Hope all is well with you lot.
Recently I got myself into a bit of a flap with Photoshop, I updated from CS5 to CS6. This transition should have been easy, right? Wrong!
Up until this point I did not realise how heavily I relied on pre-set Photoshop actions. So opening CS6 with all the excitement of a 6 year old on Christmas day, I quickly realised that my knowledge was not exactly up to scratch. I had been using actions for so long that I couldn’t remember how to do certain things manually! Panicked to high heaven I scratted around for my action files and reinstalled my sanity. But this got me thinking… Actions are extremely useful when a high volume of images need editing in a short space of time, but can they become a cop out for lazy retouchers (like me)?
Once all my actions were back in their rightful place, I decided to go through each one and remind myself how to do them manually. Don’t get me wrong it took flippin’ ages, but I can honestly say it was one of the most useful things I have done in a long time. I am not saying if you use action you are lazy! I am just saying you may become reliant on them, like I did.
Actions can be great fun. You can colour correct, high contrast black and white, and even make your image look like a Polaroid, with just a few clicks. But personally I think it’s not always that simple. For example ‘image one’ works rather well with the Polaroid action, but ‘image two’… not so well. Actions are pre-set, so they are not always going to be perfect for your image. You will need to manually adjust your image to make the action look good. Therefore knowledge of certain adjustment processes are needed!
There are some extremely Photoshop savvy folk out there all creating actions that you can just download! But be careful, some charge a small fortune for the simplest of actions. If you have never tried actions and are intrigued, I have compiled a few free ones to get you started. These are simple but effective;
This is a really nice colour correction action. Simple but will save a lot of time if you have lots of images to edit!
2. Black and White:
Black and white is really easy to do manually, but if you just desaturate your image it can often look a little flat/ this actions automatically bumps up the contract so you image has a little more ‘pop’.
This is brilliant! I spent hours messing with this action. Polaroids came back into fashion recently with the company ‘Impossible Project’ putting the film back into produce. So this is a great way to be in trend without spending a small fortune on the new sought after Polaroid cameras!
Who doesn’t love a bit of Lomography!?!? Like the Polaroid this vintage ‘plastic lens’ style photography is coming back into fashion. I know it is a bit of a rip off of a classic style, but a Diana camera is not the most practical, or cheapest of cameras to be going out and about with… so this action is a cheat, to get you in with the ‘Hipsters’, but without the price tag!
5. Vintage Effect:
Now if Polaroid or Lomography is not you scene, maybe try this... It’s cute, fresh and just a little bit vintage. This bright action will add a nice ‘Instagram’ effect to your images. But nothing really beats the real thing!
Once you have downloaded the file just double click it and it will automatically be added to your actions panel. To use, click on the action you want to apply and click the play symbol at the bottom of the actions panel! Easy! But don’t forget to adjust it after! And like I said before I really advise going back through your history to really get to grips with what the action has done to your image.
My advice is ‘learn’ Photoshop, don’t just ‘use’ it.