For years I have edited photo after photo, one by one, often doing almost the exact same thangs to each one over and over. It is mind-numbing and tedious after a while. I often wished there was an easier way... Enter: Photoshop Actions. Actions are basically pre-set sequences to apply to photos. They existed back when I was wishing they did, I just didn't have enough PS knowledge to know better. Now that I know, they have made the whole editing process much more enjoyable for me. Anyone can create an action, and I have made a few ridiculously simple ones myself, but it takes someone with much better Photoshop skills than I have to create more complicated (an much cooler) actions. There are such wizards out there, who have created PS actions for just about any photo effect you can think of, and they sell them, or if they are really generous, offer them for free.
I have been having so much fun using the Pioneer Woman's Photoshop action sets. I love the Pioneer Woman and her photography (I read her blog literally every day!), and I love Totally Rad Actions. Well the two got together and created a couple of great sets, which are easy to download and use.
Here is what they can do:
This is a shot I took in Key West at the Hemingway House in March 2007, SOOC (straight-out-of-camera):
And here it is with some of the PW actions applied to it.
She also has actions in there to slightly lighten or sharpen a photo, to flatten it, to make it warmer or cooler or "dim the lights", selectively sharpen or play up someones eyes. Speaking of eyes, I love just about of these for portraits- they come out really cool.
Keep clickin'! :)