One of my biggest discoveries in my photographic journey was Photoshop Actions, specifically the Totally Rad action sets, which are widely popular among portrait photographers worldwide (to learn more about actions you can check it this awesome video from the Totally Rad guys). After I´ve downloaded their free, demo actions I quickly developed a hunger to have everything they ever made and of course I needed to be the first ones to have Rad Lab, their spankin new tool when it came out a few weeks ago. I used to experiment a LOT with their color changing actions and I was using a lot of their modern and vintage color actions like Lux, Pool Party or Brooklyn (awesome B&W), but lately I´m trying to develop a more natural style and started to rely more on their enhancemenment and sharpening tools such as Oh Snap! , Clarify or Slice like a Ninja. Since Rad Lab came into my word though, it became my primary post processing tool and after some basic Lightroom adjustments and slight Pro Retouch skin softening I exclusively use Rad Lab and here is why:
1. What is RadLab?
RadLab is a filter based panel which is supereasy and intuitive to install within a few minutes and shows up in Photoshop as a separate panel. Once you open your photos with the tool, you get into a very cool interface where you can see live what the different effects called stylets do to your pictures and you can apply the ones which best fit your picture and your vision for the outcome. You can combine as many stylets as you want and you can change the strength of each one separately. Once you have the recipe that you love, it´s supereasy to save it and apply it for any further pictures, but even if you forget to do so, the system remembers the last recipes used, which makes reapplying quick and painless. My favorite part is by far the possibility to see the effects on the pictures before you actually apply them. It saves a LOT of time and removes the guessing from your workflow, whether any given actions would fit your picture or not… to be completely honest, RadLab has helped me discover some of the actions I already owned but never used before (e.g Lights On).
2. Cool Features
The best part of Radlab is its ease of use. You definitely don´t have to be a post processing pro or a Photoshop guru to use it. In fact I´m pretty sure that someone who has never worked with Photoshop would find Radlab awesome and could achieve effects and improvements that would otherwise take a long time to master in PS. Some cool little features that help our workflow is the histogram, my personal favorite the search bar, the basic adjustment panel (brightness, contrast, warmth), before and after views and the already mentioned saved recipes. You can also choose how you want the Radlab results delivered, my preference is on a separate layer which then I can further fade out if I want.
3. 78 Stylets
RadLab includes 78 stylets among which 50 are old favorites from TRA1 and TRA2 and 28 of them are brand new. I wanted to take a moment to show you some of my favorite, new styles which are not included in the old action sets.
To get started I choose an unedited straight out of the camera image to best show what exactly the effects do and tweeked the strength here and there a litte bit:
Don´t they look amazeballs?
and to finish things off here are a few of my recipes from RadLab:
The Verdict: Love Love Love it! If you were thinking about investing in action sets, forget it and go for Radlab! It will save you a lot of time and effort and it will make your images look awesome. It´s very reasonably priced at $149 and if nothing else just the time I save by using RadLab vs my action sets is remarkable and worth every dollar! I´m curious to see what the guys will come up with for version two… I´m hoping for more stylets, sharpening tools and the implementation of localized enhacements (like Pro Retouch). It´s a very exciting piece of software and has totally changed my workflow and the way I edit my pictures. I hope this review will help some of you!