After Before Forum; Spaghetti

The After and Before forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

This week’s image for the “Before and After Forum” didn’t take much editing and most of the colour adjustments were made in two steps. I planned to create an image that was bright and fresh. I went to my kitchen to find a subject and grabbed a bag of spaghetti. I put the spaghetti in a cup and grabbed my camera. I used my 90mm macro lens and all my extension tubes together, having a much longer lens meant that I would have to use an external light source. I set my flash on a tripod angled down over the lens. I focused in on one piece of spaghetti, checked the depth of field and began shooting. I played a bit with exposure and iso until I got the best exposure I could get with a nice depth of field.


The original image has a strange mustard yellow tone; I could adjust this to be a brighter yellow like we think of dried pasta. If I did brighten the yellow the scene would be quite monochromatic with the whole image being yellow.


I increased the exposure slightly and then started thinking about playing with the colour channels with the curves. I wanted to manipulate the colours to have a slightly cross processed tone. The image is quite a high key from looking at the histogram. I made some minor adjustments in the green channel adding magenta to the blacks as well as red; this softens these tones slightly but won’t have a huge effect at the moment. The biggest change was to the highlights as I increased the strength of the yellows by lowering these tones in the blue channel.
With the luminance curve I brighten the whole image.


Although the colours were looking nice I wanted to change them even more. I went to Camera Calibration the bottom panel in Lightroom and changed the profile from Adobe Standard to Camera Faithful. This had a great effect; it actually brightened the image, stunted the blacks and shadows. The yellows are now much creamer and the shadows have red and magenta tones I added earlier.


I sharpened the image to have sharp fine details since most of the sharp details are on the top of the spaghetti.


I wanted to add a bit of contrast to the midtones and increased the clarity.


I applied some selective sharpening and cleaned the image of spots and dust. This is where I stopped and sent in my entry to the forum. While writing this post I realised there were some things I didn’t like. The greens in the shadows didn’t fit with the rest of the colours. The main tones are red and yellow; green just did not just blend as well.


I decided to correct this with two gradient adjustments using a light magenta colour as well as blighting the shadows to soften these areas and bring more harmony to the image.
I also made some changes to the highlights and shadows as well as setting a white point and reducing the blacks.

Fresh spaghetti

I really like the final image it has the bright freshness I was going for. I also like my idea of just taking anything and seeing it through a macro lens. Due to using the macro and extension tubes the focus is really soft, but that helps to add a dreamy feel.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the final image.

Also please head over to Stacy’s blog to see the other participant’s entries into this weeks forum

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22 thoughts on “After Before Forum; Spaghetti

  1. I really need to play with my macro lens more, this was a creative shot and I am glad I read through the text to understand your process, its a really different AFTER image 🙂

  2. I like how you continued to work on the photo to remove the greenish hue, and in doing so you also reduced some of the magenta hue. Now the tone looks harmonious. Oddly, it no longer looks like spaghetti, it looks like an abstract and the colors remind me of candles. 🙂

  3. What I enjoy about your ABF posts is not just your changes and how you accomplished them, but the why, the reasoning behind each decision. Great job. At first, I had no idea this was spaghetti.! 🙂

  4. Wow! I love the end image. I really like the step by step instructions. Honestly, it was mostly over my head simply because I didn’t even know you could do all of that in Lightroom. I am looking forward to putting into practice some of these steps you mentioned 🙂 I’m about to start a photography class and I know that will help me with processing too.

      • I’m looking forward to coming back and reading it and say, “that makes perfect sense!” :-). I’ve heard of some of the adjustments just not really sure what they do and how I would know to use them.

  5. Hahaha, Ben, spaghetti!!! Like Nic, I actually thought these were small taper candles 😀 So it was fun to find out the true identity! I’ve often posted photos on ABF, only to find later with a fresh set of eyes that I hadn’t taken it quite far enough (or sometimes took it too far). So I’m glad to read that you did that here as well. The green was subtle to begin with and I’m not so sure I would have picked up on it in isolation, but when I see the before and after-after, I do and definitely like the change. As Emilio says, I love hearing the “whys” behind your choices! Fun post, Ben 😀

    • Hi Stacy, after stepping away I saw the green, which I agree was not super obvious. It grated on me that it was there and I had to make a quick fix. Writing down why is a good way to show my thought process and explain beyond, do this and this tutorials which really only work with that one image.

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