Here at Shutter Pulse we aim to make our Photoshop actions versatile and useful for a wide range of photos. But no Photoshop action will look perfect on every photo. Each photo is unique, so to get the best results for the specific photo that you are working with you want need or want to customize or tweak the action in some way. Really, Photoshop actions are just starting points. They can help you to save a great deal of time, but they are not one-size-fits-all. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can customize Photoshop actions to suit the needs of your photos.
Let’s start with our HDR Photoshop actions, one of our most popular sets of actions. This set includes actions to create HDR-inspired effects of different strengths, but sometimes you may want to customize the effect to best suit your photo. Here is an example.
Here is a sample photo that we will be applying an HDR action to.
After running the “HDR – Moderate” action it looks like the image below.
The shadows have been lightened and the overall vibrance is stronger, but I would like to tone down the effect a little. The first way to do this is to simply decrease the opacity of the group of layers created by the action. This will reduce the strength of the overall effect of the action evenly. To do this, find the group/folder in the layers palette and change the opacity from 100% to something lower.
Reducing the opacity of the group/folder to 50% will decrease the strength of the effect, but it still lightens the shadows and increases the vibrance, just not as much as when the opacity is set to 100%. You can see the photo below to see how it looks at 50%.
You can apply this concept with any of our actions to reduce the strength.
While reducing the opacity of the group/folder can help to decrease the strength of the effect evenly, there will be times when you want to reduce the strength of a particular aspect of the effect without impacting other aspects. To do this you can work with the individual layers and adjustment layers created by the action. With our example photo I may want to eliminate the sharpening applied by the HDR action without changing the other adjustments. To do this I can click on the eye icon next to the “Unsharp Mask” to hide the sharpening.
Another example would be if I want to make changes to the shadow and highlight settings used to create the HDR effect. To edit these settings double click where it says “Shadows/Highlights” in the layers palette and you will be able to adjust the settings used.
The last thing we can do to edit this HDR action is to tweak the settings of the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. To do that, select the “Brightness/Contrast” adjustment layer and view the properties. From here you can change the settings of the adjustment layer. You can do the same thing with the other adjustment layers created by our actions.
Let’s take a look at another example with a different sample photo and a different action. Here is the before version of the sample photo we will be using.
I’ll run the Glory Days action from our set of Vintage Photoshop Actions – Vol. 3 and the result is shown below.
If I’m not totally happy with the result I can open the group/folder created by the action and hide any of the adjustment layers or edit the settings.
The process is pretty much the same with any of our actions, although the details will of course vary from one action to the next. We’ve created our actions to be as flexible and adjustable as possible, so if you are not 100% happy with the results of an action remember that you can always make some tweaks to get it to suit the needs of the specific photo you are using.
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