Vintage Actions: A Side by Side Comparison & Tutorial

PhotobucketAddy Lane Vintage Tea, M4H Fable True Story, Florabella Luxe II Halo, The CoffeeShop Blog Simply Vintage, PW Seventies.)

Vintage photos seem to be a growing trend and with so many actions out there, it is easier than ever to achieve this desired effect.

But how does one choose with so many options available? I decided to show you a side by side comparison of some of the popular actions that just so happen to be currently housed in my repertoire.

Although the layers were slightly adjusted, this gives you an overall idea of what each action may look like. You could always tweak them more or less depending on what you're wanting. I was most shocked at how similar some of them were and yet all so different in their own right.

If you haven't entered the world of actions yet, it's not too late to jump in. It will literally transform your photos.

5 Easy Steps to Actions
1. Buy an editing software program. I recently purchased Photoshop Elements 10 for under $50 on sale. (It also came with a trial of Lightroom which I'm excited to try.) I think PSE10 runs around $75 normally. A fabulous price for all it does!

2. Get some actions. Pioneer Woman and The CoffeeShop Blog offer free ones. Addy Lane currently has a freebie promotion on her facebook page. Florabella and My Four Hens also offer promotions or discount codes from time to time. It doesn't have to break the bank.

3. Install the actions into your editing program. The Coffeehop Blog offers a great tutorial for PSE or Photoshop. And the Texas Chicks also have a comprehensive video that details step by step instructions for how to download actions to your computer.

I use a PC and Photo Shop Elements (PSE) mostly. Most actions have the option for PSE or Photoshop. You will want to download the action file, then extract it to your desired location. (I typically plug it into my desktop for easy access.) Right click and copy the action from wherever you stored it, then you will paste it into the "photo effects" in your computer.

Here is a quick overview of how to get there. (But if this doesn't make any sense to you make sure to click above on one of the videos.)

computer → c drive → program data → adobe → photoshop or photoshop elements


→ 10.0 (or the number of your program) → photo creations → photo effects (Paste your action here.)


Now repeat these steps until you get to the number of your program or just click on the number of your program in the address bar.


From there click on locale → en_us (if you are in the us) → right click and delete the MediaDatabase.OLDdb3 line


Then add the letters OLD before the db3 in the previous line → restart your photoshop elements program or photoshop and it will rebuild your library.

It may sound difficult, but it is really easy. Especially after you do it multiple times. You could also make a short cut in your desktop so you don't have to repeat all of these steps every time.

For the most part, almost every action works the same. I did, however, find that Addy Lane's are slightly different. Below are the required steps for her actions.

computer → c drive → program data → adobe → photoshop or photoshop elements → 10.0 (or the number of your program) → locale → en_us → workflow panels → actions

After you install it in your computer, open Elements and click on the Edit tab in the upper right part of your screen. Go to page two to view where you will find the actions player. To edit individual layers you have to switch over to the full section.

Addy Lane includes step by step instructions depending on what computer and program you use with your purchase.

4. Use your actions. Now that you have installed actions into your photo editing program it is super easy to transform your photos. Literally. With the click of a button. Since I recently used Florabella for the above photo, I will give you a quick rundown of that specific action. (Although most of them are very similar.)


Open your photo in your editing program (I used PSE 10 for this.)


In your effects palette to the right, click on the desired action. Again, I used the Florabella Halo action for this photo.


Now you can adjust the the individual layers to the right as needed. You may like a more extreme, contrasting photo, but I decided to tone it down just a little. Every photo responds a little differently to the action.


This is the halo recipe used for this photo:
sunny haze 37% (increased by 2%)
bright contrast 22% (decreased by 13%)
soft center light 9% (decreased by 11%)
tone 25% (same as original)
add color 17% (increased by 2%)
contrast 6% (decreased by 44%)
vignette 23% (decreased by 7%)
lighten 41% (increased by 16%)
darken 12% (increased by 12%)

5. Add your watermark and voila! After you have gone to the trouble to make your photo special, make sure to protect it by adding your name or logo to it. There are many ways to do this, but that will have to be for another day. I briefly discussed this in Photo Tips to Enhance Your Blog. One of these days I'll give a more thorough tutorial. Time is a tickin' and my kids will be home soon. And I haven't even thought of dinner yet. Eek!


