Hi & welcome to my PS blog! This blog is for full PS although some steps will also work in PSE. Most actions, unless stated are not PSE compatiable. I do try to make an action for PSE from time to time. I hope you have fun here and learn some things along the way. If you have any questions, just drop me a comment! :O)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Action review ~ MCP Bag of Tricks...

Things have settled down a bit now and I have some time to post! Sorry for the absence! I have several posts already lined up and ready to post! I've actually had this specific action review in my to post folder for a couple months! *blushing*

When Jodi at MCP Actions first created this new set "Bag of Tricks", she did a giveaway on her blog! I actually WON! It was the first time I'd really ever won anything. I was very excited to win and win this particular set. It looked very promising to me and I couldn't wait to play!

Needless to say this set, I believe, is her best set yet!!! This is my go to action set when I need to correct problems and issues with my photos. This set is interactive and you can fine tune each one to your specific photo! That I love! I'm so impressed with this set that I will say that it is my favorite and most used set in my actions panel for cleaning up and correcting issues and problems in my photos. Here are a few examples of the actions I use from the set.

All wedding shots in this post were taken by me last year when I was 2nd shooting my very first wedding with my dear friend and awesome photographer, Amanda Ward...

Here is a shot Amanda was shooting and I shoot at another angle. These were taken with my Canon XSi {that I have since sold}. So there are some issues in the photos that needed to be fixed. I did shoot all of these in RAW and adjusted WB, expsoure etc in ACR then brought them into PS. So of course my MAJOR issue with this image in the color casts in her dress. One of my biggest pet peeves is color casts in whites! So that is the first thing I will address...

So I ran "Color Safe Bleach"! This is one of my FAVORITES in this set! It's SO easy to run. It will prompt you to click on three areas on the photo {or little black box} where you want the whites white! And this is what the result was...

Not bad huh for for clicking a couple spots on the image huh? It also removed the color cast in her white flower in her hair, in his white shirt & the chairs. If you have very light areas in the skin the color can be pulled them as well and that area of the skin can go grey. So on higher key images you may need to mask the skin back in...

My other issue was that I felt her dress had lost some detail that I wanted to retain! It wasn't badly blown but I did want to try to get a little more detail. So I ran "Magic Recovery" and lowered the opacity to I think about 30%.

Here is the before and after. As you can see I was able to get a little bit more detail in her dress without making the whites gray, dull and dark...

Here is a group shot that Amanda was taking & I shot from a different angle as she was shooting! Everything is fine in the image in the aspect of WB, expsoure, color etc! But it needs a pick me up, a little pop to make it stand out and show the excitement of the wedding party...

And here is the after. Below the photo I stated which of the actions from the set that I ran. Masking was of course a factor in editing this image to a clean color image...

And here is a side by side. You can see that the edit is clean, not over done but just enough to give the image some life!

This was the building where the wedding was held. This shot was more just for me. The building was backlit, so the sky is completely blown. Which normally doesn't bother me in the slightest and I would take this shot to a fun, funky creative edit. But for the purpose of the possibilty of a wedding album etc, I decided to see what this set could do to transform this image into something the bride might possibly want!

I will be honest and say that I did forget to write down every single action run. Sad considering i did this with the thoughts of the action review! But I have a pretty good memory of what I did run although I may possibly leave something out!

I started with "Magic Dynamic Range" which balanced out the the bright and dark areas of the building! Then I ran "Magic Midtone Lifter" & "Magical Color Finder Vivid". I tweaked and did any masking required! Then I ran "Fake Blue Sky Illusion" and tweaked the color and opacity slightly! Then I ran "Magical Contrast" & "Magical Clarity"! And I do believe that is all I ran on this image!

And the side by side for comparision...

And on of my VERY.FAVORITE actions in this set that is a LIFESAVER and completes me heart is..."Reflected Color Cast Vanisher"! This one action is worth $99 all on it's own! I took this shot last year on a photography gathering with the awesome girls from 2Peas! As you can see, this beautiful model is leaning up against a great cyan wall! The drawback is that she has a reflected color cast on the left side of her face from the wall. MCP to the rescue! I will usually paint with a brush opacity of about 30% to get a cleaner result!

And here it is after I ran the action, did some tweaking on the color of the skintone in the action and masked the areas of the color cast!

Here in the side by side you can really see the difference and how clean the result is! This action gets 10 thumbs up from me!

