This YouTube video made me chuckle because people have and still do say these things to me. They perhaps don't mean it or aren't thinking too much about what they are saying. Yeah, probably the latter. Ha!
When it comes to Photoshop actions, I have a short stack of them that I depend on for retouching my portrait and wedding photography images. I go to these almost all the time, for all my images. We'll talk about which one of those actions made the cut, in a subsequent blog post. So please do remind me.
Jodi Friedman of MCP Actions sent me an email asking me to test a new set of Photoshop actions that she was launching called MCP Fusion Photoshop Actions. So, let me at the outset tell you that I received them gratis for the expressed purpose of reviewing and writing about them here.
The MCP Fusion Photoshop action set combines the most versatile and user-friendly workflow actions with beautiful color and black and white conversions, bringing you an action set with infinite possibilities.
It makes sense to review actions only when you have some really good examples. The image below is from a headshot portrait session I recently completed for my client Carole M.
Straight out of camera, otherwise known as SOOC:
Enhanced using the Liquify filter in Photoshop + MCP Actions' Eye Doctor and The Dentist:
Beach House action:
Color Fusion Mix-n-Match action – Peachy/Rustic/Sentimental/Shades Of Gray:
In addition to the usual actions to enhance color images, this set includes ways in which you can convert images to black & white. Most of the black & white actions I've seen online have been pretty heavy handed at this, but the Black & White Fusion Mix-n-Match is particularly useful because like its Color counterpart, you are allowed to turn on and off layers and of course dial in the opacity for those layers just to get your desired effect. I really enjoyed this level of control to consistently produce images.
Black & White Fusion Mix-n-Match action – One Click Black & White/Highlight Helper:
See more sample images on Jodi's site and check out this video to show you how you would set these actions up in Photoshop (18 minutes):
I'll make this short and sweet. I had a lot of fun exploring these actions. Like any other set of Photoshop actions, I am likely to pick and use only the ones that feel natural to me and for what I want to deliver to my clients. In this regard, to each her/his own. There are several among the MCP Fusion Photoshop Actions have just been added to my short stack. Some of those actions you have just seen above. As I promised at the beginning of this post, I'll have a new article describing those to you in greater detail soon.
I almost never use any action at full throttle, that is the opacity is set to less than 100%. What is that magic number? It's very hard to pin down and kinda silly to even divulge because your images and tastes are different than mine. And these actions by MCP are no different. I toned it down several notches to meet my artistic sensibilities.
The mix-n-match actions were great, but even on a fast iMac, they took about 20 seconds to run. This isn't a shortfall of the action set, but I have to admit it did surprise me a bit. And as Jodi put it, that's 20 actions all running at the same time. If you are trying to get something done quickly, try then the individual actions that come bundled within this set. The mix-n-match is much too comprehensive and may be overkill for what you want to achieve. That said, I liked the multiple options the actions gave me. In my opinion, Photoshops actions are as perfect as you want them to be for your own workflow, sense of style or approach to photography.
Jodi's Photoshop actions are well-known in the industry for a reason – she consistently provides a quality product and her level of support via video tutorials, or in my case a quick email response to a quick question, was always greatly appreciated. If you are open to gaining some control back into how your images should look, you will want to get this Photoshop actions set.
Unsolicited words of advice:
1) Have a vision for how you want to retouch your images. What you present to the world says a lot about who you are as a photographer and an artist. Adding actions willy-nilly is no way to correct a badly exposed image. So start there first. No idea what I am talking about? Try this book by David duChemin. Figure out what the end product needs to be, how it will be applied and who your target audience is. Those answers will direct you into the appropriate use of these or any other Photoshop actions.
2) Make sure your monitor is calibrated. If you want WYSIWYG, this is one of the first steps you should take.
3) Use these actions on un-cropped, high-resolution images first. Then resize and sharpen at the very end of your workflow. The MCP Fusion Photoshop Actions include two nifty actions that will do just this for you, so rest easy.
4) Uncle Ben said it best: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Just because you can use actions and mix-n-match them up, does not give you license to do so. Well, you could, but then your images are going to make your audience gag a bit.
5) Be aware that as you start adding more actions and you mix-n-match them as you can, your file size is going to inflate and your computer is liable to slow down to a crawl. So have lots of RAM and have a scratch disk for Photoshop to play nice.
6) Have fun. If you aren't having fun when using these or any other actions, that means you are just going through the motions of creating art for your clients and ultimately yourself. So, pace yourself, experiment and stick to the plan (ie. see number 1)
7) You are going to be naturally drawn to some actions over others. Let your gut instinct guide you. You'll know when you have crossed the line, or your friends or even clients may let you know pretty directly. Learn from these trials and move on. Don't cling to an action as the be-all and end-all of all your images. Keep making images and you will find Photoshop actions that are best used to enhance those specific frames. It is a learning process, so don't force it.
If you've enjoyed this post and want more like it, please let me know in the comments below. Also, please support this site by buying the e-books you see here. They have each been reviewed for quality and value and I am sure you will find them just as useful as I have for my photography business.
Stuart Little, is a Photographer, Writer, Blogger and Photoshop Educator with over 18 years experience in the field. Stuart has been teaching both Amateur & Professional Photographers since 1998 and he is based in the Scottish Coastal Town of Ayr in the West of Scotland. Visit Stuart’s website http://www.alittlephotoshop.com. Read his first post about creating rounded corners in Lightroom 3.
Thanks once again to Seshu for inviting me to create another LIghtroom video tutorial for your viewing pleasure. Today I am going to show you how to fake a Tilt n Shift lens effect directly within LIghtroom 3. Now I am not going to bore you with the history of this very popular style of image processing but needless to say there are 3 ways you go do this effect.
