How To Add Steam To Food Photography (Using Photoshop)

Mar 29, 2015

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

How To Add Steam To Food Photography (Using Photoshop)

Mar 29, 2015

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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Coffee Part 2 final (1)

Last week I did an article on how to capture steam in food photography right in camera. You can’t always have hot boiling water in every shoot or have really hot food (or frankly, sometimes it is just easier to do in post), yet there are times when you need to have steam. This is when you’ll add the steam in post production. Here is a step by step tutorial on how to add steam in photoshop.

Below, you will find two photoshop techniques for adding steam in photoshop.

Setup:

For the setup of the shot I used a simple technique (you may recall this from one of my portraits). I only used an LED lamp and the modeling light of my studio strobe for the lighting.

Setup 2
Setup 1

For this setup, I had the studio strobe set behind and left to the subject and had the modeling light turned on. The LED light was set back and right to the subject. I also used a DIY silver reflector to get some light on the cup, and open up the shadows.

Coffee Part 2 Setup (3)
Setup 2 (Back)

For the second setup, I used the silver reflector to bounce a bit of the LED light, and used the modeling light of my studio strobe back left of the subject.

Editing (method 1 / first setup photo)

This is a more manual approach on making a steam from scratch, I will discuss the more common smoke brushes on part 2.

Open your chosen picture in Photoshop and create a New Layer.

edit 0 copy

edit 02

Select the Brush tool (around 40-60% opacity) and create the shape of the smoke. Play around with different opacity and brush sizes.

edit 03 copy

Select Filter > Other > Maximum

edit 04

The Radius will depend on the brush strokes that you made. I was using 45-80 Pixels radius.

edit 05 copy

(Optional) I wanted to add a more realistic wave to the steam. Select Filter > Distort > Zigzag. Amount 4 | Ridges 3 |Style: Around Center

edit 06 copy

edit 08 copy

Select the ‘smoke’ layer and use the Warp tool to shape your steam.

edit 09 edit 10

Select Filter > Surface Blur. Again play around with the amount of Radius and Threshold to get a realistic effect.

edit 11 copy

edit 12 copy

Hold CTRL (Windows) or Command (Mac) and click on your layer, then press Ctrl (windows) or Command (Mac) + J to duplicate your layer.

edit 13 copy

On the duplicated layer Hold CTRL (Windows) or Command (Mac) and click on your layer to select your layer and go to Filter > Render > Clouds

edit 14 copy edit 15 copy

Make the clouds layer on OVERLAY and play around with the opacity.

edit 16 copy

Adjust the opacity on both layers. (Skip to the End for Final Result)

edit 17 copy

Editing (method 2 / second setup photo)

This is another technique in which we will use Smoke brushes. You can get free smoke brushes just by looking in google.

Start by making a new layer.

Edit brush 01 copy

Select your smoke brush and set the opacity around 70-80%. Move the angle of the brush to get the right direction of the steam that you want.

Edit brush 02 copy1

Edit brush 03 copy1

Add another layer of smoke with a different brush (and opacity) if needed. I added two more smoke brushes and different opacities.

Edit brush 05 copy1

Edit brush 06 copy1

Hold CTRL (Windows) or Command (Mac) and click on the smoke layer, then Press Ctrl (windows) or Command (Mac) + J to duplicate your layer.

Edit brush 07 copy

On the duplicated layer Hold CTRL (Windows) or Command (Mac) and click on your layer to select your layer and go to Filter > Render > Clouds.

Make the clouds layer on OVERLAY and play around with the opacity.

Edit brush 08 copy

(Optional) For the first layers you can add a surface blur layer again.

Final Image

Coffee Part 2 final (2)

Coffee Part 2 final (3)

Setup 2

Coffee Part 2 final (4)

Coffee Part 2 final (1)
With Surface Blur

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Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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4 responses to “How To Add Steam To Food Photography (Using Photoshop)”

  1. Anonyfish Avatar
    Anonyfish

    Looks outright fake!

    1. theateam Avatar
      theateam

      it actually works. you just have to lower the opacity until you get the feel that you want :)

  2. Lyle Avatar
    Lyle

    Sorry. Fake.

  3. Brooks Kaya Avatar
    Brooks Kaya

    So fake