First and foremost, I have to say I am no expert in the world of photography and editing. When all is said and done, I actually don’t know squat. Okay, maybe I know a little bit, enough to understand the basics of both photography and editing, but compared to others in the field? Yeah, they’d probably think, ‘that girl doesn’t know jack.’

That’s why I love Actions so much. First of all, I’ll admit it, I’m lazy. Why go through all the steps when a click of a button will do that? This theory of mine goes way back to my WordPerfect days when I would create macros to do what we needed to do in our team. We’re talkin’ twenty years ago, so you can understand where I’m coming from when I say I have the urge to always simplify my process. :)

So I’ve used Photoshop Actions for a few years now and recently bought MCP Actions Lightroom Presets too.

Love ’em.

Don’t know what I’d do without them.

Can make your photo look awesome with just the click of a button.

But while I could go through and look at what it did . . . um . . . too lazy . . .and why? lol

However, recently I took Erin Cobb’s Clean Color class. Bought it when Karen Russell posted about it being half off (I hope you guys were able to ake advantage of it!). Could not resist the opportunity to grow my skills. After all, ‘grow’ is my ‘one little word’ for the year. I looove looking at Karen’s photos. They look dreamy and beautiful. I want perfect lighting like that in my house. ;)

All I have to say is: loved the class.

For some reason, that editing process resonated with me. I still have yet to go through some of the classes, so I can’t compare the general editing process. But I loved everything she shared. The whys and wherefores. It just totally gave me a better understanding as to what is really going on with some of those Actions and why you would do certain things. Of course, while she simplified only two steps of her process into an Action, I have to say I’d want to put the whole thing into an Action and tweak as needed. ;)

I’m still watching and rewatching the video though. Which is another thing I loved about it. You download it to your hard drive. It’s in my iTunes, so with File Sharing between my computer and devices, I can watch it on my iPad (while it’s on my hard drive). Love that.

As with most things, you can’t retain it all the first time.

So here’s a few things I like when shooting and editing and some favorite things I learned from Erin . . . and maybe even a little bit of the whys. ;)

Shooting RAW vs. JPG

First, I have to say, that I love shooting in RAW. And, if I have the space (I really need a bigger CF card), I much prefer to shoot RAW+JPG so that I can easily share the JPG because most people I know don’t have PS to handle viewing the RAW image. The best way I can explain the difference between the two is to put your two hands out and look at your fingers sticking straight out. Imagine each one contains information about the photo you took–the pinkie has the contrast, the ring finger has the white balance, your middle finger has the exposure and so on. When you shoot in RAW, all of those components are saved in that file individually so when you want to edit it, you’re more or less only editing that one piece of it. Now take your two hands and clasp them together–interlocking your fingers. When saving it as a JPG, all that information is now connected and the file is saved at the best guess that your camera has when assessing the photo. You don’t have as much flexibility to alter the separate components of the information saved in the file. The quality of your photo will decrease more if you are editing a JPG vs. a RAW. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to look bad, but the more you make changes to the JPG, the more the quality will change.

So that’s my philosophy on RAW and JPG. What I found fascinating was that Erin says she shoots in JPG. I just assumed that any ‘professional’ photographer always shot in RAW, so I thought that was pretty interesting. And, in fact, in one example she mentions that she can’t fully recover some of the information of the photo (I think it was blown out) because she’d only shot it in JPG. But in RAW, that information is there and you can recover it much easier.

Another thing to note, because your camera is not assessing ‘the best info’ to compress into a JPG when shooting RAW, your image won’t look as enhanced, which is fine because you’re most likely to edit it anyway.

So, food for thought there.

Using Actions vs. Erin’s Process

Like I said, I love editing a photo at the click of a button. However, I loved going through the process of what Erin did. Totally helped me to understand the whys and wherefores of what’s often going on in the Action process. I thought I’d compare Maggie Holmes’ Simple Color Boost action with going through the basics of Erin’s process, and while I didn’t necessarily notice too much of a considerable difference, there was some–particularly with the skin tone. Which is another thing Erin taught–how to get a good skin tone. Love that little nugget of info.

So I thought I’d try it out on some engagement photos I recently took of my nephew and fiance. I don’t know if it’s that much of a difference, however, one thing I see is that I was able to get a truer representation in color with Erin’s process. The Action seems to have more red in it, as can be most notably seen in the face and the color of the jacket.

Of course, this was my very first attempt at the process, so who knows where I will go from here with perfecting it.

The other thing is, because I’d only brought one card and because they had multiple outfits which meant lots more photos, I switched to just shooting in JPG somewhere along the way so that I could make sure I had room. Rarely do I do this, but it was necessary at the time. Like I say, I need a bigger card. ;)

Using the Liquify Tool

This was one of my favorite things I learned in Erin’s class. I know, it probably seems silly to get excited about that. I have always tried to use the Clone tool to modify things, doesn’t always work. But if you notice her booty in the original, I think through a combination of things, it bunched a little funny. So I used the Liquify tool to push it in slightly at the top where his hand in and bring it out slightly at the bottom part of the dress that shows.

The original original was actually more blown out than this one I’m sharing. But using Camera RAW (works with PS), I took the exposure down 1.35 so that I’d have a better base to start with.

And then I had to add my vintage twist to this. I used Seventies (26% Opacity) and Soft & Faded (45% Opacity) from The Pioneer Woman. These are free Actions. Gotta love it when two of my favorite words are found together–free and actions. ;) She also has a Burn action to go around the edges, but in this instance I used one from Totally Rad Actions. More favorite actions, but not free. These were actually the first actions I ever owned. Love ’em.

A Couple More Action Examples

Here’s a couple that I shared on Facebook. And, gosh darn it, I can’t remember what I did on the one of them between the trains! But I love it. I usually write down what Actions I use or I’ll save the PSD file with the layer combination. But I think in order for me to use the Fresh+Colorful action from The Pioneer Woman, I had to flatten it…so then I lost the layers of what I’d done. Urgh. One day I’ll spend more time on it to see if I can’t recreate it.

So there’s a lesson . . . always write it down . . . right away!

(This one I used the same process as the train one above.)

Okay then. That’s the photo lesson for today. :)