Monday, April 11, 2011

The Power of Actions

As many of you may know, using actions can be a powerful and amazing thing! The beauty of actions is that they will speed up your post-processing 10 fold. You'll find that in talking to most photographers, they do most of the "clean" editing themselves, and then run an action at the end to spice up their image a little bit. It really is a time saver because someone else (if you are purchasing/downloading actions from someone else) has already done a lot of the work for you. You just have to hit "play" and viola!

Before I get more into this post, there are a few things to *note* about actions. Most of the actions for purchase are very strong (heavy color processing). Most of the time, you will not want to leave an action at the strength that it is preset at. Sometimes the layers are adjustable, and sometimes they aren't. But you always have the option to duplicate your layer, and run your action on the duplicate... thus giving you the option to turn it down, using the opacity slider. :)

Now obviously, the goal is to take a good SOOC (straight out of camera) shot. 

For this shot, I was lucky that the lighting was ideal and I didn't have to do anything to to this picture except clean it up a bit (i.e run noiseware, sharpen...)

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with this photo with zero color processing. But I might choose to run one of my trusty actions on it at the end, just to quickly pop it a little bit more!

In the edit below, I used an action from Florabella Collection! (and for the sake of staying consistent, all of the action examples I use in this post will be Florabella! not to mention, they are THE BEST!)
So you probably notice that the edit is very slight, but it really helps to bring them forward and brighten them up a bit.

But as I mentioned previously, most actions are very very strong and when you run it initially, it's going to be crazy looking. That's because most of the time the action will stop at 100%.

And the mistake that a lot of people make is that they leave it there at 100% and the photo will turn out looking like this:

Or this:

YIKES! I am sensitive to the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think that most would agree that this is WAY too much color processing. Yes? A a lot of the problem is that people don't realize that they can turn opacity down on the action. In the case of Florabella, her actions run on a separate layer so all you have to do is drag the opacity slider.

Here are a few more examples of what actions can do for you after your 'clean edit'!
*please note that most of these actions are set to +/- 20%.

Actions can be your best friend, but they can also make your image look worse if they are overused. So make sure you spend lots of time tinkering around with them. Learn what each action is capable of and you'll get into a groove!


  1. I heart Florabella actions! LOVE LOVE LOVE them!

  2. NOw I think you should have a florabella action giveaway!!!! ; )

  3. this is such a great post!! Very inspiring :) LOVE your edits.

  4. Love the actions. And I love that it is so subjective. These are gorgeous examples.

  5. Thanks for this post and I totally with you.

  6. I found that very helpful. I do not have any experience taking portrait shots as my focus is always a plant and it should be as true as possible. I need to start taking people pictures and using the actions to learn how they work. V


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