bakers – Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache

  11. I have never thought of using this method! It is cool! I usually adjust the brightness and contrast, but that doesn’t always work!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Mrs Ergüls last blog post..Peanut Cookies. The ONE.

  12. oh, thanks for this tip! All my photos are dark this time of year, and I have actually been considering a photo lighting system to help alleviate the problem. I will see if this soles the problem first. Thanks!

    Gudruns last blog post..Cookie Thursday: Brownies

  13. WOW!!! What a great tip!!

    marguerites last blog post..Monte Cristos

  14. That is an amazing save! I don’t have PS or plan to buy it, though. I wonder if the same feat can be accomplished in Lightroom?

    Nates last blog post..Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Chinese New Year Cioppino Hot Pot

  15. Thanks for the tip. I’ve just been struggling with not doing any post photo work and having the photos be too dark!

    Mrs. Ls last blog post..Small Plates – January 27, 2009

  16. I usually use curves to edit my photos in photoshop but I use allll sorts of things depending on what the problem is. Nature of my biz…

    Nicoles last blog post..Simple Yet Satisfying

  17. Thanks for the great tips. My husband does my photography for my blog and he’s dying to get Photoshop. This seals the deal as far as I’m concerned.

    My Carolina Kitchens last blog post..Heart Shaped French Creme Dessert with Red Berry Sauce is perfect for Valentine’s Day

  18. thanks for the tips

    foodbins last blog post..FISH SANDWICH

  19. I was talking to a professional photographer and he gave me this tip:

    Blur the duplicate layer, then click on Screen. It gives an interesting effect to the photo. You can adjust the ‘blur’ levels.

    Lilianas last blog post..World Peace Cookies – Tuesdays with Dorie

  20. Thanks for commenting on our blog! We’ve added you to the blogroll.

    Rebekah at EADs last blog post..Crafts: Children’s Memory Game

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