This is the final version of this photograph of lemon confit I did recently. It was lit with strobe lights, camera on tripod with a long shutter speed (1.5 sec.) to get the evening light outside the window. It's been cropped and corrected in Photo Elements, which I will discuss next, but here is the lighting set-up:
This photo was taken with my point and shoot with the strobe modeling lights left on so that I could show how the lights effected the subject. When I took the photo, I turned off the strobe modeling and room lights so that the only available light was the evening light out the window.
The final photo I chose has a fill card in front to the right, but not too close, I like the contrast of the dark and bright salt areas—it looks more natural and less like a studio shot. Here are 3 uncorrected versions: #1—no fill card; #2—fill card to the left about 1 foot away; #3—Fill card closer, just inches away from the bowl
These 2 images above are from the same file. The first is the uncorrected file right out of my camera. The second is the file created in Photo Elements. The first thing I did was color correct the yellowish cast by using the "eliminate color cast" tool, reading an area in the salt to get a true white. I try and get the color balance right before shooting, but sometimes when mixing different temperatures of light, I get it wrong.
Then when I cropped the image to my liking, I found the dark vertical bar on the far left and top distracting, so, using the "rubber stamp" tool, I copied some of the blue light areas pasting them to eliminate all the black from the window frame and some other glare spots on the window glass.
Next I turned to the " burn & dodge" tools to lighten and darken small areas. I love these and use them almost always. They remind me of my darkroom days and wish it had been this easy to do back then. I lightened the sky and jar base and darkened all of the glass areas where the glare made it look milky. I also darkened all around the jar base and corners, something I always do to keep the viewer's eye focused on the subject.
Finally, I corrected the lighting levels slightly and added just a little contrast. I think this shows best in the glass top and salt areas where it gives the image a little POP (don't know the technical term for "POP" but it's what a little extra contrast does).
What I didn't do is touch the saturation levels. I recommend extreme restraint when it comes to increasing color saturation—we don't want food that looks radioactive. In fact, as far as correcting photo files, you shouldn't have to do a lot to them. You'll get a better quality image if you spend more time on getting the original file as close as you can to being perfect, which of course nothing and no one is, so don't be hard on yourself and have fun.