Tag Archives: action

Link Roundup 06-14-2010

I just realized that it’s been a few weeks since I posted some links! So here are a few that I have in my list… I’ve got more, but I don’t like posting more than 10-15 links at a time.

Link Roundup 04-03-2010

Link Roundup 11-22-2009

Center Your Subject for Action Shots

Porsche Battle

We hear a lot about things such as the rule of thirds and not centering your subject for better composition. But there are times when you should actually center your subject to ensure that you get the shot. Action shots are typically a one chance situation. This can include sports, racing, performances, etc.

The problem with these action scenarios is that the main subject is usually moving quite fast and you only have one opportunity to capture a given moment. Spend too much time thinking about composition rules will ultimately result in missed shots. Here are a few reasons why you should think about centering your subject (and some tips for action shots):

  • It’s easier for your AF camera to focus on the subject when centered — nothing worse than a sharp background and blurry subject. The caveat to this is if you have your camera set to spot focus somewhere other than the center.
  • Most manual focus screens have additional feedback at the center of the frame — use it!
  • Center your subject and you won’t miss a shot due to over-thinking the composition.
  • Leave a bit of extra room around the main subject so that you can crop for better composition later.
  • Use continuous AF to track the action — especially when the subject is moving toward or away from you.
  • Get the dang shot!

What do you guys think? Good advice? Bad advice? What would you add to this?

Epic Styler Contest Winners and Download

Download the Epic Styler Package

I’ve been putting this one off for way too long. If you remember back a few months, I announced the 8th Epic Edits project: “Action and Preset Extravaganza“. The deadline was over a month ago, and we had 6 people contribute 15 different Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets.

Neil Cowley of Make Light Real, sponsored the project and gave out three grand prizes to the best entries. He’s also hosting the package of presets and actions as a free download, so don’t forget to jump over to his site and grab them!

THE WINNERS

  1. Tasha Schalk with her Rock Concert Photoshop Actions.
  2. Martin Kimeldorf with his Photoshop Action for exposure blending.
  3. Phill Price with his monochrome architecture pink Lightroom Preset.

The other entries included a color pop Photoshop Action from Tom Weeks, a Flickr resizer Photoshop Action from me, and a 300 movie style Lightroom Preset from Mike Lao.

THE PRIZES

  • 1ST PLACE: LIGHTSPEED WORKFLOW PACKAGE
    Valued at $290, this prize includes a Nostromo n52 left-hand keypad, “ONE” Lightroom/ACR preset, “ONE” Photoshop Action, and tutorials. This is an awesome package! This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
  • 2ND PLACE: PHOTOSHOP LIGHT REAL VIRTUAL COURSE
    Valued at $250, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” workflow scripts plus a 4 hour training course covering the workflow scripts and working in LAB color space. This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
  • 3RD PLACE: ONE ACTION AND GOLDEN TOUCH PACKAGES
    Valued at $79 and $49, respectively, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” scripts and presets for Photoshop and Lightroom, plus extra training materials along with additional Photoshop actions and 30 textures.

A BIG THANK YOU!

First of all, I want to thank all the participants that took the time to post their actions and presets for the greater good of the community. It’s great to see people willing to share their knowledge and their tools with fellow photographers.

I’d also like to thank Neil for sponsoring the project and hosting the final download package. He’s had a very active role in this project, and I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Don’t forget to download the actions and presets from the project entries. And if you’re into free stuff, check out Neil’s other free downloads.

Exposure-Blend and Shine-Be-Reduced Photoshop Actions

This article and project entry comes from Martin Kimeldorf. The content in this post comes from the PDF documents that Martin put together for his actions.

EXPOSURE BLEND

Exposure Blend Example, by Brian Auer

Photo by Brian Auer showing (L) under exposed, (M) over exposed, and (R) exposure blended image using Martin’s action.

Most people find the outcome of my little action to be very similar to Photomatix… certainly cheaper… and I think a bit easier since you just mouse click away. I don’t charge for this action as re-payment for all the people who helped me along the way.

Put the camera in Aperture Priority or Manual and set to your preferred f-stop and ISO. Use auto-bracketing to take three frames with different exposures: normal, under exposed, and over exposed. Make sure the auto-bracket is set so the images are at least 1.5 stops apart from normal.

The following notes are also embedded in the action to prompt you.

Prepare a file with two images labeled as Under and Over Exposed. Place both the under exposed and over exposed image in a new Photoshop file. Neither file should be locked as a background layers, so unlock any background layer by double clicking on them. Make sure the over exposed layer is labeled as such and sits on top of the under exposed file.

