Our experiments with taking recipe picture resulted in really good pictures, specially the food looked great on the plate.  Having said that we were still left with some pictures with bluish tint to it.  So after taking all those 2400 pictures and carefully selecting the best pictures truly representing the recipes in Cook With Me, at the time of app release our experiment to remove bluish tint started.

One other issue we needed to tackle was size of the picture.  All along the app development we knew that initial download of the app is taking long time (~minute and half) due to the large size (~3 MB per recipe picture) of recipe pictures embedded in the app.

My first thought was to use some tools like “Preview” on OS X or “Gimp” to select background using color and change the selected color to transparency which will remove the bluish tint.  I tried several times only to distort picture rather than improving the same.  What made selecting color complex was color of the plate and food.  Some of our recipe pictures were with white plate and others with brown plate.  Brown plates were bit easy to deal with while white plates posed more challenge.  Of course colorful food on the plate made selecting solely on the color more complex.  Selecting food using rectangle or oval selection did not work either due to how food was placed on the plate and angle at which picture was taken.

This is where in house talent came in handy, thanks to Georgia our designX6 team member.  Georgia has vast experience in working with pictures to make them look good on websites, brochures, and ad-campaigns she designs.  With Georgia’s magic touch, we got pictures justifying the amazing recipes included in Cook With Me.  Georgia used PainShop to work with pictures.  After Georgia done working with her magic, bluish tint was gone.  We made another key decision about background color of the recipe picture, rather than transparency we opted for same color as background color of the app.  Now we were free to use JPG format than PNG to help reduce file size in the process.  Using Preview app, I then reduced the file size further.  After all these edits we were left with ~300 KB per picture compared to ~3 MB original picture.  All these edits were done ensuring we do not distort plate and most importantly food on the plate.  Our editing efforts resulted in better looking app and fast download speed from ~ one and half minute to ~ 18 seconds improving overall app experience from install to everyday use.

Mexican rice salad: Original with bluish tint

Mexican rice salad: Edited to remove bluish tint

Mexican rice salad: Final with app background