So those are the basic actions I use in this set when I need to correct issues in my photos! Here is the list of my most used from the set...

*Magic Recovery ~ at lower opacity and sometimes masking of the skin is necessary

*Magic Dynamic Range ~ for a clean bump in your dynamic range use a low opacity and for a fun artistic look use a higher opacity

*Magical Color Finder Brush Vivid ~ I rarely ever push color. It's just not my style. I prefer a much more muted softer tonal range. But when I need to push some color in specific areas of my photos, this action works great. Paint with a low brush opacity and I usually lower the opacity of the folder as well!

*Reflected Color Cast Vanisher ~ my FAV of the set hands down! It's UTTER.PERFECTION and worth the cost of the entire set!

*Color Safe Bleach ~ This is my second FAV of the set! It's clean, easy to use and REALLY.GOOD!

*Bleach Pen ~ a great little tool when you need to just whiten a small area of an image without needing to customize it to your photo. It runs with a black layer mask, paint white with a VERY low brush opacity and VIOLA...you have your own personal bleach pen

*Shiny Skin Vanisher ~ I have only used a couple times because I rarely need it. But when I have used it I've been very happy with it!

Actions in the set that I think are GREAT but I don't personally use are...

*Studio White Bright & Studio Black drop ~ I don't shoot backdrop at all! But I did play with a couple images from other photographers and I can tell you that these two actions are AMAZING for white & black back drops!

*Magic See Saw ~ I shoot RAW so I adjust my WB in in ACR. But for jpeg shooters or for a tweak in WB once already in PS, this is a great action! You do need to have knowledge of the color wheel and color correcting. But all the layers are there for you to turn on and adjust opacity and mask where needed!

*Magic Color Finder Brush Intense ~ for those who love to push rich darker colors. This will make you happy! Just keep your brush opacity low when painting and watch for neon OOG colors!

*Orange & Blue Skin Vanisher ~ I don't ever need and use but have tried and are a great tool to have in your panel

*Sunburn Vanisher ~ I've only tried once and thought it worked great. I do think however that you need to watch your opacity with this action and allow a little sunburn to show through to keep it natual looking!

So all in all I LOVE this set! I have many of Jodi's actions. To me, this is her VERY.BEST set for correcting problem areas or enhancing areas of your images! It is my go to action for this reason and gives wonderful results! The price point on this set is right on the money and now that I have it, I'd pay more for it if I had to!

I hope you enjoyed the review and it helped you understand the set more and answer any questions you may have had in regards to it!


get an eyefull of this... September 8, 2010 at 11:34 AM  

WOW, thanks. I have this set and have had it for awhile and I am still at a loss as to how to use everything properly. Now I will just give it a whirl...my favorite is what you did on the wedding dress. Amazing!!

amymom24 September 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM  

Thanks for this very helpful review, Crystal! I have this set and enjoy seeing other ways people use it. Thank you!

Brunilda Monnig September 10, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

I whole heartedly agree. I use that action set in each and every photo. My most used of the set is dinamic range, magic light. For whites the color safe bleach.

Susan September 11, 2010 at 4:31 AM  

great review, I hadn't considered these before but am going to really think about it now!


Anna February 21, 2011 at 11:21 PM  

OMG this is sooo cool...it's amazing what actions can do. Thanks for the before/afters! It's awesome!

momaziggy February 22, 2011 at 8:27 AM  

I'm so glad the review has been helpful! It's such a great set and I highly recommend it! :)

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About my PS Blog

Hi, my name is Crystal and I am addicted to Photoshop. I have PSCS4 and it's my other half. I love photography, but sometimes I think it's a means to edit!

So I thought it would be fun to have a place to post the free action sets I record, tips and tricks that I learn in PS and tuts for various different types of photo editing.

I hope you enjoy and find my PS blog helpful and if you have any questions, leave me a comment with your questions and your email address and I will get back to you!

Happy editing!

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I am a stay at home to 2 great girls. My older daughter Haylee just started middle school and my younger daughter Avyree is in 1st grade! I have been married 11 years to my hubs Eric. I got my first DSLR June 31, 2008 and have been hooked ever since! My style is primarily Lifestyle! I like to take a natural and real life approach to my images! I want them to remind me of WHO my girls were when they were little, not just what they looked like. I love to edit and my editing style is always evolving and changing! I like variety and photography is a means to edit! I shoot Canon (full frame) and almost only primes. I pull out my wide angle zoom from time to time! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you like our story...
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