So what is the difference between hand editing, and photoshop actions? The ONLY difference is that an action is recorded, and editing without aid of an action is all free hand. Or "Hand Editing" which seems to be the new term these days.
Are using actions a weak way out of learning photoshop?
There is no weak way, in a creative process. There are time savers, and ways to harness other looks you may not have come up with on your own. If someone says it is wrong or lazy to use an action, chances are, they are just trying to sell you something else... I can pretty much guarantee at one point or another in every creative's process, they tried, bought, played with, alternative's to "hand editing" as an aid.
On a side note, the image example below shows this image from Adobe Camera Raw and this other one from Capture One. I am a huge fan of Capture One, and what this software does to your images initially in Raw. Wow. Download your free trial today, you will be blown away.
I too, am a huge fan of Alien Skin, Exposure 6. Yes, I create actions so that I can recreate the same processing to my images over and over. I create them in a way that I can tweak them for optimum results on the specific image I am working on. (not all actions work on all images, right?) Well, if you are wanting to add DRAMA and a film look, to your images, Alien Skin is the program for you. In my Facebook photography group, I have had so many requests for a tutorial, that I approached Alien Skin and asked their permission. They not only gave it to me, but they offered to promote it, if they could use it and post it on their blog as well! Win - win for everyone.
Here is a before and after of the image that I used for this tutorial. You can click here to go to the Alien Skin blog and watch this 15 minute tutorial. Be prepared to purchase though, you will have your mind blown.
So many people contact me, asking how I retouch my images. I have pretty much showed everyone in my video tutorial's how I retouch my images. I retouch (edit my images) first in every portrait I do, then when I am finished, I simply start applying my actions and overlays until I get something that appeals to me. Remember that this is a creative process. I am providing you with all the tools I use, nothing more.
My tools are my camera, lenses, and photoshop. Same as you. How well you become technically skilled at using your camera and lenses, lighting, to create the image you want to, is always going to be up to you. How well you develop your artistic side technically, by learning all of the possibilities that Photoshop offers, is up to you as well. I cannot teach people how to be "Creative". You do see people trying to mimic other photographers work, this will always happen.
You can either be a trail blazer, or a follower, the choice is yours. Instead of trying to emulate another photographer, try to find out what makes YOU feel warm and fuzzy all over. Find out what it is that gives YOU that big AH HA moment and makes y our heart sing! I know that I am able to emulate many photographers and their editing style. But do I want to? Not really, I have slowly developed my own style, and have many people tell me now, "I don't even have to read who the photographer is, when a Nikki Harrison image pops up, I KNOW its yours." THAT is what I love. You need to find YOUR niche. Your image style. I developed mine by combining skills I learned from MULTIPLE sources. Multiple.
It is even easier now than it was when I started out. You can find free educational resources EVERYWHERE online. I have blogged about it before, you can find that blog HERE. I recently was interviewed by Portrait Professional on their blog. I too started out using Portrait Professional, years ago when I started learning photoshop. Do I use it now? No, I have developed my own action in my retouch set which suites my style of editing today. Would I recommend Portrait Professional? Absolutely!
If you are more interested in hand editing and learning how to edit INDEPTH like the professional retouchers for magazines and fashion photographers, I highly recommend Pratik Naik. He recently did an amazing workshop on Creative Live that is fabulous. Bottom line, don't limit your learning curve OR don't ever feel like you have nothing left to learn. I feel like I am stagnating if I am not learning something new every week!
I use floral overlays in so many images. Take a good image and make it spectacular by adding in amazing floral images. Simply drag the floral overlay onto your image and mask on, adjusting blend modes and opacity. It does take creativity and imagination, but really anything is possible!
I primarily shoot with large aperture lenses. I love the soft bokeh that these prime lenses allow in my photography. That is my personal taste. Years ago when I became serious about photography, I started out shooting ONLY with strobes. I never shot in natural light and really wasn't interested in it. That is so funny to me now, because I have since reversed and primarily shoot in natural light, with reflectors and the occasional speed light or beauty dish. I prefer the soft romantic light of natural or constant lights. So. Many people have asked if I would do a side by side comparison of my three favourite lenses. So here they are, all side by side.
The results are interesting. I really love shooting with the 85 and use it often. I have always loved the bokeh on it and still do. I find focusing without the image stabilization on the 135 to be more difficult, and therefore the instances of blurry photos to be more often when shooting hand held. I used to think this about the 85, but when I switched from the 5D Mark II to the Mark III these issues disappeared. Nothing, however, beats the beauty of the blur, and crisp sharpness of the 200. I love my 200 and will always use it whenever possible. It is VERY heavy, however, and VERY expensive. It is also hard to use unless you have miles of space between you and your clients.
