Wednesday, March 2, 2011

'Light & Lens' Actions

The 'Light and Lens' set of actions is a mixed bag of tricks. It has both 'one click' actions and a few 'paint on' interactive actions. The most popular effects and styles that you admire in photography today has been converted into very easy to use high quality actions. These effects cover a large area of application...from weddings, portraits, fashion and lifestyle. This is a must have action set for any photographer to give their images an edge....with just a click of a button!

Tilt/Shift Portrait:

This 'one click' action simulates the effect of a portrait taken with a tilt shift lens. It only works with image in portrait(vertical) orientation. The intensity is easily adjustable with the help of opacity. Take a look at another example.

You can make these tilt/shift portrait even more dramatic by using a color and tone effect. Below we used the 'Cross Faded' action after the tilt/shift portrait.

Grunge n' Shine:

This by far, is the most popular look among photographers today on the internet. Many readers have asked me how to get the effects after reading this case study. The 'Grunge n' Shine' action deals with the same kind of post processing with just a single click! It creates fully customizable layers for fine tuning. The details are amazing and with any halo you would get from a traditional high pass filter.

Here is another example.

and the details.

With special studio lighting discussed in the post here, along with fashion portrait retouching action from 'Pro Photoshop Actions' retouching workflow section, you can create really amazing images with smooth and shiny skin texture. 

Grunge Portrait Desat:

The 'Grunge Portrait Desat' action is based on the same grunge technique you see above. This action brings out details in portraits that you never thought existed. This action is best for portraits of 'real' people and mainly old men with wrinkles and gray hair. This action amplifies the dark and bright details, and can be easily and individually toned down. Take a look at the details below from a not so sharp street shot.

Grunge Portrait Gold:

This action is similar to the above but has a muted gold tint in the midtones. This when applied on the right subject(unlike the man in a white t-shirt above) will give a feel of a Renaissance Painting. The grunge details can be toned down to use it on women and children.

Grunge Portrait Cyan:

The 'Grunge Portrait Cyan' action gets you very close to the look similar to Jill Greenberg and many advertising photographers discussed here. It works best on well lit subjects on white ore neutral color background. Along with the grunge layers, there is a vignette included which can be toned down to taste. Did I mention its all 'one click'? 

Dynamic HDR:

The 'Dynamic HDR' action is very easy to use and requires two images of the same scene in one stop over and under exposure. All you have to do is open both the files, select the overexposed image layer and paste it in the file of underexposed image over the under exposed layer with with simple copy paste commands. Then hit play to run the action, and you get a perfect blend in a new file called HDR Blend. You can fine tune the blend with help of opacity. Chances are, you won't have to. They have been perfectly calculated and luminosity masked to give you the best exposure. It gives much better result with Photoshops merge to HDR with just two images. You can also use two raw conversions of the same image. Another extreme example below.


This is an HDR simulation that works on a single image. This is a single click action with fairly good results on any image.

Exposure Compensation:

This is a very useful action that works very well with images with brigt highlights and dark shadows. It compensates for light with 1.5 stops in the shadows and highlights separately to give a more balanced exposure.

Hazy Flare:

The 'Hazy Flare' is a very cool interactive action that helps you add a flare of light in your image. You can choose the size and position of the flare in real time. You can also go back at any time to change it by just double clicking on the concerned adjustment layer. The instructions in the action are very simple.I find this works best with the 'Morning Glory' tone action. Take a look at the process below.

You can add as many flares you like. The effect looks realistic if there is a natural bright spot in the image. It would be better to merge the layers before applying the action again.

Rays of Light:

Another cool special effects action to add rays of light emerging from the brightest light source in the image. This is an interactive and easy action. All you need to do is decide the length of the rays, and position them to the center point of approximately where you want them to emerge from.

Just like the 'Hazy Flare' action, this action looks very nice when combined with 'Morning Glory' effect as you can see in the afters of the above images. It  also looks really cool when the bright areas a selectively hidden by dark areas, like the trees below.

Overpower the Sun:

This action like the name says, simulates the look of overpowering the sun with a strong flash light. This is a very cool look in outdoor fashion photography. This is a paint on action that requires just a few casual strokes. This action works only on two kind of outdoor images. First, the image has to be shot with the model facing the evening/morning sun so she is lit properly like in the image above. 

The second type of image should be lit with a flash to at least balance the light with the sun. You can use any off camera flash for this. In the image below, the sun was to the right of the model, and  a Vivitar 285HV  bare flash on left of the model at 1/2 power to fill in all the shadows. After running the action you can overpower the sun digitally.

Rainbow Overlay:

The 'Rainbow Overlay' is a very easy one click action that creates an overlay of multiple colors on your image. You can change the color position at any time like in the image below and also experiment with opacity and different blend modes for a lot more variations.

Selective Focus:

This is a very simple interactive action used a lot for wedding photography. There are two versions of this action that you can choose. Radial blur like the above image and zoom blur like the one below.

Sleek Cyan:

This action is a mild version of 'Grunge Portrait Cyan' above and has a wider application. There is cyan in shadow areas of this effect. This action is very useful to kill the magenta toned digital look and replace selective ares with cyan to give a feel of a color transparency.

This action has a soft grunge effect that makes the details really stand out in the scene.


This action is the grunge effect that you see that is infused with other actions above. You can add details with this action on any image. The bright and dark details are seperated for ultimate control.

Here is another example...

...and the details.



This action adds shine to the highlights of the image. This technique has been used in the 'Grunge n' Shine' action above. Now you have a choice to use it without the grunge.

Shadow Pop:

The 'Shadow Pop' is a very useful tool to bring an image to life. It adds contrast only in the deep shadows of the image and doesn't affect the highlight at all. The result is really crisp image. The Shadow Pop 2 has a slightly stronger effect.

Another example:

Color Pop:

This quick fix action takes an image from Standard def to High def in terms of color fidelity.


This action desaturates the image using a special curve and blend mode to evenly desaturate all colors of the image.

Saturation Mask:

This action creates a high and low saturation mask for your image.With the high saturation mask you can tone up the saturation of only dull colored areas of the image. Like in the image above the blue ball is the only high saturated area in the image. In the first conversion we increase the saturation of dull areas to match the color intensity of the ball with the help of High Sat mask. Similarly, in the next image, we desaturate the blue ball to match the rest of the image with the help of Low saturation mask.

Green Saturation Mask:

Specially designed for landscapes, with this action you can control the greens of the image which is otherwise difficult to choose with selective color in Photoshop.

Blue Saturation Mask:

Specially designed for landscapes, with this action you can control the blues of the image which is otherwise difficult to choose with selective color in Photoshop.

Dreamy Glow:

Adds a soft glow to the highlights of the image.

Vibrant Glow:

Adds glow and a touch of color boost to the images. Works well with images of brides.

Lens Baby:

This action defocuses the edges of the image similar to a lens baby.

Fill Flash:

This action adds fill light to the shadows of the image.

Fill Silver Reflector:

This action fills up the shadows of the entire image with a giant silver reflector adding natural light to the scene. You can control the intensity with the opacity slider.


A useful action to add vignette in your images.

Faded Edges:

This action fades the edges of your image like an old picture.

Film Grain:

Add realistic film grain to your images with this action. The intensity can be controlled to your like.

You can purchase the complete set of 'Pro Photoshop Actions' right here.

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