Hi everyone! Thanks for "tuning in!" This post is a little different than the norm, but I wanted to take a moment to share something with you. This will primarily benefit other photographers, but the camera mom enthusiast can most definitely benefit from this as well! And, we all know, I highly encourage YOU (moms) to take lots of photos of your littles! So, read on for some helpful tips on the editing side of things to take your photos to the next level!
I was recently given the opportunity to review The Portrait Perfection action set by Sleeklens — a series of actions designed to make your editing life easier. If you're new to Photoshop actions, this is a great place to start! Sleeklens offers a variety of action sets, and this one is designed specifically for editing portraits. If you're a photographer, these actions can most definitely quicken up your workflow. If you're an enthusiast, they will literally walk you right through the process! Of course, some basic photoshop knowledge is helpful.
First off, I will start by saying, I opted for the Photoshop actions versus the Lightroom presets, simply because Photoshop actually has a more accurate color gamut than Lightroom. For the enthusiast who may not care as much, it really doesn't matter, but for those of us who print our work, or want our work to display accurately across the board, this can definitely make a difference. Here's a very interesting article that talks all about this.
So, let's get down to these actions. There is a little bit of a learning curve, but play around, and you'll get it fairly quickly. If you actually read the pop up windows that appear with each action, you'll move a bit faster! (I didn't at first, and was a little confused! As in, some of the layers start at 0% opacity, meaning you have to move the opacity up, as far as you like for the action to work).
Besides a quick retouch layer to start and a levels layer at the end, the edit documented above was done solely using these Sleeklens actions. I sped it way up so as not to be too boring, but you can see I'm running actions from the top right, and you can see the layers show up with all the black masks in the layers panel below. I then just move from one up to the next and the next and brush in where I want that layer to apply. The flare was also added with an action. There are a handful of different hues to fit whatever environment you need. Hint: press "command T" to find the flare when you first place it! Many times it wasn't even on my photo!
Everything is editable, so if one action is a little too much, you can dim it down, or mask it from where you want, just as any photoshop layer. For someone new to Photoshop who may not know how to maneuver around yet, these actions can quickly have you lightening or darkening your exposure, warming or cooling your temperature, removing some unwanted colors (red skin, a green or blue cast), etc. etc. For a seasoned pro, these may seem simple, but for a beginner, these tasks (or rather all of Photoshop!) can seem daunting.
There are also actions that play to the professional photographer — actions that are more advanced and require a little know-how, like frequency separation (shown in the video below). So really, this is a set that can work for many.
I found the "base" and "all in one" actions to work better on outdoor photos rather than on indoor or studio portraits. These are much more specific, and they definitely don't work on all photos. These also, just to note, seem to work best when used first in the workflow (I do believe that's how they were designed as well). The image flattens, and I don't know about you, but I like to see all my layers until I'm done and ready. That way, I can adjust things if I need along the way.
Enhance Tones: I love that these fit a variety of types of photos, whether it's a beautiful autumn day, a hike through the wilderness, or a beautiful beach sunset, they have you covered. Each of course being customizable means that you can adjust them right to where you like it, and if you want, add another right on top of the first. I look forward to playing with these ones more — there is only so much time in the day!
Probably my favorite part of this set, is the Fast Retouch action, in the "Portrait Retouch" section — this includes 5 actions that load all together (and very quickly at that!), and allow you to simply paint in where you want each to show up (shown in the first video). In the grand scheme of things, this can save so much time! This is also something that can be batch applied via Bridge, before you ever even open the file up. The only thing, you'll have to click "continue" for each photo, so you can't just walk away. It's still likely faster than applying the sequence each time individually. For the amateur/enthusiast, these individual actions can also be applied separately, and basically walk you through (a simple) professional edit, with a couple swipes of your brush tool. And as it reminds you... less is more! Be subtle!
My overall thoughts? I think it's a pretty good set! Nothing bad to say. This can definitely help either an enthusiast with some basic photoshop knowledge, or the professional photographer who is looking to speed up their workflow — because at the end of the day, time is money!
Actions can be very personal, and as we each develop our own style, we'll notice ourselves using certain actions over and over and over again. Maybe those actions are purchased, maybe they're self-developed, or altered from purchased actions... maybe they're gathered from a number of different outlets. You're going to have to create your own set in a sense, and this can definitely be a great place to start, or add to your existing creation.
If you're interested to learn more about Sleeklens, or their other action sets, please visit them at: https://sleeklens.com/.
Thank you SleekLens!