watermarks & actions

by | Oct 3, 2011 | Photography, Running a Business | 32 comments

Last week I posted about my camera and lenses and this is the follow-up post about watermarks and actions that I promised.  Let me preface this by saying I am not a PSE (Photoshop Elements) expert and there are a lot of other great programs out there, this is just what I use.  If you use a free program or prefer another software, that’s totally OK.  Just use what works for you. 
There are a couple of ways to watermark a photo.  Before my designer made a graphic for me, I just used a text box and added text over the picture.  This is a great homemade solution if you don’t know how to make a graphic (which I didn’t) or don’t have the money to hire someone to make one for you. 


Laura made four graphics for me to use for watermarking.  The one above in white is what I use most often.  She created each graphic on a transparent background, so only the graphic shows, not a white box with a graphic inside. 
I start by opening the photo I want to edit and the graphic I’m going to use as the watermark. 
I then use the “move tool” to grab the graphic and drop it onto the picture.  This creates a second layer to the photo.  When the watermark layer is selected, you can adjust the size and position of the mark.  Select the background photo layer when editing the photo.  I like to straighten and/or crop the photo before I add the watermark, but I like to add actions or change the color/lighting after. 
Once the picture is straightened, cropped and marked, I move on to the editing.  I made a mistake when I painted this pillow and got some paint outside of the stencil.  The “clone stamp” allows you to cover blemishes in photos, whether it’s a scratch on the floor or a scar on someones face.  With the clone stamp, you can “borrow” a blemish-free spot from next to the blemish and then paint over the blemish.  You have to be careful when using this technique, because it can look very fake very fast. 
After I’ve done all of the tweaking I want on the photo, I’ll go to my action player.  For PSE 8.0, you would select EDIT Guided on the side bar menu and then select the action player.  I purchased the Florabella Luxe action set ($59), so I choose that option in the player. 
From there, I just select which action I want to apply to the photo.  I always “Sharpen/Defog” a photo for my blog first and then apply an action that amplifies the picture.  “Allure” and “London” are my favorite actions in that series. 
Because the actions were really made with portraits in mind, I usually go back to EDIT Full and tweak the levels on each layer to get the look I want.  I almost always take the transparency on the vignette (which makes the picture darker around the edges) to 0%.  It just looks funny on home decor photos.  I’ll also adjust the lightness, contrast and a few other things until I like the look.  You just have to play with it. 
Here is a photo straight out of my camera…. 
…and watermarked with “Sharpen/Defog” and “Allure.” 
Here’s another one straight out of the camera…
This photo has now been straightened, cropped, and I played the “Sharpen/Defog” and “Allure” actions.  Notice I also removed my painting mistake and a stain on the pillow just to the left of the monogram.  I didn’t adjust anything after applying the actions, though.  See how the picture is darker around the edges?  And it’s not quite as light as I want it. 
Here is the same photo with the vignette layer at 0% and the lighten level and contrast bumped up a little. 
This works beautifully for portraits as well.  Here’s a shot I took of my niece last Thanksgiving…
…and here’s the photos with an action applied (I forget which one)…
…and another version of the picture cropped with the “B/W Mink” action applied. 
As you can see, good photo editing and the use of actions can greatly enhance your photography.  It takes a good shot and makes it great.  It’s easy to get carried away with this, though, so practice a lot! 
Actions aren’t going to do much for a lousy picture, though, so I’m going to do one last follow-up post on staging and some practical tips on taking good pictures for your blog and/or business. 
Before I let you go, the winner of the Allora Handmade Giveaway is…
Congrats, Catie!


  1. Shelly

    If I may… If you add a drop shadow to the text (and save the logo as a transparent PNG file), you can pick one spot to always place your logo. If the background is light, you can still see it because of the drop shadow. Then you can auto-add them to your images (that you post on your site) with a bit o' code in your .htaccess file and a smattering with PHP. Then you never have to bother with manually adding them. All you have to do it upload the image…the code does the rest. 🙂 (I had three photography clients, they love that I did that for them!)

  2. Michael - Innkeeper

    thanks for sharing the florabella tip! never heard of them or new you could add actions like this! love it!

  3. SueBee

    I have a lot to learn!!!