Bottom line? If you are dying for blur, you cannot beat the price of the 135! It is amazing, beautiful bokeh and sharpness for the price. You have to have a very steady hand, or use a tripod to guarantee sharp images, but it is absolutely worth it.
For a limited time, as this is a seasonal item. I love purple, and you may have noticed there are a ton of people with purple hair lately! There are pink, orange and yellow leaf overlays in the set as well! Beautiful autumn leaf overlay for only $10!
Recently, Westcott contacted me and asked if I would do a few articles on photographing various subjects, since I already used their Spider Lite System for a lot of my photography. They also requested some examples using the Ice Light and their New Eyelighter, reflector that is ridiculously awesome. I was happy to oblige, because I love photographing my animals, and other pets, so I agreed to share my way of light small dogs and cats. Here are the images that were produced from these tutorials, and if you would like to see these articles, you can head over to Westcottu.com and check them out.
Because as you grow as a photographer and maybe a digital artist, these files that you may think are lousy this year, may be something you can actually work with later as your photoshop skills improve. Unfortunately, I had a bad accident 3 yrs into my photography journey, and I lost every single image I took prior to that day. It saddens me greatly, when I think of all the stock images I had and all the images I would be able to work with now. The external backing up system for our treasured images is SO important, I cannot stress that enough.
Here is a prime example of an image that had lousy lighting and colour balance when I took it a few years ago. Now it is fun to see it transform in Photoshop. I used Retouch + "Striped Wallpaper" from the Vintage Texture Set to assist in the edit of this image.
So I am putting up free .png files from time to time and last week I put up some Butterflies. On our Facebook Page, we had a bunch of followers show us how they used them in their photography. I love seeing how photographers use my actions, overlays and give aways!
Here is a direct link to the FREE file if you can't find it. Here are a couple images showing how I used them! Remember to "like" and "follow" us on Facebook so you don't miss contests and giveaways!
So, like I always say, use all the products that I create. Many times I actually forget to use some of the older ones, like Romantica. Right now you can still buy it, but only for April and then it will disappear again. Romantica along with Romeo and Juliette and Antony and Cleopatra. These are still some of my favourite actions. Hansel and Gretel is still, the NUMBER ONE best selling action. It too will disappear as of May 1. The best results that I get when I am creating images, is when I use ocean and cloud overlays, with texture overlays and multiple actions. Unfortunately, NO one action is used to create the huge epic style imagery you see me create from time to time.
For instance. This image I used the following:
- Retouch set: Skin Perfection, Cherry Cheeks and Lips, Smokey Eye
- Ocean & Cloud Overlay: #1
- Texture Overlay: Set #1 - Summer Skies
- Robust Bundle: Moulin Rouge
- Chemistry Set: Evening Walk, Magic Matt
Wow. Still one of my all time favorites.
For the Month of April ONLY these amazing MUCH sought after Robust Actions will be back. These three actions are a MUST in your creative arsenal! Go grab them now, and see how they drastically change your images. ONLY $75.00 for all three. Click here for more information!!
Here is a before and after edit I did of a model. I used my edits + retouch set then I applied "Bella" from the new Spring Bundle and adjusted the layers in the action to suit. Once I finished it, I also applied the "Soft Suede" and adjusted various layers to suit. Final is the outcome. Remember this set IS AVAILABLE for Elements 11+ as well!
So the Spring Bundle is still sitting at the Introductory Price … and you can still get in on this amazing Robust Action Set if you hurry! Take a peek at Soft Suede, quickly becoming a favorite from the comments I'm getting from Photographers who have purchased!
Photoshop Elements users have been waiting very patiently for these actions to be available to them . The first set has been released to purchase by PSE versions 11+ These actions may work with earlier versions, but since I cannot test it on any earlier versions, I am recommending only those photographers with versions 11+ make the purchase. The first set of actions available by Chasing Light is the ROBUST BUNDLE. You can click here to buy now. The next set will be the Fairytale Bundle. Stay tuned!!
NOW AVAILABLE FOR PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 11+ With winter killing us this year with cold and snow, I didn't want to wait any longer to launch the NEW SPRING BUNDLE!
There are FIVE unique and very different photoshop actions here - these actions are fabulous for so many different types of looks. Dramatic or soft, stunning colors or muted soft tones, these have everything.
Limited Introductory Price is 50% off what the final retail price will be, so hurry now before March 8th or you will miss out. Click here to go to the purchase page!!