1. In Camera
2. In Photoshop
3. In Lightroom – Which is the way we are going to do it today.
There are two main reasons for doing this effect in Lightroom and Photoshop. 1) Shallow Depth of Field and 2) If you have an image taken from a high vantage point, then you can make it look like a miniature model partly because of the shallow depth of field blur and partly because of the subject and angle of the image.
In this video tutorial I show you how to create the effect from a shallow depth of field point of view which is how I mainly use the technique in Lightroom. If you want to go down the faking a miniature model look, then in my view you are better doing it in Photoshop. I have that very video tutorial over at alittlephotoshop.com if thats of interest to you.
Learn more about Tilt Shift Photography.
If you have examples of tilt ‘n shift work, please share them as links in the comments section. We'd love to see how you have used Stuart Little's technique, or your own.
Stuart Little, our next guest blogger, is a Photographer, Writer, Blogger and Photoshop Educator with over 18 years experience in the field. Stuart has been teaching both Amateur & Professional Photographers since 1998 and he is based in the Scottish Coastal Town of Ayr in the West of Scotland. Visit Stuart's website http://www.alittlephotoshop.com.
Thanks to Seshu for giving me the opportunity to share with you a really cool and utterly simple technique for creating a rounded border from within Lightroom 3.
When Adobe brought out Lightroom 3 they added 2 new features to the post crop vignette that made creating vignettes even better than before. So much so that the older paint overlay style has kind of been forgotten until now.
You can watch the video for all the juicy know-how but for those of you who just want to get stuck in via your RSS reader then slide all the post-crop vignetting sliders to the left for a black rounded border, job done, nuff said. Yep! its that simple But here is the another cool thing. If you want a white border then just take the amount slider all the way to the right.
Best thing of all. You can save the whole lot as a simple preset so that one click will take care of it all in future. Fire up the print module and set the background colour to compliment the border colour. Make sure you are using custom layout and then you can drag n drop the round images directly onto a layout ready for printing. Although if you are going down the inkjet route I would go for a white border and save yourself some ink. Enjoy the video tutorial and dont forget to swing but alittlephotoshop.com for more Lightroom 3 training and free workflow actions for Photoshop.
Stuart has offered to send me another blog post, this time about creating a tilt-n-shift effect in Lightroom 3. Here's the deal, though, for that to happen I need to see at least 20 comments from you. Ask questions or suggest an alternative way of creating round corners. But I do need to hear from you. So, will you chime in? If you liked this post by Stuart, I think you will enjoy the next one too.
I can't remember when I first joined the National Association Of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). I do vividly recall thumbing through the slick, glossy Photoshop User magazine and drooling over the step-by-step tutorials, the featured artist and the succinct product reviews. The magazine was and is designed to inspire. There is no doubt about that. Each month, I look forward to the new issue, almost always wrapped in a plastic cover. And yes, I will confess to being a geek – I do read it cover to cover. Being an even bigger geek, I will also confess to still having every single issue of the magazine since I first joined the organization. For Photoshop and Lightroom information, the NAPP cannot be beat. It is THE place to go to first.
The Benefits Of Becoming A Member Of The NAPP
When I was starting in the photography business, the benefits of being a member counted where it mattered most – my wallet. As a photographer who occasionally bought camera equipment from B&H Photo Video, I shuddered every time shipping charges were levied to my final bill. Even though I live in Connecticut, the UPS shipment was almost in the neighborhood of $25 to $30. Well, with my NAPP membership, the same UPS ground shipping was $0. That's right. Four purchases in a year just about paid for my NAPP annual dues ($99). It was a no-brainer for me. Not only was I getting a valuable resource in a magazine that was chalk-full of great examples, I was also able to get my gear delivered to me at no extra charge. That shipping “discount” is also offered by Adorama.
What's Better Than A Ginzu Knife
But wait, there is more. Yes, lots more. Over the course of the next few months, I will present all of the other benefits and features for becoming a member of a community of creative people, including a whole bunch of photographers. The big announcement I alluded to on Twitter is this – The NAPP has tapped me to be one of their ambassadors. I am truly honored to serve in that capacity.
For a limited time, when you become a member of the NAPP and use this promotional code – “PicSeshu” – you will receive Matt Kloskowski's Lightroom 3 Power Session DVD (a $69.99 value), absolutely free PLUS get $10 off your annual membership fee.
My Promise To You
If you are a loyal subscriber you already know that I diligently apply the “credibility-test” before promoting products, services or vendors. Tiffinbox remains a no-shill zone. I promise to be transparent with you and will let you know if I directly or indirectly benefit from any transactions that I am asking you to embark on. In some, if not all, cases I will try the product, service or vendor before I will ask you to buy it. And in most cases, I pay for it by myself. When it is a gift, I will let you know.
In this case, let me candidly tell you that about a month back, I renewed my NAPP membership through 2014. This was before I was approached to become an ambassador. I paid for the renewal myself. When I did that, I received a couple of DVDs, including the one mentioned above. Having found it useful, I figured you would too when you sign up to become a member.
I want it also known that being an ambassador may present opportunities to get involved with Photoshop World or access to Kelby Training's online courses. If and when those things do happen and I happen to blog about them, I will be sure to let you know in advance.
So, I hope that my relationship with the NAPP is as clear as a sunny f/16 day.
If you have any questions, suggestions, opinions or otherwise friendly banter, pen your thoughts below in the comments section. I do want to hear from you. You voice is heard here. If you do decide to become a member of the NAPP, please let me know. “Welcome,” in advance!