Elizabeth Halford »

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Are you disappointed with presets & actions you’ve downloaded?

I’ve gotten emails before about people wondering why Lightroom/ACR presets or Photoshop actions aren’t ‘working’ for their photos the way they anticipated. They have seen photos on my website, from friends or the example images shown when purchasing and can’t understand why they’re not getting the same results. There are a few really basic things to consider if you’re experiencing buyer’s remorse:

  • Look at the images used as examples when buying. Were they taken outside? Then your indoor flash photos won’t get the same results. The results might still be spectacular, but not exactly the same.
  • If you’ve seen a B&A, was the ‘before’ already a near-perfectly exposed image? Presets & actions need a well exposed image to start with.
  • Check with the maker if they were created to work best with jpegs or raw.
  • Presets and actions are very rarely a one-click deal. Every image is different and so these great little plug-ins for your photo editing software are just a foundation for editing.
  • After running an action, go into the layers palette and tweak the resulting layers. Mask bits out and fiddle with opacities.
  • After running a preset in LR or ACR, take a look at the sliders and educate yourself on what the preset has done to your image and change things to customize your result.

Actions & presets are an excellent (for me, must-have) tool to help you edit your images. I just think the most important thing to know is that they’re not meant to be one-click solutions for your photos but a springboard for your own creativity!

  • http://www.jeannetteherronphotography.com Jeannette Herron

    So true, love me some actions!!

  • Johannah

    Thank you so much Elizabeth for helping me =) And the blog is very helpful =) Thanks again =)

  • http://charlotteinkennesaw-charlottesweb.blogspot.com/ charlotte wilson


    You are right on about the actions and presets being a tool that you have to really practice, practice and experiment. When I first looked at the Flora Bella before and after photos using her textures, I thought that I had it made; all I would have to do is lay on this texture and it would look great. Not true. It is good to have some tutorials and there are a lot of generous souls out there, like you, who offer help and support.

  • Yolanda Frost

    Hi Elizabeth
    I just discovered your amazing blog today, so please forgive me if there is a better place for me to post this question. I am starting out on my exciting journey of being a professional photographer and all the help in this blog has been so inspirational.
    At the moment my biggest pain is my monitor/editing setup. I can feel my eyes are getting so tired as I am doing the editing on my 15inch laptop. Can you perhaps discuss this, and your workflow in some detail. I find I spend about 8 hours on 20 images! Way too long I know. My monitor is currently calibrated, but the light where I work is just so terrible. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards
    Yolanda Frost

  • Anonymous

    Hi Yolanda! I’m sure my readers will have wonderful advice for you please post this question in my discussions tab on my facebook page –> facebook.com/ehphoto everyone there is super helpful.

    I started my business on a 10″ macbook and know what you mean. I currently edit on a 24″ screen which is infinitely better for my eyes but if you don’t have that option, try not editing last thing at night, wearing glasses if you need them and not editing in the pitch black if it presents a problem for you. As for quickening your workflow, I found that using Lightroom did the trick but also learning not to be overly picky about every single image and being brutal about whittling it down to the best of the best to focus on in my editing workflow. But again…post these topics in my discussions panel and you’ll get other points of view on your topics.