I’ve had Photoshop ever since I got my Mac Book Pro but I still couldn’t figure out how Pro produced photos had that extra polished look. But lately I’ve stumbled upon…ACTIONS!

Actions in PS are a series of commands and/or tool operations that you can save and then play back later to edit photos for desired effects. Actions run the gamut from simple color “pops” to heavy artsy applications, like making a photo look for ex., like an old vintage painting. You can make your own actions or you can download them, sometimes for a fee. Using actions can save loads of post-processing time, so it’s a useful function to take advantage of. If you are making actions on your own I figure you know how to open and manuipulate the action as needed so feel free to stop reading here. If you have resorted to downloading them and don’t know what the heck to do now, continue on!

We’ll there’s really not that many more steps to add. So I assume you’ve downloaded them and “saved to disk”. Open up PS and make sure the Actions Menu is visible. If it’s not, go to Windows –> and check the “Actions” option. Once the menu pops up click on the triangle on the right side of menu and select “Load actions”. Select your action and press the play button on the bottom of the menu. The action will then run through the commands and may prompt you to carry out simple operations. Then voila! You have your edited picture. Now, this isn’t completely goof proof but the actions usually will save the photo in layers and you can fiddle with the layers to get the look you want.

Now for some examples! Check out Naomi “before”:


And using Nichole Van’s Color Pop action, check out Naomi “after”:


Here is an example of a photo edited to have a “lomo” style look.

Elliot’s Deli, a few blocks away from my house “before”:

Elliott's Dairy

And Elliot’s “after”:

Elliot's -2

Of course there are tons of options out there… Just google it or you can check out these sites for some action examples that have caught my eye.

Nichole Van Actions
Lara Jade Actions
ATN Central Free! I like the Midnight Sepia…
(Edit: Here’s another visit worthy site – Itty Bitty Actions)

So there you go! ATN Central is sooo 1995 in terms of site layout but it has a few good (and free!) options to start with. You can also browse flickr for great action examples. It’s a fun option to play with ;)