Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tips n Tricks Thurs!!-ACTIONS

So lately, I have been trying to gauge my time with photography and within a week I'm not sure if its safe to say just how consumed I am with this craft.....almost every open slot of time in my schedule is invested into learning more about photography and one may say I'm obsessed, but I'm invested and love every minute of it. I spend way too much time learning from other blogs, attending forums, podcasts, photoshop, actions, lightroom, webinars, reading books, editing, printing, outsourcing, blogging, working with my designer, and thats to say the least. I won't even talk about the way my home has been neglected, but I will get my workflow down soon and the home will be in complete order one day:P Luckily I have a clean freak hubby who always manages to make up for my weaknesses! I also throughly enjoy learning the tricks of the trade from others and walk away with so much more clarity that photography is so so much more than just taking pictures. When others are so open to share their experiences/technical aspects, etc. it has made all the difference in my work. I am so grateful for photographers that share and thought I'd pay it forward as well. So to make my blog a little more interesting, and to document what I learn, I thought I would share my own experiences each Thursday...did I say each Thursday...I will try! I will share the tips and tricks that help me to move forward with my vision and goals in photography, and know that I will learn much more at the same time. Now I'm not an expert and I'm sure there will be some posts where people may do things differently, but I hope this will be useful for others. If any, it will be a recollection for myself as I learn and grow in the photography world. So for today I wanted to talk briefly about actions. I'm learning so much about photoshop and am blown away with what you can do with pictures these days. I'm still trying to find my style and hope that it will be realized here soon with the shoots I have ahead of me. There was a photographer who had asked what an action is?....and so I will attempt to answer so you can know what it is, what it does, and my thoughts on it. Here is one of my first pictures I played an action on and fell in love:

Here is a before picture:

Yes, the sun was shining like no other so the original photo looks blown out because of the sun...but with a few actions from Lightroom (LR) and Totally Rad Actions (TRA) you can bring the picture back with a bit of style and edge. Here is the same photo after using some actions:

Tell me what you think?

So what is a photoshop action, or I refer to them as "actions"? They are a series of recorded commands in photoshop that you can play on an image to bring out a certain effect. It can do wonders but it can also become a crutch to ones creativity if not used carefully. I love them as my photoshop skillz were pretty much at the infant/beginner stage, so these actions have really helped me to understand photoshop better and make my workflow alot easier. Obviously if one is an expert with Photoshop then these actions would really be a waste of time. I thought initially I would teach myself photoshop but it was a beast of a program. I don't know what it was, but my patience was tested to the max when trying to work that program on my own. I had the darn program for over a month before knowing how to use it best. Then the actions entered my life and have brought so much understanding to photoshop. Also the 10 week webinar that I have been attending also helped a ton.

Now actions can get pretty costly, so make sure that if you do purchase the ones that will help you achieve your "look" or style in your photographs. I use Totally Rad Actions and Kubota's sets mostly. I have some others, but these actions have made a world of difference in my workflow. The only downfall is they are expensive, so take a look at their sites and figure out if you think they will help your workflow right now.

There are few precautions to be aware of though. Actions are nice, but like I said you want to be careful of how you use them. Its so easy to get caught up in playing with the actions, combining actions, and soon you may have one picture that comes off looking way to overdone, and there goes an hour spent on just one be aware of what look your going for and know what actions are going to help you achieve that look.

Another caution is that with some actions it allows you to brighten the eyes by making the white area even whiter, or adding more gloss to the eyes or lips. There are also actions to brighten teeth, which is great but sometimes it can be way too much. At least for me, it was so neat to see teeth and eyes enhanced but going overboard is so easy, and it is seen on the picture as the natural beauty is taken away. The most important thing is that you want to make sure these enhancements are subtle and that when someone looks at a picture they can't tell that work has been done on the face of a subject.

Now with my example above, the actions definitely saved my picture due to the overexposure. Now this is nice, but you want to be able to get good shots SOOC (straight out of camera). It makes a difference to know what exposure is right, composition, and what type of light to shoot in. Its more worthwhile when you can take a good picture from the get go!

Lastly, as I have learned and heard time and time again, don't let actions be your crutch! Photoshop is a beast in my book to learn, but practice makes perfect right! Anyone can make an action, and I know because I created one for my logo which is nice. I can batch all my photos and with a click of a button have all pix's with my logo on it. Definitely a time saver, but the things you can do on photoshop is endless. If you create a picture with a look that you really like and want to apply them to other photos make sure to record it and whalaaa, you will have an action!

Don't get me wrong, actions are fun and I love to use them! However, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that you use it to merely enhance the photo and not take over it or distract it.

Okay that is my two cents for today! Hopefully it makes sense, but photoshop actions are great! And if I have too many grammatical errors, I'll try to do better next time:) As long as you get the picture!


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Crystalyn said...

yes to it i'm ignoring three loads of laundry that need to be folded ; )

p.s. super clean and "not too much" actions that are very reasonably priced are CHILD'S PLAY ACTIONS made by peta mazey. they're great.

AhquinOhana said...

Ohhh so this is what "actions" are. I'm I the "photographer" who asked, what is actions?? thats cool that you did this blog. thanks! now I'm not to lost on the whole "actions" thing. lol. So it's just a plug in to photoshop. i'm going to check it out tonight. see how much it can "enhance" the my photos. thanks again Seini for thursdays tip. Hey is that my friend Nita at her baby shower??

H.K. said...

I'm amazed at what you are able to do with pictures! I'm going to have RM read this post because he does a lot of sports photography and you listed some really good tips, I'm sure he'll find useful.

sepa said...

:) you're moving in the right direction.

Life with Kaishon said...

I am glad you posted this. Photoshop overwhelms me. Actions overwhelm me too. But this was a nice and simple break down : ).

AhquinOhana said...

yeah I know Nita from school. We both went to Granger back in the days. I'm a little older than her but I met her through my younger brother Denzel. I think they're class mates. Anyways, I wish I could afford actions. That would make life a little easier. I'll have to keep saving until I can come up with something. It wont be any time soon though. Thanks for the offer.

Brittney Hale Photography said...

great post... love to see things from someone elses point of view! how are ya- happy b-laded mothers day!