I've always liked photography. When I was younger I asked for a camera for Christmas. It had a panoramic feature and I loved it. I took it on a field trip to a local state park and took all sorts of pictures! I have boxes of old photos stacked up in my closet somewhere. I always had a camera around, but I never did much with it.
Then I started blogging and realized I needed good photos. I asked for another camera for Christmas, and this time I got a Canon Eos Rebel T3. That was a couple years ago, and I still don't know how to do much more than adjust the white balance of a photo! I've signed up for several online tutorials; I've even paid for an e-course that I ended up not accessing before it expired. So I've only used my camera occasionally the past couple years.
But I'm tired of waiting for the time to take a class. I still plan taking one, but it's silly to wait to use my camera until I know the "proper" way to use it. Besides, I've also learned one of the secrets to great photography: great editing!
I briefly dabbled with Photoshop Elements right after getting my DSLR, but I got fed up very quickly and barely used it. But after doing a little research, I decided to try Photoshop Creative Cloud, which is essentially a subscription to Photoshop. You pay a monthly fee and have access to Photoshop software. Here's the real secret, though. I decided to invest in some Actions.
What are Photoshop Actions? They are a series of recorded steps designed to achieve a certain look without having to manually go through the process. Basically, you click one button and 15 minutes worth of work is done in seconds. So I looked around at some of my favorite blogs to see what kind of photos appealed to me. One of my favorites, A Beautiful Mess, actually offers Actions packages! There is the Signature Collection, the Folk Collection, and the Fresh Collection. Or you can get all three plus bonus actions in the Complete Collection. Since I had a promo code from being a part of their blogging e-course (which I also highly recommend, by the way) I decided to invest in the Complete Collection. After less than 30 minutes of playing around with the actions in Photoshop, I already loved them!
Here are 4 examples of how I used actions to add interesting elements to my original photos.
This photo was taken at a bull-riding event in early 2013.
Not a bad photo necessarily, but I hate all the fluorescent lights.
I applied several different actions to it - this was the first photo I tried and I didn't write down which ones I used. It has a totally different feel than the photo above. (It also kind of looks like an Instagram filter, doesn't it?)
And here's a different one. I think I only used one action on this one. Still not sure the coloring is quite right, but the lights look less obnoxious to me here.
Here's another one from that night. My husband (then boyfriend) looks so happy, doesn't he?
I really liked this photo when I first took it, but now it looks a little white washed to me.
I applied the Georgia action to this photo, and I mostly like it. It added some shadows and a yellow tint. There may be a little too much shadow on his face, but that's because the shadow was already there from his hat, the action just enhanced it.
I applied the Spring and Harlow actions here. It looks a little old West and I like it!
I actually think the next two photos were taken with my iPhone, but I uploaded them to my computer and edited them in Photoshop. These were taken back in 2012 on our first camping trip together. (I don't know why I said first, we haven't been camping since!)
I love this photo as is. The Gloss Mountains (though let's be honest, these aren't really mountains - more like hills) were really pretty on their own!
This photo had the Weird Dreams action applied. I think it made it look like a painting.
I applied a Light Leak action to this one. It's kinda cool looking, but it takes away from the image.
Just a selfie, nothing special.
I applied Color Pop and Sun Flare actions here and I love it!
This was another fail on my part, I didn't write down which actions I used on this one. But it's another one that looks like an Instagram filter to me. Not that Instagram filters are bad, I use them quite often! But if I'm going to take the time to edit a photo in Photoshop, I don't want it to look like I ran it through Instagram.
I only used a handful of the Actions my first time around, but I'm excited to play around with the rest and see how they look! If you edit photos, what do you use? Have you tried Actions before?