Today, we’re going to chat about Photoshop actions! I’ve been using the A Beautiful Mess Complete Collection of actions for about 6 months now and after giving most of them a test run, I wanted to share some examples of how I edit my photos daily for this blog. If you’re not familiar with actions, they are presets that you can quickly apply to any photo. Because you can adjust the opacity of layers, they can be as subtle or punchy as you’d like.
Below, I’m sharing some “mixes” as well as some tips to make the most of your actions!
Like many of you, I crave bright natural light but my house doesn’t always provide that. Light leaks can really brighten up the edges while a blue-toned filter can cool things down for a more editorial look.
Often, the difference with actions can be very subtle. I wanted the snow to feel brighter and the photo to have a warmer tone but the overall effect isn’t all that dramatic — it’s about slight adjustments.
Every once in awhile, a photo calls for extra drama and black and white actions can quickly add that impact.
Using actions, I was able to punch up the citrus hues and really show off the hardwood floors here.
It’s not necessary to go overboard with actions just because you have dozens to choose from! A few slight tweaks just add to the overall atmosphere.
Even in a great room, photos can feel a little flat. By adding the sun flare, the overhead light feels stronger and more welcoming.
Using dashes of color can can really tie the contents of an image together. I love this yellow spot!
5 Action Tips
If you’re a fan of actions like I am, here are five tips to make the most of them:
1. Don’t get intimidated.
If you’re new to actions, they’re ridiculously easy to use. This tutorial can have you up and running in a matter of minutes.
2. Study the style of others.
Take a look at the blogs you admire — what makes their photos stand out? Are they bright and airy or dark and moody? Are the tones saturated or subdued? Once you determine what you like visually, it will be easier to come up with your own style.
3. Develop your own unique mix.
For the most part, I never use a canned action as-is. I mix and match and develop a secret recipe. This is important for creating a signature look for your blog. On a daily basis, I always start with the same exact mix on each photo and then tweak it to bring out unique elements. Take the time to make your own blend — people will notice!
4. Don’t go crazy.
Just because you have dozens of actions at your fingertips doesn’t mean that you have to dip into each one! There are about five I default to at all times and then, for special occasions, I mix it up. If you add too many, the mix may become muddy and look amateur.
5. Simplicity equals a sense of timelessness.
Remember when Instagram came out and everyone applied heavy yellow-orange filters? Looking back now, those images look terribly dated….and I’m guilty of it, too. If you keep your processing very light and clean, it will age better as trends and tastes evolve.
I hope this study of actions has inspired you to come up with your own mix! If you have any questions about actions, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
All actions: A Beautiful Mess.
All photos (except portrait): Shauna Haider. Portrait: Made U Look.