Why Your Cranberries Aren’t Red Enough and 5 Ways How to Photograph Them

Red Cranberries Are Your Cranberries Red Enough?

Ever had that feeling that those cranberries or strawberries you shot aren’t red enough? May be the apple pie you shot seemed a little – well – yellow. One of our readers sent me a tweet about her experience with food photography sharing sites. In this post we explain why exactly is your food isn’t looking good enough.

The Story of Our Reader

Jenn from www.jenncuisine.com shared a food photography post that she wrote on her experience with some food photograph sharing sites. The summary of the incident was that she was rejected by one of these sites and she associated the rejection with lighting. As in Jenn’s case, I too live in a place where sunlight vanishes from around us at about 4:00 in the evening in winters. With location like that, it is hard to get natural light to shoot your photographs no matter how hard you try (with a full time 7-4 job). But whatever, be the case, food photography equals to true colors.

Why You Need Red Cranberries

While landscape or wildlife photography can allow a little (read very very little) variation, meaning a little bluer sky or little greener trees are okay, food photography is very unforgiving. A slightly redder cranberries and it becomes unappealing. Depending on the type of light, cranberries may not remain red enough and in fact may be bluish or greenish. This also means, a food photograph with misrepresented colors can very quickly change from being mouth-watering to being unappetizing. That’s why you need red cranberries – to make them look edible.

Blue Cranberries Bluish Red Cranberries

Secret to Red Cranberries

When you just can’t get enough natural light, you are forced to use artificial lights, like Jenn was. Now as you may know there are several types of lights that you can use, from incandescent to florescent and to that add the various intensities. There is that bulb that is labeled as daylight and there is another one called soft light. If you use red cranberries and natural light, the color in your photograph will be very close to the true color. However, if you are working with one of the artificial lights, then your true color may be lost. Look at the four photographs below. Do you see the different colors of cranberries? Which on shows the most true color?

Cranberries Four Colors of Cranberries – Which one is Real?

The secret to getting the true red cranberries with artificial light is white balance. Without making this too technical, white balance is an adjustment made before or after a photograph is taken to get true colors in the photograph. White balance is one of the ways of getting true colors in food photography. Below are several ways to get true color with and without white balance adjustments.

5 Ways to Get Red Cranberries

Getting red cranberries or perfectly natural colored apple is possible by more than one ways. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Camera Adjustment: Some advanced point and shoot cameras and all Digital SLRs in general let you adjust the white balance. This saves your time trying to mess around with your photograph in Photoshop.
  2. White Card: White card, Gray card, Neutral card and their various variations also help you to adjust your camera sensor and helps get the true color before you start shooting.
  3. Right Artificial Light: Florescent, Incandescent and bunch of other light types are available. However, I have found daylight white light bulbs have helped me to capture the true colors.
  4. Post processing: How can we edit this one – Photoshop, GIMP and tons of other photo editing softwares let you adjust white balance after you have taken the photograph.While this is always an option, I like to minimize the use of post processing and focus on making adjustments before taking the photograph and getting the photo right before taking it.
  5. Natural Light: Get true red color is easiest if you use natural light (not direct sunlight). This is far more direct and workflow becomes very simple by using natural light. However, as Jenn talked, natural light can be scarce specially up in North and places where sun sets fairly early. But all in all, nothing can beat Natural light.
  6. Did I miss anything? Please comment below if you know of a way to get true color and something that should be added to this list.


White Balance, Natural Light and Everything Else

How do you get true colors? What advice would you share with other readers? Do you use artificial light? How do you adjust to get true colors?

Share your post and questions by contacting us or sending a tweet.


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  • white balance is the key here and the right light! natural light is the best but if you are forced to use artificial light it has to be a light that is as white as possible. if the picture still has a blue/greenish hue that down the levels of green and blue during post processing – that should help!

    • Thank you for your comment, Meeta.

      I agree that it boils down to white balance. White Balance adjustments change the entire value of the photo.

  • Why didn i hop on this one earlier…well that aside …i think …no sorry i do have the same problem too and i think i dont get my white balance right….like i would love for ‘cleared’ pics…

    Custom white balance doesnt seem to help and am plying between auto and h now…but as u see most of my pics have yellow undertones…the recent fruit pics of my latest post are taken with good bright sunlight thru a window ie not direct but its pretty bright and the prev cookies have seem to have got em too bright…

    Am i right or jus all wrong here and baack to my sturggle with the whys and hows of white balance.

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  • I usually use camera phone so I didn’t have the option of adjusting white balance, which is provided in SLR camera. On which on shows the most true color, I like the second photo of the cranberries. Thank you for sharing the tips on how to capture the redness of cranberries.

  • I agree that getting the camera set up before the photo is shot is the best. However, more of us are used to the convenience of taking photos with phones and ipads. This makes the post photo process necessary..unfortunately…:(

  • Am not into photography but then I was amazed how the light works. Fascinating!

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