Back in Action! (pun intended… ha… ha)

After a pretty long break from posting here or adding new actions to my Etsy shop, I’m back! Fall is a pretty crazy time of year for my photography business. But it’s finally settling down a bit around here and it’s time to play catch up! Last night I posted a new freebie on my Facebook page. It’s called Place Orbs. It’s a tiny portion of a new action that I released last night called Twilight Dream! I absolutely love this new action. It’s a bit outside of the box for me, because I usually create actions that are bright or light and airy. I gotta say… I was inspired by the obvious (need I say more? *cough* Twilight *cough*). I wanted the muted hues of nightfall and a feeling of being in a dream. Check out the before and after below:

Twilight DreamHere’s another of my faves using this action…

Twilight Dream

Finally, I want to present to you all my very FIRST video tutorial! I’m proud.. 🙂 Feel free to offer your comments and critique on the video! Without further ado….

PS… There was music (that I purchased the license to use through songfreedom.com) but it was removed by Youtube. 😦

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Fan Freebie #2: Sun Kissed Skin

  Here’s another freebie for you! This action works wonders for images taken in the shade which tends to give skin a grey-ish blue hue. Simply run this action and apply the effect (working with the layer mask) to your … Continue reading

Fan Freebie #1: Template Sampler Pack

Free Template Sampler Pack

Fan Freebie#1: Template Sampler Pack

This first Fan Freebie is a sampling of storyboards/ collages great for advertising or displaying your images on the web! Whether on Facebook or your blog, storyboards are a great way to show off your beautiful images.

This sampler contains a sample of each type of storyboard available in my Deluxe Storyboard Pack available on Etsy (coming very very soon!). In your Sampler Pack, you’ll find one storyboard with a white border, one without, and one with a logo area. And each template is compatible with both CS3-CS6 and Elements!

You’re welcome to use these storyboards anywhere you’d like online. You’re prohibited from reselling, redistributing, or claiming these storyboards as your own design.

If you are interested in purchasing the complete Deluxe Storyboard Pack, you can find it here: www.etsy.com/shop/chasingdaylightphoto.

You can download your free sampler pack by clicking here.

©Chasing Daylight Photography 2013

Make Your Images Pop with The Becoming Collection

The Becoming Collection: A tutorial to make your images POP! I absolutely love The Becoming Collection. And that’s not only because I created it, but because I use it on 100% of my own images during the editing process! I … Continue reading

The Becoming Collection is Coming in January 2013!

This collection is about your photography. Your look. Your style and your aesthetic appeal. The Becoming Collection is about your photography becoming your own beautiful creation.

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You’ll receive more than 75 actions that will provide you with the tools to fine tune your images as well as creative touches you can use to build your own artistic masterpiece!

You’ll get 22 color tint actions that can be combined or used alone and masked away from certain areas of your image.

16 haze actions are included for a touch of whimsy and softness.

11 Felt Finishes offer a lovely matte appearance to your images. Very nostalgic!

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24 Tools for basic editing and refining your images straight out of your camera.

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… and 6 fun Enhancements including Paint the Sky!

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Keep your eyes peeled in early January for the release of The Becoming Collection in my Etsy shop!

Clipping Masks: Tutorial + Free Download!

Clipping masks… one of the more advanced features of Photoshop. However, using clipping masks doesn’t have to be daunting! Actually, once you get the hang of it, creating clipping masks can be super easy! Not to mention, they open up so many possibilities within the realm of design! I’ll try to explain clipping masks by using screen shots. Then, I’ll show you how to use clipping masks to insert your images into a creative storyboard template I’ve designed. (And if you get to the end of this tutorial, you’ll find a link to download that template for free!)

 

A clipping mask is essentially a mask! Any layer can be converted into a clipping mask that takes on the shape and dimension of the layer directly beneath it. For example, if I create a shape in Photoshop, we’ll say a circle, a layer is created to represent that circle.

Then I can create a new layer that’s inserted directly on top of the circle layer by using the button circled in red below.

 

Next, I right click on the new layer and click on the option “Create Clipping Mask.”

 

 

You’ll know that you’ve done this correctly when you see the tiny arrow pointing from your new layer down toward the circle layer.

 

Next (with the new layer highlighted blue) I’ll place my image (File: Place.)

 

 

The image will be placed onto the new empty layer you created above the circle layer. However, since you’ve already created the clipping mask, only the portion of the image directly over the circle shape will be visible! In the screen shot below, you can see that my image is slightly more narrow than my circle shape. So, you can see small amounts of black on the sides around the image.

