I have talked about actions in photshop several times before, but it seems I just keep coming back to the topic. Just shows how much I use it I guess, in fact I use them more and more! When I started out, I used exclusively free actions that I downloaded from the internet, there are plenty good pages out there, like this one. Just google what you are after, and you will find it! You can use actions for everything from retouching skin to sharpening to color popping to nice black and white conversions, making frames, shaping pictures, you name it. Personally I dont use a lot of actions for retouching and editing the picture in itself, as I do most of that in the RAW-editing anyhow. I use actions mainly for two things: making the workflow efficient, i.e. all the things I have to do when finishing up a picture, like sharpening, deciding size, if I want it for print or web, where to save it and what format. For that I always make my own actions, which is also super easy by the way and it saves you SO much time if you have many pictures to edit.
The other thing I use actions for, is making my pictures “pop” by defining and deciding the style/look I want for the picture, that I can rarely get straight out of the camera. (I wish…) I have to admit I don’t use a lot of the freebie actions any more, I have found a few action makers that I like a lot who coincide with my own style, because obviously you don’t want to loose your own expression and style with someone elses actions. And I don’t think you have to, as long as you use them in a conscient way.
Anyway, the picture below is an example of the actions I use. It is one single picture, and the differences are pretty subtle, but if you look closely they change quite a bit anyhow. For this particular picture of this super cute baby I wanted a nice, clean and colorful look showing off those fantastic eyes. My favorite is the big picture below, but since I was on the topic I wanted to show you some examples of other actions/styles as well.
So my point is: Start using actions! You can find them under “window” in Photoshop, AND they can also be used in Photoshop Elements by the way. When you find an action you like, all you have to do is download it and double click on the .atn-file you will get, and the action will load. (I also save the file in a separate photoshop folder, just in case my computer crashes or something… ). Then you go into PS and click on the action you want, and hit “play” and you’re done. It is really that easy! The ones I have used here are from the beautiful Florabella Collection, which are great!