Monday, August 29, 2011

Action! {How I edit my pictures}

So I get emails pretty frequently asking how I edit my pictures. The number one question is something like this: "How do you get your pictures to look like they were taken in the 70s?"

So here's how.
Start with your camera by learning about the settings.  The following two pictures were taken within about two seconds of each other, and the only difference was that the first picture was on "cinematic mode" and the second was "portrait mode." The ISO, WB, aperture, and shutter speed all stayed the same (and for a good resource on what those things mean, check out {this post}).
And yet, obviously, the coloring on the second picture is WAY better. It's not due to editing, just camera work.

(Oh, and SOOC stands for "Straight out of camera," so if a picture is labeled SOOC, it means that I didn't edit it.)

For the most part, I edit in Lightroom and Photoshop and I only do three things in Photoshop: I crop/resize photos, I alter the brightness/contrast, and I apply "actions" to my photos.

I'm pretty good at editing photos if I want to spend the time and energy, but frankly I have better things to do (like diapers to change and blog posts to write) and I know that just adding an action will make the photo look like I want to.

An "action" is an automated edit for a photo.
Here are two examples:

In these I merely pushed the button with the action name and it edited the photo for me. You can go through and change settings in actions afterwards to fit the specific photo, but I didn't in these for the sake of example.

As far as editing things to look like they're 70s, I almost always use the Pioneer Woman Action Set 2 (which can be downloaded for free {here}) and they make my pictures look like this:

But I usually edit them so that the color overlay is only at 50%. (So essentially the picture has 50% of it's original coloring and 50% of the action color.)
Here's an example of that:

You can pay for actions like a Totally Rad Action Set or the BeautyFull Eye Candy Action Set
The first two pictures were edited with Eye Candy actions, which Travis bought me when they were on sale on year over Christmas. I LOVE them, but I'm not sure that I would pay 100$ for them when you can get so many free actions. (just google "Free Photoshop Actions")
I know that you can get actions for Lightroom as well, but I've never really worked with them.

The other thing that I do to all my photos is increase the Brightness and Contrast, like below.  

You find it here in Photoshop:

And I've had several people ask if I shoot in black and white or if I edit to BW, I always shoot in color and then edit, and here's why:

The first BW edit (top right) is essentially what it looks like when you take pictures in BW. It's more grey than BW and it's pretty... meh. Blah. Whatever.
But if you edit afterwards you can make your picture look much better and you can change things around... you're not stuck with that first crappy picture.

And for those of you who don't have Photoshop... I don't know how to help you.

Any other questions? Leave them in the comments.

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Brittany said...

This is going to make me sound sooo stupid, but I didn't realize you could change the intensity of actions. I've got the Pioneer Woman's actions, but I hardly ever use them because they seem so intense.


Off to go play with some pictures!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! I've loved how you edit your photos, I've been a fan of PW for years, she "taught" me how to use my PSE but I haven't gotten any new lessons. I just downloaded her actions thanks to you, so once again THANK YOU!!!

undomestic mama said...

Thank you! I have photoshop but don't do much photo editing in it yet. And I just got Lightroom and am so confused!

Krystle said...

I have didn't seem to work??? Am I totally clueless....I followed PW's instructions for downloading...and nadda showed up.

Becky Pitcher said...

I don't know how to help, my actions always show up! Have you checked the toolbar to make sure that your actions are showing? Do you have a Mac or PC?

Kristi said...

Awesome post, Becky! Thank you for putting this tutorial together!

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