In the end you will get 3 image version to choose from:

1) The basic Composite or exposure blend
2) the same composite with shadow recovery applied
3) The shadow recovery image with soft light blend applied for more contrast.

You then take your final image and apply noise reduction if needed and then sharpen.

DOWNLOAD THE ACTION
DOWNLOAD THE PDF FOR MORE INFO

SHINE-BE-REDUCED

Install this Action in your Photoshop program (see sample at the end). Run the action, and then “paint away” the shine from the areas that offend your sensibilities. Paint away distracting shines from flash on nose, cheeks, foreheads.

Most people leave shines on hair and lips and pupils. This will be done by creating a second duplicate layer over your original layer. Then you can brush in the amount of “shine removal” that you want. Here are the steps to follow for removing the shine, AFTER the action is run.

1) A new adjusted layer is placed above your original, and is masked (blacked) out.
2) While viewing at 100%, select a soft WHITE brush, Set the brush so it is slightly larger than the shine area, and Set brush opacity to 30% opacity
3) Then paint over the shine…on the black layer mask.
4) For real finesse, select the layer mask by holding down the Command Key and click on the layer MASK. This will make the selection come alive with marching ants. Then apply a Gaussian blur of about 4 to this mask to soften the edges.

DOWNLOAD THE ACTION
DOWNLOAD THE PDF FOR MORE INFO

Action and Preset Project Extended

Due to the holidays being a crazy time of the year, I’ve decided that we should extend the deadline of the Action and Preset Extravaganza to January 12, 2009. So that gives everybody an extra 10 days to submit their project entries at a chance to win some great prizes.

Let me just remind you all that the project entries don’t need to be elaborate. It could be something as simple as a few little steps in a Photoshop workflow, some creative little layer adjustment, or anything else you can come up with.

The idea behind the project is that the collection of all these little bits will create a very useful resource for other photographers. So get to it! Let’s see some actions and presets!

Flickr Resizer Photoshop Actions

I find resizing photos for web output to be one of the most boring and repetitive tasks in post-processing. My workflow consists of only creating JPEGs as needed, and deleting them when they’ve done their deed. My photo archive also consists of RAW (from the dSLR), TIFF (from film scans), and PSD files, in both AdobeRGB and grayscale color spaces.

So with all these requirements, I found that a Photoshop action is the way to go. I process a big batch of photos with Bridge/ACR, and I use a batch process to create all my Flickr files at once. The really cool thing about the action I’ve created is that it doesn’t care what kind of file you have or what color space it’s in. The output is always the same — 800 pixels on the long edge, sRGB, a quality of 12, etc.

HOW IT WORKS

The action was built to be fairly robust against an array of possible image settings and file types. The main idea behind the action is to be “hands free” so it can blast through a big set of photos with no interaction from the user.

The action first flattens any layers that may be present. Then it moves on to scale it down while still in the original color space and bit depth. After downsizing, the action converts to RGB mode just in case you were working in LAB or grayscale. And since the intent is to create images for the web, we then convert to sRGB color space. And so we can save as a JPEG, we then convert to 8 bits. Now it’s time for output, so the action saves the file to a set destination at high quality while maintaining the original file name and metadata. The last step is to close the image without saving so it can move on to the next one if using a batch process.

If you don’t have things like layers or other color spaces, the action just keeps going without warning you — it’s no big deal, those steps are just to make it more robust.

BEFORE YOU USE IT

The action is intended to be customized for each person using it. At a minimum, you’ll want to change the location of the saved file. I put my Flickr exports in a folder on my desktop, but you can put yours wherever you want.

To change the location of the saved files, first open up a file to work with. Then go into the action and uncheck the last two lines — “Save” and “Close”. Run the action. Now double-click on the “Save” command to modify it. When you do this, you’ll see a save dialog box. Simply navigate to the folder of your choice and press “Save” — don’t mess with the file name or you’ll end up saving every single image in the future with the same exact name. After you re-record this step, you can check the “Save” and “Close” lines and you should be in business.

You can also do the same type of thing with the “Image Size” command if you want something other than 800 pixels. Just make note of which action you’re editing (horizontal or vertical) because you have to type the values into the corresponding box (width or height, respectively).

HOW TO USE IT

As I just mentioned, there are two actions. This is to take care that vertical and horizontal images maintain a common maximum size. If you run a vertical image through the horizontal action, you’ll get a photo at 800 pixels on the short edge rather than the long edge. And square cropped photos don’t care which one you use.

