Actions - 4th year
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This page is basically for me, to backup, document and remember what I learnt, but it may be useful to you too!

In addition to my actions I am now using more external programs to help me process my images.  I've already mentioned the fantastic NeatImage, FocusMagic, CurveMeister and PTlens but for my latest project I am a fan of EnfuseGUI, which you can download here

When I take photos of churches (my current long term project) I take 3 exposures (normally -2ev, 0 & +2v) and use to layer them together and paint on masks to bring out the detail, but now I let EnfuseGUI do most of the work.  Sometimes I will still layer the exposures to emphasise different areas.  An alternative product, but it requires fiddling with the levels, is Qtpfsgui (or Luminance HDR) which can include a image alignment step (via Hugin) - but I think it is quicker to use CombineZ to align images that are the odd pixel out.

I also tend to take panorama shots, still bracketed, if I want more detail and I find AutoStitch program much easier and quicker to use than Hugin.  So this image consists of 22 exposures, which I Enfuse, in blocks of 3 exposures, and then AutoStitch them together.  You can then play with projections using this amazing Panini program which is a mathematical rule for constructing perspective images - named after the work done in 1754!

Isn't it fantastic what one can now do with digital that was absolutely impossible with film. 

To display these large images, I use a free version of MagicTouch embedded within the free JAlbum program, which I've automated with this wee program (if you want a copy that will work for you, then drop me a line).

Perhaps, more importantly, I've added some actions as a result of my 16th C project. I'm self-taught, so it may be a load of rubbish, but in order to manipulate images to steer the viewer's eye into the scene I think there are two areas that need careful adjustment, over and above the 'standard' post-processing steps (and of course they should never be inter-twingled):-

Grey scale tones, both overall for composition and in specific areas to add emphasis - remembering that we can fool the viewer depending on the surrounding tones

5 stop Tones - this shows you the overall tonal range, removing all detail.  You can then alter the balance of the image to form a more 'leading' composition.
B&W copy view - this allows you to view a B&W version of the image as you curve the coloured one.  I find colour quite distracting while I'm trying to emphasise bits of the image, but this way I get the best of both worlds.

Colour hues to differentiate and add impact to the image by colour tricks/illusions

Munsell Hue - this is a very crude attempt to alter the spread of colours to better reflect our perceptually uniform view of them.  This is just the first step in adding 'contrast separation' to the colours in the same way that we add contrast to grey scale tones and one can then build on this layer in various ways.  This is completely different from the Man from Mars idea.  So far I think this is only applicable to outdoor scenes.

If you are not comfortable with the comments I made on my second year page - forget this lot! - as there is little explanation.  As before click on a heading to download an action set, or click on the action name to see the steps of the action (in a new window).  I've changed the comments to usage rather than technical detail (which you will mostly find in year 3).

note only Inspect (5 Stop Tone, B&W copy view), Levels (PTlens & colour casts), Colour (Man from Mars & Munsell Hue) & Contrast (option added to Local Auto-Levels to copy back set to original image) have changed from year 3.  Post-processing is now much easier by having two monitors (even though the 2nd one is not calibrated and is a cast off from my son!).


1 Inspect & Analyse

1/3rd Grid lines

Simple Composition checker

See Difference

See how things have changed

Show RGB CH > Grey

Help with Channel blending - looking from mid-grey

See 11 channels

Can help on rare occasions if not using CurveMeister



5 Stop Tones

Overall tonal composition - then select L channel
B&W copy view

Critical for luminosity enhancing



Capture current image

Make Diff Layer

Great for re-adjusting after last set of changes

Better D&Burn

Quickie Light & Dark curve layers

Rgb>Lab (flat New W)


Lab>rgb (flat same W)


50% Grey



2 Levels+ColourCast


Quickie for standard 1st steps


CurveMeister - F2


RGB>Lab L channel

RGB tones to Lab

+1 EV Printer

Monitor>printer adjustment

Colour cast - CM

PPW Reminder

Clone Lens Glare



Does AutoLevels on each channel in a new layer - quickie!

Cross ColorCast > New W

Let Lab take the strain


3 Contrast


ch ContrastSharpen

Dan Margulis - Select the channel with best contrast – usually Green.

B&W Contrast

Subtle B&W contrast action

B&W <> grey

Even more B&W control to feather edges

Luminosity Curve


Channel Diffs

RGB Difference masks

Channel Lum Blend

PPW Apply Image on a channel

Local Auto-Levels


1px to 100px

A must do for most images, 1-7 for detail, 25-100 for overall

S/H plugin 36-16-10

PPW CS2 simulation of Conservative Shadow/Highlight for PS7


-- Light & Shadow

Sh/Hi cmd 22%

Controllable Shadow/Hilight

Harsh Sun/Shadows

Dan Margulis action using Luminosity

Severe Shadow/HiLight

Crude, but does not produce halos

LightenShadow ~O

PPW Dan Margulis action - Inverted Overlay layer of the selected channel

DarkenHiLights ~O


4 Colour

LabSat -new window

Standard Lab saturation with selectable mask

LabMultiply -new window

Use to increase weight overall, or in the lighter half of the image, while intensifying colours with 2 selections offered for Mask


Lab equivalents of above



PPW A Dan Margulis suggestion

Mist Blur

Adds a rich glow to images - better after a Local Contrast layer

=ise ManFromMars

Equalise on selections (Dan's improvement of my idea!)

