Joe McNally has been an idol of mine since I started learning how to light photographs. His books, like “The Moment it Clicks,” “The Hotshoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes,” and his blog were early resources that I used to learn lighting. Later I had the opportunity to see Joe and David Hobby on the Flash Bus Tour, when I purchased Joe’s The Language of Light DVD set.
While I tend more toward the manual “Strobist” approach, I have been trying to get enough Canon branded flashes to do some of the high-speed sync that Joe has demonstrated.
David Hobby is a local(ish) photographer in my area whom I find to be extremely talented. Having read his Strobist site, subscribed to his blog and watched his “Lighting in Layers” DVD series, I learned a great deal about working with small hotshoe flashes.
I very much enjoyed the Flash Bus Tour that he did along with Joe McNally.
Photoshop 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.
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.