One email question I get asked quite a bit is about using actions. Do I use them? Which ones do I like? Etc.
I do use actions. I have a few different ones that I use quite a bit. I use actions to make my editing time less...not to "fix" any single image. Using actions can be a very powerful editing tool if you know how to use them properly. Every action I use I know how to do manually by myself...so I fully understand what the action is doing and how to use them to enhance an image. It is also necessary to understand how the action can be manipulated and changed once it is done running on an image. Most actions (at least the really good ones) can be customized and you can go in and change the opacity of the different layers. This is critical knowledge to using actions properly.
On the image above the only actions used were skin softening lowered to 16% opacity and a web resize action. Everything else was done using curves, hue and saturation layers, etc. I used the dodge tool to lighten the white background and the unsharp mask to sharpen for web.
Once I have my final edit done on the image...that is usually when I have some fun with actions! I used my favorite black and white action for the photo above.
It is a free action that you can download HERE
"Bitchin' Black and White" is the name of the action...and I think the name says it all. I love it.
"Totally Rad Actions" has some great stuff! I haven't splurged and bought the full sets...just yet. But I plan to.
I absolutely love MCP actions. Jodi has incredible customer service and her video tutorials are some of the best I have seen. She has some amazing online classes that help you learn to use photoshop. I highly recommend learning how to use the essential tools of photoshop before investing too much money in actions. They are an amazing tool when editing...but it is so important to understand what they do.
With that being said...I LOVE using actions and feel like they are worth purchasing!