You can run the action on single photos if you’d like — just be aware of the “Close” command at the end of the action. Uncheck it if you don’t want to close the image after exporting.

The best way to run this action is with a batch process. You can do this from Bridge by selecting the photos you want to export and clicking “Tools >> Photoshop >> Batch…” You can also do it straight from Photoshop by clicking “File >> Automate >> Batch…” Either method gets you the same dialog box. Then you pick the action from the drop-down menu. If you run it from Bridge, all you have to do is hit “OK” and it starts running. If you run it from Photoshop, you’ll have to tell it where to get the files from too.

DOWNLOAD THE ACTION

I hope some of you will find this useful with your workflow. I know it saves me a ton of time! This article is one of my own project submissions to the Action and Preset Extravaganza.

Make Light Real ONE Action

Those who have used Photoshop probably know the power of actions. Some also know the power of LAB color mode. The problem is that LAB can sound like a scary thing, and most actions are “one hit wonders.”

Neil Cowley has created something that will blow you away — The ONE Action. It’s an action set that guides you through the LAB colorspace workflow. I’ve worked in LAB for a few little things in the past, but I hadn’t realized the full potential until I started working with the ONE Action.

Neil is sponsoring our most recent project, the “Action and Preset Extravaganza“, and the top 3 prizes include the ONE Action. I’ve been toying around with it for a couple weeks, and this is my introductory take on it. I should also state that I have much to learn about using this action and working in the LAB color space, so this is by no means a comprehensive review.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

The ONE Action package includes several handy items. Obviously, the Photoshop Action is at the heart of it all. You also get an ACR and Lightroom preset, an HDR action, LAB curve presets, an instruction manual, a really great walkthrough video, and some sample photos.

The video is a great place to start after you’ve loaded up the actions and/or presets. Neil goes through the capabilities of the action, how to use it, and the thought process behind the actions. He explains rather quickly that the ONE Action is more than just a “push and go” type of action — it’s a workflow process.

Here’s another video from Neil that shows an example of how the action can be used. This is not the video included with the action.

HOW IT WORKS

The action “forces” you to work in the LAB color space (which really isn’t a bad thing at all). This gives you the freedom to manipulate the luminosity and color of the image separate from each other. It also gives you the ability to pinpoint specific tonal ranges and apply adjustments only where you desire.

There are a lot of individual actions contained in the set, and each one is intended to target a very specific region of the image. The main idea, though, is to understand the adjustments produced by the actions and apply them in small steps as you work through the image. Masking and tone-mapping are important parts of the ONE Action workflow.

Honestly, once you start working with this action set you’ll really start to understand the power of working in LAB color space. As I went though several of my own photos, I was surprised and amazed at the results that could be achieved with just a few little adjustments.

EXAMPLE PHOTOS

Each of the images below show the unprocessed raw file, the processed raw file, and the final photo after processing with the “ONE Action.” I chose to use the action on a few particular photos from a recent photowalk that turned out less than optimal but had potential. I used the action with the intent of reproducing the scene I saw with my eyes (and in some cases introduce a bit more “life”), and in most cases the ONE Action saved my butt. Click on the photos for a larger view.

You can purchase the ONE Action from Make Light Real, or participate in the Action and Preset Extravaganza for your chance at one of the prize packages.

PROJECT: Action and Preset Extravaganza

Action and Preset Extravaganza
Creative Commons License photo credit: ►Voj►

I’m pleased to announce, in the spirit of the holidays, an open source software development: The Epic Edits Action and Preset Extravaganza.

In our last project, we did reviews of cheap film cameras. But in this project, we’re going completely the opposite direction — it’s all about Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets (or whatever other software you happen to use). In the end, our collective creativity will be pooled into a large Styler Package and be distributed freely.

The Stylizer entries will be judged for creativity and prizes awarded after the January 12 Deadline for entry. Read on for more details on the concept and prizes. The entry form is at the bottom of this post, so be sure to bookmark it if you plan on participating.

THE CONCEPT

Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets are great tools for the digital darkroom. They can save a ton of time and they can give you awesome inspiration. Since we have a great community full of knowledgeable photographers, I want to put our heads together and generate a good resource that elevates our collective expertise and creative consciousness.

This resource will include the actions and presets with written instructions from the creators on their use.

THE SPONSOR

We’ve got a great sponsor for this project, and the prizes fit right in with the theme. I’m pleased to present Neil Cowley from Make Light Real as our sponsor and judge.

