There are loads of generous people out there who love to share their expertise and offer actions and presets for free download. If you use a popular software such as Apple Aperture, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom, just do a web search and you will find hundreds of options. Many are free and many you will have to pay a fee for, although it’s usually not much.
Once correctly loaded into your software – just follow the instructions or see the relevant software website if you have never done it before – you can achieve some wonderful (and some less wonderful) effects at the click of the mouse. You can then tweak and fine-tune from there. Be warned, some freebie downloads are nothing special or work better with one type of image better than others. You do need to experiment and search around. With actions and presets you don’t like, learn how to dump them rather than have them cluttering up your software’s interface. If you find a gem or two, go back from where you downloaded them and make a comment or even make a donation.
Variety Pack Actions .3 using the 0.3-3 setting – there is a total of five settings to choose from. See http://bit.ly/iWbtF4.
Lomo Green, one of the Lightroom 3 presets free from Eric Kim. See http://on.fb.me/9f7cM3 for the free download.
A gritty black & white approach using Photoshop Color Actions 2 and the Professional BW Grain option. See http://bit.ly/7gmhMN.
This action is called Cross processing by JennyW – the C41-E6 option was used here. There are several with this action. Available from http://bit.ly/1RJRhM.
It is easy enough to create your own actions if you prefer. There are loads out there available for free. Just download the action onto your computer and then load them into your software. Above is a screenshot from Photoshop CS4.
Done with the Polaroid Generator action with the Time Zero expired wide format setting. See http://bit.ly/l8sVoI for the download.
Taken from the August 2011 issue of Advanced Photographer magazine