Monday, May 19

truth or truth

I am a semi-curious person by nature. I ask a lot of questions. Mostly because I'm a fan of learning. So I'm going to start mini surveys in the sidebar from time to time. This new segment will be called "Truth or Truth," dubbed after a game my sisters invented on a roadtrip when they ran out of daring options in their confined vehicle.

So, here we go. My first question deals with Photoshop Actions. Nicole can attest that when I first discovered Actions, I was flabbergasted. I learned that I had perhaps been attempting to photographically accomplish the un-accomplishable---as far as effects are concerned. Especially for an amateur like me. That is, un-accomplishable unless you use a fancy Action that will upgrade your photo from drab to fab in a matter of seconds, as I witnessed with my own eyeballs. It was amazing. Nicole can also attest that my jaw hit the floor.

Though it's been a little of a moral dilemma for me (because a. I can be dramatic, and b. I'm surprisingly old-fashioned), I've come to realize that maybe I'm the only one not using Photoshop to my advantage, and that I need to get on the Actions train. You know, live a little. Have some fun. That's what technology is for, silly.

Here's question number one: Whether or not you create your own or if you have purchased someone else's, do you use Actions to get your photos looking the way you want them to?

Remember, it's just for the sake of curiosity. And fun. Truth or truth. Answer the question in the sidebar. And share some thoughts below.


erica said...

i am not a photographer, nor do i purchase photograph prints, but i would not have a problem with Actions.

photography is not inherently truthful, honest, or the invisible medium of the photographer's intentions. historically, however that has been its great promise. as barthes noted mid-century, its first-level codelessness naturalizes the second-level coding of the photograph. the culturally constructed connotations that we understand as photographic meaning are the product of various photographic techniques and technologies.

aren't we in a post-directorial age, anyway? is loretta lux less 'honest' than cindy sherman or ansel adams or lewis hine or margaret cameron? all photographs are 'constructions' of 'reality', including personal snapshots and photojournalist images.

whether or not you use Actions or any other type of manipulation/ intervention, it is worth questioning what the relationship of the photographer/ practitioner to the medium/machine is or can be.

just a few thoughts from a girl who just finished teaching a course on the history of photography....

Hannah said...

I don't use actions very often with my photos, but I do occasionally. I really like Pioneer Woman's action set.

life with the wisners said...

i am a semi professional. whatever that means. and yes, i use actions. they are a girl's best friend.

it is the photographer behind the lens, however, that makes the photo. the photo has to be good to start with before you can make it pop.

love, love, love your site.

allison said...

I am not a huge fan of actions, unless they are used sparingly, and tastefully. I think a lot of photographers just stick an action on every image and it ends up "masking" what the original image was.

(I personally don't use em') - but I'm not entirely against them. I just think they are overused...

allison said...

and ali, I'm old fashioned too :)

I think photoshop is a wonderful tool , I do. I just don't like images that are doctored to the max. I'm done now, sorry.

laceyJ. said...

Finally! I've been waiting for you to address this topic on your blog, just to see what your wonderful readers have to say.

I'll admit- it's been a moral decision for me too, as I don't want to "sell out" on my original photo.

However, I have to say- it's all about the initial exposure. If you have a bad image to begin with, no action is going to mask that. So! Skillz are still important in getting the best image possible.

I only use (my own) actions if I'm repeatedly doing the same steps in each and every photo that has the same exposure... it helps cut down on wasted time.

.caroline armelle. said...

i'm curious about this too. i think i was there when we all learned about actions that day... and i remember coming away a little upset.. i felt a little deceived too.
i still haven't used actions, but i did purchase my first set to try it out and see what all the fuss is about.
download pioneer womans action set, because, #1 they are pretty good, and #2 they are free.
i do however like actions so far because they do save time.. and if you are editing a million pictures it is nice to save time.
but, i am going to try to create my own actions to get the look more my look... whatever that is.

eRiCa said...

I am photographer and I try and get the picture that I want SOOC (straight out of camera). I prefer a natural looking photograph, however, I will do what my clients want me to do.

Usually the only thing I use in photoshop on each picture is a defog and a color adjustment (if the exposure was off a bit). Defog just takes away the fuzziness that comes shooting digital as opposed to film.

Anyway, I know about actions but rarely use them unless I'm trying to get a certain effect for a client.

Actions that allow you batch process your photos are killer...they save a ton of time. I will also admit to using photoshop on certain pictures where blemishes are present or things of that nature.

Looking forward to all the responses.

ps as Caroline said the pioneer woman has some actions. My problem with most actions you can buy and not create yourself (you just record what you do in ps) is that then everyone's pictures will all look the same...where's the fun in that?

alyson. said...

what a great topic! and I love truth or truth already.

