Moody Photography: My First (and Not Last) Attempt

Stacked pumpkins edited

I love food, y’all. And I’m betting you do, too. You know what else I love? Photos of food.

Lately I’ve been obsessing over food photography. The more I see, the more I’m astounded by its artistry, especially moody photography. (Some call it ‘dark’ food photography.)

Seriously. Look at these photos and tell me they’re not works of art:

Stunning, right?

I recently started pinning photos and tips, studying what I needed to create moody photos. I woke up super inspired today…too eager to cook or run to the store to fill an empty fridge.

So I went with pumpkins I purchased a couple weeks ago for tabletop decor.

I created a makeshift (AKA ghetto, bush league) studio in my dining room, which tuned out like this:


Using my Canon Rebel XSi, natural light, cardboard (light diffuser), and a highly used cookie sheet, here’s one of three shots I kept after an hour or so of shooting:

Original shot

Stacked mini pumpkins

The unedited version (shot in RAW) isn’t that bad. But I knew a little Photoshop would take it to the next level.

I used some advice I read the other day: photo editing is like applying makeup. Don’t overdo it or you’ll look like a clown. Use it to simply enhance what’s already there.

With my beginner knowledge of Photoshop (and a few Google searches, not gonna lie), here’s the final product:

Edited shot

Stacked pumpkins edited

See how the edited version looks richer and has more depth? Look at the before and after side-by-side:

Stacked mini pumpkinsStacked pumpkins edited

Without getting too tutorial-ish, here’s what I edited:

  • Cropped the photo to better follow the rule of thirds
  • Increased the contrast overall, and even more so in the background
  • Adjusted the curves overall (which I’d say is a more manual way of changing the tone and contrast of an image)
  • Removed the blue-like spots in the green creases caused by the lighting

Larger version of the edited shot

Stacked pumpkins edited

Not half bad for a total newb, I must say.

Stick around for more—this was too much fun to remain a one-time experiment.

Also, I’d love your tips! If you have photo editing experience, let me know what I could have done better. I’d love your feedback.


13 thoughts on “Moody Photography: My First (and Not Last) Attempt

    • Thanks, Brittany! You should definitely try–it’s a little time consuming but totally worth it. Holiday decor is the best, isn’t it? Thanks for the comment. If you decided to give the food photography a try, link me to your post! I’d love to see it. 🙂

    • Thanks, Julie. 🙂 Food photography definitely has that affect! Thanks for the comment. Love your blog. I started following you!

  1. Hello friend! I know it’s been a long time, but I hope life has treated your well since our Maple days!

    Just wanted to tell you the photo looks amazing and thanks for posting the tips! I have been practicing my DSLR skills lately but still get completely frustrated sometimes. I will have to try your cardboard light diffuser technique for myself soon 🙂

    • Ashley! HI! I love your blog, and I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll be stalking you from now on. 🙂

      Learning a camera can be tough. Are you shooting in manual yet?

      • Haha I know what you mean, I love love blogs and will definitely be stalking you too! I am not shooting in manual yet… have just started playing around with the Av and Tv modes but really enjoying learning! Actually reading The Pioneer Woman’s tutorials right now because they are so easy to understand. Photography for dummies lol

      • I didn’t know she had tutorials! I love that Ree. She’s so genuine. Good luck with the camera! 🙂

    • Hi, Beth! It’s so challenging. It’s an art that looks easy. Thanks for the comment! Love your blog, by the way. Your Boardwalk Mer Bleue photo is stunning.

  2. Pingback: A Must-See Photoshop Tutorial for Food Photographers (plus before and afters) | Sarah Linden

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