Flash Required to view this area.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Photoshop Actions: A glimpse into my editing process!

Editing digital photos is an interesting part of any photographer's workflow. Much like film photography had its tips and techniques for bringing those negatives to light under that infamous red bulb, digital photography presents photographers with similar opportunities for creative decisions post-capture. In recent years, I've witnessed a variety of software choices and levels of commitment in myself and my friends when it comes to getting those photos off your camera and managing/editing them on your computer. Even for myself, this workflow has changed and grown greatly in the last few years. Sure, it's a decent time commitment, but it is one that makes my photography better with every creative decision.

One more thing - I don't really plan on discussing the ethical decisions of digital post-processing in this blog entry. If you want that, you can find those discussions and rants elsewhere. For me, it's important to utilize every last drop of the digital-ness of my photos, including making them look on screen like they did in person and even experimenting with other creative styles. That's it.

I am currently comfortable with my workflow. Photo and library management, the bulk of my editing, and even slideshow and proof printing are completed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0. Often I open my photos (shot in RAW) as PSD files in Photoshop CS3 for additional creative editing, enhancement, or sharpening. Sometimes, there are just certain things I need to do in Photoshop. Other times, I utilize a Photoshop tool named actions. Actions allow users to speed up their digital photography workflow by compressing a series of common procedures into a name and a play button. A great example of this are Scott Kelby's levels of sharpening he advocates in his books - one button consolidates several menu choices and filters into a single step! I also use actions purchased and downloaded from across this vast internet machine (such as the Totally Rad! actions or those from Kubota Image Tools) to create the perfect recipe for my final photo. It is certainly a process of trial and error with new actions, which leads me to the latest Photoshop addition, JHP Actions.

I recently won a complete set of actions from John at JHP Actions. I was excited to try these out and see how I could incorporate them into my other favorites in Photoshop. For purposes of this blog post, I didn't make any of my normal edits in Lightroom, including white balance, exposure, vibrance, clarity, and cropping. Usually I would have begun here, but wanted to play around with John's actions on their own to see what sort of punch they were packing! I think the end results were successful, though there was a substantial amount of trial and error.

Let's begin with this photo of a fallen leaf taken on the windowsill in my living room. Here is the before photo, straight out of the camera with all its flaws:

I first applied John's "Give It Life" action at 100% to boost the color a bit and bring up the exposure on the photo.

"It's All Good" at 75% opacity provides additional contrast and vibrance to the leaf:

I love the way "Magical", toned back to 62% opacity, cools off the white counter while boosting the contrast in the leaf to bring out the veining and keep the reds nice and warm:

Here is the final image, cropped and sharpened:

You can view more information about John's actions at JHP Actions. He's been generous enough to offer discounts for early buyers of his tools, and I would highly recommend them for their wide editing possibilities and affordable price point.
Complete Set - 20% Off
Color Lab - 10% Off
Creative Lab - 10% Off
Retouch Lab Offer - 10% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment