Using Photoshop Actions: A Review of the New ABM Collection

I have long been a fan of Photoshop Actions. I’ve been using Rad Lab from Totally Rad Actions for a few years now. I love the vast array of looks I can create with actions, as well as the consistency they allow me to achieve with each of my images. Using actions has helped me to establish a certain look for all the photos I use on A Place to Dwell.

I’ve been extremely happy with my Rab Lab actions, and I know they will continue to be a staple in my blogging process, but when I read that the A Beautiful Mess gals had created their own set of actions, I was super excited to give them a try (their photography work and photo editing is some of my favorite in the Blogosphere). Plus, I knew that having a whole new set of actions to play with would be a great creative challenge for me that would breathe some new life into my photography.


I decided to invest in all three collections, given how often I use Photoshop Actions (every time I create a blog post). Actions were also a huge help in creating my eBook, because they allowed me to achieve a consistent look/feel/tone and style throughout.

I love that the three ABM collections have such variety (from the everyday versatility of The Signature Collection to the moody drama of The Folk Collection to the bright, fresh pops of color offered in The Fresh Collection).

I thought it would be fun to put together this post to show you some examples of photos I’ve edited using actions from each of the three ABM collections. (Little tip: When using actions play around with the opacity. I rarely ever use an action at 100% opacity.)

I’ve also used the guide on the ABM Action site to help me determine which action I might want to play with, depending on the mood I’m trying to create. (And their descriptions are just super fun. For example, here’s their description of Scout from the Folk Collection: Scout—It’s like a hot cup of cocoa for your photos! Inviting and rustic. I mean, who wouldn’t want a hot cup of cocoa for one of their photos, right?! ;)

Playing with the actions gave me an excuse to take new photos, as well as go back and re-edit some old favorites. (Yay!)


Alice is one of my very favorites from The Fresh Collection. The soft pastel wash it creates is completely dreamy! Using it on this photo of lavender syrup I picked up at a farmers market last spring makes me long for those sunny Saturday mornings spent browsing the market for food and inspiration.


Hazel added a beautiful warmth to this photo taken during a brunch date with a sweet friend. I love the way it brought out the glow of the twinkle lights and summer sunshine.


The actions I chose for this photo were selected to create a soft, quiet, contemplative tone. Actions are such a great way to add an extra layer of emotion to your images. They really do help you tell stronger stories with your photography.


Editing this photo took me back to celebrating my 30th with my nearest and dearest. It feels so cozy and inviting, doesn’t it?! Just like the evening itself! :)


Aubra is another one of my favorites. It was the perfect choice for these beautiful tulips that are brightening up my living room this week.


And finally, a photo from earlier this evening. I layered a few different actions to create this look. I wanted the overall effect to be soft, but with a pop of color. (And yes, these dairy-free “Shamrock Shakes” were quite the St. Paddy’s Day treat!) ;)

What are your thoughts on using actions? Do you have any favorites?

P.S. If you have any questions about using actions, I’d be happy to try and answer those, as well. The ABM gals have a great tutorial for their actions on their FAQ page, too.

As Seasons Change


Spring’s approach has me daydreaming about color and creating, new growth and new adventures. 


As the season changes, I hope to continue to explore the art of typography, take more photos that capture the beauty of everyday life, shop at the local farmers markets, and spend many afternoons collaborating with creative friends at favorite coffee shops.

What about you? What does spring’s approach have you daydreaming about?

:: photos edited using the new A Beautiful Mess Photoshop Actions ::

My Inspired Life: Round-Up #2

Oh.My.Goodness. Time has just been flying by, as I’ve finished up my book, sent it off for editing, started a few freelance writing projects, and celebrated birthdays, the start of summer, and then the Fourth of July.


I haven’t completely forgotten about this little blog of mine, though.

I’m here tonight to share the next My Inspired Life photo round-up. I just love browsing your photos on Instagram, and I hope you all will continue to capture and share such inspiring and beautiful moments! Just use the hashtag #MyInspiredLifeAPTD.


1. Lovewokemeup // 2. hgottschalk12 //  3. ashleyholstein 4.AnnettaBosakova

So, what’s new with you?

#MyInspiredLifeAPTD – Week 1 Photo Round-Up


[Photo credits top row left to right: ybosovik; hgottschalk12;  Bottom row left to right: toliveinspired; heynoots]

I am so inspired by the lovely moments you all are capturing for the #MyInspiredLifeAPTD photo challenge. Keep sharing your joys and inspirations and possibilities. I can’t wait to continue to share your photo stories right here. And if you haven’t joined the fun yet, click on over here and find out how! Would love you to be a part of it!

