Free Photoshop Actions

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Photoshop actions are a great way to quickly edit your photos to achieve the effect you want, and to also fix common issues with your images. They’re basically macros that are developed for Photoshop which, with a click of the mouse, will run through a series of adjustment steps for you, without you having to process each step individually.

While I don’t recommend using actions without understanding the underlying concepts of the adjustments you’re performing, they are handy, and fun, and kind of addictive. You can even write your own actions, the technique of which I’ll write about in a future entry. Lots of companies offer packages of Photoshop actions for a range of prices – I’ve found a few places that offer free actions; or offer small, free “sample” packages of select actions from the full sets available for purchase.

I’ve found these sites to be safe and reliable, but as a disclaimer I advise that you ensure the site you’re downloading any data from is secure and virus-free, before you download anything to your computer.

Pioneer Woman Photography has developed a couple of sets of actions that apply interesting effects to your image, as well as adjust common issues. Effects actions include “seventies”, “heartland”, and “soft & faded”. Adjustment actions include “boost”, “slight lighten” and “dim the lights”. Here’s an example of some of the actions, applied to one of my own photos.

Original photo: a cowboy at the Cody Nite Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming.

This is the “Vintage” action:

This is the “B&W Beauty” action:

This is the “Lovely and Ethereal” action:

I also love Pioneer Woman’s “Start All Over!” action, which backs out all of the adjustments just performed to the image and returns it to its original state. That’s a great ability to have when you’re trying to figure out which action works best with the image you’re editing.

Totally Rad Actions offers terriffic packages of actions and filters. The original package of 46 actions costs $149.00, the second release of 57 actions costs $159.00, and the new package of 21 custom texture overlays costs $149.00. Discounts are offered if you purchase more than one package. However, if you’re not ready to buy the full packages, TRA offers a sample package for free. You are requested to provide some basic information, and in exchange you are e-mailed download instructions to receive eight free actions. You’re added to TRA’s e-mail mailing list, which I’ve never found to be intrusive – they send occasional updates about new products or goodies.

Here’s an example of some of the actions, applied to one of my own photos.

Original – A river along the eastern entrance road in Yellowstone National Park.

This is the “In-Faux-Red (B&W)” Action:

This is the “Troy” Action:

This is the “Super Fun Happy” Action:

One other thing to note – you can run multiple actions on the same photo to achieve the desired outcome.

Smashing Magazine has collected a long, long list of free photoshop actions and links to their sources.

Here’s an example of some of the actions, applied to one of my own photos.

Original: A stream near Aspen, Colorado

This is the “Contrast 1″ action from Photoshop Postwork Actions:

This is the “Retro Blues” action from Rather Large Set of Actions:

Enjoy playing around with all of these goodies, and feel free to share your results in the comments!

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  • deirna