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Bonnie here, again — still eating chocolate. I mean shooting chocolate. Every photo you submit to stock agencies needs a little processing. But unless you want to do high-fashion model shoots or wild photo composites, you don’t need to spend hours in front of your computer. Lightroom makes improving your photos simple — and even kind of magical. (And no, I don’t work for Adobe, nor do I get a commission on selling their products. It’s just the easiest program out there for photo editing, so it’s what I use and what we recommend.) Let’s take a look at a few of my chocolate shots from this week, before and after a quick process in Lightroom. Here’s a photo as it looked straight out of the camera: Now, here it is after some Lightroom tricks: Can you spot the differences? ** Turned gray edges white (adjustment brush) ** Removed smudges on the paper (spot removal tool) ** Erased crumbs in the box (spot removal tool) ** Lifted the general gray/filmy look to it (exposure and tone curve) ** Cropped in closer, leaving the shadow (crop tool) Here’s another one straight out of the camera: And, after a quick fix in Lightroom: See how it “pops” off the page more after processing? It took about two minutes to: ** Darken the darks to their original richness (blacks and shadows sliders) ** Lighten the background (highlights slider) ** Crop in closer (crop tool) Here’s one more for you… Straight out of the camera, this chocolate looks kind of waxy and gray. I didn’t take care to wipe the little crumbs off the side of the chocolate bar. (Note: Look for things like crumbs while you shoot.) Overall, this photo doesn’t make me want to eat this chocolate. Now, here it is after about seven minutes of processing with Lightroom AND Photoshop: Yum! In Lightroom, I lightened the background and pulled more rich color into the dark areas using the exposure, highlights, and shadows sliders. Then, in Photoshop, I erased some of the crumbs and imperfections in the chocolate with various tools — mostly the patch tool. Photoshop isn’t the easiest program to master, but cleaning up little imperfections is one of the easiest things you can do with it. It’s so fun to look at the before and after, too. It’s like magic. Now all that’s left is to upload to a few stock agencies! More on that next week. [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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