  4. Anonymous

    Great tip, Shelly! I had no idea…and I don't think I have the technical chops to figure it out, either, but that would be very handy.

    Miss Mustard Seed

  5. Kim @ Sand and Sisal

    Thanks for the tips! I need every one I can get. I have Photoshop but it's so user UNfriendly that I get frustrated and give up. Guess I'll have to try again! 🙂

  6. martinealison

    Merci de partager vos astuces…

  7. Maddie Kertay

    Looks like you are doing just fine my dear:).. I saved mine as a brush to make things faster.. but just changed it and am back to the old fashioned way!


  8. Peggy

    Thanks for the tips this is an area I really need to improve. Have a great week 🙂

  9. NanaDiana

    Thank you so much for the information on how to do this. I guess that would be a tutorial, huh?;>) Anyway- Thanks! xo Diana

  10. Lori @ Katies Rose Cottage Designs

    Thank you so much for the wonderful tips! I have used the actions alot since you told us about them in another post ~ But…. I have to play around more because I kind of go crazy with them 🙂

  11. Heaven's Walk

    Another wonderful tutorial, Marian! Thank you so much for sharing your never-ending knowledge with us rookies out here!

    xoxo laurie

  12. Traci

    Thank you fornthe wonderful tips. I love your photos and use them as inspiration to improve mown photos.

  13. Farmer's Wyfe

    Great to know!! I have never tried watermarking yet… I do use the clone feature. Helped take a little bit off my hips for our Christmas family photo. Shhh, don't tell anyone. 🙂

  14. Late Bloomer

    This couldn't have been more timely. I call myself the queen of text boxes and wanted to get past that method. I really like your watermarked photos – I need to learn how to create a watermark. Any tips? Thanks!

  15. Jenny @ Simcoe Street

    Great tips!!!!

    P.S. I mentioned your blog in my most recent post, because we have the same green RLL pillows. I was literally giddy when I saw that you had them — I knew it meant it was a good purchase. If MMS likes it, it has to be good!


  16. Rose @ Confessions of a Curbshopaholic

    Thanks for taking the time to share these tips. Picture taking and editing has always been my nemesis on this blog adventure, but good ones really do make a blog nicer to visit. I'm even considering asking santa for a real camera this year..so all your info will come in handy when I get one!

  17. Jessica @ Nuchey's Mommy

    THanks for this great post! Wow, you are right what a difference with the original vs touched up! Great post thanks 🙂

  18. Beth

    Thank you so much for your editing tips! I have PS6, but just like one of the other ladies previously mentioned, I'm frustrated with the program and the computer I have it on is a bit slow, but I might just work on my patience here and give your advice a try. Saving this info for future reference.

  19. subtle magnetism

    I love Ambrosia – it has a nice subtle brightening to it. And centerfill/light! Oh – and "try them all" and then clicking through all of them, it's so convenient!

  20. Rose H (UK)

    Thank you for this post – I'm just trying to learn Photoshop elements, when I have a spare hour I'm going to work through your post and try to watermark.
    Best wishes
    Rose H

  21. Diane

    Great tips! I REALLY needed help in this department!

  22. Suzie @ The Accent Piece

    Thanks for the tips! I'm currently doing a 31-day series on Photoshop Basics for bloggers if you're interested in checking it out. It is very basic baby steps, but will hopefully help some fellow bloggers out.
    Hope you have a wonderful day!

  23. the brown shed

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I emailed you a week or so ago, and asked if you could do a tutorial on watermarks… and here it is. You are so very kind.

    Muchas Gracias!

  24. Mitzi Curi

    I have PSE, but haven't fully explored the actions yet. Now, I'm inspired to spend some more time with it. Thanks, as always, for your helpful info!

  25. Barbara@HausDesign

    Such great tips! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I have some photography I have done myself – both for my shop and from my travels – that I have on my blog that I would really like watermarked…much appreciated! I have long admired your staging skill so I look forward to those tips next!

  26. Lindsey

    the portrait looks like you used "gypsy"… one of my favs.

  27. Janel @ Hating Martha

    Actions? Thats a foreign word to me? I use Piknik and haven’t ever seen that as an option. I will have to go check it out…it makes a big difference!



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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