You have heard of a little program called Adobe Photoshop, right?
I know it isn’t for everyone, but I love it. I have been using Photoshop for about seventeen years now and one of my favorite things about Photoshop are the Actions. Do you know how awesome these things are? Not only can they enhance your photographs, they can expedite your work flow when you need to do the same steps over and over again to lots and lots of photographs.
So, what exactly is an Action?
An Action is a pre-recorded set of steps that determine what is going to happen to your image. Once you have the Action created—or uploaded into Photoshop—it is as simple as the push of a button to have your image automatically run through those steps. It could be as simple as changing the size of your image and saving it as a particular file type or as complex as 20+ steps to get that perfect ethereal painted quality you love so much. It’s up to you.
There are a few canned Actions built into Adobe Photoshop but the best ones are the ones you either make yourself or get from another resource. Of course you can pay big bucks some of them but you can also find really great Actions out there for free if you know where to look. Some of my favorite free Actions come from The Pioneer Woman. It looks like she even has her Actions available for Photoshop Elements users.
But, even the ones I use from The Pioneer Woman are rarely used as is. I will run an Action or two on an image and then slightly modify it to get a more personalized look that speaks more to my style.
What am I talking about? Let me show you.
Here is an image I took of my son.
Fine as is but let’s see what some modifications with Actions can do to it.
This is the same image using the PW Black and White Action with a slight modification to the Light Layer.
Take that same image above and reduce the opacity of the Black & White group to around 70% and you end up with this.
Not quite black & white and not quite color. I love this look and use it often.
Let’s look at a completely different type of image. This is a shot I took of a tea house at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois. Again, lovely as is, in my opinion.
Maybe a little on the cool side as far as coloring goes. But I wanted something a little softer. Almost other worldly. So the first thing I did was run a Vintage Action on the image.
Not quite what I was going for. Too sepia toned for me. But when I reduced that Vintage Action opacity (do you see a theme here?) to 55%? Perfect.
What do you think? Do you use Actions in your photo work flow? If so, do you have any favorites? If not, are you going to give them a try?
Holly teaches design at a small NW Ohio college. She spends her days off hanging out with her foxy musician husband and their gorgeous new baby and ridiculously smart pre-school aged son. Holly has a passion for food, photography, beautiful letter forms, and the possibilities that can be found in a single sheet of well made paper. You can read more from Holly on her blog, Artist Mother Teacher.