As part of my workflow I favour using Adobe Photoshop CC for editing my images. It’s a matter of personal preference which package people use but I’ve stuck with the one that I have known best over the years and made it work for me.
When I bring my images into Photoshop there are certain things I want to do to every single image. Some of those things for example resizing the image to the preferred standard size for sending to the agency will involve repeating the same process over and over for each image that I choose to edit. If you can imagine editing 50 photos that would mean that 50 times I would have to go into the menu, image > image size and then type in a height or width then hit ok. That doesn’t sound like a hugely long winded process but when time is of the essence and my laptop is precariously balanced on a makeshift table of camera bags I don’t want to have to go through those steps time after time. That’s where Photoshop actions come in.
Basically actions are the Photoshop versions of macros which you can record and bind to a single key to instruct Photoshop to carry out a set of instructions. Using the image size example I can hit the record button, go through the process of resize once, hit stop and then I have a fully recorded action where the next time I want to resize I just have to press a button on the keyboard to do so. No opening menus, no entering numbers, no hitting ok. Just press the button once and done. It’s an incredible efficient way of editing which reduces the time spent navigating Photoshop and cuts out the possibility of user made errors.
So what exactly am I doing with actions? Well I have a few setup on the F keys.
My primary editing process involves resizing, adding a touch of sharpening and then a contrast boost using the levels tool. I’ve got two actions for this, one to resize images for vertical orientation and the other for horizontal.
When working in low light or indoors I sometimes like the option to use noise reduction. I favour Google Nik Collection Dfine 2 for the job so I have a button setup for that.
A new addition recently is a ‘save as’ macro. I set this one up ahead of every shoot so that I point the save function to the correct output folder. The macro also closes the file once it has saved. Last season I was getting myself bogged down into trying to click on folders and select the right output file type etc which wasted way too much time. This new action allows me to hit one button to deposit the finished jpeg file into the correct folder for Photo Mechanic to see it ready for captioning and upload.
The objective here is really to boost the productivity of the workflow. When working with a high volume of images, where time is critical, Photoshop actions prove their worth as an asset. I’d highly recommend anyone using Photoshop as part of their post production workflow take a closer look into using actions and how they could potentially speed up the output of their images.