 

Because it’s too narrow, I need to resize the image. REMEMBER: When you resize an image, you need to do so without changing the proportion of the image! In other words, you don’t want to grab the side bar and only widen it, stretching the content of the image unnaturally. And if you grab a corner bar (see circled in red below) and pull, it’s really difficult to resize it proportionately. The trick is to hold down the SHIFT key while resizing from the corner. This will keep the image from stretching. After resizing the image while holding the SHIFT key, there should be no visible black or color from the circle (or whatever shape is used below the image.)

 

 

Finally, use the ENTER key to apply your adjustment and you have a perfectly masked image!

 

 

 

This can be a great tool to use when creating storyboards or showcasing your images in creative ways. For example, I created this storyboard to feature four images from one of my shoots.

 

I created a template (which you can download for free from a link at the end of this tutorial) with the clipping masks already in place. All that you need to know to insert your own images is how to place your images into the clipping mask layer and resize them (proportionately) to show within the available shape! Here’s a quick tutorial….

 

Open the Clothes Line Template (PSD file) in Photoshop. You’ll begin by placing your image into the clipping mask above the blue square…

 

 

With the “Place blue pic here” layer highlighted in blue, place your image (File: Place.) REMEMBER to hold down the SHIFT key as you resize your image. You’ll also have to move the image over and down so that it is directly over the square. Your entire image won’t be visible. So, make sure that the most important area of your image is visible within the shape of the square.

 

 

 

In this instance, the blue square is slightly tilted to the right. I like to tilt my image to the right as well so that it really looks like a hanging picture.

 

Press ENTER to apply the adjustment, and your image is placed! Repeat these steps for each of the remaining squares and clipping mask layers.

 

 

When you’ve completed these steps, you can Flatten your template (Right click the background layer and select Flatten) and save it as a JPEG to upload online or print! If you’d like a free download of the Clothes Line Template, click here. Thanks for reading!

Customizing Actions

Imagine… you’re excited to try out a new action you’ve purchased on your own image. You open the image, run the action, and… voila! Something seems wrong. You’re obviously disappointed! The action produced too much orange on your subjects face. Or your image is now too bright. It would seem that the purchase of your new action is a waste.

It definitely goes without saying that every image is unique in some way from the next, right? Some images are far more unique than others. One image may feature a large section of sky while another includes no sky at all. The way an action appears to effect one image can differ GREATLY from the way it seems to effect another image. Like the situation described above, this may seem to pose a problem for some when using purchased actions.