Thanks for being a part of this inspired journey!

P.S. I know I’ve already mentioned it once, but I’ll be releasing the eBook video VERY SOON. Eeeep! Can you believe it?! My friend Nate did an absolutely incredible job, and my heart is just bursting with excitement to share it with you all! Keep your eye out for it in the next week or so!

eBook Update: An Invitation


Hi, friends! In anticipation of my book’s release this summer, I’m starting a photo/Instagram challenge. Because An Inspired Life is all about living fully and creatively in every season, I want to invite you to start celebrating your inspired lives now! Here’s how the challenge will work: keep your eyes and heart open to capture the beautiful possibilities and inspirations you see each day. Then, use this hashtag on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter to share your photos (taken by you only, please):#MyInspiredLifeAPTD.

I will feature a collection of photos on my blog each week leading up to the book’s release date.

Have fun, and be inspired! :)


Inspiration is Everywhere

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the importance of stepping away from the screen. Inspiration is everywhere — and if we don’t allow ourselves the time to get out to explore and discover it, then we’ll miss it.Earlier this week, I went for a brief walk after work, taking advantage of the small window of time I had before a rainstorm broke free from the clouds. I took my camera and left my phone at home, so I could wander in peace.I took in all the colors, the patterns of leaves on the ground, and the way the sky looked.I even found little reminders of my One Little Word.

I’m thankful I took the time to step away and be refreshed. I’ve also realized I haven’t been creating as much with my hands lately — layering papers and ephemera in my art journal, or playing with paints to create a colorful collage. These are things I know I need to put back into my creative routine, things that are essential to who I am as an artist and creator.

What about you? What kinds of things do you do for creative refreshment? Do you find it’s important to take time away from creating on the computer?

Insta-Moments From My Week

{1.} Enjoying some blackberry vanilla tea in my cute new polka-dot mug that was gifted to me by two dear friends.
{2.} Stopped to capture one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve seen in a while.
{3.} Giving thanks for a beautiful fall day.
{4.} Can’t wait to fill up my new Creators journal.

What little moments are inspiring you lately?

P.S. Are you an Instagrammer and blogger? I came across this great post from Allie Lehman about using Instagram to tell your story. It’s a good one, so definitely check it out! I love that Instagram allows me to capture and tell my life’s story through even the smallest moments.

Inspired City: Birthday Antiquing

I spent yesterday afternoon with my mom and sister, as a little belated-birthday celebration. We did some antiquing (one of my favorite things!) and walked around a flea market and farmers’ market. I’m always so inspired after little outings like that. I love all of the vibrant colors at the farmers’ market, the vintage treasures waiting to be discovered in dusty corners at antique shops, and all of the unique and quirky odds and ends at the flea market.

We also visited my favorite local antique shop (housed in a 200-year-old schoolhouse). There are a few treasures I left behind that I’m thinking I might have to go back for (including a black globe just like this one and a set of vintage drinking glasses with colored feathers etched on them just like these). Finding the photos on Etsy makes me want to go back for both of these items all the more! haha ;)

I did come home with some lovely finds, including this sweet book from the thirties called Songs for Courage, a handful of vintage photos for collage and art journal projects, and two sparkly brooches. I also left with a large sweet potato and a butternut squash. Planning to make this soup and also this one. :)

I love some of the lines in this book like Faith is the dreams that all hearts know, the evidence of things that are not seen.

It was a beautiful and inspiring day. I love getting out and appreciating what my city has to offer! :) What are some of your favorite local spots in your city?

Well, I’m off to finish laundry and make some fall-flavored soup.

Hope you’re having the perfect autumn Sunday!


Insta-Moments From My Week

{1.} Apple cider and writing.
{2.} Happy Target find: the sweetest polka-dot notebooks ever.
{3.} How can you not be inspired by notebooks like these? ;)
{4.} Sunday morning coffee from a sweet new friend (how adorable is her litte note!?).

So many simple, but beautiful moments this past week. And I’m thankful for each one of them.

Insta-Moments From My Week

Just a few photos from my Instagram feed this week.

{1.} September blog brainstorming session with some AMAZING caramel apple cider for inspiration.
{2.} Fall nail polish (the color reminds me of hot chocolate!).
{3.} Started reading through Ephesians.
{4.} My rainy-morning writing buddy.

Simple moments captured make me happy.

Hope you have a wonderful start to your week!