Reverse Montage Action

I created this Action Set to produce a Reverse Montage. In simple terms, the background layer is duplicated and then the Duplicate layer is either flipped vertically or horizontally, or it is rotated. I’ve created separate actions for each of these types.

One of the actions was used to convert this close-up shot of a Ferrari F430


to a much more abstract-looking image like this:


I’ve worked with two separate techniques for creating these montages, one is based on the Opacity of the layers and the other is based on a Multiply Blend Mode. In many images, the two techniques are hard to discern, but in most images the techniques produce markedly different results. One may routinely work better for you, and personally I prefer the Multiply method in general.

To create the final image, it is often desirable to select the Duplicate layer and use the Move tool to adjust where the images should overlap. Then crop the image to the size and shape that is most appropriate for that image.

These actions are not intended to provide a completed image, but create all of the layers necessary to complete the effect. They simply eliminate all of the repetitive functions with approximate adjustments that can be fine tuned for individual images.

You can download the 6 separate actions as a single Action Set. Instructions for loading the Action Set are pretty simple. If you don’t understand mine, there are numerous other references on the Internet.

The actions are developed and tested on Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Mac, but they should function with most versions of Photoshop CS and Elements. If you have any difficulty, please drop me a comment here.

My Photography

For the last several years I have been concentrating on becoming a better photographer. Not particularly in the technical aspects of photography, like exposure, depth of field, focus and choice of shutter speed, but in the more abstract concepts of photography, such as composition and evoking an emotional reaction from people.

That is really what got me started making actions to create more artistic interpretations of my photographs. After attending the Freeman Patterson and André Gallant Workshop where I learned some new techniques, like panning and multiples, my photography has changed significantly. Much more of my photographs are created with the intention of applying some techniques that make the image more abstract, or at least less representational. Freeman helped me tremendously with my technique on choosing and shooting multiples, where 9, 10 or 16 frames are all stacked on top of each other to create a sense of motion. And André helped me learn how to pan, convincing me to buy a neutral density filter to make the panning much easier. It was also André who helped me develop the Photoshop techniques that I would eventually turn into a series of actions.

As I studied more of the montage techniques, I developed an entire series of actions. After distributing those to a few close friends and acquaintances, I got additional feedback that helped me to refine many of the actions.

I am always open to new techniques and methods. Feel free to contact me through this blog to give me feedback about improvements that could be made to these actions, or new techniques that I could add to the collection.

Import – Export Photoshop Actions

mgs_10Photoshop actions are a very powerful tool for automating repetitive tasks in Photoshop and they are simple to import and export.  For instance the technique that I learned from Dan Margulis to apply a L*a*b color boost to a photograph.  It is simple, produces beautiful color without a luminance shift, and is a standard adjustment that is blended by layer opacity.  So all of the work except for the final opacity adjustment is the same every time you used the technique.

An action can be used to duplicate the image, convert the image to the L*a*b color space, increase the slope of the A and B channels, copy the image, paste it as a new layer in the original image and adjust the opacity of that layer to ~50%.  With the action, all of these steps are condensed down to a 2 button clicks, one to select the action and one to run the action.


I have created a number of actions to make tedious processes less cumbersome, they can be found in the right panel under Actions.  Some of these tools work better under previous versions of Photoshop, for instance I have run into occasional issues with the Multiple Exposure actions under CS5 that I cannot explain because I cannot consistently reproduce them.  My best advice is, if it doesn’t run the first time properly, try reopening the images and running action again.

Installing Actions

I also wrote up a quick PDF on how to import or export actions in Photoshop, but there are also numerous tutorials on the web.  Do a search for “Import Photoshop Action” and there will be plenty of videos and tutorials from which to choose.