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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Photoshop Actions, Overlays, and Textures for under Twenty-five Dollars

I keep seeing all these wonderful online ads about textures and lately, Photoshop Actions and Overlays that you can purchase and apply to your photographs to turn them into works of art. Due to cookies and other forms of internet magic, these ads keep following me around, teasing me and tempting me! The results shown in these ads look absolutely beautiful and the products seem like they'd be fun to learn. Until I see the price tag, that is. These products may or may not make my photos beautiful, but one thing for sure, they can be prohibitively expensive. So I want some certainty before I buy.

I belong to a really great (and also free) online photographers' community called YouPIC. Some of the effects achieved by the products in these ads look similar to the photographic results I sometimes see on YouPIC - soft touches, magical lighting, and lovely texture that make the photograph appear more as a scene in a movie or a Fine-Art painting. For an example of what I am talking about, see Ralph Kloppenborg's profile page on YouPIC. (Ralph is one of my absolute and unabashedly favorite Fine-Arts and Conceptual photographers at that site. And there are many others.)

I always think, "Gosh, I wish I knew how they did that."

Well for all I know, they may capture the image that way in the camera - or they may somewhat enhance the image in "post-processing." I'm still learning how to capture acceptable images in the camera so my images tend to need a lot of post-processing! ;) So last week I embarked on a web search of Photoshop actions and overlays and textures. I found some beautiful ones albeit at high prices - again not really something you want to invest in unless you're sure you're going to use it. So finally I entered "Photoshop actions under $25" into the Google search box, and up popped! Did you know there are loads of actions and effects on Etsy that you can buy for anywhere from $2.00 to way-up-there? Some of these products are for Photoshop, some for Photoshop Elements, and some are for both (actually I think some may be for Lightroom as well). At any rate, you not only need to check that the product will work with your software of choice but also that it will work with your version of that software, before you make the purchase. I looked through almost all the products on Etsy very carefully and read about the photographers who created them before I bought a few to play with ... just so I could learn.

I may be wrong, but I've concluded that the really high-end packages that are advertised on Facebook and Google Ads are likely being marketed to other professional photographers, hence the higher price tags? But on Etsy, there are long-time professional photographers who sell at much lower prices. Good enough for me to learn from! Anyway, for an example of some these Photoshop actions in action, see below:

A photo of Opie with both QueenofHarts' Basic Clean and Richer Rich sequences applied. (The nice thing is that you have control over the actions through the layer panel and the history panel as well as with the actions panel, so you can" dial back, hide, or turn off " changes if you don't like everything the actions do to your photo.)
Same photo of Opie but without the actions applied, for purposes of comparison.
Well, I think I had some very nice beginner's luck with this photo of Opie. However learning how and when to use these actions is a topic probably best covered in a separate blog post, so stay tuned ... :)

In closing, I just wanted to pass along some of my favorite Etsy shops that sell Photoshop Actions.

I should add that I also looked up tutorials on how to achieve similar effects in my photographs and that turned out to be an education as well. I found some tutorials that were not only very helpful but also free! :D But I guess those also will be a topic for a different post. :)

Until then, happy shutter-bugging!


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