Recently I was sent a set of PS Actions for evaluation. They were sent free on the basis that I would try them and write a review. I’ve had the opportunity to try most if not all of the many options that they offer. First I should point out that the use of actions does not sit particularly comfortably with my normal way of working; I don’t even create my own presets and tend to process each image ‘longhand’ and from scratch. From the start, the install is straightforward
as one might expect; I was even supplied with a YouTube video to assist though not required. Looking at the actions panel, the majority of the actions have short self explanatory names. I always appreciate such touches as I’m never at ease if I have to refer to the documentation to see what they contribute.
The list of actions is extensive Exposure, Contrast, Temperature, Saturation, Toning, some special effects and actions for exporting to web at preset or custom sizes. In many instances a helpful tip box pops up to remind you that the effect can be modified by changes to the opacity of the layer.
In truth all the actions work well and in both predictable and controllable fashion and would seem to be a useful set of tools for many photographers. For my own particular purposes I would have three reservations about their usefulness for me.
- In some instances, for example the web export, the same result can be achieved with the normal File ->Export and in a similar number of clicks.
- Many of the actions can be duplicated by the use of a conventional adjustment layer – I’m not sure why I might use an action to adjust exposure or contrast when I could use an adjustment layer as easily.
- Many of the more striking actions produce a look which doesn’t really suit my style. Even though they can be moderated by adjusting opacity, some still lack subtlety and produce colours which I find odd.
On the positive side I found some of the actions to be of interest, notably the Dull day, Dark dreams and Sky enhancer were able to provide a measure of ‘rescue’ for less satisfactory images especially those made in flat lighting conditions. I did struggle with the suggestion that the sky enhancer could be brushed in – in my view a better result was achieved by using a gradient fill on the layer mask. The actions are well constructed and well presented and I’d be sure that they would offer useful tools for many photographers. I’d be surprised if I made use of more than a couple in my own workflow however.