Friday, September 2, 2011

How to Take Your Own Photos: Part II

For a great intro into basic, portrait taking tips, click HERE for our previous Village discussion.

Okay, now let's talk Photoshop.  Last time I got some great questions about photo editing.  We all know the pros do it, and great post-process editing sprinkles that little bit of magic on your photos to take them from good to holy-cow-phenominal.  The most common feedback I get from friends without Photoshop is, "it's too expensive."  Granted there is free photo editing software out there.  Gimp.  Picasa.  They're all good for basic edits, (I would try out one of them before paying for licensed software) but I still like Photoshop best.  It's the cream of the crop.  Love it for all-purpose editing.

There are two types of Photoshop:

  • Photoshop CS series (most recent is CS5) which is the full-on, everything included, beefed up version of Photoshop that has everything a professional photographer would ever want to use (relatively speaking) to edit the most minor details.
  • Photoshop Elements (most recent edition is Elements 9) is a slimmed down version of the CS series. It still has absolutely everything an amateur photographer would need.  It's wonderful.  I recommend it.  You can get Elements 7 on Ebay for about $45.

Moving on.

The most common question I get from people WITH Photoshop is, "I have it, but I don't even know where to start."  Touche, my friends.  There are A LOT of bells and whistles in Photoshop.  Here's a breakdown for my basic, home-photo edits.  It's two steps.  Seriously.

EXPOSURE:  If you have stinkin' amazing equipment and perfect models that sit still, maybe you can get perfect shots with perfect exposures, but if you're like me and shoot in AUTO a lot of the time (because I'm chasing toddlers around with my camera) your camera will make mistakes now and then.  You can fix exposure somewhat in Photoshop.  Go to Image>Adjustments>Exposure and fiddle with the bars.

ACTIONS:  These save my life.  Not even kidding.  They are so fast.  So convenient.  So amazing.  Actions are pre-recorded edits.  Tens, hundreds, thousands of repetitive edits can be saved in "Actions."  You just hit the play button, and Photoshop runs every step in the Action automatically.  Awesome!  You can make your own, but I recommend downloading other people's Actions.  Here's a good little video to wet your feet in...(click HERE to go straight to youtube).

My absolute favorite action creator is MCP Actions.  Jodi Friedman, creator, put together all these Action products that are absolutely jaw-dropping awesome.  A good selection of them are free too.

Here's a picture I took of my boy just this morning.  He had his cereal bowl on the floor, because eating at the table is SO YESTERDAY, MOM.  *eye roll* Toddlers, seriously.  Anyway, I ran a quick Action on it (MCP Mini Fusion Set is FREE from the MCP action site, click HERE to download).

That's it.  One click Action.  So easy.  Just what a busy mother needs.

MCP also has Actions you can pay for.  They're SO worth it.  To date, I've never taken my kids to a studio to have their monthly milestone pictures taken.  I take them all myself and do my own edits.  Saves so much money, and I actually get around to DOING milestone pictures.  Never would, if I had to leave the house.  I'm that lazy.

My favorite Action set from MCP is their Fusion Mix (not to be confused with the free MINI fusion set).  It is absolutely phenomenal.   A little pricey, but totally worth every penny it in my mind.  These pictures took all of 5 minutes to edit.  Time saving is HUGE for me, especially with the bulk of pictures I take.

So, I'm totally curious.  How many of our awesome readers edit their photos using some sort of software (both free and licensed)?  Have you heard of editing via Actions before?  If you have a favorite website to download actions from, PLEASE SHARE!  (There are a lot of them out there.)  During our last discussion, one of our readers suggested the The Coffee Shop for a great set of free actions.  And as always, if you have any questions, shoot us a comment!  I or any of our fabulous readers will make sure to answer them!



Along Abbey Road said...

Wow, where has this post been all my life? I don't understand Photoshop for my life! This is awesome.

Along Abbey Road
Sprightly So

Alyssa Harper said...

Photoshop is a hard one to dive into. Glad to help. Thanks for stopping by!