However, that’s really not the case! It is possible (and actually pretty easy) to make any action compliment almost any image! The pre-made actions I sell at my Etsy shop (Chasing Daylight Photoshop Actions) are what I refer to as non-destructive. In most of my actions, the original background layer (your unedited image), is left in tact and untouched even after the action has run. In addition, each adjustment layer remains separate and adjustable! This means that *most* of my actions are FULLY customizable! Which means, that you can easily make my actions fit almost any of your images.
When I say that you can customize “most” of my actions, there are a couple of black and white images that require the background copy to be converted to black and white. Any color action that I sell (as well as some black and white actions) is fully customizable.
To illustrate the customizing of an action you’ve purchased from me, I’m going to walk you through the customization of an action called Merry Go Round that I’ll be releasing soon in an Action Pack on Etsy. If you like the action you see here, check back at my shop in the coming days to see it for sale in the Carnival Keeper Action Pack!
Customizing an Action
There are 3 main ways that I customize an action if it doesn’t seem to work for a particular image.
1. Painting OFF an effect using layer masks.
2. Adjusting the opacity of adjustment layers.
3. Adjusting the opacity of a group (or entire action.)
Painting off the effects of layer will be the most complicated of the three. However, that’s not something that should scare you off! Once you get the hang of it, it’s SO simple! Below, you’ll see an image from one of my recent sessions unedited beside the same image edited with the action Merry Go Round and customized to better fit the image.
The action Merry Go Round can be applied without customization to many images; especially those without portions of sky or bright objects included. This image, however does include a very bright area of sky. See below what the image looked like directly after running the action without customization.
It’s definitely not working “as is!” But with a few easy steps, this action can work for this image. After running the action, the actions palette should appear as it does below.
The Dreamy Vintage Layer is the culprit causing the intense yellow cream in the sky here. Click on that layer to highlight it blue. You’ll want to also make sure to click on the white box so that it’s outlined. This white box is called the “layer mask.”
If you are working with a layer that doesn’t already have a layer mask, you can add one to any layer by selecting that layer (so that it’s highlighted blue) and clicking the rectangle button with a white circle in it at the bottom of your layers palette (shown below.)
Once you’ve highlighted the white layer mask, you’ll need to select the BRUSH tool.
In instances such as this, you’ll want to select a round brush with with 0% hardness and spacing between 15% and 20%.
Your brush opacity should be medium to high (50-75%) and the flow should be around 26%. These settings will allow you to reduce the effect gradually without creating obvious boundaries in the image. Using a harder brush with a high flow would be useful when doing precision work. In this case, we need to allow the effect to subtly fade from the subjects into the sky.
Finally, your brush color should be black.
Because we will be painting OFF the effect of the Dreamy Vintage layer, our layer mask is a white box in the layers palette. Therefore, we will be painting the areas on the image where we want to minimize the effect using the color black. Conversely, layer masks can also be inverted so that the white box becomes black. In such a case, you would use a white brush to paint the areas of the image where you want to APPLY the selected effect.
It’s pretty clear in this particular case where we want to minimize the Dreamy Vintage layer: the upper portion of the image featuring the sky.
Using your paintbrush, paint across the image where you’d like to minimize the effect. As you do so, you should see a change in the image. Instead of seeing black painted across your image, you should see a minimizing of the effect of the selected layer. (If you DO see black painted on your image, you’ve probably forgotten to highlight the layer mask!) If you find that painting over your image hasn’t reduced the effect enough, simply paint over it again until you reach the level you think best fits your image.
Your layer mask should reflect the painting you applied to your image. You’ll see the same brush strokes you applied to your image on the white box (layer mask) on the selected layer like I’ve shown below.
What I like most about this method of customizing an action is that I can reduce the intensity of an effect on one portion of my image (in this case, the sky) while leaving the effect untouched on the rest of the image! While the necessary adjustments to this image were applied to the sky, this method is especially useful if an effect is too strong on skin tones but looks great on the rest of the image. Keeping a believable skin tone is so important to me during the editing process. If an adjustment negatively impacts skin tones, simply add a layer mask to that adjustment layer and use a black brush to paint the effect off of the skin!
For this particular image, this was the only customization I chose to use. However, I want to include a two more methods. As I mentioned before, these two methods are much simpler than using layer masks. But they can literally make a world of a difference.
You can adjust the opacity of single adjustment layers. Select a layer in your layers palette (so that it’s highlighted blue.) Then adjust the opacity of that layer so that it compliments your image. You can do this to any or all of the layers individually. This is a great way to tweak an action to specifically fit your image. See below.
For a quicker fix that will adjust the effect of the action as a whole, you can increase or decrease the opacity of the entire action (rather than individual layers). Most of my actions feature a “Group” that’s labeled the name of the action. In this case, all of the adjustment layers are filed under one group labeled “Merry Go Round.” As you can see above and below, the group can be collapsed or expanded to show each layer. To adjust the opacity of the entire action (or group), collapse the group, select it, and then adjust the opacity! Easy as that.
So, dig into your action files and find those actions that you’ve given up on! Take a second look at them! You may find that with just a little tweaking, these actions can take on a whole new personality.
If you have any questions about this tutorial, I’m happy to answer them! And as always, I welcome any comments! Thanks for checking out this tutorial!

Tutorial: Sharpen your Images for Facebook (plus a free download!)

I absolutely love to have strikingly crisp images. And for a long time, I was so displeased with the way my images looked when posted for preview on Facebook! After a lot of trial and error and some research online, I came across a combination of settings that allow me to post sharp images online. Now, I know my clients aren’t seeing a bad representation of my work!

Here are the steps that I take…

1. With your final edited image saved, you are ready to prep the image for Facebook. First, under the Image menu, click Image Size.

 

2. With the boxes checked for Constrain Proportions & Resample Image, first input a Resolution of 72 (it’s important you do this first!) Then input a pixel Width of 960. Click OK.

 

3.Now that your image is the size needed to display properly on Facebook, you’ll need to sharpen it just a bit. From the Filter menu, hover over Sharpen, then from the sub menu click Unsharp Mask.

 

4. In the Unsharp Mask window, set your amount to 61%, your radius to 0.5 pixels, and your threshold to 0 levels. Click OK.

 

5. Your image is now ready for watermarking and/or uploading to Facebook! While this recipe of settings currently provides me with great results, Facebook isn’t always known for keeping things consistent! If their file compressing or image resolution settings change in the future, these settings may need to change as well. Hopefully, though, that won’t be the case any time soon! 🙂

 

If you try these steps out and are pleased with the results, feel free to click here for a free download of an action that will quickly run through the steps above and prep your images for Facebook in seconds! And please comment here or contact me with any questions! Thanks for reading!