Neil is a photographer, an artist, a post-processing guru, and an educator. His photos are unique and his post-processing techniques are equally unique. Neil offers many Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets, along with tons of great textures in various themes. The actions emanate from his experiences teaching and sharing through his creative journal at www.MakeLightReal.com.

THE PRIZES:

UPDATE: The top 3 prizes include the ONE Action set and I’ve just reviewed it here on the blog. Read more.

  • 1ST PLACE: LIGHTSPEED WORKFLOW PACKAGE
    Valued at $290, this prize includes a Nostromo n52 left-hand keypad, “ONE” Lightroom/ACR preset, “ONE” Photoshop Action, and tutorials. This is an awesome package! This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
  • 2ND PLACE: PHOTOSHOP LIGHT REAL VIRTUAL COURSE
    Valued at $250, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” workflow scripts plus a 4 hour training course covering the workflow scripts and working in LAB color space. This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
  • 3RD PLACE: ONE ACTION AND GOLDEN TOUCH PACKAGES
    Valued at $79 and $49, respectively, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” scripts and presets for Photoshop and Lightroom, plus extra training materials along with additional Photoshop actions and 30 textures. This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
  • 1ST AND 2ND RUNNER UP: $39 CREDIT
    The two “honorary mentions” will each receive a $39 credit toward the purchase of any item from Neil’s offerings.
  • 5 RANDOM WINNERS: $39 CREDIT
    Just to shake things up a bit, we’ll select another 5 random winners to receive the $39 credit toward any item of their choice. So anybody could be a winner, you just have to participate!

So… basically we’re looking at over $1000 in prizes given out to 10 different winners. Not bad!

THE REQUIREMENTS

If you’re planning on participating and having a chance at some of the awesome prizes, be sure to read the following requirements very carefully. I’ve provided some useful links to appropriate resources, so don’t overlook them!

  1. CREATE AN ACTION OR PRESET
    The first important part of the project is actually creating the action or preset. The choice of software is up to you — whatever you happen to use. The action(s) and/or preset(s) that you choose to create and share are also totally up to you — they could be workflow timesavers, creative tweaks, or whatever else you can dream up. If you’re not familiar with creating these things, you can read up on creating Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets. And the creations must be your own — no swiping somebody else’s work!
  2. MAKE YOUR FILE ACCESSIBLE
    This is the hard part, but we’ve got some options for you. You’ll need to upload your action/preset file to the web so others can download it. If you have your own blog or website, this is no problem and you can host the file yourself. Some forums also allow files to be attached to posts. But sites like Flickr don’t allow this, while they do allow you to link to external files. To accommodate those of you with fewer options, Neil has offered to host your project files on his site. You can email him at action@makelightreal.com with your file. He’ll upload it to his server and send you the URL so you can link to it in step 3.
  3. WRITE ABOUT YOUR CREATION
    Once you’ve created your tool and made it accessible to others, you’ll have to write about it. There are many forms of self-publication, so don’t be intimidated. You should tell us what the action/preset does, how it works, and any special instructions for using it. You should also link out to your file from step 2 so others (including me) can download it and use it.
  4. SUBMIT YOUR LINK HERE
    When your written post is complete (with the link to your action/preset), come back here and fill out the form below. Just plug in your name, the location of your write-up from step 3, and your email address so I can contact you if needed.

DEADLINE: JANUARY 12, 2009

Multiple entries are fine, but each participant will count as a single project entry. So you could either put all your stuff in one post for the written portion, or you could do multiple posts. Either way, you get one entry into the contest and we’ll point readers to your whole collection at the end of the project.

Once the project comes to an end, I’ll gather up all the actions and presets and make a single collection (for each software) that can be downloaded by others. I’ll also link out to your write-up so people can learn how to use the tools you’ve created.

THE CONTEST

As mentioned in the sponsor section above, Neil is giving away a ton of cool prizes. The two of us will be judging the entries based on several criteria: usefulness, usability, creativity, execution, explanation, thoroughness, etc.

Basically, we’re looking to reward the individuals who put a lot of thought and effort into their project entry (and this certainly includes the written portion). We realize that not all actions or presets are big and flashy, and we’ll keep this in mind as we go through the entries — so don’t feel like you have to come up with some huge elaborate thing to be eligible for the prize.

Three winners will be chosen for the 3 grand prizes, and two runner-ups will be chosen for honorable mention. All five picks will also receive the $39 credit for textures.

In addition to the top five selections, we’ll choose an additional five entries at random to receive the $39 credit for textures!

THE ENTRY FORM

UPDATE: This project has been completed — see the results here.