I thought I would share with you some quick, free Photoshop actions that I have in my bag of tricks for photoediting and show you what a few of them can do with one photo.
Here's my unedited photo of sunrise on our last day at the beach last week:
The first action is from Addicted to Design. This is a sample of one of the variations of their free Lomo action:
I don't remember buying an action, but I also have their Velviator action, so I guess I did. This is the highest impact of the versions that come with that set:
Now, those two actions are great and all, but, as you can see, you get some very dramatic effects with them. Usually what I am looking for in an action is one that can just tweak some contrast and color so that I have pictures quickly fixed up for digital scrapbooking. This is where The Pioneer Woman's free actions simply rule. I often use one called Boost to just fix up a photo a smidge. Another couple of the many great actions in her sets are Fresh & Colorful:
and Lovely & Ethereal:
These are especially nice because you can run a couple of them and use different opacities and get just what you want.
If you want to learn more about Photoshop and what all it can do, try some tutorials instead. A couple of my favorites are this HDR tutorial, which gives real dramatic results and will teach you a few things in the process:
and this Dave Hill tutorial, which is not as impressive on scenery as it is on people*:
So, those are just a few of my tricks. I'm not telling which combination of these and/or other bits of knowledge of mine were used to get the results at the very top of the post. It's not that I'm holding anything back...it's just that I'm not sure what combination of actions and other tools I used to get there at this point. That's the way it goes with these things. You need to use everything at your disposal to get just what you want. That's kind of a good life lesson, actually.
*I don't recommend this on people over 30 or less than 80, by the way...not too flattering.