I have in the past used actions... but maybe I haven't found a great one or maybe I just don't like the way that the pictures ultimately look "fake" but I do not use actions.

with my SLR I shoot in RAW so that I'm able to adjust the exposure and the blacks in the Photoshop RAW editor if needed. and that's usually all that I adjust. unless for some reason the picture is really off in temp or tint, then I'll adjust that too.

so, I agree with Lacey's comment above... it's all about getting the right exposure the first time, so that all you need to do is minor adjustments!

nicole hill said...

actions can be the greatest -WHEN YOU CREATE YOUR OWN.

the problem with using someone else's is that they've made them according to the specifications of the image they used to create them. be weary of their own photoshop knowledge because your image (by using their actions) might have crunched shadows and blown out highlights.

i suggest to everyone to take a photoshop class, and learn to make their own so THEY have the control.

Monica said...

I am not a photographer like a lot of these wonderful ladies above, but do try to dabble with my pictures in photoshop. Ever sine my sis taught me about actions, and recently downloaded pioneer woman's free action set (i have been too cheap to buy actions as of yet), I have been taken back a little bit. Using someone else's actions feels like cheating to me!! Photography has been my creative outlet lately and when I use someone else's actions I feel I am not being my OWN creative self! And I totally agree that actions in photoshop cannot make a "so-so" picture to look wonderful. It ends up looking way to fake looking in my opinion. Photoshop to me is one of those good things that can be taken too far! I have decided I need to take a good photoshop and photography class so I can start making my OWN actions for my OWN pictures, so I can by my OWN creative self!

Thanks for the post! It's great to hear what others say about this subject!

Elizabeth said...

I have no problem with adjusting photos if needed (usually adding a little light or something), but I am totally unfamiliar with Actions and want to know more. What kinds of things do you do? I am going to try it out. Perhaps I'll report back!

ambika said...

I'm still such a photoshop newbie that I hadn't even heard of these. I'll have to take a look when I get home.

My plan is at some point to get a basic tutorial from a graphic designer friend. Until then, I'm very much self-taught.

threelittlebirds said...

I agree with Nicole... actions work when you can create your own or you have enough knowledge in photoshop to know how to tweak the action to fit the specifications for your photograph. I rarely use actions because I love having total control over the outcome of my photograph. I love the editing process!

That being said... actions can be a wonderful learning tool for those who are trying to figure out photoshop on their own. After finding some actions you like, try disecting them to figure out what steps the creator of the action used to get the look you love. You can learn all sorts of wonderful things, and it will help you learn your way around photoshop much quicker :)

Also, something to think about... many masters in film photography (I'm thinking specifically of Ansel Adams) were masters at manipulating their pictures in the dark room to yeild their desired results. Ansel could spend up to 20+ hours on one single image. Sometimes I think we spend so much time wondering if we are being true to the image when instead we should be wondering if we are being true to ourselves. All forms of art can be beautiful. If you love the natural less photoshop look then be true to that. If you love lots of saturated color then by all means do it. Just remember to do what makes you happy reguardless of the trends we see.

Sorry for the hit on something that I am constantly thinking about!

Jessie said...

Wow. I never ever ever thought of actions as being dishonest. I really am seeing them in a whole new light... but I still feel very honest using them. I adore them, actually. They let me do quick changes to photos instead of spending hours on them, thus leaving me more time to spend with my adorable husband.

Robin said...

I voted "no" because I don't have Photoshop, but lately I have adjusted a few photos using Picnik (it's free)...just exposure a little bit and sharpness, etc.

love.boxes said...

I don't have photoshop.. but I do edit my photos. I think the edit can make a photo more true.. the way the photog really saw it.. as opposed to the way it turned out.

Carly said...

...and to think...this whole time I thought that I was the only one who played 'truth or truth.'

a home far away said...

Anything that helps my photos to look better is a help:-) I better lk into this...

Hugs from Singapore

Dansie Family said...

i'm way to amateur for something that complex. plus i don't know if photoshop elements even has that option. i'll have to look into it.

lane said...

I don't know much about photoshop. But I'm an expert on truth or truth. I'm glad to see you've adopted it for real issues other than divulging crushes, embarrassing moments, misdemeanors, etc.

P.S. said...

Hey Ali,
I am a friend of Holly and Lori. Your post is so funny to me because I was just having the same dilemma. Holly and I just got back from Costa Rica and I just posted some pics that I played around with.
I also did an intership with Jonathan Canlas and was taught the beauty of unmanipulated images.
Intersted in what people have to say about this...
Thanks for raising the debate!

babelfish said...

Photoshop is a powerful piece of software, and learning is never ending. Currently I play with attributes as required, but I'm sure on a massive scale 'Actions' will become useful and time-saving. Great topic, love this 'Truth or Truth' idea.