=rgb ManFromMars

A mad idea, but can work

** Munsell Hue **

Starter for 10 to contrast colours



Normally best of this set

Improve Weak Sky

A Dan Margulis suggestion, red channel.

Sky Colour by Mask

A Dan Margulis suggestion

Enhance Dull Vegetation

A Dan Margulis suggestion, which normally works, but may alter other colours, so inspect carefully and follow the instructions!

Sky Select b ch

Suck & see

Sky Select rgb

Sky Selection Diff

Chromatic Aberration

Attempts to remove colour fringing


5 Sharpening

Midtone 20-40%

quick Contrast to the mid-tones


Modified the above action-  allows further lighten/darken adjustment



High Radius Low Amount – try 50>100:40>65

HIRALOAM sharpen

USM 500:1+50:20

Quite strong – it will need a mask and lower opacity

USM 500-1+50-20

PostCard Sharp

PPW - Dan Margulis action

PostCard Sharp

my USM dark+light

My sharpening action - excellent at halo & threshold control.
Set Threshold = 0 in USM dialog.


Halo control with 2 layers set to Lighten and Darken blends

KmaskUSM .7-1.5

A Dan Margulis action, adjust the Unsharp Mask between 0.7 and 1.5 pixels

-           Fraser..

(needs CBsActions subroutines)

Sharpening 6meg

Suggested sharpening for 6meg images + content

Sharpening 4meg

Suggested sharpening for 4meg images + content

Depth Sharpening

Use Mask to simulate depth of field

Texture Sharpen

Brings out detail in flat surfaces

High Pass Sharpen

Different approach – using High Pass with a Hard Light blend



Adaptive Equalisation

Finds fantastic detail

Orton Blur

Refined Orton

Emphasis after Selection

Adds a slight darkening to edge of image.
Select the main area first on an image layer.

Pop postcard

Quick Dan Margulis idea to ‘pop’ a well exposed image

Replace Sky Notes

In case I forget!  


Useful Screen, Max, Min & Multiply masks on RGB channels



Blown HiLight (skin)

Uses Lab impossible colours to add colour back into blown highlights

Skin Enhance > Lab

A Dan Margulis action, which enhances the skin colour, but may muck up other colours so a mask and opacity change will probably be required

Skin Enh pt1 (G ch)

Slightly improves the skin tones

Skin Enh pt2 > newW

Enhances the shin colour


Changing Profiles to help skin colours

Smooth Skin

quite effective


could be useful


Jacobs Ladder

 - there is a page describing this technique


See LAB chs Auto

Run this first to see which Channel to use as the Controlling channel.  It will create a new window showing the 3 Lab channels side by side as they will be used in the following 'Auto By..' actions.  Delete this image when you have inspected it.  

Auto By Lch

These 3 actions will create the Layers using either the L, a or b channel to control the adjustments.  They will give you the option of blurring the channel, which may be necessary for a or b, to get a smooth transition of colour.  The actions include an AutoLevels adjustment on the controlling channel to make sure the entire width of the curve dialog is useable.  If you do not like the result, then use the 'Manual By' actions.  

Auto By A ch

Auto By B ch


This action will convert the Lab image back to RGB for you.


Flat Curve

This creates a grouped Curve adjustment Layer and sets all the 3 channel curves as horizontal lines.  

Manual By Lch

These actions allow you to curve the appropriate channel, rather than have AutoLevels applied - useful for some images.  Note it uses some actions from my standard set (CBactions) which must therefore be present.  

Manual By A ch

Manual By B ch


Creates a controlling layer at 80% opacity


Auto all 3 chs

This action creates 3 sets of adjustment layers in case you need different controlling channels.  Rus uses this, but being simple minded I tend to just play with one adjustment at a time.  Note this must be started when the image is already in Lab mode.


These actions are present in case you want an addition Jacob layers based on the adjustments you have made so far - so the image will already be in Lab mode



Lch to ALL

Use this action if you want a different sort of controlling image (perhaps from RGB space) - place your chosen image into the L channel before running it.  You will then need to add the Flat curve and Zoom layers.



 - general subroutines


Creates a layer of the visible image so far – used everywhere


Used by all the Local Auto-Levels actions

sub Ch Contrast / Sharpening

Used by the ContrastSharpen action

sub Ch Hi/Sh to Blur

Used by the 3 Hilight/Shadow actions


Fraser – preSharpen layer


Fraser – basic action for the Sharpening 4/6meg images

iDRange+/-1 no Flatten

Not a subroutine – kept to remind one how to merge multiple exposure images

iDRange+/-2 no flatten

Date this page was last changed:-  02/11/2011