Hi all! I wanted to share my photo editing process with you. As you may well know, I love taking pictures, and my product photography is no exception. I enjoy the entire process, from shooting to editing to posting (well, maybe not the modeling part - that always feels awkward).
I use a Canon DSLR Rebel T2i for my photography, and I usually use a 50mm lens set to a pretty high aperture. I shoot on manual mode, and often play with shutter speed and ISO to get what I want. Pretty technical, huh? Don't worry, you can still apply this editing process even if you're shooting completely on auto (without flash though - PLEASE, without flash). I also use Gimp for editing my photos, so this process is mainly for Gimp users, but the steps can be converted to other programs.
In the past I used PicMonkey, but then I realized it was actually decreasing the quality of my photos! No thank you! It also ran too slow on my Internet and would glitch up now and then. So I shopped around and found Gimp, which is free downloadable software and offers pretty much full control over your photos. After a little self-teaching, I learned how to use it effectively and haven't looked back since. Highly recommend!
Note: This process is FAR from professional. Seriously. I'm an amateur and this is just what works for me right now. I hope it helps you!
First I took the picture. This one came out really dark. But no worries! It's fixable!
Ugh, it's a little blurry, you can see part of my prized orange chair, and there are ugly shadows. Blah! Also I'm wearing zero makeup and my hair's doing something funny (part of the reason I didn't use this image when I listed this hat on Etsy). It's okay - this is still fixable.
I cropped it to a 1200x1800 size (you can resize the crop box using Fixed Aspect Ratio). Then duplicate the layer in the Layers box and apply the Screen Mode to the duplicated layer. This will automatically lighten your photo for you so you don't have to use the histogram. Depending on the light/darkness of your original photo, you may want to adjust the opacity of the duplicate layer. Mine didn't need adjusting because it was already so dark! Right-click on the first layer and click Flatten Image to combine the layers back into one.
Duplicate the layer again and apply the Soft Light mode to the duplicated layer. This brings out color and contrast a bit drastically - you may need to adjust the opacity. I adjusted mine to about 25% or so. Flatten the image again and check your results. If you're happy with it, resize your image to 1200x1800 or desired size and save!
Sometimes a little extra sharpening may be necessary. If you need to sharpen your image, duplicate your base layer and go to Filters > Enhance > Unsharp Mask. Adjust the amount to your desired sharpness and click OK. You can adjust the opacity here too.
That's it! My favorite tools are definitely the Screen and Soft Light mode - they work wonders and you can always adjust the intensity of them by working with the opacity slider.
Here's another example of a necklace I listed a little while ago. This one didn't take quite as much work, but it still needed help.
Before, uncropped and a little dark/blah.
Duplicate layer, Screen Mode applied with about 75% opacity, image flattened.
Duplicate layer, more color added with Soft Light mode, 60% opacity, image flattened.
Fun, right? Try this technique on your photos and see if it helps.