I feel like even though I am getting better with my photography skills, I still prefer my edited images over my SOOC shots. Well, since I shoot in raw, I technically have to edit some- at the very least I fix my white balance before converting over to a jpeg.
So while I am continuing to work on getting better and better shots (and I'm guessing that is a process that never ends!), in the meantime I've come up with a pretty standard workflow in PSE for those shots that are pretty good SOOC.
1.Open image in ACR and fix white balance.
2. Adjust exposure, recovery, fill light and blacks as needed.
3. Open image in PSE and run CoffeeShop's Little Perk.
4. Crop if needed.
Here's an example of a SOOC shot and then what it looks like after I run those 4 steps.
And then of course there are some pictures that just pretty much suck SOOC. Most of the time they end up in the trash folder, but sometimes I like to practice my editing on them to see if I can salvage something from the mess.
The example below was just a mess. It was really too dark to take a picture without a flash, so I had my ISO set at 800, which produces a ton of noise on my camera. The background was a mess too, not to mention my model was not all that cooperative. I know, excuses excuses. I used the following steps to turn this from a horrible shot into a passable one.
1. Opened in ACR and fixed white balance and exposure.
2. Opened in PSE and cropped so all of the distracting parts of the background disappeared.
3. Used CoffeeShop's Little Perk action.
4. Smoothed Maddie's skin using a High Pass filter in Overlay blending mode at about 60% (this was mainly to get rid of the obvious noise on her face).
5. Sharpened her eyes using a High Pass filter in Soft Light blending mode at about 50% since I didn't really nail her eyes.
6. Used CoffeeShop's ButterScotch Vintage action (one of my favorites).
7. Used CoffeeShop's Johnna's Tea Party at a very low opacity.