Don't be afraid to play around. That is the most beautiful part of photography. Just like a painter, you are the artist. Don't feel limited by rules or social norms.

For the longest time I was so easily influenced by what my hubs thought. I don't think he was trying to be mean, he was merely giving his opinion.

But the other day when I asked him what he thought of a photo he responded, "I don't know, you're the artist."

He's right. Who cares if someone else thinks it's beautiful. Or amazing.

What do YOU think?

Whether you use a point and shoot or a professional grade DSLR, we each have the ability to create something beautiful!

We are all at different places in our learning and what is beautiful to me may not be beautiful to you, and vise versa. But please, PLEASE- don't ever let someone, particularly another photographer, ever make you feel inferior. Or like your work is not of value. Who cares if you do things unconventionally or you march to the beat of your own drum. Or are just starting.

Let's support and encourage each other in this community. Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox now. :)

Although I may not always be able to make visits or comment as I would like, I LOVE looking through all of your photos and am constantly inspired by your work. Keep it up!

Oh, and btw, if all of this action stuff isn't for you yet, I was absolutely SHOCKED to learn all that you could do in the free version of picnik! You've probably tried it, but if not it's worth a look.

Other posts you may enjoy: Using Actions and Textures to Achieve a Vintage Flair for your Photos, Photo Tips to Enhance Your Blog, How to Download Fonts + My 10 Favs, or Idiots Guide to Adding Social Media Buttons to Blogger.

From my home to yours, Happy Monday! Hope ya'll have a great week!


  1. I'm a vintage curves nut!! I didn't realize the Pioneer Woman and the CoffeeShop Blog offered ones for free, I'll definitely check them out! I get most of my curves from Julia Trotti (she occasionally has Free Curve Friday):

  2. Wow Lish, you never fail to impress with your super tutorials - I never would have discovered actions without you! I love the subtleness of the contrasting actions - all unique, but all equally desirable.

    P.s. Yay I actually made it to comment and I'm not number 101 ;-)

  3. soapbox anytime girl! Your words totally encouraged me today :)

  4. Love this..

    I love the vintage tea action.. Im addicted to actions :D

  5. I love this tutorial. I've been lookign all over for vintage shot tuts and your is really easy to undesrtand. Thanks and keep it up!

  6. Great shots. I'm going to try this :)

  7. Great images!
    Love your message at the end. No one has the right to make anyone else feel inferior.

  8. Fabulous post- I often lean to adding different things to my photos & when I ask my hubs- he never likes them. He comes from a family where his aunt actually had her own dark room in her house- she was really into photography. He likes photos untouched & SOOC & vibrant. He can't stand it when I mute the colors. :) He doesn't get it- so I rarely ask for his opinion anymore- because I never get the feedback I am looking for & end up feeling bad about my work. It's not that he's not supportive- he just has a very different view on photography.

  9. OOh, seriously? I have never heard of actions. I usually edit photos myself, but this will make it so much quicker. Thanks for this tutorial! Now I'm off to read some of your other ones...

  10. I love how you did a side by side comparison of the various vintage offerings. I tend to love the vintage actions that are more yellow in tone. Thanks for sharing.

  11. thank you so much. great tutorial!

    so sorry...i've tried to download pioneer woman and coffee shop offered actions for free.

    i'm afraid couldn't find any of them.
    in pioneer woman's blog, i'm always getting that 404 error thing. in coffee shop, actions are not offered for free i'm afraid:(

  12. Betty, I'm not positive about the pioneer woman as I downloaded them a long time ago, so I'll check into that. As for The CoffeeShop Blog, Rita offers all of her templates, textures and actions for FREE. You can read more about it on her website at She does have a donation button if you love what she has and want to donate. But I just downloaded one yesterday. For free. She does have watermark sets for purchase (which I have too) and she has some services that aren't free. But actions are! I suggest you give it another try.